Somewhat off-topic but just the right topic for today's Friday column is the Bird Cam I'm currently running. Roughly two weeks ago we noticed a Blackbird node with three eggs, next to our balcony and unlike the previous years, where we also had nodes but never followed the breeding, this year I wanted to follow the bird's work. Since we live in the 21st century I thought that it might be good idea to follow it with a webcam and first I thought about snapping a photo every minute and uploading it to the web server. However, it's the 21st century and uploading photos is old school and not the YouTube-way the Internet is about these days. Therefore I've installed the webcam with the plan to stream the breeding to the Internet.
And here the wireless part - what the::unwired is about - begins! If you believe it or not, we don't have DSL at home but rather using wireless HSPA connections, distributed through mobile hotspots like the Huawei E5. And frankly, with today's HSDPA and HSUPA technologies, there's no real reason to have DSL at home anymore - except for the volume caps and pricing. But technology-wise, wireless data is ready for casual web use at home (not to think about LTE which is coming next).
So I've connected the webcam to one of my spare Netbooks, connected the Netbook via WiFi to a mobile hotspot which is connected to UMTS (only - for the webcam upstream I don't use HSUPA at all) and the result is pretty amazing. As a matter of fact, the so called "Bird Cam" is now running for 7 days / 12 hours per day, and delivers impressive impressions from the breeding process. I have to admit that I never followed mother nature that close and in real-time like this time but it really impresses me!
However, for me also interesting are the learning from this test. Streaming a HVGA video consumes roughly 100 MB per hour which isn't too bad and I expected to be more. Sure, it's a very narrowed resolution and the quality is far away from being anything close to HD but for bird watching it's just okay.
Now I plan to keep the Bird Cam online as long as possible, at least until the offspring is hatched, to follow the whole breeding process. Oh, and by the way - watching the little bird is the best and most relaxing "screen saver" I ever had; give it a try yourself! :-)
Cheers ~ Arne
PS: Thanks to Huawei for supporting the Bird Cam idea with a loaned E5 wireless hotspot!