Discovering that we were expecting our first child at the end of the year naturally meant it was time to shop for exciting new gadgets that will make parenting a walk in the park (ha!). Top of that list came the acquisition of a baby monitor.
We’d seen a wireless video baby-monitor (with pan & tilt) that some friends of ours had bought. It looked ideal as it came with a neat little portable display unit & had all the required features (night vision, sound alert, talkback, temperature monitor etc). Unfortunately on further investigation I discovered that it transmitted video over the unregulated 2.4GHz band which meant that when the baby monitor was on it stomped all over their Wi-Fi signal. This seemed like a bit of a show-stopper to me.
Fortunately there are a few video baby monitors on the market which transmit their video over Wi-Fi meaning they should play nicely with the Wi-Fi. After a bit of research I decided to go with the Motorola Blink 1, it has all the features we wanted (temperature & sound alert, talkback) and also has an Apple & Android app (called Monitor Everywhere) which allows you to view the camera on your phone or tablet at home and also when away from home (should you so wish). You can also log into the Monitor Everywhere website to view your camera from any web browser. We bought ours from Amazon for £75 and got a £25 discount for joining Amazon Family which meant we got the Blink for £50 – bargain!
The slight downside to the Blink is that it doesn’t come with a dedicated video display. Obviously the intention is that you’ll use your phone or tablet to monitor it so you don’t need one. We decided to set up Katy’s Nexus 7 (which rarely gets used at home) as a display using the official charging dock which allows it to charge while sitting in the correct orientation for viewing video.
So far the experience is pretty positive. The set-up was straightforward & all done via the app (in this case the Android one) including adding the monitor to our Wi-Fi network. Once on the Wi-Fi it automatically downloaded & installed a new firmware update. After that it just appeared as a camera available to be viewed in the app. My two complaints about the current version of the app are:
- It doesn’t keep the screen of the device on when you’re viewing the camera
- If there’s no background noise the audio stream from the camera makes a periodic “purring” noise
Because it’s a Wi-Fi camera, it should be possible to reverse-engineer some (or all) of its functions and maybe make it do some cool stuff. Things I’m thinking of so far are:
- Pause playback on the media centre / squeezebox when the monitor detects a noise
- Provide some visual cue (LED strip or something) when noise is detected
- Log & graph the temperature in the nursery
- Automatically launch the app & turn on the screen of the Nexus when noise is detected
I’m sure there’s a bunch of other stuff it could also do. Anyone got any suggestions?Anyway, I’ll be documenting my discoveries here and hopefully they’ll be useful to other Geek Dads / Dads-to-be.