When it comes to the advanced capabilities that many camera security systems have, there are two mentioned most often – motion detection and motion tracking. Sometimes uttered in the same breath as is if they were interchangeable, motion detection and motion tracking are two very different things in the world of digital security camera technology; here’s what you need to know about both motion detection and motion tracking to differentiate one from the other.


Motion Detection


While the technology has some things in common with other motion detection technologies used in home or business security systems in that users can adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection, camera systems equipped with this capability both use a different type of technology to accomplish their goals and are also more configurable. In basic terms, a security camera equipped with motion detection technology has the ability to, through an advanced algorithm, notice when the area that it’s monitoring or recording undergoes a change. This is different from a physical sensor in a home security system, which works by bathing a region in passive infrared light and looking for interruptions in its beam.


Additionally, motion detection systems are much more configurable in that you can typically choose specific regions of the camera’s field of view that should be monitored for changes in movement. This is beneficial to reduce false activations, as an operator can omit regions of the field of view such as the sky or a busy street. However, unlike motion tracking cameras, motion detection cameras are almost always fixed and cannot move.


Motion Tracking


Motion tracking cameras, by comparison, are almost required to be able to move by definition. These pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras have a wide range of motion thanks to their motorized joints, and advanced programming allows them to not just detect when something enters their frame but to track it as it moves across its field of view. This makes motion tracking cameras an excellent choice for areas that are relatively secluded or that are not expected to receive much in the way of movement – installing a motion tracking camera in place of a motion detection camera would result in the camera almost always being on, as there’s no way to change or reduce its sensitivity.


However, there are some limitations to motion tracking cameras. If two objects come into the frame at the same time and move off in different directions, most motion tracking cameras will default to following the larger object. Objects that move into frame but then stop moving for a short time can also end up being ignored by a motion tracking camera – if the camera defaults back to its home position after the object stops moving, this could create a blind spot if the object begins to move once again. In order to combat this issue, many highly advanced motion tracking cameras come with analytics software to provide some degree of control for operators.