An alternative to a USB camera is something called an IP camera. These can either be connected to your network using an Ethernet cable or can be wireless (WiFi), sometimes the device offers both options so you can use either but not both. IP cameras are also known as “Network Cameras” and Wireless Cameras, they range in price so this option can be a relatively low cost option of monitoring your home remotely or it could be quite a high cost.
IP cameras come under the heading of “Network Device”(see glossary), which means that they will need a unique IP address to enable them to connect to your network (LAN). The Ethernet connections are often more reliable than wireless but wireless is often more convenient so it’s always a trade off and you will have to decide which works best for you.
The main thing is that you need to make sure that the camera can be powered in the location that you want to monitor (you can get some battery powered cameras) and that you can get an Ethernet cable to it or that you have a decent WiFi signal. In all cases the IP Camera will need a unique IP address, sometimes you will have to “assign” a “Static IP address” so that it knows it is a member of your LAN. The easiest option is to get an IP camera that can get a unique IP address from a DHCP server otherwise you will need to find out how to assign a “static IP Address” and you’ll be pleased to know that isn’t difficult.
Generally, once the IP camera has an IP address, you can control it from any PC/Laptop on your LAN and you then have the choice of going for the “Motion Detection” option where you get a “motion detection” email or the images/video clips are uploaded to a facility using FTP.
Once you have your IP Camera set up and on the LAN, you can use it more or less the same way that you could if it was connected to a PC or laptop using USB. Normally, you would access the camera using a web browser. The battery powered WiFi cameras can often be the best solution as they don’t need any cables running to them and providing that you can get a good WiFi signal, it’s a reasonably good solution. If you have to use an Ethernet cable instead of WiFi , you might be able to use “Power over Ethernet” (PoE) which means you can use the same Ethernet cable to get power to the camera; which saves a bit of cabling. Don’t forget to consider “Homeplug” (Ethernet over Mains) if your WiFi is not up to scratch.
Now you have your IP camera up n running, you just need to use the software supplied (or Yawcam) to either email you when it detects any movement or to upload stills or video clips to your website so you can check periodically to see what’s happening. I suggest you go for the email alert option when the camera detects movement as you won’t have to get involved in FTP uploads and websites etc:-)