I watch you – you watch me. And, we all live together – happily – sort of. We live in a surveillance society, and whether that’s a good thing, or not, is open to much debate. We’ve discussed this issue here a number of times and, the consensus of opinion as expressed by readers is – Thumbs Down! – to surveillance in public spaces.
From a personal perspective, I have to admit to conflicting emotions. As a recipient of a Neighborhood Watch award (back in the mists of time), I’m a strong supporter of the philosophy that we all share a responsibility to safeguard our personal environment. And, personal Web Cam surveillance, it seems to me, is an acceptable defense against hooligans intent on causing havoc.
I am NOT in favor, however, of broad scale deployment of security cameras by law enforcement based on the theory that doing so reduces crime. Survey after survey concludes that this is an urban myth. Worse yet, voyeuristic surveillance, such as this, is an assault on personal freedom.
But, on to how you can take advantage of a superb free (Open Source) Web Cam surveillance solution that includes a ton of built-in features. iSpy, last updated January 25, 2012, is an open source application which uses your webcam(s) and microphone(s) to detect, and record, motion and sound. And, a lot more besides.
Typical usage – click on graphic to expand.
Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.
Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web.
Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web.
Detect, highlight, track and record movement.
Customize movement detection areas on your cameras.
Detect and record sound.
Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected.
Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity).
Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams.
Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams.
Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support.
Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website) and also via mobile devices.
Access and control iSpy remotely.
Password protect iSpy and hide it in the System Tray.
Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically.
Time-lapse record from any camera.
Motion track and count moving objects.
Connect multiple instances of iSpy and iSpy server running on different computers to this website and view all aggregated media online.
Create groups, invite friends and share access to your webcams and microphones.
The following review is based on an older version of iSpy - January, 2011. The version currently running on my system.
Setting up iSpy while relatively uncomplicated, was not quite as easy as I would have liked. On the other hand, additional features often lead to more complexity.
As the following screen captures indicate, you’ll be presented with a smorgasbord of fine tuning choices.
Languages: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Deutsch, Español, Française, Hrvatski, Italiano, Magyar, Nederlands, Русский, Polski, Português and 中文
System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7. Microsoft .Net framework will be installed if required. Windows media player 9 VCM codecs – will be installed if required.
Download at: iSpy Connect
iSpy user guide available here.
I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance. If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, iSpy may be just what you’ve been searching for.
If you don’t need all of the features built into iSpy, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), I’ve previously reviewed Secure Cam, an open source surveillance application which should meet your basic surveillance needs.
Rise Cam, an application also covered in that review, is no longer available.