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Keeping an eye on premises just became affordable

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Evan Tree shows a security camera, part of a surveillance system kit that will sell at RadioShack for $249.

Evan Tree shows a security camera, part of a surveillance system kit that will sell at RadioShack for $249.

Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

DRAPER — Video surveillance cameras once were a tool limited to those who could afford them, namely large public institutions or corporations.

Now a Draper-based company has developed a new technology for everyday people wanting to deter crime.

The company, WiLife Inc., specializes in plug-and-play digital video surveillance technology for residential and light commercial use.

In fact, the company's starter kit, priced at $249, will be rolled out in RadioShack stores nationwide beginning Nov. 1.

Co-founded by Andrew Hartsfield and Evan Tree, WiLife has replaced today's analog surveillance systems with a compact and easy-to-install digital package.

In the past, surveillance systems typically cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 and included an invasive installation process of running cable and drilling through walls.

Tree, the company's president, worked for 17 years in the security industry. He said he saw a need for a surveillance system about six years ago.

"Prior to that, everyone's mentality was pretty much that it was for the high-end commercial market or extremely large custom homes," Tree said. "But after 9/11 and through exposure to video surveillance footage, the calls started coming in from just average consumers with their own applications."

Yet, Tree said, once consumers learned of the cost, most of them gave up.

"I knew I was lucky," Tree said, "if I got one in 25 to buy it."

WiLife's new product has broken the barriers of past systems not only in its cost, but in its easy three-step installation process:

Load software on a PC

Plug in a USB receiver module in a wall outlet and connect it to your PC via a USB port

Position cameras wherever you have an electrical outlet.

Once up, video feeds are transmitted over electric lines. Users can see live video images through a PC or even a mobile phone. An e-mail notification option can alert users to movements caught by the cameras.

A window mount, patented by the company, also allows cameras to be situated inside of a window, where the camera can be focused at inside or outside activity.

"Our cameras will see through the window," said Hartsfield, chief executive officer. "The camera is protected from the elements, protected from theft and vandalism, and yet you're seeing what's outside."

According to WiLife's Web site, in 2003, U.S. businesses and homeowners spent more than $24.1 billion on security products and services. Of that amount, professionally installed video surveillance, or closed-circuit television, represented $3.8 billion.

Hartsfield said over next five to seven years he sees a $3 billion to $5 billion unserved market in the U.S. in the do-it-yourself video surveillance market.

"There's some crappy products out there," said Mark Webb, WiLife's chief financial officer. "There's nothing that is real professional grade, easy to install, just plug and play for the homeowner or the small business. The technology is such that we've been able to do very high-grade systems for a price that makes sense for consumers."

E-mail: danderton@desnews.com