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.


Gotya Security Camera now available for Android

Gotya Security Camera is now available in beta for Android 2.3 and later (up to and including KitKat 4.4) smartphones and tablets. This means if you have any older Android devices sitting around gathering dust, you can now put them back to work for you as motion detection cameras and control them with the Android device you’re using today. The app is free, ad-free, and new users get a free 60 day full-feature trial of the Gotya Cloud Service for instant alerts, camera remote control, and cloud picture backup.

The new release also packs three new features that we’ve prioritized based on user feedback:

1) Front facing camera support – you can now select either rear/main camera or front facing camera as the motion detection camera

2) Fake or black screen saver with optional lock code – use this to put the smartphone or  tablet in spycam mode – it looks like it’s either idle on the Android home screen (with the fake screen option) or completely powered off (with the black screen option) even though the Gotya motion detection camera is running,  and you can protect it with a 4-digit lock code.  Use this to deploy your Gotya cameras as spycams and automatically take pictures of anything that moves in front of the camera and get instant alerts. You can also take pictures whenever you want using the instant snapshot feature. All without anyone knowing that a motion detection camera is watching them.

3) Improved camera remote controller menu with larger icons for easier use.

You can download Gotya for Android on Google Play now.

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.

perimeter security

Motion Detection might come to Mineta San Jose International Airport

In the wake of a teenage stowaway scaling the perimeter fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport undetected and then hiding in an airplane wheel well on a flight to Hawaii, a Bay Area congressman is calling for tougher perimeter security  include motion detection technology which would immediately alert airport security personnel  to take action.

Motion detection and alerting technology is essential to ensure that security personnel are proactively alerted when someone is moving in a secured area. This augments basic video surveillance where hours and hours of video may have been recorded that contains footage of the moving person, but without motion detection and alerting in addition to the the video recording,  is of no use if no one is monitoring the video in real time or misses the activity because of having to view multiple video monitors, lapsed attention spans, or falling asleep.

A similiar incident occured at 1 World Trade Center recently for the exact same reason – video surveillance was in place but no one was alerted to the moving person.

Protect your perimeter and get your own motion detection and alerting technology with Gotya. If something moves Gotya detects, captures pictures, and alerts you immediately.

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






motion detection

How To Capture High Resolution Images

You can set Gotya to capture two types of images: Standard Quality and High Quality. Standard Quality is VGA (640×480) and supports both local and Gotya cloud storage. High Quality is the maximum pixels supported by the device used as the Gotya camera and supports local storage only. In this example, I’ve used a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8,  which has an 8MP camera, so pictures captured by Gotya in High Quality mode are 8MP.

High Quality vs Motion Detection Speed Trade-Off

High Quality image capture requires much higher processing (CPU, memory, storage) resources. In order to ensure as consistently  high performance motion detection and picture capture as possible, Gotya stores High quality images locally to the device only. For the vast majority of use cases, VGA picture quality is sufficient to clearly identify moving objects. However for those cases where high-resolution pictures are required (for example, capturing small moving objects that are relatively far away from the Gotya camera), Gotya supports this requirement via High quality image mode.

Setting Picture Quality

In Camera->Advanced Settings you can set Image quality = Standard or High. If you select High, Save location will be automatically set to Local.

high resolution image

Camera->Settings->Advanced settings

If you subsequently want to store pictures to the Gotya cloud by setting Save location = Gotya, Image quality will be automatically set to Standard.

Standard quality image, motion detection

Image quality is auto-set to Standard when Cloud storage is selected

Standard Quality Image Setting

Image quality auto-set to Standard in cloud storage mode

Using OneDrive to Auto-Upload High Quality Images to the Cloud

OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) users can set their Windows Phone to automatically upload Gotya high-quality pictures to the OneDrive cloud by going into Settings->System->Backup->Photos.  Every High quality picture captured by Gotya will be auto-uploaded to the Saved Pictures album on OneDrive.

OneDrive, Windows Phone, SkyDrive

Set Windows Phone to auto-save pictures to OneDrive

Comparison of Standard Quality Sequence to High Quality Sequence

Sequence #1 shows motion detection and pictures of a bouncing ball captured in Standard quality / save to Gotya cloud mode. You can see that six VGA (640×480 or about 300K pixels) pictures are captured in about a three-second interval.

VGA, standard resolution, motion detection

Standard quality (VGA 640×480 px) 1 of 6

motion detection

Standard Quality 2 of 6

motion detection

Standard Quality 3 of 6

motion detection

Standard quality 4 of 6

motion detection

Standard quality 5 of 6

motion detection

Standard quality 6 of 6

Sequence #2 shows motion detection and pictures of the same bouncing ball captured in high quality / save to local mode. Three high quality (8MP)  pictures are captured in the same interval. Even with multi-threading (one process for motion detection and picture capture, another process for saving the images), there is a reduced # of pictures per time interval. If cloud storage was enabled, you could expect only one picture to be captured in this interval.

motion detection

High resolution 1 of 3 (3264 x 2448 pixels)

motion detection

High resolution 2 of 3

motion detection, high resolution picture

High Resolution 3 of 3

The Bottom Line

Unless you have a specific need for high-resolution pictures where maximum motion detection speed (# of pictures/second) is  less of a priority than picture resolution, we recommend using Standard quality picture setting. Standard quality picture setting provides sufficient detail for most use cases and also supports Gotya cloud storage and alerts. However, for those use cases where resolution is the most important consideration, Gotya supports high-resolution pictures with optional auto-save of pictures to OneDrive cloud.  Note that alerts are not supported in high-resolution mode, so you will have to manually check your OneDrive Saved Pictures album to see if any motion has been detected and pictures captured by Gotya.


Check out this awesome picture of a soaring bird captured by a Lumia 925 Windows Phone in High Quality picture mode.

high resolution picture, motion detection, bird, photo surveillance

High Flying Bird