SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — In 2007, Nelson Choi was riding in a taxi when he noticed a small camera on the interior roof of the vehicle. He quickly realized its benefits and sought to integrate cameras into other transit markets. A year later, he launched 3rd Eye Cam.
The company has become an international manufacturer of transit surveillance products, providing systems to an array of vehicles at transportation companies spanning from Los Angeles to Japan. It is the exclusive distributor of Janus cameras, made in Korea by Tibet Systems.
3rd Eye Cam President Peter Park and Tariz Alazzeh, general manager of Airport Commuter, a San Francisco-based limousine company, which uses the Janus V2 camera on its 37 fleet vehicles.
A necessary product
The use of cameras within the limousine industry is still at an early stage, said David Choi, the company’s regional sales manager. “We want to help expand it; the market has huge potential for growth. We go to limo shows and talk to operators, who are beginning to understand its importance.”
Choi lists safety and legal protection as the two main benefits of the cameras. They give the operator definitive proof of exactly what happened in an accident and help prevent situations from escalating into potential lawsuits. “About 90% of the time it’s not the fleet driver’s fault, but the people will go after a company just because there’s money there.”
“I’m a huge advocate for cameras, whether it’s our cameras or another camera,” Choi said. “It’s a no brainer for fleets. Ours alone have saved companies and insurance providers over $60 million.”
Cost is a common concern, Choi said. “Some operators just look at the numbers. But saving the cost of an accident or lawsuits can pay for the cameras for an entire fleet.”
The company offers competitive one-time costs and zero monthly fees. “We’re trying to meet the demands of our customer base so we can continue to keep costs down,” Choi said. “Our goal is to provide high-quality cameras at an affordable rate.”
How it works
3rd Eye Cam installs its cameras via ignition line tap or fuse tap. Therefore, as soon as the driver turns on the vehicle, the camera begins recording. All of the data is then stored onto extractable SD cards.
3rd Eye cameras record constantly, giving operators a full video surveillance system to monitor action at all times. Customers are provided with two options: the Janus V1, a one-lens system displaying the driver’s view, or the Janus V2, which has an additional camera capturing the main cabin of the vehicle as well. Both have nighttime recording capability.
3rd Eye Cam’s Janus V2 has two lenses recording both the vehicle’s interior cabin and the driver’s POV. It also has a wireless capability recommended for larger fleets.
The cameras feature an accelerometer and a G-force sensor that detects hard movements within the vehicle. These instances are time stamped and labeled within the footage so supervisors are alerted. When reviewing footage, Google Maps — through a GPS module — informs the viewer where the vehicle was during movements.
There’s also a wireless option for the Janus V2 that allows the camera to automatically download its events directly onto an FTP server once the vehicle pulls into the docking station or facility.
“I would recommend wireless options for larger fleets with 50 plus vehicles,” Choi said. “It would be difficult to pull 50 individual SD cards and then download everything manually. The Wi-Fi makes this process effortless.”
Janus V1 costs $200 per vehicle and Janus V2 costs $450 per vehicle. The wireless system costs $40 to add to the Janus V2.
Cams Can Help Monitor Driver Behavior
San Francisco-based Airport Commuter Limo Services recently installed 3rd Eye Cam’s Janus V2 in all 37 of its vehicles. But rather than using them solely to record accidents, company President Charles Prince finds them to be an effective tool for monitoring employee behavior.
Prince watches footage of each driver. “You can help them avoid accidents and improve customer relations by evaluating their conduct,” Prince said. “You can also prevent negligence, like texting while driving.”
He has implemented a driver fine if he finds an accident is the driver’s fault. “This way they are less inclined to break the rules,” he said. “I always assure them that it’s for their own protection and safety. I increase company savings by 50% if not more with cameras.”
Fast Facts about 3rd Eye Cam
I Founded: February 2009 I Location: South San Francisco, Calif. I Owners: Nelson Choi and Peter Park, President I Product lines: Janus Cameras (V1 and V2) and a wireless solution for Janus V2. I Annual revenues: $2.5 million I Employees: 8 I Key clients: International (Canada, U.S, Europe and Asia.) I Website: http://3rdeyecam.com I Contact: (650) 871-8696; [email protected] or [email protected]