Unless you’re a video hardware geek, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard about network cameras. Those cameras could be more useful than your standard webcam, because they’re tied to a wireless network, not a specific computer. But Herman Yau, chief executive of a startup called Seedonk, says the setup can be such a huge pain that when a regular consumer buys a network camera, they usually end up returning it.
By making those cameras more social and easier to use, Seedonk hopes to bring the devices to a mass audience. Its core product is a piece of software that’s installed on cameras and on your desktop computer, which turns the network camera interface into something similar to instant messaging. When you buy a Seedonk-enabled camera, you can just connect it to your wireless network like another device, rather than getting buried in IP addresses and other technical details.
Then, once it’s connected, you can see a list of all your cameras, view live footage, and even share that footage with your friends on Seedonk. For example, it would be easy to view live camera footage from different parts of your house when you’re on vacation, or to monitor your baby if you’re working in another room. (Seedonk is compatible with regular webcams, too.)
The company isn’t stopping with desktop software — it also offers a Facebook application, so you can view footage while logged into the social network and share it with your friends there, plus an iPhone application.
Starting today, the Fremont, Calif.-based company is opening its tools to the public in a beta test. Somewhat oddly, you’ll have to wait to use network cameras on Seedonk — the company is still making deals with hardware makers, but it hopes to have a Seedonk-enabled camera on the market soon. Meanwhile, consumers can use their webcams to play with the desktop software, Facebook app, and iPhone app. The basic applications are free, but Seedonk will eventually start charging for premium services.
The company has raised a seed round of undisclosed size from an Asian semiconductor parts distributor called Quadrant. The main competition comes from device makers like Linksys and D-Link; Yau notes that those manufacturers are potential partners too.