Anth's Computer Cave

AAIMI Home Automation now displays security video from IP cameras and Android phones.

15th May, 2016

You can now monitor security video from within the AAIMI Home Automation control-center. This should work with most IP cameras and Android phone cameras.

The main AAIMI Home control-center with live camera footage. Picture: Anthony Hartup

This means AAIMI users can monitor LAN-only cameras in their home from anywhere in the world. The image above shows two camera feeds in the AAIMI GUI on a desktop computer. The image below shows the same GUI viewed on a smart phone.

The main AAIMI Home control-center with live camera footage on a mobile phone. Picture: Anthony Hartup

The Lounge cameras is an old Android Galaxy S2 smart phone, the kitchen camera is an equally-old T-Hub Android tablet. You can find devices like this for next to nothing, and they are more than powerful enough for this task. The S2 I am using can actually stream video at 1080p, but that is overkill for an indoor security cam. I have both these set to 640*480.

The phones don't need a SIM card or a good battery. They also don't need a good screen, so this is a good use for a cracked phone. They do require a charger, but older phones can use any old .5A charger you have laying around.

You can use multiple cameras and choose which AAIMI users can view each individual feed. This means, for example, in a shared house you can allow your housemates to view the cameras in the living areas, but configure the cameras in your private rooms so only you can display them.

How it works

This is actually an interim system I've built to use until I finish the real AAIMI security system, but it works so well I decided I would include it in the next release. The real AAIMI security video system is still a few months' off, but I'm more-than happy with this for now.

The system uses any camera that can stream video over your home network (LAN). Any retail IP cameras should have this capability, but they are expensive. A much cheaper option is to use an old smart phone or tablet with a video-streaming app installed. I am using an awesome Android app called IP Webcam.

Now here's where AAIMI comes in. Most retail cameras and phone apps work only over your LAN, meaning you cannot view them while you are out. Even if a smart phone app has that option, your router will most likely only allow access to one camera. Using this system as part of the AAIMI GUI means you have secure remote-access to all your cameras just by logging into your AAIMI system. The videos are displayed in the same window as your home-automation stats, so there is no need for multiple apps and windows.

Controlling the camera

There are two different video display methods, local and remote.

Local control

The local method is used over your LAN. Depending on which camera you use there are many options for configuring camera settings, recording video and taking still images. It allows access to the default interfaces for your cameras from within the AAIMI GUI. If you are using the IP Webcam app on an android camera you can remotely adjust zoom, light-settings, etc. You can turn the phone's flash on or off, or turn on night-vision. You can remotely snap high-res images to your phone or laptop, or start and stop recording.

The options available to remotely configure cameras with the IP Webcam app. Picture: Anthony Hartup
The IP Webcam control interface embedded in the AAIMI GUI.

Other cameras or apps may have more or less of these control-features available. I'll test a few more apps and devices before I release the code.

Remote control

The remote method currently has fewer options and is limited to one-or-two frames-per-second, but it should be all you need to check up on your home while you are away. While you can't currently activate actual video-recording on the fly, you can activate burst-mode recording to snap rapid images for a photo-roll. You can save images to your phone, or save them to the main AAIMI system for future viewing.

When? (updated)

The next AAIMI release, 0.65, is now due on the 25th May, and this will include the new video system.

At the same time I'll post tutorials detailing the setup process to get AAIMI working with various IP cameras and third-party video-streaming phone apps.

The following release, version 0.7 will have camera control integrated into the main program's security features to automatically snap intruders and other events.




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