Use FaceTime as a Crude Home Surveillance System

Use FaceTime as a Crude Home Surveillance System

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Taryn Williford
Dec 6, 2010

Could an iPhone on your windowsill replace your home security system? Probably not. But if you just need a way to keep an eye on your front door for the pizza delivery guy, you can hack two FaceTime-equipped Mac devices and your home's WiFi network into an impromptu home surveillance system.

A Lifehacker reader wrote in to the site with a solution for keeping an eye on your front door so "when your delivery man arrives (pizza in my case), you won't be caught off guard": Just start a FaceTime call between a device pointed at your door and the iPhone in your hands.

This is the perfect solution for him, thanks to a secure windowsill with a stellar vantage point and a big house with an absurdly quiet doorbell. But here's a few other ideas where this surveillance hack might come in handy:

  • You want to catch the mail man or FedEx guy when he delivers to your door without having to wait on the stoop.
  • You're in desperate need of a shower, but don't want to miss the cable guy if he shows in the next 20 minutes. You might not hear a doorbell, but you can keep a look out with your MacBook.
  • Disable the doorbell before your holiday party and use this hack to keep an eye out for guests instead—just to keep your yippy dog from barking at each ring.
  • Older kids at home alone (or just paranoid single people, like us) can see who is at the front door without opening it or making it look like someone is coming to answer it.


While we wouldn't trust it to watch our kids or keep burglars at bay (in fact, the sight of an iPhone 4 in the window might have the reverse effect), it's a great little hack for those times you'd like to be two places at once.


(Top image: Flickr user troy mason under license from Creative Commons)

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