From remote wildlife photography, to monitoring your 3D printing processes, there are some incredibly useful reasons for turning your phone into a webcam. Compared with a purpose-built webcam, using a phone gives you added wireless mobility alongside remote recording capabilities. It’s a fantastic way to turn your old phone into a highly functional item once again, and with a suite of seriously good reasons for doing so.
1. Broken Camera or Microphone
Technology loves to break down right when you need it, like a microphone or camera not working before an important video call over Zoom. If you have an Android phone, and a PC, you can download the app DroidCam in an emergency for a quick fix, all without having to leave your home or office.
2. Pet Camera
As a pet owner, you may have wondered about the mysterious life of your pet when you are not home. Turning an old phone into a webcam will help to curb your curiosity. You can check in with your pet at any time by leaving the phone plugged into a power source while the webcam app is running.
3. Craft-N-Chat Calls
Purpose-built webcams usually operate over a USB cable and don’t provide a lot of mobility options. From the seat of your favorite knitting chair, or perhaps at the table with your painting materials, using your phone as a webcam gives you plenty of comfortable options from which to video call your crafting group.
Tip: a phone stand will work extremely well in these situations.
4. Baby Monitor
IP Webcam is another Android app, and it has both sound and motion detection features that can be used to monitor your child. This could be a low-cost alternative to a baby monitor system until you’re ready to invest in a dedicated product.
5. Low-Resolution Camera
Unsurprisingly, your phone’s camera might have a higher resolution than your inbuilt laptop camera, or even a cheap webcam. Taking a look at which iPhone has the best camera, you will see that whole cinematic short films have been captured on a phone. If you have a good camera on your phone, why not use it for a sleeker video calling setup.
6. Streaming a Live Event
Without requiring a large setup, and with the capability to move around with ease, using your phone to stream a live event is a fabulous and affordable option (think church service, school concert, or even a wedding for those who cannot attend). All you need to do is copy the URL link of your live stream, and share the link to whomever you choose
7. Capturing Wildlife
As a cheap alternative to a remote-controlled DSLR camera, you can use your phone instead to capture photos of wildlife. Some webcam apps will allow you to automatically capture an image when the camera detects movement—the photo is then uploaded to a file-saving cloud service like Dropbox. Whether you are an amateur ornithologist, or just looking for some cute footage for your social media, try this one out.
8. Catching Animal Intruders
Some webcam apps offer night vision which might aid you in catching the animal intruder in your yard. Using your phone as a webcam, have a look at who is eating your vegetable garden, or catch the scavenger sneaking into your trash.
9. Home or Office Security
Turn a draw full of old and outdated phones into security cameras. Compared to installing a full security system, using a phone in this way; repurposes old technology, costs significantly less to set up, and can be quickly set up and dismantled.
10. Visualizer for Teaching
Remember how classroom teachers used to use light projectors to display information on the wall? You can do the same thing by using your phone as a webcam and displaying the live stream to a digital projector, or to individual computers. While there is dedicated equipment that does exactly this, your workplace may not have the technology yet. Try this out for an affordable, yet ingenious teaching tool.
11. Vehicle Reversing Camera
Creating a reversing camera for a vehicle, just goes to show the extent of creative ideas out there for a phone webcam. More of a fun project to try, this setup will work better in a campervan. You can set up the phone and webcam out the back window and stream the footage to a laptop in the front of the vehicle.
Note: make sure to watch out for the latency in the video feed!
12. Watch Over-Long Processes Like 3D Printing
3D printing can take a long time—we’re talking hours for some projects to be completed. Place your phone down in view of the machine and watch over the printing process from a second room in case anything goes wrong. This frees you to get on with other work or sit down to have a coffee without worry.
Re-inventing the Webcam
A webcam was once a dedicated piece of hardware for video calling, but now you want to be able to stream live footage, remotely record video, or simply sit and knit from your couch while you video call—all of which are great reasons for repurposing an old phone. Creating your own webcam with your phone might save you in an emergency, or become a fantastic DIY tool for teaching, or else help to create your own home security system.
While not everyone has access to a good webcam, most of us have a phone with a camera, or a few old spares in storage, and the possibilities for what to do with it are numerous.