Five ways to use a wireless security camera
By Ryan Shaw
Smart security cameras have been around for decades. But with recent developments in technology and usability, they've become more affordable, and are now useful in more ways than one.
A smart security camera connects to your home network via a wired or wireless connection. You can access it from anywhere in the world via an app on a smartphone or tablet, or a web browser on a computer.
Most cameras have motion-sensing abilities that trigger recording once they detect movement. Some, such as the Netatmo Welcome, have face detection, so you can set ‘safe’ faces that it won't send alerts for.
Below, we describe five different ways you can use a wireless security camera, and how it can be helpful in everyday life.
Read our top-rated wireless security camera reviews to see if it's worth investing in one.
1. Checking on pets
You go to great lengths to secure your home and loved ones, but what about your pets? If you don’t want to fork out for a dedicated camera for your pet, a wireless security camera can double up as a pet cam.
They may not have the same range of features, such as a built-in treat dispenser, laser-dot chase game or calming scents, but they can still be handy for keeping an eye on your pet when you’re out.
Look for a camera that's portable and easy to move around from room to room, so you can set it at the desired height and angle to see everything your pet is doing. Most security cameras also have motion-sensitivity settings, so you can set the camera to a high or low setting, depending on the frequency of alerts you would like to receive.
2. Monitoring your baby
A baby monitor is a useful piece of kit to own when you have a little one, keeping an extra eye on your child when he or she is sleeping.
A wireless security camera can do the same job. It can also be useful for older babies who are starting to move about, or for toddlers to check they're not trying to escape from their cot too early. Just be careful about cables and wires when using cameras around any children - keep them out of reach of curious fingers.
Smart security cameras may lack the features specific to baby monitors, such as lullabies, white noise, light shows and room-temperature sensors, but they can still be useful for the basics. Some models provide top-rated video quality, day or night, so you can be assured that you won't miss a thing.
3. Looking out for a parcel delivery
Online shopping is one of modern life’s pleasures - click an item, and it’s delivered to your door with minimal fuss. But how do you deal with the worry that your delivered packages might be left vulnerable on your doorstop?
Thankfully, you can set a smart security camera to record when parcels are delivered, and even talk to the person delivering the package via a two-way speaker. This way, you can hear, see and even respond to the delivery person.
Cameras that record and play back activity via the cloud are the best option here. With cloud storage (depending on your subscription plan), you can access and view the footage anywhere in the world from a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
4. Keeping an eye on elderly relatives
As parents and relatives become older, caring and looking out for them becomes a bigger priority. As long as you have their permission, installing a security camera can help to alleviate those safety concerns you may have for older family members.
However, there’s not much difference between a dedicated camera for elderly care and a standard wireless security camera. For example, some cameras designed for looking after older people have a built-in microphone and speaker so you can speak and listen to your loved one easily, or motion detection so you can be alerted if they suffer a fall.
Ideally, your security camera will have a zoom lens and a pan-and-tilt feature, so you can find your relative when they’re not in view. For example, if they fall at home, you want be able to move the camera around to locate them easily.
5. Detecting intruders
Last but not least, the most obvious way you can use a wireless security camera is for detecting intruders when you’re away from home. Even at night, most smart security cameras automatically turn on a ‘night vision’ mode, so you can see everything clearly.
If your camera detects any movement or sound, you can receive alerts with details of the event via notifications, texts or emails to your phone. Some even provide access to a live view of what the camera sees. The best models can capture activity three seconds before a triggered event, so you’ll always know the complete picture.
Some smart security systems allow you to link multiple cameras, which can be helpful if you need to keep an eye on several areas at once. It’s also worth considering a camera that records directly to cloud storage, in case an intruder decides to damage or steal the camera.
Is it legal to record people in your home?
You are well within your legal rights to install cameras outside your home, within the boundaries of your property, for security purposes. However, there are a few things that you must consider before you set up a smart security camera system.
Any cameras you install must be aimed at your property in order to be exempt from the Data Protection Act (DPA). If your camera captures any footage, even partially, beyond the boundaries of your property, you will need to make sure you comply with the requirements of the DPA.
You should also bear in mind that any individual has the right to request a copy of the recorded footage.
Regardless of whether your system is exempt from the DPA, you should still use it in a responsible way to protect the privacy of others. This often includes disabling audio-recording facilities or using a privacy shutter, if the camera has one.
Where there isn’t an expectation of privacy, you don’t need your visitors’ consent to record, but it’s still worth letting regular visitors to your property know that the camera is there.
Cameras being used for businesses must always comply with the requirements of the DPA, such as keeping all recorded footage secure. So make sure you take legal advice before installing security cameras for business or professional use.
As long as you’re solely using your security camera for its intended purpose, you shouldn’t run into any trouble. However, if there has been a breach of the DPA, a person could decide to bring a civil claim against you for financial loss and/or distress damages.