I just read about a guy who caught a burglar in his house by
having his webcam turn on when it detected motion, and having it take pictures
and email the pictures somewhere. How can i set this up
The email part is a little unusual, but webcams are inexpensive these days
and so is the software to monitor them. Several software packages support
motion detection as well as publishing the results in different ways.
Let’s review the pieces you need.
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First, of course, you need a webcam. That’s nothing more than a video camera
attached to your computer. Many digital video cameras, for example, can be used
as webcams. More realistically, webcams from popular manufacturers like
Logitech are not only
inexpensive, but often come complete with the drivers and software required to
do everything you need.
Once you have a webcam, the next step is software. Most will
actually come with software that will allow you some sort of webcam
functionality, but possibly not motion detection. It’s often an option – the
default might be the more common behavior of taking a picture every so many
seconds. Look for options under surveillance or motion detection to see if the
accompanying software has this feature. If it does, you’re almost done.
If not, there are some very good packages out there. One I’ve used in the
past is ISpy. A quick search also turns
up WebCam Monitor – while I’ve not used
this product, it promises to do pretty much everything you might want. In fact,
quick search for “webcam motion detection
software” turns up many possibilities. If you’re on a budget, “free webcam motion
detection software” also has several hits, but I’m always very
cautious downloading so-called “free” software.
Finally, there’s what to do with the motion captured images. Realize, of
course, that your computer needs to be on and connected to the internet in
order for you to be able to view your web cam remotely. The most common
approach is to have the webcam take a snapshot every few seconds and
automatically upload that to a website. With motion detection involved, the cam
might only upload the snapshot if, or when, motion has been detected. You would
then simply visit the website periodically to see what your cam’s been looking
at. (If you don’t already have a website of your own, check with your ISP. You
may already have space available from them that you can use for things like
The scenario mentioned in the original question is an interesting one: once
motion is detected, take a snapshot and immediately email them to you. Not all
webcam software supports this, so make sure to check for the feature as you
evaluate what package to use. The aforementioned WebCam
Monitor, for example, lists email as one of its options.
All in all, using a webcam for some simple surveillance is fairly inexpensive,
quite possible, and quite popular.