Use your Webcam for Security in Your Home01 Sep 2012
Using technology you might already own, you can create a simple video security system by using your webcam, coupled with either a smartphone, tablet or even a web browser. The software is free to use (the desktop version if free… the app costs $4.99) and lets you easily broadcast live video from your computer (Mac or Windows) to a smartphone running the appropriate software.
What you need
To get started you need to make sure you have the following… a Windows or Mac based computer along with an attached web camera. To receive video you also need to have an iPad, iPhone or an Android powered device. Alternatively you can use a web browser on a remote computer to call back home and check your video feed.
The first step is to install the iCamSource software by visiting here. Installation is relatively simply and all you need to do there is follow the instructions found through the process. When installed, load it up, select the camera source (you can actually have up to 16 cameras streaming data if you view them with an iPad). Select a schedule (if desired… such as business hours when you might be out of your home) and then click the Start button. In most instances the iCamSource software will work with your standard router settings. Things only get a little more complicated if you have a more complex setup although instructions are provided on how to get it working on the website linked above.
The next step is to install the iPhone, iPad or Android app which are found under the name of iCam in the iTunes App Store or through Google Play. These apps cost $4.99.
To connect the two up you need to open up iCamSource on your desktop and specify a username and password. This can be anything you want although I suggest you make it complicated. When this is done, load up the app version on your mobile device and when prompted, enter the exact same username and password. The iCam (SKJM) website simply connects your devices together and if the passwords match, the can talk.
All you now need to do is just make sure push notifications are enabled on your mobile device, which they are by default, and when your camera spots any movement it starts recording images to your computer, sends a push notification to your phone via Apple or Google and notifies you of movement at home. You can then log in and check the live video stream (which also can have audio if your camera supports it) and see if it’s anything important.
What if your computer is stolen
Although it’s all well and good being able to capture on video if intruders are in your home, the main problem with that is if they steal your computer… the images only get stored locally. For that reason I recommend you use a service such as Dropbox and set the storage destination as a folder within your Dropbox account. As soon as images are captured (when movement happens) they will be saved in a Dropbox folder and then uploaded. As the images are fairly small in size they upload quickly and hopefully the power isn’t cut to the computer before they can be uploaded. Either way, adding them to Dropbox allows you to access the image on another PC if they computer had a chance to upload them which it probably did.
What kind of cameras work with iCam?
iCamSource is able to attach to many cameras at the same time. If you use iCam for your home then perhaps you want to have a camera around all vulnerable places in your home such as watching doors, windows and any other place where someone might get in. iCam doesn’t work with all cameras, but does have a healthy and growing list of IP cameras available. Some IP cameras have wireless functionality which means you can plug in a camera, configure it to attach to your wireless network at home and then configure iCam to connect to that camera wirelessly. Some IP cameras also come with night vision thanks to infrared LEDs which also helps when rooms are dark.
As iCam is only $4.99 to use with the only extra cost being that of extra cameras (should you have an iPhone, iPad or Android device already as well as a computer and a webcam) then it’s well worth testing out. Although it isn’t good being paranoid all the time about leaving your home, at least you can quickly check on an app and have a video streamed right to your device. Overall, an excellent product and idea.