With Apple’s latest version of iOS – iOS 10 – has come a nifty new home control and security system called “Home Kit”. This is designed to take the pain and complications out of the whole control and security thing, so that consumers can easily install the products they want without expensive service people. Apple provides the framework and networking infrastructure, and Siri so you can have voice control. Other companies provide the products. Here’s I’m looking at one of those products, the OMNA 180 CAM HD from D-Link.
The Omna 180 CAM HD is much smaller than I imagined when I first saw the pictures. It stands only 132mm tall and the cylinder is 58mm in diameter. It does look rather nice with its aluminium case, broken only by black sections for the camera near the top, the speaker at the bottom, the LED at the front and the inlet for power at the back. The power plug – which comes from a wall wart – is shaped to fit neatly into squarish hole. The connection is Micro-B USB. Underneath is a slot for a microSD card (up to 128GB, Speed Class 10 for recording footage). There’s also a reset button.
That reset button is the only control on the whole unit. Everything is controlled through apps.
Inside is a full HD camera with a 180 degree (horizontally; 66 degrees vertically) field of view, a microphone, and the speaker alluded to. You can talk through the unit, or listen from it. Sound is recorded with videos. There are also IR LEDs which allow IR capture (in black and white) at up to five metres.
The video is transmitted live at whatever resolution, up to 1080p30, supported by the network bandwidth.
Because it uses “Home Kit”, it will only work with Apple devices (including, apparently, Apple TV). Your iPhone or iPad must be running iOS 10 (or later). Not even Macs will work with it. (Yes, a version of Home Kit has been around since iOS 8, but this new stuff requires iOS 10.)
Because your Apple stuff already has permission to securely access outside resources – specifically iCloud – you can even access the camera when away from your home. Everything runs through Apple’s servers. But you’ll need additional devices for that. Specifically, this requires an Apple TV running Apple’s tvOS 10.1 or an iPad running iOS 10.1, or later for both. One or the other acts as a “hub” to serve the content up to iCloud for remote access. Presumably the various Home Kit compatible devices don’t pack enough grunt to manage this on their own.
I had the iPad – an iPad Mini 4 loaner from Apple – but not a second device capable of running Apple Home or the Omna app. So, until I come up with a workaround, this review will concern local use only.
Well, if the instructions of the Quick Start Guide were anything to go by, you couldn’t get any easier. There are four steps only, the picture-grams indicate, and two of them are to do with plugging the Omna into a power point. The next is to download the Omna app, and the final step is to press the “+” icon on an app on your iOS device.
I took that app to be the Omna app which I started, whereupon there was some granting of permissions and enabling of iCloud required. Since I didn’t read something well enough before accepting it, I soon found myself at the iPad Mini 4’s Settings page, not knowing what to do. I went back the app, but it simply wanted me to “Select [My] Home” from a list which was empty. So I went over to the D-Link website to see if there was a fuller manual. Unfortunately, the manual download was in fact the self same Quick Start Guide.
Ah, perhaps the “My Home” app/function built into iOS10? That immediately asked me if I wanted to search for accessories, and sure enough, it instantly found the “Omna 180Cam HD”, as it called it. I looked again at the instructions, and sure enough it did in fact have “My Home” shown on the screen of the app with the “+” button.