Abode Enhances Service Quality and Reliability Using Amazon Kinesis Video Streams
Abode Systems (Abode) offers homeowners a comprehensive suite of do-it-yourself home security solutions that sets up simply in minutes and enables homeowners to keep their families and property safe. Since the company’s launch in 2015, camera sensors have played an essential part in Abode’s solution, enabling customers to visually monitor their homes from anywhere. The camera sensors were powered by a third-party commercial media streaming technology that presented multiple challenges that Abode needed to overcome to provide a secure and reliable experience to its customers.
Abode was already seeing success on Amazon Web Services (AWS), using multiple AWS services for storage, compute, and database solutions for its products. Abode knew that AWS prioritizes security and that AWS offers a highly scalable cloud computing environment and a range of services that Abode could use to build its own media streaming solution. After evaluating its options, Abode chose to use Amazon Kinesis Video Streams, a fully managed service that makes it simple to securely stream video from connected devices to AWS for analytics, machine learning, playback, and other processing.
“Amazon Kinesis Video Streams met all three objectives we were looking for in a solution: we could provide a high-quality service to our customers; we could improve product scalability as our global customer base expanded; and we could meet security requirements without building and maintaining the infrastructure on our own,” says Scott Beck, chief technology officer of Abode.
Amazon Kinesis Video Streams presented a path to a quality solution that helped us solve many challenges.”
Chief Technology Officer, Abode Systems
Developing a Reliable Video Streaming Solution for IoT Devices
Abode recognizes that to offer its users the best camera experience, it needs a streaming solution that is scalable, can reliably stream video across multiple end-user network conditions, offers low streaming latency and startup time, and enables features such as two-way interactive media streaming. After evaluating multiple technologies, Abode chose WebRTC, a free open-source project that enables real-time communication across browsers and mobile applications through simple APIs.
Abode’s third-party solution offered limited support for WebRTC without two-way interactivity and lacked features to reduce startup time and streaming latency. The solution also suffered from inconsistent media streaming. Its custom-built software designed for server-based media streaming did not follow standard software specifications for WebRTC-based media streaming on Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Abode’s original design manufacturer partner was finding it difficult to work with this custom software, causing delays in new product launches.
For the Abode team, looking to AWS for a solution only made sense. Abode was born in the cloud on AWS and has been steadily implementing AWS services ever since. “Amazon Kinesis Video Streams presented a path to a quality solution that helped us solve many challenges,” says Beck.
Migrating to Amazon Kinesis Video Streams
By early 2020, Abode began using WebRTC, which is supported by Amazon Kinesis Video Streams, to implement two-way communication and peer-to-peer data sharing between its customers and their connected devices. Using WebRTC, Abode was able to implement low-latency video streaming and reduce the time to first frame by over 50 percent. “With our previous solution, our time to first frame was 7–10 seconds,” says Sean Barry, software engineer at Abode. “Using Amazon Kinesis Video Streams, the time to first frame is consistently under 4 seconds, and our network latency is now typically 1 second or less.” In addition, the network reliability of Abode’s video solution also improved. “We have a successful stream rate of over 95 percent. That’s really high, considering that telecommunications networks sometimes go down and customers lose internet connections,” says Barry.
In addition to the AWS security benefits, Amazon Kinesis Video Streams also offers purpose-built security features, such as complete data encryption of media streams to secure data in all communication channels. This enables Abode to strengthen the security of its smart home security offerings, and it no longer needs to build or operate any supplemental infrastructure to secure media streams. “Another major benefit to us is that these features remove the need for us to develop an entirely separate security solution for our product. Using AWS services, our product offers security as per the industry standards,” says Barry.
Abode’s original design manufacturing partner could also work with the WebRTC specifications-based software backed by the technology of Amazon Kinesis Video Streams. Supported by AWS experts and using specification-compliant technologies that run as an open-source project, Abode’s hardware partner could simply integrate the technology with the camera firmware. This shortened the production cycle, accelerated the launch of new products, and improved product quality. “The support we got from AWS during this journey was fantastic,” says Beck.
On AWS, Abode was able to build a quality product with innovative features and functionalities. For example, using the WebRTC solution for Amazon Kinesis Video Streams enabled Abode to use Amazon Alexa with its streaming solution, so users can control their security cameras using Alexa.
Providing Value to Customers, Increasing Market Competitiveness
As of early 2021, Abode has a small team of 20–25 employees, but the company is confident that it can compete with industry leaders and continue to grow using AWS as a trusted resource. “Our customers would be very surprised to find out how small our team actually is. Using Amazon Kinesis Video Streams and other AWS solutions, we can do a lot with the resources at our disposal,” says Beck.
Additionally, Abode will start using AWS IoT Core—a fully managed service that enables users to simply and securely connect IoT devices to the cloud at scale—to provision its new camera devices. “With our former solution, everything would go well until we’d hit an unexpected scaling issue. Using AWS IoT Core, we’ll never have to worry about scaling the IoT infrastructure as our business grows,” says Beck.
In the future, Abode wants to keep adding new capabilities to its product portfolio. Because Amazon Kinesis Video Streams and other AWS services can be used together, Abode now has the flexibility to innovate and quickly provide new offerings that drive value to its customers. For example, the Abode team plans to add features such as in-video object detection using AWS artificial intelligence solutions and 24/7 video recording using AWS cloud storage services. It also plans to offer additional Alexa-enabled functionalities, such as smart camera alerts using Alexa computer vision services.
About Abode Systems
Born in the cloud in 2015 and headquartered in San Francisco, Abode is a smart home security systems company that provides a suite of do-it-yourself solutions for customers to secure their homes and keep their families safe.
Benefits of AWS
- Improved its connection reliability, achieving a successful stream rate of over 95%
- Reduced latency to 1 second or less
- Reduced time to first frame from 7–10 seconds to under 4 seconds
- Improved security posture of streaming solution
AWS Services Used
Amazon Kinesis Video Streams
Amazon Kinesis Video Streams makes it easy to securely stream video from connected devices to AWS for analytics, machine learning (ML), and other processing.
AWS IoT Core
AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud service that lets connected devices easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices.
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