About the author  ⁄ BrickHouse Security

BrickHouse Security is the industry's premier supplier of security and surveillance solutions. As a recognized authority in GPS tracking, hidden cameras, cell phone/PC monitoring, video surveillance and counter surveillance, we help our customers use technology to get the clarity they need. We proudly serve consumers, businesses of all sizes and the law enforcement community. When you need to know, BrickHouse has the answers.

3G: 3G stands for third generation, and refers to a mobile device standard. 3G is capable of transmitting simultaneous voice and data services and must transmit at rates of up to 200 kbit/s.

32-Bit: 32 bit is a computer architecture that uses data units a maximum of 32 bits wide. 32-bit systems were the standard build of PC until recently, and are being replaced by 64-bit systems.

64-Bit: 64 bit is a computer architecture that uses data units a maximum of 64 bits wide. 64-bit systems are becoming more prevalent, since they can take advantage of more advanced processors being used in newer computers. This can create issues with some devices connecting to the computer if they were designed to work with 32-bit machines, which were the previous standard.

A-GPS: Assisted GPS, generally abbreviated as A-GPS, is a cellular carrier network-dependent system which can, under certain conditions, improve the startup performance of a GPS satellite-based positioning system. The mapping process with A-GPS is generally very quick and efficient, but it is also dependent on cellular coverage. A-GPS is particularly useful in urban areas, when the user is located under heavy tree cover, or even indoors. This technology is becoming popular in cell phones and it’s commonly associated with Location Based Services. Popular smart phones like the iPhone, Palm Pre and BlackBerry Bold all use A-GPS.

Binocular: Binocular vision is vision in which both eyes are used together. Binoculars give users a three-dimensional image: the two views, presented from slightly different viewpoints to each of the viewer’s eyes, produce a merged view with depth perception.

Biometrics: Biometrics refers to technologies that measure and analyze human body characteristics, such as fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements, for authentication purposes.

BNC: BNC is a commonly used audio and video connection method.  It is not used as often as it once was, having largely been replaced by RCA.

Borescope: A borescope is an optical probe, or “snake cam,” inserted through a small hole drilled into a wall, or other crevice that lets an investigator inspect and explore a small portion of the wall without causing extensive damage. Also good for covert video surveillance.

Bug: A covert listening device, more commonly known as a bug or a wire, is usually a combination of a miniature radio transmitter with a microphone. The use of bugs, called bugging, is a common technique in espionage and in police investigations.

CDMA: CDMA stands for Core Division Multiple Access. It is a cellular technology used in the United States by Verizon and Sprint, among others.

CompactFlash: CompactFlash (CF) is a mass storage device format used in portable electronic devices.

Component Video: Component video is a video system that splits video signals into 3 parts and requires all three cables to be used to carry video. Component video RCA plugs are commonly red, green, and blue.

Composite Video: Composite video cables carry video signal down a single line. Composite video RCA plugs are commonly yellow for video, with red and white wires carrying audio.

D1: D1 normally refers to a 720×480 video resolution that is the equivalent to the resolution on most (NTSC) DVDs .

DVR: short for Digital Video Recorder, this abbreviation refers to any device capable of recording and saving a digital video file. This is the high-tech equivalent of a VCR.

EDGE: EDGE is an acronym for Enhanced Data GSM Environment. EDGE is a faster version of GSM wireless service for cellular web browsing that enables data to be delivered at rates up to 384 Kbps.

Fleet Management: Fleet management is what a company does to organize and track an entire fleet of company vehicles. The most basic function in all fleet management systems is the vehicle tracking component. This component is usually GPS based, triangulating a vehicle’s location on a map. This can be used to effectively dispatch trucks for delivery or emergency purposes. Fleet management software is either part of the GPS tracker’s capabilities or can be bought separately. Once vehicle location, direction and speed are determined from the GPS components, additional tracking capabilities transmit this information to a Fleet Management software application. Methods for data transmission include both terrestrial and satellite.

FPS: FPS stands for frames per second. It is used for measuring the frame speed in a moving image. FPS defines how many pictures are seen per second.

GB: GB is short for gigabyte which is a unit used to measure computer storage capacity and is approximate to 1.07 billion bytes. 1 Gigabyte of data is almost twice the amount of data that a CD-ROM can hold. Additionally, 1 Gigabyte could hold the contents of about 10 yards of books on a shelf.

Geofence: A Geofence is a virtual perimeter on a geographic area using a location-based service. Geofencing is used with GPS tracking devices, notifying a user when a device enters or leaves an area, usually via email or SMS.

GPS: GPS stands for Global Positioning System.  GPS uses satellites to triangulate the position of a device nearly anywhere on Earth.

GPS Logger:  A GPS logger stores location information to itself.  Generally they are deployed in the field and connected to a computer to retrieve information.

GPS Tracker: GPS trackers generally report via a cellular network so that they can be viewed in real-time from any computer with an Internet connection.

GSM: GSM stands for Global Standard Mobile. It is the cellular technology used throughout most of the world.  In the United States, the two largest GSM providers are T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless.

H.264: H.264 is a state-of-the-art digital video format. H.264 provides powerful compression technology that delivers a superior video experience at a low bit rate. This video encoding format is able deliver high-quality video to a variety of devices.

HD Video / High Definition Video: High-definition video or HD video refers to any video system of higher resolution than standard-definition (SD) video, and most commonly involves display resolutions of 1280×720 pixels (720p) or 1920×1080 pixels (1080i/1080p).

ICCID: ICCID stands for Integrated Circuit Card ID.  This is a SIM card’s serial number, which serves to identify it to a cellular network.

Infrared: Infrared, also known as “IR,” is a form of electromagnetic waves. Examples of everyday devices that emit infrared include toasters, heat lamps, barbecue grills, remote controls, and light bulbs.

Keylogger: A keylogger is a small piece of hardware that is usually inserted between the keyboard port and the keyboard. The hardware keylogger then records all user keystrokes to it’s internal memory. These devices generally have memory capacities between 8Kb and 2MB.

LCD: Abbreviation of “liquid crystal display”. LCD screens are thin, flat electronic displays.

LED: An abbreviation for “light emitting diode,” it’s an electronic device that lights up when electricity passes through it. LEDs are good for displaying images because they can be relatively small, and they do not burn out. However, they require more power than LCDs.

LOS / Line of Sight: Refers to a straight line in any direction without any physical obstructions.

Lux: a unit used to measure illumination. As a point of reference, an average office with standard lighting has a Lux rating between 320-500 lux. A night with a full moon in a cloudless sky without any “light pollution” from nearby cities would be near .25 lux.

Micro SD Card: Micro SD cards, also known as TransFlash, are smaller versions of SD memory cards. As electronic devices are becoming smaller Micro SD cards are becoming more and more common in the marketplace. Currently, the highest capacity of micro SD card is 32 GB.

Mini SD Card: Mini SD cards are memory cards between the size of Micro SD and standard SD cards. They are being largely replaced by micro SD cards and currently have a maximum capacity of 32 GB.

Monocular: A monocular is a miniature, low powered telescope or spotting scope that you hold in your hand like a binocular but look through with one eye like a telescope. A monocular shares characteristics with both binoculars and spotting scopes, but is much smaller than either. Some monoculars are no larger than your thumb or thicker than a good ink pen and any monocular will slip easily into a pocket or a purse.

MP3 Player: An MP3 is a digital audio file format. An MP3 player is a device for playing MP3 files.

Nanny Camera: A Nanny Cam, or Nanny Camera, is a hidden video camera that has been secretly installed within a common household object. A nanny cam is usually used to secretly monitor and record the activities of home caregivers, hence the name “Nanny Cam” although it has it’s usefulness to overtly or covertly record any activity.

Network Camera: Network Cameras, also known as IP Cameras, allow users to monitor and in some cases, record footage remotely from anywhere in the world

Night vision: Night vision offers users the ability to see in a dark environment.

NTSC: the standard analog video format used throughout North America and much of South America. Some other areas of the world use formats called PAL or SECAM.

OS: OS stands for Operating System, which is the system that runs a computer, communicating between individual applications and hardware.  Some examples are Windows XP and Windows 7 from Microsoft, OSX from Apple, and Linux which is open source.

PAL: the standard analog video format used in much of Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. Some other areas use formats called NTSC or SECAM.

Passive GPS: Passive GPS devices store GPS location, speed, heading that can be quickly downloaded from the device onto your computer. The device is sometimes triggered by an event such as key on/off, door open/closed. Passive GPS is commonly used with fleet management and vehicle tracking where GPS data only needs to be harvested once in awhile rather than in real-time. Once the vehicle returns to a predetermined point, the device is removed and the data downloaded to a computer for evaluation. On the other hand, active GPS devices also collect the same information but usually transmit the data in real-time via cellular or satellite networks to a computer or data center for evaluation.

PTZ: PTZ refers to pan, tilt, and zoom. This is most often used on security cameras that sense motion or body heat and pan/tilt/zoom to capture the action.

RCA Connector: A type of electrical connector commonly used to carry audio and video signals.
They have largely replaced BNC connections on most home entertainment systems. It is used to connect everything from cameras to video game systems.

Real-Time GPS: Real-time GPS tracking systems send location updates to the Internet every 5 to 10 seconds. There is no need to retrieve the GPS device in order to get the location data, because you can view these real-time updates directly on the Internet. This let’s you follow a car or person to their approximate GPS location no matter where they are in real-time, online.

RF: RF refers to radio frequency, the mode of communication for wireless technologies of all kinds, and it is often used in baby monitors, remote control toys, cordless phones, radar, and GPS.

Router: A router is a device that allows multiple devices to connect to the same network. For most users, this means allowing multiple devices can connect to the internet through a single modem, and are able to interact directly with each other.

SD Card: SD stands for Secure Digital. Available in a number of capacities, these cards can be used to store data by a wide variety of devices, from cellular phones to digital cameras to GPS receivers. Currently, the highest capacity of SD card is 32 GB.

SD Video/ Standard Definition Video: standard definition refers to analog video signals and digital signals broadcast with a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, at 720 x 480 or 640 x 480.

SIM: SIM stands for Subscriber Identification Module.  A SIM card stores information necessary to a phone’s function, like it’s phone number, and can be used to store information like SMS messages and contact information on phones connected to a GSM network.

Smart Phone: a smart phone is a mobile device that combines the capabilities of a phone with those of a desktop computer. Smart phones are generally capable of accessing the internet, and are capable of storing more data and running more applications than a basic mobile phone. Some examples of smart phones are Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry, and devices using Google’s Android or Nokia’s Symbian operating systems. These types of devices are coming to dominate the cellular market.

SMS: SMS stands for Short Messaging Service.  It is the technical term for text messaging.

TTFF: Concerning a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, Time To First Fix (TTFF) is a specification detailing the time required for a GPS receiver to acquire satellite signals and navigation data, and calculate a position solution (called a fix).

USB: Universal Serial Bus.  USB is currently the standard method for connecting devices to a computer.

USB Flash Drive: A small, portable flash memory card that plugs into the USB port in a computer and functions as a portable hard drive. USB flash drives are touted as being easy-to-use as they are small enough to be carried in a pocket and can plug into any computer with a USB drive. USB flash drives also are called thumb drives, jump drives, pen drives, key drives, tokens, or simply USB drives

USB Port: A USB port is a standard cable connection interface on personal computers and consumer electronics. USB ports allow stand-alone electronic devices to be connected via cables to a computer. USB can connect computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards, PDAs, gamepads and joysticks, scanners, digital cameras, printers, personal media players, flash drives, and external hard drives.

VGA: VGA quality systems (also commonly referenced as TV quality) provide a resolution of 640×480 with 16 colors.

WiFi: WiFi, or wireless networking, is a method of transmitting data through a router without wires. Most WiFi routers transmit data in the 2.4 GHz frequency band.

Wireless Camera System: A wireless camera system uses a camera or cameras capable of transmitting images to a receiver located in a different location by transmitting a radio signal. The type of signal and frequency the device transmits on can vary greatly, including 2.4GHz, Bluetooth, WiFi, and many others. The type of wireless technology used by a receiver will dictate how many devices it can connect to at any time, and can effect it’s vulnerability to interference. It is important to note that though they are part of a wireless system, many cameras must still have a power source. In most cases wireless refers to the method of data transmission.

(Image by Pictures from Heather, licensed under Creative Commons)

Read More →


A wireless camera system uses a camera or cameras capable of transmitting images to a receiver located in a different location by transmitting a radio signal. The type of signal and frequency the device transmits on can vary greatly, including 2.4GHz, Bluetooth, WiFi, and many others. The type of wireless technology used by a receiver will dictate how many devices it can connect to at any time, and can effect it’s vulnerability to interference. It is important to note that though they are part of a wireless system, many cameras must still have a power source. In most cases wireless refers to the method of data transmission.


Read More →

usbport_fullA USB port is a standard cable connection interface on personal computers and consumer electronics. USB ports allow stand-alone electronic devices to be connected via cables to a computer. USB can connect computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards, PDAs, gamepads and joysticks, scanners, digital cameras, printers, personal media players, flash drives, and external hard drives.

Read More →

mystica_usb_flash_driveA small, portable flash memory card that plugs into the USB port in a computer and functions as a portable hard drive. USB flash drives are touted as being easy-to-use as they are small enough to be carried in a pocket and can plug into any computer with a USB drive. USB flash drives also are called thumb drives, jump drives, pen drives, key drives, tokens, or simply USB drives.

Read More →

Concerning a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, Time To First Fix (TTFF) is a specification detailing the time required for a GPS receiver to acquire satellite signals and navigation data, and calculate a position solution (called a fix).

Read More →