Ever wonder what your cat is doing while you’re at work all day? Is she sharpening her claws on that priceless bust of Ben Franklin in the hallway, or throwing wild feline parties with the neighbor cats and getting hopped up on the catnip? Well now you can find out, using iSpy and the built in hardware on your laptop or desktop.
iSpy is one of the best programs of this kind that I have tested. Simple to get the hang of, reliable to leave running while you’re gone. and packed with functions and features. Best of all, of course, it’s free!
So, you’re off to work and you wonder what’s going on in the house while you’re gone. Whether it’s your cat, a human or even a poltergeist you want to catch on vid, you will need some kind of software to help with that. You will also need hardware like a web cam and microphone, at the very least.
Fortunately, many laptops and even desktops come with those things installed these days and if you haven’t got a cam you can pick one up on the cheap. Heck, iSpy even works with USB stick cams that look just like a flash drive but are actually cameras. Additionally, you’ll be able to record and monitor more than just one stream of data from more than one source! Now, that’s nifty!
So, the basic idea goes like this. You set up iSpy before you leave and while you’re gone, it uses the web cam and microphone to detect any movement or sound within the locale. If motion is detected within a certain tolerance, it begins recording. You can specify things like how long to record or what quality (resolution) as well as format to record in. Most of the common modern formats are supported so you won’t have much trouble with those and playback can, of course, be accomplished from within the iSpy program itself if you so desire. In addition to using webcams and microphones, the program also has options to record things like your active desktop activity or even your current VLC stream! This is a nice way to provide a comprehensive recording solution in a free program without adding things that aren’t actually relevant. There’s no fluff here, just useful options.
For those that are not quite as ‘puter savvy, you won’t be left out. Nearly every aspect of the iSpy program has a built in ‘wizard’ that acts as a go between to let you get things done using plain language and question/answers even if you don’t normally mess around with this kind of program. They have you covered no matter what your level of computer competency is, as long as you know the basics of using a mouse and keyboard. You’ll also find numerous tips and notifications that can be turned on or off as you choose, to keep you aware of what the program is doing while you’re at the terminal. There is a ‘silent’ start mode as well, so you can run the program without someone else knowing, even if they are looking over your shoulder, so to speak. The raw potential of this program has just barely been tapped, in my opinion, but even if they never provide a new update or feature or tip or idea, it’s as solid a bit of freeware as I have ever seen or used for this kind of thing.
In addition to all that iSpy gives you within the program itself, they also offer some options for using/monitoring the program and its functions remotely. Most of these will require you to have a subscription with their service, but if you just want to access your system through a LAN that costs nothing at all and can be done through the free account. In either case it is worth making the free account just to get update news and things of that nature. Normally I would skip it but in this case I actually found it useful, gaining tips on how to use the program more effectively (like changing the number of frames of movement required before auto-activation of the cam) for example. The requirement of a subscription to access things remotely is the only real downside I found to iSpy, however, and that’s saying a lot when I consider how many other programs of this kind I wound up trying and discarding before I finally found and was satisfied with this one.
Overall and in general, I found using iSpy to be painless and a joy. That’s rare too, and while I wouldn’t say it is the ultimate home security solution, it certainly does provide a comprehensive package for spying on the cat while I’m out of the house! No more festivities for that feline while I’m at work! Until next time, my friends!
- Get iSpy here (Windows).