How to use old phones/tablets to increase home security

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Illustration by Muntaha Hussain l TechEngage

When you upgrade your phone or tablet, you may be wondering what to do with the old one. Some options include trying to sell it on the Internet, donating it, or recycling it. But why not get some more use out of it instead? If there is nothing wrong with the device, it’s a shame to let it go to waste.

One use of an old phone or tablet is improving your home security system. Every smartphone and tablet comes equipped with access to the Internet and a decent camera these days. Instead of spending money on a specialized Internet-connected camera, why not use the device that you were going to throw away anyway?

In this post, we walk you through the process of using the Internet of Things to help protect your home. This includes repurposing an old smartphone or tablet as a security camera and some uses for Internet of Things devices.

Turning a Phone or Tablet into a Security Camera

Every smartphone and tablet already has nearly everything that it needs to be your Internet-enabled home security camera.  To get it set up, you’ll need access to an Internet connection, a phone charger, and a security camera app.

Network Connection

When most people replace their old phone, they take it off their cellular plan, so it’s no longer able to use cell data. Luckily, an old phone or tablet can still work over WiFi without a SIM card or plan. All you need to do is connect it to your home WiFi network so that you’ll be able to remotely access your camera feed.

Power Cord

As a home security camera, your old device will be running all day every day. It will definitely need to be plugged into a charger, so be sure to pick one that can reach an outlet from wherever you want to set up your security camera.

Security Camera App

The last thing that you need to turn your old device into an Internet-enabled camera is a smart camera app. Luckily, there are several of these available on the Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Some options include:

Once you’ve downloaded and installed an app, you’re all set! Pick out a place and set up your new home security camera. Just make sure to pick out a place with a decent WiFi signal and easy access to a power outlet.

Improving Home Security with the Internet of Things

Internet-Enabled Cameras

Using old phones or tablets as Internet-enabled security cameras aren’t your only home-monitoring options. Many modern baby monitors are Internet-enabled, so if you have one lying around, it may be another good option. Alternatively, you can use a webcam connected to a laptop or desktop to help ensure that no-one is trying to steal or hack into it.

Lighting Controls

Everyone, including thieves, needs to see. If you have smart lighting in your house, it may be useful to set it up to alert you if the lights are turned on or off during certain hours of the day when no-one is supposed to be home. You may get some false alarms if a family member runs home to grab something or have a quick bite, but you may also catch a thief if they’ve broken in and are turning lights on or off as they move throughout your house.

Smart Locks

Traditional locks can be picked, and it can be a nuisance if you can’t remember if you locked the doors on your way out in the morning or just locked your keys in your car. Luckily, some companies have developed smart locks which can be controlled from your smartphone or another Internet-enabled device. You can easily lock (or unlock) the front door from a distance or set an alert to sound if the door opens unexpectedly.

Thermostat

Surprisingly, your smart thermostat can help protect your home as well as saving you money on your energy bill. Smart thermostats can monitor the current temperature in your house and may have the ability to send an alert to your phone if there is an unexpected swing in your home’s temperature. If someone breaks a window or opens a door while you’re not home, it may cause an increase (in summer) or decrease (in winter) in your home’s temperature which could cause your thermostat to send you an alert. Similarly, if something sparks a fire in your home while you are away, this system would alert you to the temperature change. Once you get an alert, you can take a quick look at that new smartphone/tablet security camera to make sure everything is ok.

Securing Your Home with the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is growing rapidly. New devices are coming out all the time that are designed to make our lives easier and more efficient. Many of these devices can be used in unexpected ways as well. A little creativity can help you protect yourself and your home without shelling out for a fancy home security system.

Do like this idea? Do let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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