A bullet camera is a relatively small camera that can be placed inside or outdoors, typically for security and to pick up an image that is then relayed to a recorder or viewing device. The name “bullet camera” comes from the relatively small size, as well as the general shape of the cameras which tend to be long and cylindrical. These cameras are usually used for indoor security as concealed video monitoring devices or for outdoor security as durable, stationary devices. A bullet camera can be small enough to be concealed within something like a stuffed animal to create a so-called “nanny cam” or large enough to be a plainly visible deterrent form of external security.
Outdoor bullet cameras are typically placed high up to make them less accessible and harder to reach for tampering. The wires for the camera are also usually concealed within the body of the camera or its housing, to further prevent tampering with the device. These security cameras can also be wireless and send the video image to a nearby receiver which records the data or transmits it to a display for viewing.
Many times, this sort of external security will feed into a closed-circuit video system that allows viewing at certain locations but ensures the video image is not transmitted on usual television frequencies. A bullet camera in such security systems can often be seen at banks or convenience stores, and with increasing frequency around large parking lots or parking structures where crimes can happen far from crowded areas. The video images are often recorded and kept for a set period of time before being recorded over with new images.
Internal bullet cameras are often kept for home security and can be more easily concealed. A bullet camera can be small enough to hide inside of a toy or among books on a shelf to allow homeowners to see what happens when they are not home. This is especially popular among people who employ housekeepers, nannies, or other non-family members within the home.
A bullet camera can also be used for inappropriate or illegal reasons. Concealing a camera in a public restroom or a place of business without signs alerting the public about them can be illegal in some areas. The United States (U.S.) has specific laws regarding what methods of video monitoring and surveillance are legal. Usually, in the U.S. if a video device is being used to record people in public areas, the cameras must be visible and the people must often be made aware of the cameras through clear written notification.