nokia lumia 800, windows phone 7

In praise of older smartphones – unlike Skype, Gotya continues to support Windows Phone 7

Microsoft recently announced that Windows Phone 7 users will no longer be able to use Skype  “within the next few weeks”.  Not just discontinuing updates, bug fixes, or support, but terminating use altogether – not allowing sign-ins from Windows Phone 7 devices.

According to data from AdDuplex published on WMPoweruser, there are still 8-10 million active Windows Phone 7 users out there.

In contrast to the Skype decision, we here at Gotya are all about supporting older smartphones by enabling consumers to turn them into connected motion detection cameras for a near-free, portable DIY security and surveillance system.

Gotya supports and will continue to support Windows Phone 7. If you’re a WP7 user or  if you have upgraded to WP 8/8.1 and have your old WP7 device (like a Lumia 800, the first-ever WP7 Nokia Lumia from November, 2011)  lying around doing nothing, turn it into a near-free motion detection camera with remote snapshots and alerts with Gotya. And, you can use your current WP8/8.1 device as a remote control for your Gotya WP7 motion detection camera!

WP7 users and device owners, we got your back.

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android, multitasking, nexus 7

Get immediate sound alerts when motion is detected on Android even when running in the background

Android is known for being the most open of all the mobile O/S, which means that developers have access to some APIs that can do more and/or have fewer restrictions than the corresponding API on other platforms.

An example of this is background processing. In a multi-tasking environment, the user has multiple apps open and is switching back and forth between them, a very common scenario with modern smartphones.  Only one app can be in the foreground at any given time, with all the other open apps  in the background. The Featured Image shows four open apps on my Nexus 7 – Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Gotya.

When Gotya for Android is running in the background, it can still listen continuously for (and process) events from the Gotya Cloud Service (GCS). For the Gotya user, this means that with the Gotya Remote Control running in the background, audio alerts are immediately played on the device just like they are when it’s running in the foreground. This is of great benefit because Gotya is “always-on”, listening for motion alerts and then proactively sounding them as soon as they are received. This saves the user from having to bring the Remote Controller to the foreground to check on any alerts that might have been triggered while Gotya was in the background (which is the case with Windows Phone).

Background processing on Android means the user can “set it and forget it” – open the Gotya Remote Control, then go about their daily business using the apps on their device as they normally do, with Gotya always listening for alerts from GCS. If something moves, you’ll hear the audio alert immediately and then you can bring the Remote Controller to the foreground to see pictures of what’s happening. With Windows Phone, you would still see all the picture alerts when you bring Gotya back to the foreground – nothing is missed – but you wouldn’t hear the audio alert instantly like you do with Android.  Of course, if the Gotya Remote Control is running in the foreground on both Android and Windows Phone, then you’ll immediately hear and see pictures of the motion alerts.

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.

spycam

Gotya ups its spy camera game

Gotya has always been able to be used as a spy or hidden camera (“spycam”) as explained in this initial post on the subject. With the latest release of Gotya for Android and Windows Phone, we’ve taken Gotya’s spycam capabilities to the next level by adding two new features:

1) Support for front facing (FF) camera

You can now select either the rear facing or front facing camera from the camera main menu as shown below.

front facing motion detection camera

Tap to select rear of front facing camera

2) Fake or black/blank screen savers with optional lock code

You can select either black/blank (black/dark screen that makes the device appear to be turned off) or fake (fake home screen), both of which hide the fact that the Gotya motion detection camera app is running. You can use the optional lock code to protect the device if someone should tap on the screen.

spy camera, motion detection camera, hidden camera

Set fake or black screen saver and set optional lock code

 

Once you’ve selected which camera and screen saver you want, position the camera where you want it, start the camera locally and then tap “Dim” to activate the screen saver.

spy camera, hidden camera, motion detection camera

Tap the dim button locally on the camera menu after starting camera to launch screensaver

 

Or, you can position the camera and then start the camera with the Gotya remote controller – the camera will automatically launch the screen saver when you do it this way.

This is what the fake screen saver looks like on an Android device (Nexus 7 in this case)

spycam, spy camera, hidden camera, motion detection camera

Fake home screen screen saver for spycam use on Android device

 

This is what it looks like (see below)  in the wild, with the fake screen saver above running on the Nexus 7  – no one is going to know that a motion detection camera is watching and taking pictures of them.

spy camera, hidden camera, spycam, motion detection camera

Gotya motion detection camera running in spycam mode with front facing camera and fake screen saver on Nexus 7

 

The picture below shows a similar setup to the one above, but this time with a Lumia 920 Windows Phone with the blank screen saver selected. It too is detecting motion and taking pictures and nobody is going to know. Which is exactly what a spycam is for.

 

spycam, spy camera, hidden camera, motion detection camera

Gotya motion detection camera running in spycam mode with front facing camera and blank/black/dark screen saver on Lumia 920

 

Download Gotya for Android or Gotya for Windows Phone today and start having fun (or learning stuff) with your new spycam!

Note: spycam feature image courtesy of http://www.intelspy.com/

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.

symbian

Why 186M Symbian smartphones make perfect low cost photo surveillance cameras

One of the main reasons we developed Gotya was to enable people all around the world, even where Internet access is expensive and/or slow,  to use their old unused smartphones as low-cost and low-bandwidth security/surveillance cameras.

In a region such as North America with high disposable income and affordable and ubiquitous high-speed Internet access, video surveillance apps with their expensive video cameras and constant high bandwidth upstream usage (typically on a user’s home WiFi) are popular because people can afford it there. This is not necessarily the case in emerging markets such as BRIIC (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China) and it’s for those markets that Gotya was designed for. These markets were always strong Symbian markets, until Symbian was “Osborned” (had it’s end of life announced in advance)  in February 2011, when Nokia announced their intention to switch to Windows Phone. Nokia shipped the last Symbian device (the 808 Purview)  in mid-2012.

When we started developing Gotya in early 2013, we knew there were “lots” of Symbian devices that could be used as Gotya cameras – both still in active use and “retired” (no longer used).  Let’s take a look at exactly how many “lots” is.

First of all, Gotya runs on Symbian touch devices – S60 5.0 (aka S50 5th Edition) and Symbian^3 to be precise. The first of these devices was the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic device released in Q4 2008.

So if we take a look at Symbian shipments from 2009-2012 (starting with the first full quarter when Symbian touch devices were available and ending when Symbian device shipments were trending toward zero (2M in Q412, down from 18M in Q411 and 31M in Q410), according to Canalys Symbian device shipments are as follows:

2009 – 81M

2010 – 112M

2011 – 80M

2012 – 23M

By Q412, Nokia Lumia Windows Phone sales had surpassed Symbian (4M vs 2M) and Symbian sales were effectively trending toward zero / rounding error. (In Q113, Symbian sales fell to 0.5M).

We also know from Canalys that in 2009, 27% of Symbian sales were touch. Assuming that in 2010 that had increased to 60%,  by 2011 80% and by 2012 100%, this means that the total number of Symbian touch devices sold by Nokia between 2009 and 2012 is 22M + 67M + 64M +23M = 186 million Symbian touch devices.

Even the oldest of the Symbian touch devices (the 5-year old 5800) has a 3MP camera that can capture 1 VGA picture per second, perfectly useful as a motion detection and photo surveillance camera. The best selling Symbian^3 device, the N8 released in Q410 (over 3 years old now), has an 8MP camera and much faster processor than the 5800 and can capture 2-3 VGA pictures per second.

If  you’re one of those 186M Symbian touch device owners  and you’ve got your device sitting in a drawer gathering dust, Gotya is a great way to extend the useful life of those devices by turning them into low cost photo surveillance, motion detection, and security cameras. You can download Gotya and Gotya Cloud for Symbian touch devices from the Nokia Store. Gotya cameras running on Symbian touch devices can be remote controlled from the Web and from the Gotya for Windows Phone app.

Setting up a Spycam

You can make your own hidden or camouflaged Gotya camera (aka spycam)  to capture pictures of people snooping around stuff they shouldn’t be, or to take pictures of what people are doing in a certain area, without them knowing. A classic way to do this is to use a box with a small hole cut out to enable the camera lens to see out.

If you suspect somebody is up to no good, Gotya plus your own creativity in the form of a DIY spycam enables you to satisfy your curiosity about what they’re really doing.

In the two pictures below, I’ve shown my office desk with a camouflaged Gotya camera. It’s the light blue Nokia Lumia 900 in the darker blue beer cozy on the left hand side. Somebody coming into my office would in all likelihood not give a second thought to the beer cozy with a phone in it. To them, it just looks like a spare phone stored there, especially with the other two phones stacked up in front of it.

gotya spycam

The setup – camouflaged Gotya cam in beer cozy on office desk shelf

spycam

The setup – Gotya spycam (Lumia 900) camouflaged in blue beer cozy (closer up shot)

The sequence of pictures captured by Gotya is shown below, taken when somebody who wasn’t supposed to be there comes into my office and takes my stapler! My Gotya spycam captured it all!

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Oh, and by the way – even if the culprit had taken the Lumia 900 that I was using  as my Gotya spycam,  all of the pictures are auto-saved to the Gotya cloud for evidence, so I would still know what happened.

Let us know in the comments if you have set up your own Gotya spycam.