The S-Cradle (aka Security Cradle) is an upcoming product from a Korean company called Saintioe. I bumped into them at the Startup Launchpad within the Global Sources electronic expo in Hong Kong, in the Startup Launchpad section. The idea isn’t new, but S-Cradle may succeed where others failed.

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You may remember that in 2015,  some apps aimed to turn old phones into home surveillance cameras. Since the recycling rate of phones is relatively low, we know that there are a lot of old phones waiting to have a second life. However, previous solutions where only software-based and this is where S-Cradle brings some fresh air, with a small hardware addition that can make a big difference.

"A SMALL HARDWARE ADDITION THAT CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE"As its name indicates, it’s a cradle that will host the phone and power it through a simple cable. The cradle itself is powered by USB, just like any phone. The cradle needs power because it can rotate and tilt to expand the phone’s video coverage area to 350 Degrees. That’s important because cameras are often not that wide, and this allows many times the coverage area of a static camera.

S-Cradle will also cut the power to your phone when the battery is at 100%, thus managing better the overall life-cycle of the phone’s battery, which could be shortened if it was always plugged to a charging source.

The phone needs to have the S-Cradle app installed, and a two-way communication will be established. The cradle knows states such as the phone’s battery life, and the phone will receive wake-up commands from the cradle when the cradle’s IR sensor detects a presence (it’s the white dot on the cradle). This allows the phone not to be ON at all times and relying on image analysis to know if someone is around.

It makes it also unlikely that false-positive triggered by moving shadows or change in lighting triggers the cradle IR sensor. If you have home cameras, you know this happens all the time. The small and cheap IR sensor wakes up when it sees the heat from a living being (cats will trigger them too), so the false-positive should be lower.

The phone’s app can send notifications, and it’s up to you to choose if the phone connects to WIFI or cellular data. Live streaming will be available, but there is no cloud recording option – for now. You will need an Android 4.4+ phone. The cradle has a humidity sensor and a temperature sensor, which can be used to remotely control an Air conditioning unit with the cradle built-in IR emitter (it’s very common in Asia to have an AC remote)

Interestingly, the cradle-S will cost around $40 (300 HKD) and will be available in Korea in the summer, then elsewhere after that. If you don’t have a phone laying around, you can pick up a brand-new LG G2 for about $100. The whole package would still cost less than a new Nest camera. Depending on the phone you use, the image quality could just blow away many home surveillance cameras.

At the moment, I don’t think that you can attach this cradle to a wall, and the retention system relies on gravity, although that may change in the final design.

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