I’m not normally much of a hippie or a Martha Stewart type, but I somehow got to thinking about the technology graveyard in my closet. Everyone has one. You know, the one with your clickwheel iPod, the Kyocera phone with an LCD screen, or the 2 megapixel Sony camera. The stuff your phone replaced, and then two more phones replaced that before they themselves ended up in the graveyard.
So what’s in my tech graveyard? Lots of stuff I thought was amazing back in the day. A Casio Databank calculator watch, a 40gb Flashtrax, a 128mb MP3 player, a GP32, a Nokia N-Gage, and the list goes on. Also, two old iPods (1st Gen, 4th Gen) and an iPhone 3G. I got to thinking, you know, these iPods could live a new life as a tiny photo frame, or clock, or kitchen computer, or…
…maybe an IP camera? Is that even possible?
It is, actually.
In my attempt to turn these old iOS devices into IP cameras, I found a couple of apps that did the trick. The first one I tried was IP Cam Pro by Senstic. This one was all right, but I ended up going with ipCam by SKJM, which was a more compatible solution, and cheaper. Don’t let the reviews scare you, those people obviously don’t understand what an IP camera actually does. ipCam runs all the way down to iOS 4, which meant I could use the old iPhone 3G and iPod 4th Gen, but not the first gen Touch, so that one went back to the graveyard. However, once attached to a solution such as a Belkin video dock, you now have a working IP camera from something that was collecting dust. Be sure to set a static IP on the device and you’re all set.
I also attempted this with my old Android 2.3 phone, and it was even easier. I used IP Webcam by Pavel Khlebovich, which is an excellent piece of software, and free for what I needed it for. Of course, with Android you have true multitasking, which allows this program to hide in the background and start on bootup. This additionally allows you to give the old phone a secondary use while it sits in a dock, so I figured a photo frame / clock would be a great option. The app I chose was Photo Slides by Softick, which was also free and worked beautifully. As a bonus, you can set it to automatically start itself when connected to a charger, and close when disengaged, making it able to start on bootup and close itself if you want to remove it from the dock and use it as a surfing device. So from a cold bootup, it works 100% without having to configure or launch anything.
The Android solution of installing IP Webcam + Photo Slides ended up being an incredibly useful way to reuse a graveyard-bound smartphone. The iOS devices, on the other hand, can’t do anything but show the camera feed or show a blank screen, and neither of those keep it from being an eyesore. I wrote an email to the developer of ipCam to see if something could be done about that, but we’ll see. Knowing Apple, probably not.
Now my house seems to be covered in cameras, and my concerns start, since I don’t want to creep out visitors. However, I think the Android solution at least is a bit more elegant and discreet. People don’t get that big brother feeling in their stomach while staring at a smartphone, like they do staring at an IP camera hanging from the ceiling. And obviously, there are some places where the cameras should never be. In my house, for instance, the 2nd floor (all bedrooms) is a camera-free zone, and the computer rooms as well.
Anyway. I also had an iPad 3rd Gen laying around that only gets used when I’m developing stuff. Although I could go the ipCam route with it, I decided I always wanted a refrigerator with a tablet built in, but didn’t want to spend $4k for it.
The solution? I purchased a tablet refrigerator mount and a 10ft charger cable on eBay. Then I ran the cable around the fridge with neodymium magnets. Easy as that, and now my $400 fridge is a $4k fridge. It got me thinking, I’d like to make a “FridgeOS” app for it. Something with recipes, inventory, shopping list, and other goodies. Perhaps I’ll develop this another day. Perhaps one day I won’t be busy.