Looking for a remote webcam solution for monitoring the home or office? There’s no lack of such products, but they often require a monthly fee and have either confusing software or a setup process that’s too complicated for many. A new Indiegogo project kicked off on Monday for Skycam, which solves all of these challenges thanks to Skype.
For $99, project backers get a Skycam webcam that can record video on a micro SD card. Of course, you can access the camera remotely in real-time from practically any connected PC or Mac, tablet or mobile phone running iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 or BlackBerry. The secret sauce here is the use of Skype.
To set up the Skycam, you simply add it to your Skype account where it becomes one of your favorite contacts. Want to pop in and check on the pets? Just call your Skycam through the standard Skype application:
I’ve actually set up several different remote access webcams in my home over the past few years and I have to say: I think more simplicity is needed for these products. Each camera I’ve used has its own software, which typically isn’t the greatest quality. I often rely on third-party apps to access the cameras, but even these have their quirks. And gaining true remote access to a home-based camera typically requires firewall configuration, static IP addresses and — in some cases — a third-party DNS solution.
That’s why I think this project is on to something. It alleviates all of the challenges I just outlined and makes a remote webcam more of an easy to use appliance. And it does so with software that’s commonly used already. I also like how this isn’t a standard webcam you’d typically use for video chatting: Skycam can be used to monitor a dark or lowly lit room; a feature I like on my existing webcams.
With a built-in microphone and speaker, you can even use Skycam to chat with someone nearby the camera. Of course, you’ll see them, but they won’t see you. I do wish the Skycam had tilt and pan capabilities, but that would be tricky to implement with Skype as the underlying transport solution. And it would complicate what looks to be an economical and simple way to monitor a remote area.