Web cams have been a very popular item for us in our online store over the past year or so. People just seem to really love them. The thought of video conferencing with friends and family over the Internet for free or even just capturing some video or still shots is all very fun and exciting. Well, I think they are a blast as well. You can really have a lot of fun with them and with this week’s free download, we are going to tap into some more of the versatile Web cam attributes.
Web cams, as you may have noticed, are popping up all over. They are a great and inexpensive way to keep your eyes on things while you are away. With CatSpy (the download), you can take your Web cam and turn it into a motion detecting surveillance camera. That’s right, you heard me correctly. This thing is great. I have been playing with this software all morning, just running it through its paces and pushing it to the limit so to speak; and I have nothing but good things to report.
Basically, with CatSpy, you can turn any Web cam into a surveillance camera that will sit idle until motion is detected, where by, it will spring to life and start recording (per your settings). When the capture/surveillance is finished, CatSpy automatically saves all the video to a folder in your My Documents, My Videos folder for any later use. You’re not limited to one camera either. Say you have two or three cameras lying around. Well, just hook them up and CatSpy will take care of all of them for you. All you have to do is basically open up another surveillance window, point to the new camera;, make the changes to the settings if you need to and you’re good to go. You can connect as many cameras up to your PC as you want, but this is something that possibly will affect the performance of your computer and it may cause problems. This is especially true in older, less powerful computers, so do keep that in mind.
I will list the system requirements to CatSpy at the end of this article, but first, let’s take a look at the wonderful features CatSpy has.
CatSpy has been designed to meet some general purposes:
- Be as fast as possible.
- Be as lean as possible.
It uses a standard GUI interface without any customization to spare. The system resources for the real task are capture video and detect motion in it.
- Multiple settings files with different camera setup, which can be opened simultaneously.
- Multiple cameras per settings file.
- Notification window with all interesting events in one place.
- Adjustable video capture path.
- Auto start detection on settings file open.
- Unattended mode, disabling all error dialogues.
- Specify video size, frames per seconds, video mode and tuner related settings for TV cards.
- Adjustable gray level.
- Erosion algorithm to remove the noise from the cameras. The algorithm can be processed a number of times.
- Adjustable number of pixels, which must have changed to detect a motion.
- Minimum motion time delay.
- Coded using Intel MMX-assembly instructions to be as fast as possible.
- Create individual schedules for each settings file.
- Use one schedule with more than one camera (so define once and reference it in the camera).
- Schedule rules can contain the day of week, the time, the day, the month and the year.
- Makes it possible to create rules like: “Let the camera be active Monday through Friday from 17:00 until 6:00 and Saturday and Sunday the whole day.”
- This feature enables you to create individual masks for each camera, excluding unwanted image areas from the motion detection.
- Really “paint” the mask with tools like Rectangle, Fill, Circle and Line.
- Zoom capabilities in the Mask Editor.
- Supports all DirectX 9 compatible video devices.
- Respond to special events, such as “disk full” during recording.
- Support on-the-fly registration and removal of plug-and-play devices.
- Preview window with motion view, frames-per-second-counter and different pixel counter.
- Date/Time stamp and camera name recorded to the video.
- Selectable compressor that will be used to compress the videos while capturing.
- Pre-Event-Recording, adjustable time frame.
- Using WMV and AVI file formats for saving the recorded videos
- 256 MB RAM (depends on the operating system, the number of cameras, the size of the pre-motion-buffer, etc).
- 600 MHz Pentium-Class Processor with MMX.
- DirectX compatible graphics card.
- DirectX compatible video grabber card or Web cam.
- Windows ME, Windows 2000 or Windows XP (XP preferred).
- DirectX 9.
- Windows Media 9 codecs.
CatSpy will automatically install MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes) and GDI+ in its private application folder.
One note on the operating system:
We strongly encourage you to use Windows XP, because it is the fastest operating system for this application. Both Windows ME and Windows 2000 lose a lot of processing time in their kernel modes (we do not know why), so Windows XP is the best solution.
This program is great. I just can’t say enough about it and I didn’t even tell you the coolest part yet. If you know how to access a remote computer (Remote Desktop), you can view your surveillance camera and captured video over the Web. Now, that’s pretty cool! I hope you enjoy CatSpy. I know I will be using it for some time to come!
You can download CatSpy here.
~ Chad Stelnicki