How to turn an old Android smartphone in to a security camera with IP Webcam
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There are multiple ways of bringing a video feed of your surrounding in to Home Assistant. You could buy a security camera with support for RTSP or ONVIF, or you could integrate one of the many cloud service providers, such as Google Nest or Arlo. If you're feeling crafty, you could even construct your own basic security camera using an ESP32-CAM.
Alternatively, you could breathe a new lease of life into a device you may already own but no longer use: an old Android smartphone. Granted, you may have to compromise on certain features such as night vision using infrared LEDs, but even older smartphone sensors are capable of delivering an impressive image.
All that you need for that to happen is a little app called IP Webcam, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
IP Webcam operates by creating a web server that streams the camera's feed, which can be directly integrated with Home Assistant. As an Android app, IP Webcam can tap into more than just the smartphone's camera. Depending on your settings, you can feed information on motion, sound, battery, and more into Home Assistant.
Additional IP Webcam switches in Home Assistant
Once the integration is complete, a plethora of switches become available for your use in Home Assistant. These allow you to manipulate the white balance, control focus, activate the phone's flash LED, and more.
Two-way audio with tinyCam Monitor
Another feature available, if you install tinyCam Monitor on your main smartphone, is two-way audio. Unfortunately, there is no way of getting this to work from Home Assistant, but the option is there, if you need it.
Be weary of that old battery
Before setting up an old Android smartphone as a security camera, it's advisable to remove the battery. Older batteries, especially those constantly on charge, have a tendency to swell, which in extreme cases can result in fires or explosions. Even smartphones with sealed battery compartments can be disassembled with relative ease. Most likely, you'll find a guide online, and a hairdryer will usually generate enough heat to soften the adhesive used to secure backplates.
Integrating IP Webcam with Home Assistant
Integrating the IP Webcam Android app with Home Assistant is done through the Dashboard. Simply search for 'Android IP Webcam' and insert the appropriate data.
The more interesting options are optional, but they are well worth checking out. By enabling logging in the IP Webcam app, Home Assistant will be sent reports on all the sensors you configure. It will report the battery level, temperate, and voltage, the light level, the amount of motion, how noisy the environment is, and more. Just as with the sensors, the switches also need to be enabled individually.
About Liam Alexander Colman
Liam Alexander Colmanis an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container. With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.