Glebe Systems StakeOut takes the simplest route to do-it-yourself surveillance. It uses a Webcam or source of digitised video, or two, to monitor continuously inside a building for moving objects. If a specified type of motion occurs, it will store still frames and send out an alarm.
Motion detection is the basis of most alarm systems, but StakeOut does more. It can dial up your ISP and upload the pictures to any unused Web space you may have, or e-mail them. This is essential to protect the evidence if the computer is removed. In fact, it will do anything for which you can write a script file, such as playing a sound file to warn off intruders, or sending an "all-clear" a few minutes later. Dialling a mobile phone number to sound the alarm is another sensible option.
StakeOut uses a motion-detection system which attempts to determine the size of moving objects, by scaling them according to where in the image they appear. This is intended to allow the software to respond only to person-sized or vehicle-sized objects, and not pets. While it needs a high point of view and an uncluttered scene to work properly, it can definitely filter out some false alarms.
The best feature of this software is its simple approach. The user is unlikely to disable surveillance accidentally by fiddling with the options, but some of the options are hard to find without a central configuration panel.
The usefulness of the upload feature is diminished for those without a permanent connection to the Net. A minute after detecting motion is probably too late to start uploading, though if the computer is hidden it might suffice. Support for more cameras, for people who have such hardware, and the ability to monitor input from devices such as motion detectors, would improve the software.
Webcams have limited usefulness as surveillance devices, due to the 5m limit imposed by the USB standard. An USB hub or repeater adds another 5m, or you could use more expensive video equipment and a capture card. Even so, this is a very cost-effective way to protect your property.
Glebe Systems StakeOut
Distributor: Glebe Systems
Phone: 1800 556 657