Baby monitors have come a long way since I was a kid. They’ve evolved from simple plastic walkie talkies to full-featured video cameras with night-vision and integrated lullabies. That said, I found myself wondering if one of these modern baby monitors might make a useful security tool for overnight use.
Before you think too much about how to actually put solder to silicon to create a security system out of a baby monitor, the process is actually much simpler than that.
A video baby monitoring system has a lot in common with a home CCTV/security system. Both of these products have a video camera with at least some low-light capability connected wirelessly to a monitoring screen you can place anywhere in your home up to 150′ from the camera(s).
A lot of home monitoring and security systems market themselves as being an either/or solution. What really makes these devices more useful for security is integrated police/fire capabilities and perhaps Internet streaming/storage.
Here’s the deal: Baby monitors are designed to watch a crib overnight and/or keep tabs on the babysitter while you’re away. They’re not typically expansive security systems intended to keep your home safe. You can repurpose them as such once your baby has grown up a bit by attaching one to the area near your front door and/or keeping things streaming along from your living room and/or home office, but if you’re not there to see the disturbance, there’s very little chance of actually catching anything.
There are a few great choices out there for folks who do want the advantage of wireless multicam coverage with recording capabilities. Here are some of my top choices for budget-conscious consumers.
This camera system features small, wireless cameras with full interaction capability so you can monitor and control the camera from your PC or mobile device. On-board recording allows you to capture images and video for use later on should you face a security concern.
In addition, you benefit from Wi-Fi functionality so you don’t have to run wires to and from a base unit. Everything is wireless and capable of being placed virtually anywhere throughout your home. Be mindful, though; there are reports online from users claiming the connectivity suffers greatly from long distances or multiple walls of separation.
Having a good baby monitor that doubles as a security camera is good, but having one that you can access from your smartphone or tablet computer is better. Add a dash of listen and talk back to the mix and you have a security system that enables you to speak to visitors at the door without even having to be home.
The NextStepIP Baby Monitor gives you a lot of control and power without the expense of a full-fledged security monitoring system. Enhanced nightvision and Wi-Fi connectivity makes it a great overnight surveillance system for the home, and its larger design makes it a deterrent when placed in visible areas. For many parents, it isn’t enough to have the cameras hidden from the nanny and/or an intruder. Having at least one or two clearly visible cameras makes it apparent that you’re keeping an eye on things while you’re away.
Dropcam is perhaps one of the most feature-rich small-form IP surveillance cameras you can find. It not only offers two-way audio and night vision capability, but it gives you the power to record 720p video using offsite DVR so your captured video is safe from reach by an intruder.
Dropcam isn’t exactly a baby monitor, but it will get the job done and at a fraction of the price of some premium solutions.
Have you ever used a baby monitor (or other piece of tech) for a purpose other than it was originally intended? Please share your creative implementations in the comments below!