By JR Raphael
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
This week, we’re talking cell phone secrets — easy-to-use services that can help you unlock the hidden powers of your phone. I started by showing you a bunch of ways to get more for your money with cool services like Braincast and Cellfire.
But today, we’re taking on a different kind of underused force in your phone: its ability to keep your family safer. We’ve seen how cell phones can be used to let other people spy on you. This trick, though, turns the tables and lets you watch them.
Imagine this: You’re at work for the day. With a few clicks on your phone, you pull up live images of your home from every possible angle. You see what doors are unlocked, who’s inside, and what they’re doing. You check up on the babysitter trusted with your kids. Or maybe you dial in from the road and look at images of your office to see if your staff really showed up to work when you were out of town. Whatever the need may be, it’s all possible — and not terribly hard to achieve.
There are a number of systems out there that can let you do this. I’m going to focus on the one I’ve seen in action: the WiLife (formerly Lukwerks) Home Surveillance System.
A simple setup
Who wouldn’t want to watch their property when they’re not around? A system like the one WiLife offers makes it easy. You just set up a series of cameras, configure your account, and you’re ready to roll. These things operate through the electrical wires you already have, too — you just plug the cameras into the wall and plug an adaptor into your computer — so there’s no need for any elaborate installation. You’re probably looking at 15 to 20 minutes tops.
Once you’re all set up, the rest is automatic. You dial some digits on your phone, and you’re tapped in. You can monitor the live feeds at your disposal, provided your phone or PDA can handle the streaming video. But the cooler part is how the system can do the work for you.
WiLife’s alerts will watch your property and let you know any time anything changes. If someone comes in, if a light turns on, or if any motion at all is detected, WiLife sees it and alerts you. You set the level of sensitivity, then you can choose to get a text message, a picture message, or even a video message as soon as WiLife finds trouble. Now, the second something happens, you know it — and you’re watching.
Link to the law
If you do discover something amiss, the system makes it easy to alert police right from your phone, too. And the best part: It’s recording it all for you, so you can pass off a single evidence file to the officers the minute they arrive.
The WiLife kits start at $269 ($449 for a 2-camera system) and include the text and video messaging alerts for the life of the hardware, without any additional monthly fees or subscriptions. From what I’ve seen, they work pretty darned well. Speaking of which, nice shirt.