Worried about your home’s security after a string of break-ins in your neighborhood? Maybe you want to keep an eye on your domestic help or nanny. What you need is a security camera. But setting up a home surveillance system might be quite costly. If you are looking for a cheap way to make sure someone does not intrude at your home or office, there are free apps that can turn your PC’s webcam into a spy camera.
To set up a cost-effective security camera, you will need at least one webcam, or several IP cameras if your home is large. Free software can capture motion by an intruder, and alert you by emailing you a live feed or high-resolution photos. Some programs will also let you view activity remotely from another computer or your mobile phone.
Below is a list of applications that will turn your laptop into a surveillance device. All are free and easy to configure.
A free, open-source application, iSpy lets you monitor your workplace or home remotely. The software program provides several ways to notify you if it detects an intruder, including an alarm system, a recording system, and sending screengrabs to your PC or mobile phone.
iSpy can connect to multiple IP cameras and microphones. It automatically starts recording whenever it captures motion. However, to enable live remote viewing from any PC, you will need to spend between $7 and $49 per month to unlock this feature.
Setting up iSpy is easy. All you need is a PC webcam and a long USB cable. The software program connects with your camera and records any motion the camera captures. You can set specific areas to monitor, and configure motion capture settings for automatic recording. Have an extra webcam? Connect it to iSpy and set up a mini home security system right away!
2. Yaw Cam
A free software program, Yaw Cam lets you set up a mini home surveillance system through your laptop’s web camera. The software is very easy to set up, and has a lot of features for a free application.
You can configure Yaw Cam so that it tracks and captures motion, either within a specified area of your home or workplace, or in the entire area within the webcam’s field of view.
The app notifies you of any intrusion by sending hi-resolution photos of the motion capture via email or a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site. You can set your photo notifications with your Yahoo or Gmail email address and get instant live alerts on your mobile phone or computer.
Before installing this software, make sure you install Java Virtual Machine.
This remote desktop application can easily turn your webcam into a spy camera. All you need to do is connect your webcam to the app and set up a connection with your Gmail, YouTube or Twitter account, for instant text, photo, or video notifications of any intrusion. This free software program supports motion capture. However, the lengthy setup may not appeal to the average user.
In addition to monitoring your webcam, the application lets you view your desktop remotely and access your computer's folders. You can view and download any folder on your PC right from your mobile phone or web browser.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another ideal remote monitoring software program for home and office. Once connected to your webcam, the app detects motion. Its state-of-the-art capabilities easily distinguish moving people from moving objects. It tracks and captures motion, streams it live for remote viewing, and records it for future review. You can filter out a long video capture to show only important moments. A detailed guide can be found in the official site’s “support” section.
The app is easy to configure and won’t take too much time to set up so that you can receive real-time alerts from your webcam. The free version supports only one webcam; you will need to spend money to get multi-cam support. Still, even the free version has some amazing features.
Tips to Beef Up Home Security
If you are quite serious about home and office security, then you should invest in a decent surveillance system beyond the above software. You will need good hardware: for a small home, a wireless IP camera with built-in microphone. Some portable wireless systems support remote monitoring via Smartphone.
For larger homes, you may need a four-camera or eight-camera home security system. These security systems are quite costly, but worthwhile features include night vision, DVR monitoring, and a recording system.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Dean Walsh from Birmingham, England on November 08, 2013:
I keep meaning to do something like this because I don't feel like I need a full professional security system but it would be nice to have something.