Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 Ways to Set Up Remote Video Surveillance At Home

What’s happening in your house right now? Perhaps the cat is climbing your curtains, or your young son is playing catch in a room full of ornaments. There might even be an open window, inviting intruders.
If you’re home, you can sort all of these things out. But if you’re out of the house, you wouldn’t usually be aware of them, and therefore be unable to deal with the various dangers and incidents that are likely to occur.
To find out what is happening, you’ll need to set up a remote video surveillance system, and some means of viewing what is happening. There’s a good chance that you have an Internet connected smartphone, so that’s the viewing arranged. But what solutions can you use to setup video surveillance in your home, and once you’ve done this, what should you be looking at?

1. Pair Your Webcam with Your Phone

Perhaps the easiest option is to use one or more webcams connected to your PC. SKJM’s iCam is probably the best product out there at the moment, which facilitates the easy connectivity between a desktop computer (Windows or Mac camera servers can be downloaded from the iCam website) and an Android or iPhone/iPad mobile device.

While the desktop app is free, the mobile clients will set you back $5, but once setup, you’ll be able to observe what is taking place on your webcam on your smart device.
Several other tools are also available for creating a remote video surveillance system with your PC webcam.

2. Use an Old Smartphone

If relying on your PC’s webcam is impractical (perhaps the USB cable isn’t long enough to position the camera as you prefer), why not use one or more old smartphones?
These days, pretty much every electronic device comes with a camera, and by taking advantage of the camera on your old smartphone you can keep an eye on your property from afar. Whether your drawer hides an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or even an old Windows Mobile device, you should be able to find a suitable app to stream what the camera captures, and watch it remotely.
Our guide to building a security camera network out of old smartphones explains this in more detail.

3. Split Personality Action Cam

If you like to record footage of yourself skiing, skateboarding or some other exciting outdoor pursuit, and prefer to fund that sort of pastime rather than in securing your home — but reckon the latter is probably a really good idea — then perhaps consider the FLIR FX.
Unbelievably, this is a streaming security camera that actually doubles as an action cam! With up to 160 degrees of capture and 1080p recording, the camera can also display things you don’t see with the naked eye, such as temperature and humidity.
Compatible with FLIR Systems cases, you can view the streamed footage using the iPhone and Android apps.

4. The Dedicated Solution: Off the Shelf Security Cam Streaming

If you’re happy to spend money, rather than a security cam that doubles as an Action Cam, you might opt instead for a dedicated, off-the-shelf streaming securitycamera.
Unlike the other solutions suggested here, this isn’t a cheap option, but the results can be described as being more professional. You get devoted hardware, configured specifically for the capture of images in your home and their instantaneous streaming online via a server provided by the manufacturer. Your action camera, Raspberry Pi, webcam, and old smartphones can stay where they are, or be adapted for use with other projects.
Buying a streaming security camera is a good option, but if you go down this path, make sure you keep the system secure, otherwise you might find the footage being streamed online without your knowledge.

5. Raspberry Pi Security Cam

If using iCam with your PC, or setting up a smartphone security camera network wasn’t DIY enough for you, we suggest you take a look at the Raspberry Pi, which can be configured to run as a security camera system using either a USB webcam or the dedicated Pi Cam (an infrared version is also available).
The benefit of this solution is that you can combine the low cost with easy positioning (see below) as the devices, once installed in a camera-friendly case, are light and compact. Additionally, if you plan to setup a device outside, you can use a battery pack. Our previous guide to the development of a Raspberry Pi motion capture device should be a good starting point.

Positioning Your Surveillance Camera

Getting the positioning of your camera right can make all the difference. We already know that properties have weak spots, but if you’re streaming images across the web and haven’t secured your cameras or the footage, there is a chance that videos and time-lapse stills can be intercepted and viewed by criminals and other undesirables.
As such, take steps to not only secure the stream, but also to position cameras in such a way that naked bodies, opportunities for intrusion and other vital information are not shared. Our guide to positioning domestic surveillance cameras should help here.
Just as important, however, is deciding what you’re going to record and stream. If you have a small child, for instance, you might wish to make sure their cot is covered, for those nights when you suspect your babysitter might be distracted by a guest.
Similarly, an external camera capturing all visitors to your home might be useful, as will any devices covering interior and exterior points of entry. But if you just want to watch your fish, it’s probably best to just stick a waterproof camera in your aquarium.
Do you use a home security camera with streaming capability? Perhaps you built your own? Share you story and your thoughts in the comments.
Image Credit: Security camera by beeboys via Shutterstock

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