I used to be a stay-at-home dad for a few years. I’d do some freelance writing contracts while sitting on my couch in Spiderman pajamas and my fuzzy bunny slippers. It was great, because I got to bring home the bacon while being at home taking care of my kids and looking after the house. Today, I have a full-time gig in downtown Vancouver and commute to work every day, leaving my kids to come home all by themselves at the end of the day. I don’t like not being able to make sure my kids are okay after school, so I have begun to look into different options for smart cameras I can set up in my domicile and check in on the empty house during the day, and when my kids get home. But is an IP camera for everyone? I look into whether you should add a smart camera to your home.
What’s a Smart Camera?
A Smart Camera (also sometimes called an IP Camera or Wi-Fi Security Camera) is usually a video camera that works over your home’s internet connection to record and/or stream footage that you can view on any PC or mobile device. Some people will also call them Nanny Cams, or Spy Cams, but you get the basic idea here. These are stand-alone gadgets that are essentially meant for consumer/personal home surveillance. My wife thinks it’s a creepy idea to have me watching them at the house remotely, but I disagree. If I hid it in a plant or something and didn’t tell them about it, that’d be creepy—and possibly the plot of a bad movie of the week or something. I, however, see lots of benefits of owning a Smart Camera.
Why Do I Need One?
I’m away from my house for about 10-12 hours a day now, five days a week … much like any working adult who doesn’t want to live in a cardboard box. I have kids and a mortgage, so that means my significant other is also on the full-time employment rat race treadmill. So, our home is left unwatched for long periods every day. Okay, we live in a pretty safe neighbourhood, in a safe little town, with lots of neighbours, and it’s not like we have anything worth stealing. I’d be bummed if someone took my computer or my action figure collection (they’re not dolls, I tell my wife … men have “action figures”). Some of these Smart Cameras come with motion detection, so I would get a notification on my phone right away if there’s movement in the house. I have a cat, so I’d likely get notifications all the time as the malicious little bugger would likely trip it on purpose, but you see how that would be a handy feature. I also have a dog, and I’d love to be able to tune into a video stream and make sure she wasn’t eating the couch … or the cat. I’d hate it if that couch got ruined. Many of these cameras, like the Nest Cam, feature 2-way audio, as well. So you can scold your pets (and freak them out) from anywhere. I’d also use it to make sure my kids got home from school on time and were okay, or to check in on supper before leaving the office for the commute home. “Need me to pick up anything?” And what about when you are away on vacation? Forget asking the neighbour to check in on your house when you can do it from your iPhone. It just seems like a real boon to be able to keep an eye on my home when I’m not there for so many reasons.
As I stated earlier, there are a plethora of camera systems out there for every type of need, user and budget. One of the most highly rated is the Nest Cam WiFi Indoor IP Camera (shown at the top of this article). When researching this article, the Nest Cam and its predecessors all came recommended for easy-of-use and their many features, such as 24/7 live streaming, 2-way audio, phone alerts and night vision. A similar system is the Piper Classic Smart Security System with Door Sensor, with many of the same features, plus a sensor for your front door. These cameras come at a variety of price points. A lower cost option, for example, is the TP-Link Day/Night Cloud IP Camera, which still features motion detection and streaming video you can view remotely with a PC or mobile device.
If you’re looking to get a bit more fancy, some cameras like the Netatmo Welcome Wireless Indoor HD IP Camera, feature facial recognition software so they can tell the difference between a stranger and a loved one in your home. Or, if you want to go a little more full-on, the NETGEAR Arlo Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Security System gives you four cameras for both in and outside your home, with all the convenient motion detection and video viewing you need.
The Final Word
I get why my wife thinks it’s creepy. She’s worried people will hack into the system and compromise our privacy. However, if you make sure to change the default passwords and follow common sense conventions for creating a secure Wi-Fi network, you shouldn’t have to worry about prying digital eyes. And other than an empty house once in a while, it’s not like anyone will see anything other than me sitting in my Spiderman ‘jammies watching TV with a bowl of popcorn. Scintillating, I know. But, if you’re like me, and want to keep more of an eye on your home, your pets and your children, then the answer to the question, “Should I add a Smart Camera to my home?”… is yes.