Friday, 2 May 2014

Technology: How to Use Your Extra Smartphones / Tablets As Webcam?

Watching my baby sleep while I work in front of my PC (low-light, 1080p)
Image from Locky's English Playground
You know, sometimes it's like, you have the money to buy an IP cam, you know it will be useful, but it just happens that you have too many old Android smartphones around...

Huh? How are they related?

Well, you can use your old smartphones as IP cams!!! This is not actually something new, but because our smartphones have got so much better in speed and image quality, such technology has become ever so awesome (and practical) !!!

Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

IP Webcam app
Image from Google Play

I have a video by Zedomax below but before that, you'll also need this, IP Webcam by Pavel Khlebovich. It is so simple to use!

Here are my steps:

  1. Install the app on your Android device and run (make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi or data)
  2. Press "Start server" and note the IP address shown on the device screen
  3. Go to your PC, use any browser and type that IP address
  4. On the browser, choose "Flash" or "Browser" under "Video renderer" and/or "Audio player"
  5. Enjoy!
  6. PS: If you want to save battery power, you can turn off the screen on your device by going to "Power management" and check "Deactivate display". If that doesn't work, press "Actions..." on the top right corner and then press "Run in background", then you can just off the screen on your phone like you normally do.
Choose Run in background
Image from Locky's English Playground

On my Galaxy Note 2, the 80% of the 3100mAh battery can last for 2 hours with screen off. You can use it for the whole day while having it plugged to a socket.

Operation Panel
Image from Locky's English Playground
And of course, you have many options to play with. My personal favourite is "Photos", the options "Take photo" and "Take focused photo" allow you to save photos on your PC, whereas "Save photo to storage" and "Save focused photo to storage" save photos on the device directly. If you want videos, you can simply use the "Recorder control".

Using IP Webcam on Note 2 pointing camera at my monitor screen
Image from Locky's English Playground

Personally, "Stream quality" at around 35% provide great speed at fair image quality, but I play with 100% occasionally. Under Misc, you can even play with "Night vision"! I have yet to try it but I suppose it would be fun!

Why don't you do that for me?

you can't teach an old dog new tricks (saying) -- said to mean that it is very difficult to teach someone new skills or to change someone's habits or character


How to Turn Your Android Smartphone or Tablet into a Security IP Webcam! @ YouTube

IP Webcam by Pavel Khlebovich @ Google Play