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CleverLoop home security review
Posted on 28-Feb-2016 13:12 by M Freitas | Tags Filed under: Reviews

Having recently looked at a home automation system I thought it would be good to have a look at a pure video security system, and luckily the CleverLoop folks have a New Zealand presence. I had a chance to meet with their local representative and one of their developers who was visiting the country.


This was interesting because I could get some first hand information about the system, how it came to be after a sucesfull IndieGogo campaign and plans for new features.


The CleverLoop system is a video security system with a twist: it learns from previous interactions and allows you to talk and listen through the cameras.


You can buy the CleverLoop kits with one indoor camera, one indoor and outdoor cameras or two indoor and one outdoor cameras - or any combination up to three cameras. They all come with the CleverLoop base station, which manages up to three cameras and can be used for continuous recording when external storage is plugged via USB.


The base station also analyses all recorded video and decides what is discarded or classified as a movement or alert. These special events generate short video clips that are uploaded to the cloud and kept for up to seven days. Using the mobile app you can see these events in a timeline and either mark as read, forward to an email or change something from alert to movement and vice-versa.


This is because one the functions of the CleverLoop base station is to "learn" different patterns and with time get better at deciding what is a movement and what is an alert - thus reducing false positives (which I had quite a few).



If you have the right firmware installed (an update is available now and every user should have the base station now on this) there is an option for continuous local recording, which is limited only by the size of the external storage - which could be either a USB memory key or an external HDD/SSD. Instructions to activate this recording require you to plug storage and restart the base station - restart being just unplug and plug the power cord. Which makes me wish for a "Restart" option in the mobile app.


Overall installation is simple and cameras can be connected via ethernet or WiFi - unfortunately both cameras require external power so you may need a bit of handyman work depending on where you want to position these if a power plug is not available nearby. The cameras offer great wide-angle 720p HD picture capture and automatic night vision with help from built-in LEDs. These cameras support both ethernet and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz.


One of the most interesting camera features is the 2-way audio, that allows you to use the mobile app to listen to noises or talk to anyone that is near the camera. You know, for things such as "Hey, I have you on camera and called the police." - or not... Just call the police and let them get the thief on the act, seeing you still have the camera recording with the mug to show.



The mobile app is very easy to use and allows you to control the base station learning (as in you can refine the algorithms or delete everything it learnt so far). You can also see individual cameras and even stream live to your device. One thing that was a bit annoying is that after a few days the mobile app will expire your login token and ask you to login again. Which is ok unles you are like me and use a different password for every different service and need to reach for the password manager to copy it to login into the app. Not fun when you have an alert and have to tap - tap - tap around your smartphone before getting to the actual business.


From the mobile app you can manually arm or disarm the system - but if you want a more automated process you can also create a geo-fenced area and the app will automatically arm the system when it detects you leaving or entering it. Ideal if you leave by yourself or everyone leave and come back together during the day.


Positioning the camera is important. I've found out that most of the false alarms were from tree movements reflected on a glass door beteween our lounge and hall - I had the camera pointed in that direction thinking that anyone in the house would eventually go through that area. On a sunny day that glass reflects the trees visible from the window behind the camera, causing the alarms. This reduced greatly after a few days of tapping the "This should be a movement" button to teach the base station about our particular house and camera location.


The cameras are rebadged security cameras with custom firmware. This means you can also access the stream directly from the camera using a browser - you just need to know the IP Address and password for that. Of course I do not recommend opening any ports for this directly on your router and I specifically recommend you change any default passwords when installing new gear.


I really liked the fact there's a New Zealand team involved in the creation of the product and that it's quite, as the name describes, clever.


Update: As requested in comments below, some mobile app screenshots



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