Using a Smart Device to Power a DIY Security System

Traditionally, protecting your home from intruders has come in the form of an expensive, professionally installed system. Although these can certainly be effective, the costs can be prohibitive. However, now you can simply set up an old internet-enabled device as a security system on your existing Wi-Fi network.

All it takes is setting up a simple app and your phone or tablet can become your window into an unoccupied house. I used the Presence app, available on both Android and iOS, though there are other options available.

Setup for this system was incredibly easy. I first tried it with a third-generation iPad running iOS 8.3. All I had to do was install the free app through the App Store and register using my email address. Once this was done, I logged on to on my computer and simply selected “my iPad” in the list of available devices. With everything being web-based, I was quickly watching myself, with a few seconds’ delay. The picture wasn’t great, but it’s not like I was posing for a professional headshot.

Next I tried out my Android-based Moto G phone. Installation via Android was similarly simple; however, the permissions granted to the app are quite extensive (probably similar to iOS, but Android makes it more obvious). If you’re concerned about potentially exposing your data by granting permissions and using an old phone, you might consider wiping the data off of it before installing. I set it up, signed on to the computer again, and in a few seconds I was seeing myself typing, hearing a delayed “click-click-click” sound as my fingers hit the keys. Another success!