Home security systems are expensive. Thanks to smartphones, however, there are now lower cost solutions available.
Companies such as Withings, Canary, and Nest offer wireless web cameras that can help you monitor and protect your home. These cameras also offer features such as the ability to turn lights on and off.
Here are some great uses for wireless web cameras in your home.
Real-Time and Historical Video Surveillance
The cameras provide real-time video surveillance. You can also see past events, although this functionality varies, depending on the product.
The Nest Cam, for example, allows you to watch a live feed of your video. To see earlier clips, you’ll need to pay for the Nest Aware with Video History service. A 10-day Video History subscription costs $100 per year, and a 30-day Video History subscription costs $300 a year.
By contrast, the Withings Home security monitor offers 24-hours of video for free. You can watch, share, and download 30-days worth of videos for $7.95 per month.
Regardless of the camera, all feature the ability to receive alerts when it hears a noise or motion. Canary takes this a step further by offering one-touch access to the proper authorities (police, fire, or EMS) in the event of an emergency like a robbery or fire.
An Example: Viewing Video
The top third of the Withings Home app features a live video and sound feed. Immediately below this, you’ll see the link, “replay the last 24h.” Clicking on this link brings up a video featuring visual snippets from the previous 24 hours, organized from newest to oldest.
Each fragment contains video and sound for each time Withings Home hears a sound, feels motion, or detects unhealthy air levels. These snippets are also accessible from the main app screen. Subscribers can see videos and sound that go beyond 24 hours on the same screen.
At the top right of the screen, you’ll see a Control Center icon. From here you can activate: Do Not Disturb, which allows recording, but without sending notifications; Baby Monitor, which provides automatic audio activation when the app is in the background; and Camera Off, when video recordings and notifications are turned off.
One additional feature is Autopilot, where you manage when, and which days, your video is operational.
Trigger Lights, Change the Temperature
Thanks to the web-based IFTTT service, webcams can talk to other smart home devices and do some pretty amazing things such as turning on lights or setting the thermostat. IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That,” is a free service, available online and through apps on both iOS and Android.
For example, through IFTTT, you can tie your Withings Home to your Philips Hue lighting system. You can have your lights turn on whenever Withings Home detects motion or make your lights blink when someone enters the room.
Only want your camera on when you’re not at home? You can set this up too.
Not surprisingly, Nest Cam works well with the Nest Thermostat. For example, every time your Nest Thermostat is set to away, the Nest Cam can automatically turn on. Switch your thermostat to Home, and Nest Cam will turn off again.
An Example: Turn on Your Withings Home Automatically
The ideal way to add or create an IFTTT recipe is by using the IF app. Most likely, the recipe you’re looking for has already been added. If not, we’ll show you how to perform the action.
To find a recipe for Withings Home, go into the IF app and select the recipe icon at the top right of the screen. Then next to “My Recipes” select the “+” button. This brings up the “Suggested Services” screen. Find Withings Home. If you haven’t yet connected Withings Home to IFTTT, you’ll need to do so by clicking on the Withings Home link and then selecting Connect. From here, you’ll be asked to log in with your Withings account.
Once you’re connected, you’ll see a list of “Popular Recipes” for use with Withings Home. Select the one you’d like to use from this list. For example, select Every day at 09:00 AM, turn on your Withings Home and set it to Active Monitoring. From this screen, you’ll be asked to select your time, camera, and camera mode.
Once doing so, select Add from the screen. Once you do, the recipe is attached to your account, and you’re good to go.
To create a new recipe, go into the IF app and select the recipe icon at the top right of the screen. Then next to “My Recipes” select the “+” button. This brings up the “Suggested Services” screen. Select Create a recipe at the bottom of the screen and follow the directions.
Creating recipes in the IF app is an easy process, once you add a few examples. We’d suggest starting off by adding a few that have already been created. Once you’re comfortable, begin creating your own recipes.
IFTTT is compatible with Withings Home, Nest, and Canary.
Watch, Hear, and Talk to Your Kids
With a webcam, there is no reason to buy a separate baby monitor. The cam can give a real-time video of your sleeping child that includes sound.
Additionally, most webcams also offer the ability to talk to your child through your mobile device. This tool adds some real peace of mind and can eliminate a lot of running around each time your child gets fussy.
Want even more? Most of the current-generation webcams also feature the ability to control music paired with customized LED light sequences. This feature helps entertain and soothe your baby, making for a better bedtime routine.
Improve Your Home’s Air Quality
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Some of these compounds can be dangerous to your health after long-term exposure.
Products like Withings Home sense dangerous levels of VOC and alert you when there are problems via a notification; the device also blinks red.
Among the products that can temporarily increase VOC in your home are diapers, cleaning products, and the assembling of pressed-wood furniture. Opening windows is a quick solution to lower your VOC levels.
An Example: Changing Lights When Air Quality Deteriorates
Let’s circle back around to IFTTT. Using the IF app, you can create or select recipes where your lights will change whenever the air quality is poor. In addition to a Withings Home, you’ll need a Philips Hue lighting system installed. One current recipe is If an air quality alert is triggered, change light color to red.
Naturally, by adding lights, you’re making it even safer for your family.
Helping With Sleep
While webcams shouldn’t be considered a primary sleeping device, they can be a part of a larger solution to get a better night’s sleep. Doctors like to monitor a patient’s sleep patterns before making a diagnosis. Previously, this meant visiting a high-priced sleep center. Thanks to webcams, you can self-monitor and relay this information to your doctor.
An Example: Sharing a Video Clip
Video clips found in webcam apps are exportable for use elsewhere. In the Withings Home app, for example, you’ll find a folder icon on the top left of every video. Clicking on this icon converts the video into a shareable file.
You can share the video using the tools offered by the operating system on your smartphones.
Set-Up and Price
Setting up a home-based webcam is a very easy process. An app controls each device; just follow the in-app instructions to get started. Just remember to register for a free account and add your Wi-Fi connection.
Each webcam mentioned is just under $200. You can add multiple webcams to your account, thereby protecting your entire house. The choice is up to you.
What webcam to you use in your home?