How smart phone apps can protect your home

How smart phone apps can protect your home

Lee has had it with break-ins at his Madison County, Alabama home. First, someone broke into his truck.

"They took guns, a pistol, and did damage to the stereo," said Lee.

Then, someone he knew broke into his house and stole some guns and a computer. Now, he wants to beef up his protection.

"Security cameras, absolutely!" said Lee.

So, we looked into some options, starting with some that use your smart phone to monitor your house while you're away.

"Anyone can do this now," said Bridget Carey, senior editor at CNET. "Not just the rich and famous or the uber-tech savvy."

We tried the first one out with Lee. It's the free presence app, which can turn an old iPhone or iPad into a security camera on a bookshelf to hide it and see what the motion would look like. The motion sends an alert to your phone.

"(The picture) is a little grainy," said Lee. "But you could certainly recognize a face, characteristics of anybody who was walking by or anything to help you identify them later."

Another option we looked at but didn't test is an iCam app, a $5.00 download that works with both Android and I-phone devices.

"It taps into the webcam that you have already on your computer," said Carey. "And you can do multiple cameras, too."

"I think it would be useful," said Lee. "I would certainly combine with traditional security cameras and a home security system."

Getting more advanced?  There are also some smart gadgets that range from single camera systems like Drop Cam, which costs $149 and features night vision and digital zoom.

Even more advanced? Multiple camera set-ups like Logitech Alert that can detect motion, record video and send alerts to your phone. Some people are even re-purposing their old baby monitors for the job.

"You can also use this to your advantage, too, as a second camera for the house, " said Carey.

While high-tech devices are cheap and easy to use, security consultant Chris McGoey says there are some potential drawbacks.

"If you have a power failure, your electronic systems might fail," said McGoey. "If your Internet is down, you may not be able to log on to monitor the video or activate the alarm system."

And unlike with a security device, no one's monitoring the house but you.

"You kind of have to put the burden on yourself to be able to monitor when there's an alert for motion detection going on," said Carey. "Be able to grab the phone and maybe call the police if you are concerned."

Lee would like to prevent anyone else from getting into his house first, so he's focusing on well-lit areas outside and motion lights first.

"But this day and time, people are going to do bad things," said Lee. "So that being said, I'd really like to have the opportunity to identify someone."

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