Watch your homes while you ‘balik kampung’

KEEPING track of your premises when you ‘balik kampung’ and while away for long weekends and festivities is easy and affordable these days – even if you don’t have a CCTV camera.

Just turn your old smartphones into CCTV cameras with free apps, stick them up and connect them to the home or office Internet – now you can keep watch what’s happening live 24/7.

But while smartphones can’t compete with dedicated CCTV cameras on two fronts – night vision and archived recordings – here’s how you can get around this problem easily.

Not many realise CCTV cameras still need some form of lighting to be able to ‘see in the dark’ – they just use infrared lighting (which is why they usually come with red LEDs) invisible to the human eye.

Luckily, smartphone cameras can do the same – all you need is to use an infrared bulb plugged into a light socket. Such bulbs are sold at most electrical and hardware stores – these bulbs are typically used for heat therapy or to keep pets warm.

You don’t have to get a very expensive infrared bulb – they are rated the same way as the normal menthol or incandescent bulb. What’s the brightest bulb you’d typically use? Is 100W good enough?

So if you leave the infrared light on – preferably with a timer switch to save on electricity usage – your smartphone camera can easily match CCTV cameras for night vision.

As for video recordings, most CCTV cameras need to be connected to a storage device. But this has one major disadvantage – you can only playback from this storage device and this would be the first target to be removed by burglars.

Smartphone cameras can’t do the same – you need to pay extra for cloud storage – but burglars can’t get the video recordings.

Still, you can’t be keeping an eye on the app all the time – so why not rope in family members, neighbours and friends too? Sharing the caring is now possible via Cyber-RT – based on the concept of Rukun Tetangga.