This is a touchy subject as we can dabble into privacy issues, but it’s too useful to not discuss this. Internet-based camera systems are really useful tools to keep an eye on things, even if you’re in a land far, far away.
Prior to the pandemic, my wife and I went for a week down south where there is no snow or our kids (Mexico) to catch some rays and we used a Wyze Pan Cam V1 to keep an eye on things, chat up the kids and most importantly chat up the dog. Since it’s Wi-Fi you can access it directly from it’s associated app on smartphone or tablet, so we’d be at the beach and wonder where the dog is sleeping. A minute later we knew.
Now let’s bring this into our context of Alzheimer’s, how can you use web-based cameras to help keep an eye on things? Think both indoors and outdoors by the way.
Let’s look at devices out there you can get:
- Good old Wi-Fi webcams like the Wyze mentioned above. Simple, works, you can add storage to review stuff later and affordable. Bear in mind these need their power outlet but you can use USB chargers. When you get into a situation where you have many cameras it’s not as easy to use I suspect (unless they offer a management tool) and do check if the brand/model you choose is supported by your smart home hub as some can double as motion sensors.
- Wired/wireless camera systems: in the last few years we have seen some new camera systems which are wireless and run on batteries (or plugged in or replacing a lighting fixture like a floodlight) such as the Arlo, Ring (more for outdoors) and Blink cameras. These can be deployed anywhere, and they have outdoor models including floodlights. Bear in mind they are connected via their own “camera hub” and offer options like solar panels. Same as above, check for smart home hub compatibility, requirements, yada yada. Be aware that vendors tend to stop supporting these after 8+ years which is frustrating, here is an example.
- IP Network cameras: some may work standalone but they work better in the context of local storage like a server (see next item for a prebaked approach), like a Synology NAS. If you wish to go for these, which are usually working with industry standards like WiFi and X.264 video codecs, read up here as a starting point. Reolink seems to be the big player in this space but there are plenty of others to consider. Warning: this is harder to manage than say the Ring or Arlo cameras, expect some homework!
- SMB camera systems: if you want to go “all out” and need many cameras for your use case, you can look at systems like those made for small businesses. Lorex is a common brand, these systems are made to work with a digital video recorder (physical or cloud – if you remember the Tivo PVR it’s the same idea) and are more in the security mindset.
- Video conferencing boxes: the Google Nest Hub & Amazon Echo Show can also serve this purpose. The Echo Show has a “drop in” mode where the devices stays “dark” but you can keep an eye on things without startling anyone.
Be smart, privacy-minded, honest about it and plan things. Maybe buy one or two and add as you go along to see how things are. Keeping an eye on important assets can be useful, if just for peace of mind. Is the front door closed? Is the cooktop on? You get the idea.