Car dash cameras are becoming more and more popular all over the world, as manufacturers keep thinking of new uses and features for them. Dashboard cameras now have so many useful ways in which they can protect you and your vehicle, on and off the road, that they’ve become a definite must have.
Car ‘on board’ cameras first became popular in Russia, in the period around the year 2010. There are many stories about how this came to be, but most of them seem to centre on protecting the drivers and their cars on the road because of the low regard for the traffic laws and regulations by most people, and also they were meant to protect the drivers from police corruption.
Car cameras have many important functions. The two basic, most important ones are that they can make video and audio recordings of things transpiring. This is naturally very important, because not only can you have the video but also the audio. This means the cameras can be used to prove a certain situation (like a car crash) or something someone said.
The main fact people often neglect is that car cameras don’t only protect your car, they protect you, the owner, and they do so in various ways, some not so obvious.
The first question that may come to mind, if you do not possess any knowledge about car cameras, how do these cameras record all the time? How can I be sure they will be recording at the time of need, which can’t be predicted?
An average camera today comes with 8GB of memory space, which may be enough for basic purposes, but most of the time people purchase an additional SD memory card and get up to 32GB of memory space. At an average 1080p (30fps) recording, this means you have anywhere between 5-10 hours of recording time, depending on camera models and other recording options and tweaks.
This still does not answer the question of how does it record every time you need it?
Well, to ensure your camera is rolling all the time, all car cameras today have the ‘Loop recording’ feature. Actually, continuous recording would be a better suited and it was called like that at the beginning, but after the cameras developed the loop technology, the older name remains only on a few models today.
What loop recording feature does is that it firstly divides all your recordings in loops. You can manually set the length you desire and you are usually given options between 1, 2, 5, or 10 minutes. The technology for this is so advanced today that most cams do not lose any time in between the loops, not even fragments of a second.
But, the true value of the loop recording system is in overwriting. The system remembers which video was made first and thus is older, and when you do reach that moment when your camera’s memory is full, the system then automatically begins overwriting the oldest footage, thus ensuring the continuous recording is taking place, at all times.
The next logical question would be how, in case of an event you need the recording of, is it ensured the important recording is not overwritten, along with the rest of the loops? This is where other features of car cameras step in, the most important being the G-sensor.
Gravity sensor, or the G-sensor more commonly called, is a system of detecting impacts to your car, sudden stops or movements, any unnatural movement or vibrations actually, and when the sensor picks up any of these signals, it will mark the current loop being made as ‘locked’. Locked loops will not be overwritten by the system, even if you keep recording and overwriting all your other footage. The system will simply bypass the locked loop, or in some cases even place it in a special separate folder in the camera’s memory.
These two features, that every car camera has today, together make the basis for any car security system. As you can guess by yourself, the possibilities are endless. The sensor will pick up anything unusual happening on the lines of affecting your car’s stability, and you will have a recording of all the camera sees and hears.
Now, what if the situation recorded is something other than an impact, and you want it locked and safely stored never the less? You can manually lock any portion of your recording in the camera’s options, or some cameras even have the ‘emergency button’ on them, allowing you to lock the current loop by simply pressing the button.
But, if you are not there and your car is parked for instance, the cameras also have an answer for that, at least some of them.
Some cameras utilize the ‘Motion Sensor’ ability, which is precisely that. Those cameras have a built in sensor for motion in their vicinity, or more accurately the vicinity of your car. When movement if picked up by the sensor, the camera will immediately turn on and make a recording of the events taking place.
This happens even if your car is turned off and parked, but you need to make sure your camera always has a power source. This is why you usually never unplug your camera from its power source, unless you are removing it from your car.
This brings us to another possibility car cameras with motion detection have, and that is that they can also be used as home security cameras. Provided they have a constant power source, a camera with a motion sensor as advanced and sensitive as this could be a very good way of protection your home, your front door of the terrace, etc…
Most cameras let you choose the sensitivity of its sensors, both gravity and motion, usually giving you three different levels. At the highest level of sensitivity, the motion sensor will pick up leaves swaying in the wind near your car.
With the basic protective features explained, you can see the possibilities now. If you ever have the misfortune of having a collision, or any kind of an accident, you will have proving your innocence much easier with a recording of the actual events. These cameras have such sharp resolution, that they can pick up the license plate numbers of other cars even at moderate distances, and they also pick up street signs, sounds in the background, and much more.
If someone is messing with your car while it is parked, for instance someone who wants to key it or do any damage, you will have a recording of the event, and you will be able to put a face on the perpetrator, who would otherwise remain anonymous.
You can use these devices in various ways for protection, you just need to make sure how the law in your country is treating them. For instance, car cameras are completely banned in Austria.
In Germany, you can own a car camera and you can use it, but its recordings will only be accepted as evidence in some big cases of high importance and severity. Furthermore, you could answer to the authorities if you were to put a car camera recording online and it shows some private event, for this will be considered an invasion of privacy.
In the United Kingdom, there are no laws against car cameras, and the recordings are usually accepted by the police and admissible as evidence.
The insurance claims are probably the main focus of protecting yourself with a car camera, as there are more and more rising dangers on the road. There are even people who purposely stage an accident in order to sue the other party or make an insurance fraud. Car cameras are very welcomed in cases like these.
Another method of protection is, of course, using the camera for recording your car’s interior, commonly known as a ‘taxi cam’. It is obvious taxi drivers would benefit from this the most, and thus this way of using the car camera got its name.
You can even use your camera to record the rear view from your car. Most people do this when purchasing a front and rear dash camera.
These devices come in pairs and are linked to work together, in sync. You can choose freely how and where to point them, but the basic thing to do would be to point one to the front of your car, for it to record what the driver sees, and the other to record the interior or the rear view.
There are even some cameras so advanced that the rear one can pick up both the interior and the rear end view.
As the age of technology progresses, there will be more and more ways of protecting your car. But by now, it becomes fairly obvious that no car should be without a car camera. So many security and safety questions are solved by owning one, and this investment will definitely pay off in the long run.