IFTTT, motion alerts, Gotya

Use any WiFi Security Camera as IFTTT Trigger with Gmail Channel

IFTTT (IF This Then That) is a freemium service that enables you to connect your smart home/IoT (Internet of Things) devices including WiFi security cameras to a world of Web apps such as The Weather Channel, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail, and Dropbox, to name but 5 of the 128 available “Channels”.  In addition to Web apps Channels there are also native Android and iOS Channels such as notifications and location, as well as email, SMS, and phone call channels. When something happens on a (Trigger) Channel, IFTTT enables something else to happen on another (Action) Channel.

Any IP/WiFi camera that has motion detection and email alerts can work with IFTTT as a Trigger using the Gmail Channel. For example this recipe uses Dropcam motion alerts to turn on a WeMo Light Switch.

Gotya can also turn on your Wemo Light Switch just like Dropcam does. All you need to do is i) replace noreply@dropcam.com with gotya.alerts@mobiapplines.com in the Gmail from address field as shown below and ii) make sure the Gmail address that you enter into the Gmail Channel  is the same as your Gotya Alert email address (in the Gotya app, go to Camera->Settings or Remote Controller->Select Camera->Operation).

IFTTT, trigger, wemo

As a second example of using Gotya to trigger an IFTTT channel, when Gotya detects motion it can send you an SMS alert using this recipe (you’ll need to modify it to specify your own mobile phone# and Gmail address). As with the first example, make sure the Gmail address that you enter into the Gmail Channel  is the same as your Gotya Alert email address (in the Gotya app, go to Camera->Settings or Remote Controller->Select Camera->Operation).

The  SMS alerts include the URL with the picture stored on the Gotya Cloud. For security reasons you’ll need to login to the Gotya Cloud Service each time.

motion detection sms alert, IFTTT

Gotya motion detection SMS alert with link to picture in Gotya cloud

 

There is currently only one WiFi home security camera (actually an iOS app) called Manything, that has it’s own “proper” / native IFTTT channel, enabling it to be connected to all of the 128 Channels and can be used both as a Trigger and an Action in a Recipe (and not just as a Trigger via the Gmail Channel as this article has focused on). Expect this list to grow dramatically as IFTTT has recently raised a $30M Series B Round and is going to make their Channel Platform available to a lot more developers.

SmartThings has done an unofficial integration with Dropcam and SmartThings has their own IFTTT channel, so there’s potentially other stuff that you can do with the combination of Dropcam, SmartThings, and IFTTT, but that’s perhaps a topic for another blog post. A quick search of “SmartThings Dropcam” on IFTTT Browse Recipes returned zero results.

Let us know if you have created or use any IFTTT recipes for your IP/WiFi security camera in the Comments!

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lumia 900 windows phone

7 Things You Can Do With Your Old Smartphone

Consumers have several options for what to do with their old phone when they upgrade to a new one,  something that is happening more often than ever with programs like T-Mobile JUMP!  that encourages customers to upgrade their smartphone as often as every six months with a credit for up to half of the old phone’s original cost.  The other big mobile operators in the U.S. have similar programs having followed T-Mobile’s lead.

  1. Sell it to an end user consumer on EbaySwappa, or other used phone websites/marketplaces. If your phone is still in good condition,  fully functional with a clean ESN and ready for activation you can get a decent price. For a Nokia Lumia 900, if your phone meets all their selling criteria, the avg selling price on Swappa for June is listed at $55. If your phone is damaged or broken, you can try and salvage something by selling it on the Swappa Boneyard.
  2. Sell it to a used phone dealer/business. Trade it in at a mobile operator store or operator website  for a promotion card good for buying more stuff from the operator,  or get a credit to your mobile phone bill. Or sell it to Gazelle. You’re going to get a lot less money this way. See the screenshots below.
  3. Pass it on to a (junior) family member
  4. Destroy  it with a hammer or back over it with a car (or whatever your preferred demolition method) so that it’s unusable/won’t power on, and then take it to an electronics recycler. It’s better to destroy it before recycling to ensure that your personal data on the device won’t fall into the wrong hands.
  5. Throw it in the trash. But that wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly now would it.
  6. Put it in a drawer and forget about it.
  7. Extend its useful life with a utility/tools type app, such as a security camera, music player, or a flashlight.

With options 1-2 there is the risk of not properly wiping your phone (specifically, doing a factory reset which you would think would be enough but isn’t – on Android devices, you also need to turn on encryption) and thus leaving your data (pictures, emails, text messages, address book, and so on) vulnerable to hacking.  With option 2. there is also the question of how much money you’ll get. In the case of the Lumia 900 according to the AT&T Device Trade-In Appraisal tool, the absolute most it’s worth in good/normal use condition is $10 in the form of store or website credit. At Verizon, their maximum price is $11.

used smartphone, lumia 900

Used Lumia 900 maximum price AT&T will pay

At Gazelle, it’s worth $0 with a cracked screen (as shown in the featured image at the top of this blog post). On the plus side, they do provide a link to recycling resources.

Lumia, Windows Phone, motion detection camera

Lumia 900 w/cracked screen worth nothing to Gazelle

 

If you’re not comfortable with the data vulnerability issue or can’t get the price you want via 1. or 2. and don’t have a suitable family member to give your old phone to, option 7. is not a bad one. Certainly better than 4., 5., or  6., one would think.  Especially if it’s got a cracked screen, a not uncommon ailment of used phones.

See the cracked-screen Lumia 900 reborn as a Gotya security camera! Even though the screen is cracked, it functions perfectly well as a motion detection camera.

motion detection camera, lumia 900, windows phone

Lumia 900 w/cracked screen gets new lease on life as a motion detection camera

If you’ve recently upgraded your phone, let us know in the comments what you’ve done or plan to do with your old one.

Get Your Own Barking Watchdog While You’re Away On Vacation

Summer vacation season is in full swing and lots of people will be away from their homes at their favorite vacation spots. Here in the U.S. this 4th of July weekend, the AAA estimates more than 41 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more.

People away from their homes on vacation can get peace of mind by using a home monitoring/surveillance system app on the smartphones and tablets they have with them  to see what’s happening at their homes, get photo or video records of movement, and get alerts when motion is detected so they can respond accordingly.

Gotya is a low-cost way to monitor your house or apartment while you’re away enjoying your vacation and to automatically take pictures of moving objects. Set up Gotya cameras at the points of entry or approach to your home – pathways, doorways, gates, and windows  – and if anything moves in those areas,  Gotya will automatically take pictures and send you email, picture, and sound alerts so you always know what’s going on.

You can set your Gotya camera to play an alert sound as a warning to trespassers or potential  intruders that they’re being watched. Crank up the volume on your device to full blast or even hook it up to external speakers to blast the Gotya warning sound whenever they move to make them think twice! This is the next best thing to having a barking watchdog dog at your place while you’re away!

motion detection camera

Turn on alert sound to warn potential intruders

 

In addition to the Gotya alert sound, you can also fire the camera’s flash as a visual warning to potential intruders. When something moves, Gotya fires the camera’s flash, blasts the alert sound,  takes a picture, and sends you an alert. With Gotya taking multiple pictures per second, the intruder will see a series of flashes and hear a repeating alarm sound.  With today’s bright LED and super bright Xenon flash on devices like the Nokia Lumia, it’s sure to catch the interloper’s eye, make them nervous, and think seriously about leaving, fast.  It’s like having a Cujo-like dog with flashing eyes watching your home while you’re away!

motion detection camera

Turn on Flash to fire as a warning when motion is detected

 

motion detection camera

Lumia 822 Gotya camera watching front pathway with Flash set to on

 

motion detection camera

This is what it looks like to somebody moving in front of the camera

 

Let us know in the comments how you’re using Gotya to watch your home while you’re away on vacation. Have a good one!

Featured image courtesy of http://blog.ricardoarturocabral.com/

high frame rate, motion detection

High Frame Rate (fps) Motion Detection and Picture Capture

While video surveillance/security/monitoring apps capture video at 30 frames per second (fps), Gotya photo surveillance can capture up to 15 fps when set to high-speed motion detection. This means that you will not miss anything and be able to capture a detailed record of a motion triggered event, while realizing the benefits of photo survellance namely low upstream bandwidth usage, ability to operate on slower speed mobile data networks (2.5/3G) or slower WiFi, if high-speed WiFi is not available or is too costly, and capturing only the frames that contain motion.

And as mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) track Moore’s Law and continuously get faster CPUs, more RAM, and faster network chips,  Gotya leverages that into ever faster picture capture frame rates – 15 fps may not be the maximum.

To illustrate Gotya in high-speed (high frame rate / fps)  motion detection mode, we used a Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone 8 which is a 1 year and 8 months old device (began shipping in September 2012). This device has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU (Dual-core 1.5 GHz ) and 1024 MB RAM. One of Gotya’s core benefits is enabling consumers to use their old smartphones and tablets as motion detection cameras.  A 20-month old device is representative of a real world use case, where smartphones are typically updated after 18-24 months (and often times even  faster with upgrade programs like T-Mobile JUMP).

To set Gotya for high-speed motion detection, go into Camera->Advanced Settings and set Object motion all the way to fast (20) as shown below.

motion detection speed

Object motion set to 20 (fast)

Then aim and calibrate the Gotya motion detection camera as usual – the setup for this example is shown below. The important thing to note about calibration and how it affects motion detection / frame capture speed is that the smaller the active window, the faster the motion detection gets. In this example, we’ve set the active window to about 80% of the camera viewfinder to cover the path to detect anyone walking on it and to ignore motion outside of the active window. If the active window was say 50%, motion detection speed would increase proportionally.

motion detection camera calibration

Active windows size (orange frame) ~ 80% of viewfinder

The GIF  below shows 32 frames captured in 4 seconds by Gotya with the above settings.  Included below the GIF are the first and last picture in the sequence from the Gotya Web Gallery, with timestamp in the top left corner. The first timestamp is 11:16:38 and the last timestamp is 11:16:42 = total of 4 seconds.

This means Gotya running in fast motion detection mode on a 20-month old device captured 8 frames/second.

motion detection app, fps, photo surveillance app

32 frames captured in 4 seconds on an 20-month old smartphone (Lumia 820)

 

motion detection app

Frame 1 of 32

motion detection camera app

Frame 32 of 32

 

In a future post when Gotya for Android is released (in the coming weeks), we’ll compare the frame rate capture of the 18-month old Lumia 820 to a Google-Asus Nexus 7 (2013) Android tablet which is 10 months old as of the date of this post, and has a quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU and 2GB RAM. After that we’ll benchmark a  a current device that started shipping in 2014. This will illustrate the effect of Moore’s law on Gotya’s maximum frame rate capture and we expect to be approaching or exceeding 15 fps as claimed at the top of this post.

(Featured Image courtesy of www.empirecinemas.co.uk )

camera calibration

How to remote calibrate your Gotya motion detection camera

Calibrating your Gotya camera is an important step to ensure that motion detection is executing  in the area of the camera viewfinder that you want, as well as detecting the right minimum object size. Setting the “active window” size and location determines where Gotya detects motion within the camera viewfinder. Setting the minimum object size enables you to filter out smaller objects and reduces false alerts. For example, if you want to detect a human size object, you can set the object size accordingly and therefore the movement of smaller objects (such as small animals, or tree branches blowing in the wind) will be filtered out.

You can calibrate the camera two different ways:

1) directly on the device you’re using as the camera by tapping on the calibration icon from the Gotya camera menu.

2) from the device you’re using as the camera remote controller using remote calibration

In some use cases, the placement/positioning of the smartphone that you’re using as the Gotya camera makes it difficult or impossible to see the camera viewfinder and to access the touch screen with your fingers to adjust the calibration settings. This happens when the phone is mounted against a wall or other barrier, is placed high up out of reach , or is otherwise difficult or impossible to reach. This is when remote calibration comes in very handy. Note: regardless of whether you calibrate the camera directly on the device or remotely, the calibration user interface/ user experience (UI/UX) is identical so you only have to learn one way to do it.

To remotely calibrate your Gotya camera, follow these steps (note: the camera and the remote controller must be connected to the Gotya Cloud Service. You connect to the Gotya Cloud Service by tapping on Service Account from the main menu, then logging in with your email address and password from the login screen).

1) Mount the device you’re using as the camera and take your best guess at aiming/orienting it to capture the area that you want to detect motion in.

camera setup

2) Take a remote snapshot from the device you’re using as the remote controller to see if you’ve got the camera aimed correctly. Repeat 1) and 2) until you have the camera aimed correctly.

remote snapshot

3) From the remote controller, tap on calibration.

 

camera calibration

 

4) You will see the calibration main menu.  From here you can set the active window and the minimum object size as explained in the on-screen instructions.

 

motion detection camera

5) In this example I’ve set the active window to detect motion of a person walking up the  path, and filtering out motion that occurs above the active window in the viewfinder.

motion detection

6) Next I set the minimum object size to roughly the size of a person, thereby filtering out smaller moving objects.

motion detection camera

 

Now that I have the camera aimed and calibrated as I want, I can go ahead and start the camera and start motion detection, picture capture, and alerting when somebody walks on the path.

shodan, internet of things

Protect your Web security and baby monitor cameras from hackers

If you’re one of the millions of consumers using a Web or IP security camera (such as Foscam, Belkin, Insteon, Dropcam to name but a few) with an accompanying mobile app (Android or iOS) to monitor it, make sure you change the default login (username and password) immediately as a basic security measure to prevent hackers from accessing your camera and doing really stupid and creepy things like this.  In Foscam’s defense, this incident probably involved a Foscam device simply because they’re so popular. It could have been any Webcam or baby monitor  from any manufacturer. In addition, Foscam  recently updated the camera’s firmware to prompt users to change the default login and they have also recently published a list of tips for consumers to secure their cameras on the Foscam blog.

 As reported by ReadWrite, something called the Shodan search tool is one way Internet connected device hackers can identify targets so if there’s a “Google search for connected devices” out there, this is serious business and users should be on red alert to take action to secure their cameras.

And it’s not just Internet connected cameras that consumers need to be vigilant to ensure they’re secured – it’s Internet connected thermostats, door locks, lights, appliances, motion and contact sensors, sprinklers – literally any gadget with an IP address connected to the Internet. As the Internet of Things continues to expand well into the tens of billions of devices, gadgets, and sensors of all sorts, online gadget hacking is only going to increase.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly secure your connected devices.

For a low cost remote controlled security camera that uses your old smartphone and that doesn’t even have a default login and therefore can’t be susceptible to that type of attack, check out Gotya.

video surveillance, photo surveillance, home monitoring, security camera

Photo vs Video Surveillance App Costs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Video surveillance apps like Dropcam are great. They have awesome features (720p HD video, live streaming, night vision, 2-way audio, digital zoom, wide angle lens, motion and sound-triggered alerts).  And kudos to Dropcam for having such an awesome feature set and enabling folks to set up their own home video surveillance/monitoring system that they can control from their smartphone,  bypassing the big incumbent security companies with their $50 for 36-month (that’s $1,800) monitoring contracts and $99-$300 for installation charges.

However, even though Dropcam eliminates those expensive “professional” installation charges and monitoring contracts from companies like ADT Pulse,  those awesome video surveillance features listed in the opening paragraph above come at a correspondingly awesome (translation: high) price.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) to the consumer for an independent (aka Over-The-Top) smartphone based photo or video surveillance app and cloud service can be broken out into three main categories:

1) Camera

2) Cloud Service for monitoring, alerts, and picture storage or video recording

3) Upstream Internet connection

In the case of Dropcam video surveillance, continuous (up)streaming of video is required for motion detection (which is done in the Dropcam cloud) and video recording. So if you want any record or evidence (i.e. recording) of what happened, you’ll need to sign up for the Dropcam Cloud Recording (CVR) service. You can get motion alerts and view live video without the service, but to save any video footage you’ll need the CVR service.

The Infographic below compares these three cost categories and feature sets for  a  photo surveillance app (Gotya) and a video surveillance app (Dropcam). If you can afford the camera and monthly service fees and have access to affordable high-speed Internet, it’s clear that video surveillance offers a richer feature set than photo surveillance.

However, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t have high-speed WiFi at home (or it’s very expensive) or only have 3G Internet access, and are looking for a way to build your own low-cost security/surveillance system, you might want to take a look at Gotya.

(Note: Internet access charges are based on $110/month for a 50Mbps/down and 5Mbps/up Internet connection in Sao Paulo).

Check out the Infographic below for a comparison of the costs and features of photo (Gotya) vs video (Dropcam) surveillance apps.

photo surveillance, video surveillance, app, security camera, home monitoring