Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building a baby monitor

We have a baby on the way, and in her infinite wisdom (and knowing my love of hacking around) the other half has requested a baby monitor for the nursery. I have a love of all things gadgetry and decided we needed to be able to view and hear the baby as well as monitor the temperature.

I drew up a short list of the functions needed and then had a look around to see if anything ticks all the boxes.

The requirements are:

1. View and Listen to the baby on devices we already own
  • This includes iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone and Apple TV2
  • PC's
2. View and Listen to the baby on a dedicated device (and ideally something else we already own)
  • I have an O2 Joggler Picture Frame which I bought for doing other things with - this would be ideal
3. Allow us to view and listen remotely.
  • I'm not planning to be a bad parent (honest), but i travel a lot for work do being able to virtually peek my head around the door and check in on the little might would be a bonus.
4.Monitor and alert on events; specifically:
  • Temperature
  • Noise
5. Be easy to use
  • Unlike many of my hacks; it shouldn't require specific knowledge or constant pampering to operate, it should just work.
6. Be family friendly
  • We don't want to have a maze of wires and dongles floating around - it needs to be self contained
7. Have a privacy setting.
  • The last thing we want is guests to see the good lady breastfeeding before popping the little mite to bed; there needs to be an easy way to turn of the video and audio and for it to automatically restart should we forget to turn it back on
  • Ideally, the other monitoring; i.e. temperature and volume should continue to be monitored
With all these requirements in mind I started hunting around for the perfect device. Whilst there are many good baby monitors (some with camera's, screens, temperature monitors etc) available, none of them ticked all the boxes (and to be honest I relished the challenge).

I then started to look around the market for an IP camera which could be modified to meet our requirements. Having had some experience with embedded devices (such as linksys routers, gumstix and pogoplugs) I thought it would be relatively trivial to enhance something out there based on an opensource Linux platform.

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