Owen is four weeks old today. He is getting bigger and alert more hours each day.
Here is the headshot.
Say you are a new parent whose relatives live far, far away. What if you could easily allow family to see your child doing basic things babies do without jumping on a plane? After all, grandmothers can never see enough of their grandchildren. Imagine how many cool points you would get if your mother-in-law in Chicago could watch your son sleeping (or sleepless) in Seattle. This post is a walkthrough of how I setup a webcam over Owen’s crib that can be viewed using any popular Web browser from anywhere on the Internet.
Let’s begin with the end in mind. Below is an image showing the final result. This is an actual screenshot from the webcam exactly as it was delivered to my browser. I think Owen knows when he is being watched. 🙂
The required equipment turns out to be quite simple if we make the following assumptions about your home network.
With the assumptions out of the way, the complete equipment list is as follows:
Yes, that’s it. No fancy computer or other electronics. No crazy HDMI, DVI, SCSI, IEEE-1394 or other expensive cables.
Before celebrating, you should know this is not your average Instant Messaging, MySpace or eHarmony webcam. This is a commercial-grade network camera often used by businesses and municipalities for asset monitoring and security. That means you get turnkey functionality, high quality and unsurpassed flexibility at a higher price point. What’s the damage? The Axis 207W runs $350 on Amazon. I paid $242.25 after shipping using eBay. Both prices are at the extreme of what one would typically pay for a consumer-grade USB webcam. However, you don’t need a computer or any special software to run an Axis network camera or to allow multiple people to access the camera at the same time. A single Axis camera is is also much cheaper than the roundtrip airfare it will save you and your MIL.
NOTE: Be sure to get the 207W model which supports wireless and wired connections.
Once you follow the included instructions to get the camera connected to your network, configuration is straightforward.
A couple notes regarding the steps above.
Now you have a multi-user webcam that can be moved around as your child grows and needs (NannyCam?) change. How well does it work? In a word: great. Don’t take my word for it. Check out a public Axis camera running in Kiruna, Sweden. Yes, Sweden. You can also check out a list of public Axis cameras throughout the world.
But wait, there’s more. We eliminated the computer on the webcam side, what about for your visitors?
If they own an iPhone or iPod touch they can purchase Axis Cams by EyeSpyFx from Apple’s App Store for $4.99. With that program any Axis webcam can be viewed whenever their device is connected via 3G (iPhone only) or Wi-Fi (iPhone and iPod touch). You should check out TotalControl for your Windows Mobile, Blackberry or Android device.
Leave a comment if you have questions or encounter problems.
Microsoft Silverlight is required to view this photo album. Navigation is as simple as turning the pages of a magazine.
Most of the photos in this gallery were taken by Sandra Coan. She does great work and is a wonderful person to boot.