BlackBerry "Baby" Monitor ?
September 23, 2007 8:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I use my cellphone or BlackBerry to monitor sound at my house?

When we leave our house, my wife and I worry our dogs start barking, annoying the neighbors. Is there an easy way we could run an application on a home PC that transmits the sounds of the house to a portable device, say a BlackBerry. Then I could just check in periodically to make sure all is quiet. If the dogs are acting up, the evening out gets cut short.

Failing the transmission of the actual sounds, what about transmitting some numeric indicator of the noise level, perhaps a graphic that could be accessed by the browser in my BlackBerry?

One possible solution: a BlackBerry Skype client. Any other thoughts?
posted by cameradv to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why don't you just take a nice bottle of wine to your neighbors, apologize if they've been disturbed and ask them to call you on your cell if the furry kids act up again. Who knows? You might even make some friends. That's how they did it "back in the day!"
posted by pearlybob at 9:10 AM on September 23, 2007

Have you actually asked your neighbors if the dogs annoy them? Instead of having to cut your evening short, you could work on training them to not bark.
posted by jesirose at 9:29 AM on September 23, 2007

Also, unless you have very loud dogs or live in a townhome, I doubt your neighbors can hear the dogs in another house. All of my neighbors have dogs and I can only hear them when I or they are outdoors.
posted by jesirose at 9:30 AM on September 23, 2007

I wish my house was as well insulated as jesirose. I live in a dog-rich neighborhood and I can hear all of them, even the ones all the way across the canyon whether I'm inside or out. There are ways of teaching a dog to be less yappy, but my experience with our dog has shown me that dogs are very individual so you may have to try several different approaches. Don't listen to anyone who says "my approach works with all dogs." That says to me "I have no experience with actual dogs."
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 12:30 PM on September 23, 2007

Orb will do this. The Orb software is server-side, all you need is a browser on your phone.

The "tricky" part is getting your webcam or recorder to write out the necessary files. If it's an audio recorder, you can have it write out files in chunks, say 30 minute blocks, and then access them through Orb. You can set a minimum threshold for volume so it only activates and writes if it's above a certain threshold.

Or if it's a webcam, you can hit that interactively. Orb is well set up for this. You can also use it to watch TV, either live or pre-recorded.

This presupposes that you have a good data plan with 3G data rates and unlimited data (ie, no metering!). Personally, I use the Sprint SERO plan, $30/month for unlimited data (includes voice).

If you want to seriously geek out, then you can set up VLC to do this as well. However, Orb comes pre-rolled.
posted by meehawl at 1:07 PM on September 23, 2007

This may be particularly low-tech - but how about a simple answering machine, with remote room monitoring? It seems to be a common feature, even in el-cheapo (< $20) versions. You dial in, enter you code, and listen in via the microphone.
posted by bemis at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2007

That's what I was thinking too, but you might want to turn the ringer on your phone off as the sound of the phone could start the dogs barking or stop them if they already were.
posted by caddis at 2:31 PM on September 23, 2007

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