Old smartphone + Skype = simple access-anywhere home security camera

Skype_std_use_logo_pos_col_rgbIt seems inevitable these days that we’ll be changing our phones at least once every two years, if not every year. As a consequence then, most of us will no doubt have some spare handsets lying around. In my case, its a couple of old Android phones and an old iPod Touch.

I’m one of those people who hates to see old tech go to waste, mainly because I’m of the view that they’re still eminently capable of doing some useful things. You only have to see how much the Raspberry Pi has taken off to know that low-powered tech can still perform a lot of useful tasks. So, with that in mind I thought I’d see what could be done with my old handsets – and found rather a nifty solution. By simply installing Skype on them, then setting Skype to automatically answer with a video call, I can use the handsets as globally-accessible video cameras, letting me check on home when I’m away etc.

If you want to give this a go, its dead simple. Just do the following:

1. Install Skype on your old handset or iPod Touch.
2. Create a new account with the name of your choosing (e.g. Home.Cam.1.)
3. Once installed and logged in, go into Settings and check the box marked “Answer calls automatically”. Then if the option is there, check the box marked “enable video calling”.

That’s it. Install Skype on your current phone or computer, video call the other one and it should answer and immediately start streaming video.

To make this more secure, I’d recommend adding your “security cam” handset as a contact, then going into settings on the security camera phone and checking the option to only receive calls from contacts. That way, the only person who can call your security camera handset is you.

From there, all you need to do is position your phone wherever you want to and ensure its plugged into a power source, and you should be good to go. If you really want to round things out, buy a smartphone camera mount to set your phone up on a camera tripod. Simple – and a lot cheaper than buying a remote IP webcam and messing about with port forwarding on your router.

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