We recently had an incident where I needed a baby monitor, but forgot to bring ours along. Instead of purchasing a new one, I looked into way to turn our computer and iPhone into an impromptu video monitor. I tried to Skype call myself, but the call dropped as soon as I left wifi range. I did a google search, and it finally spit out the iCam app a few times.
It got good reviews, so I decided to give it a shot. It’s a $5 purchase from the app store, then you download the source program onto your computer. It uses the web cam in your computer to monitor the situation, and then transmits it to your phone. As long as you have wifi or 3G service, you’re all set.
I downloaded the iCam Source document to my PC from www.skjm.com/icam and it was a quick download and pretty easy to set up. Once you download the app onto your iPhone (or Android) you plug in a login username and password onto the computer and into the app and hit Start. From there you put your computer where you want it to be (in this case, Shannon’s bedroom) and you can watch from your phone. It sends you alerts when it senses motion and you can set it to take pictures as well. The concept is pretty cool.
However, this falls under the category of you get what you pay for.
I’ve run into a couple of problems.
1) Once you hit the start button and close out of the screen that pops up, the camera continues to run on your computer, even if the computer goes to sleep. I can’t get the program to open again so I can shut off the camera and adjust the settings. I’ve deleted the program from my compuer and redownloaded it with the same results. The camera just continues to run.
2) There is about a 4-5 second delay in the sound. Not a big deal, but then it continues to echo. I was testing it out yesterday and heard myself say hello about 12 times.
3) This one is perhaps my biggest concern. My phone pinged this morning with a message that the motion sensor had gone off. I figured it was the cat, since the baby was with me and I opened the app. Imagine my surprise when I was staring at 3 strange houses! This was a huge red flag for me. There are a lot of creepo’s out there and I don’t want them watching my kid sleep. It would be easy to figure out someone’s username and password and watch their home from your phone, as I accidently did this morning. My best guess is that their username/password combo was the same as mine, which is what gave me access to their live streams. The idea is very, very unsettling. Since I can’t re-open the computer program, I have no way of stopping the stream.
4) It sucks the battery life out of your phone before you can even think about it. When I opened the app, my phone was hangin’ out at about 75% charged. Within about a half an hour, it was down around 30%.
I have an e-mail into the makers of the app, wondering what the issues are and if they are simply user error or not. Either way, my opinion is that the app is great in theory, and it does work, however, in order for me to feel comfortable using it for any home or child monitoring purposes, it needs to be a little bit more secure.
Those of you be warned. Our guard dog is very vicious, and she will bite your face off. 😉