Owl Car Cam brings 24-hour outside and inside monitoring to your vehicle

If you’ve ever noticed an unexplained dent or ding on your car, the Owl Car Cam may be able to help you track down the culprit. This new always-connected camera that monitors your vehicle from both the inside and out, can notify you of any safety event, such as a break-in or crash.

Using LTE connectivity, the Owl Car Cam can instantly remotely send video of events to the Owl Cam app on your phone. Although the camera is always recording, it only retains and uploads video that is triggered by a safety event or through a voice-activated feature that allows you to capture and tag memorable moments, like a meteor streaking across the sky or an in-car sing-along during a road trip. You can also set the camera to record live continuously, if you wish. Videos are stored locally — up to 24 hours of footage — which is then recorded over when it hits the limit. With LTE service, you can connect to the camera to see a live view or play back recorded footage. LTE service is not required to use the camera, but you lose some functionality.

owl car cam
Besides monitoring your vehicle for theft and accidents, you can also capture interesting moments from the road, simply by using a voice command.

The Owl Car Cam also has several interesting features to guard against break-ins. Since the camera is paired to your phone, it knows when an authorized driver is approaching your car. If someone attempts to break into it, two LED floodlights are activated and you’re immediately notified via the app. You’ll be able to watch a live-feed of inside the vehicle and use a built-in intercom to let the intruder know that you’ve contacted authorities.

owl car cam camera 8
The Owl Car Cam has lights that turn on to help you locate your vehicle or in case of a break-in.

Because the camera is continuously capturing more to the story than a single-lens dashcam, it could help you prove your case during an insurance claim. And if you’re pulled over, Owl says the camera keeps “everyone on their best behavior and to make sure you have what you need to tell your side of the story.”

When developing the Owl Car Cam, CEO Andy Hodge, who previously led development teams at Apple (iPod), Microsoft (HoloLens), and Dropcam, told Digital Trends that user privacy was a key concern. As such, the camera features an interesting privacy feature that restricts video access to the associated driver. For example, if you share a vehicle with your significant other, you will only be able to access video recorded when you’re behind the wheel.

As for specs, the device uses two 4-megapixel, 120-degree cameras, one on either side — a 1440p camera on the front (outside), and a lower-resolution 720p camera on the back (inside). The idea here is that it’s more important to get a higher quality image of what happens outside the car. However, resolution dumbs down to 480p when you’re in 24-hour live-recording mode. Video frame rate is 30 frames per second, but it uses the HEVC codec; newer iPhones running the latest version of iOS will support this codec, but you might have issues with playback on older phones or computers.

The display is a small 2.4-inch, touch-capable LCD. In addition to various sensors to detect movement, the Owl Car Cam has GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, as well as the aforementioned LTE radio. The device is lightweight and fits in your palm. It has a mono speaker, but it captures audio in stereo. The whole thing runs on a 2.4GHz, 8-core processor with 3GB of onboard memory.

Limited compatibility

There are some limitations to the Owl Car Cam. You’ll need to make sure your vehicle has an OBD port under the steering column, since this port is used to power the device. If your car was manufactured after 1996, you’ll likely be in the clear.

More limiting, however, is the Owl Car Cam’s compatibility with smartphones. Currently the camera only works with iPhones running iOS 11 or higher. When we talked with Hodge earlier this month, he mentioned that the company hopes to have an Android app available in the future, but did not provide an estimate for its release.

First impressions

We had an opportunity to see the Owl Car Cam in action earlier this month and were impressed. We spent about an hour with the camera on a busy New York City street and were able to witness it automatically capture several different events. Both the camera and app worked perfectly and the video quality was excellent. In many ways it’s similar to a camera you would use to monitor your home.

While the Owl Car Cam is primarily meant to act as a security device, or evidence to prove you’re not at fault during an accident or traffic violation, we like the social sharing abilities. The Owl Car Cam allows you to capture and tag any short event in the vehicle with your voice; this event is then transferred to the Owl Cam app where you can easily share it on any social media platform. There is a fun aspect to this camera: With its inside and outside recording, you can not only capture the outdoor scenery during a drive, but also the reaction from the people inside the car. We think the Owl Car Cam could benefit drivers for car-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

However, since the camera doesn’t record what happens behind the car, you can’t capture situations like a fender bender caused by a car hitting yours from behind, whether you’re on the road or parked. With so many accidents occurring at the rear, obviously, a dashcam like this is limited in capturing those events.

Pricing and availability

Currently you can only purchase the Owl Car Cam on the Owl website. During our interview with Hodge, he mentioned the company would like to offer the product in major retailers later in the year. The Owl Car Cam currently sells for $349, bundled with a year of LTE service and video hosting. The company plans to sell the camera later in the year as a standalone device for $299; monthly service will be available for $10. The LTE service includes 60 minutes of live view or 60 video alerts. Owl has not said what would happen if you go over the limit — whether it just stops recording, records over older footage, or charge a fee for extra storage — but this could be another limiting issue for some users.

Cars

2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition is an ordinary sedan built in a supercar factory

What's so special about the 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition? It's built at the Acura Performance Manufacturing Center, the Ohio factory that makes the NSX supercar. The TLX PMC Edition debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show.
Movies & TV

Marvel releases more footage from Avengers: Endgame in latest TV ad

The events of Avengers: Infinity War changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some big ways and left fans wondering how its heroes can possibly recover. Here's everything we know about Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to Infinity War.
Gaming

Travel in style with our guide to getting the Regalia mount in FFXIV

Final Fantasy XIV is currently running a crossover event with Final Fantasy XV, and the famous Regalia vehicle used by Noctis is part of the fun. Here is how to get the FFXIV Regalia mount.
Mobile

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Cars

With drift mode, Kia’s Stinger GTS lets you unleash your inner hooligan

Debuting at the 2019 New York Auto Show, the limited-edition Kia Stinger GTS gets a trick all-wheel drive system that should enable plenty of sideways action. But only 800 buyers will get to try it.
Cars

Technology trickles down from above to make the new 2019 Audi Q3 smarter

The redesigned 2019 Audi Q3 makes its U.S. debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The firm's smallest SUV receives tech features like a virtual cockpit and a single screen variant of MMI Touch Response from bigger models.
Cars

Kia’s HabaNiro concept is an autonomous electric car that knows when you’re sad

Debuting at the 2019 New York Auto Show, the Kia HabaNiro concept is supposed to preview the future of the everyday car. That future will include artificial intelligence tech that can read the driver's emotions, according to Kia.
Cars

Mercedes-Benz gives the tech-savvy 2020 CLA more power at New York Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation CLA during CES 2019, and it will expand the lineup when it unveils a midrange model named CLA 35 at the upcoming 2019 New York Auto Show.
Cars

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.
Cars

More tech and more space make the Mercedes-Benz GLS the S-Class of the SUV world

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation GLS at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The company's biggest and most luxurious SUV gains more tech features in its quest to become the S-Class of the SUV world.
Cars

Would you buy the Tarok compact pickup truck? Volkswagen wants to know

The Volkswagen Tarok pickup truck concept will make its United States debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The truck first appeared at the 2018 Sao Paulo Auto Show, and VW wants to see what U.S. buyers think of it.
Cars

Sick of civilization? Volkswagen’s Atlas Basecamp concept lets you get away

Volkswagen revealed the Atlas Basecamp concept ahead of its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Built for overlanding, this family-hauler was upgraded jointly by Volkswagen and aftermarket manufacturers.
Cars

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo sheds weight, uses racing tricks to stay sharp

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo isn't dramatically different from the 2019 model, but Nissan made changes where it counts. The updated GT-R Nismo is lighter and offers better aerodynamic performance, according to Nissan.