Though there are a growing number of free and inexpensive surveillance applications, one program, iSpy, from iSpyconnect, may stand apart for its breadth of features and controls. Relatively simple to set up, the open source program can provide footage on a local computer or remotely online and works with a wide range of Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. And its functions include motion detection, e-mail alerts, and automatic video recording and playback.
To use iSpy, the first step is to download software onto a Windows computer (the setup software isn’t currently available for Macintosh). Once downloaded, the program opens automatically and detects any cameras that may be attached to the computer or the local network. After a user clicks on a detected camera, footage appears in a corner of the program’s screen.
Users are then presented with a settings configuration box. From here, users can customize viewing modes. Those wanting to implement motion detection can choose from a few types of detection, including “two frames,” which uses software to compare the last frame with the current frame in order to detect movement. Another option, “background modeling,” may be more appropriate for situations in which objects, such as people or trees, continually move in and out of a frame. It ignores certain repetitive movements, only recording when something unusual occurs. Another main control is the sensitivity slider, which controls the level of movement needed to trigger motion detection.
The “alerts” tab lets users choose what happens after motion is detected. Users can choose to receive e-mail or cell phone text messages, with or without a screen shot. Another option is to receive screen shots at certain predefined intervals.
Users can press a record button on the screen to begin recording footage at any time. Another option, “record on detect,” sets the software to detect when noticing motion. The “record on alert” function only begins recording when alerts are generated, which can be one way to limit the amount of recorded video. Recording can also be set to occur on certain dates and at certain times.