In the last days I have found a camera software that managed to get me interested in, Shape Services' Mobiscope. And after a number of days testing it I came to the conclusion that it is definitely worth a review. In the crazy days that we live, a lot of people look for cheap but effective solutions to see what is happening in their homes, offices, etc, and be able to record surveillance video if necessary. Many solutions have been created in this area, but most of them lack some portability and cannot be with us all the time, while others have heavy price issues.
At the same time, most of us have computers with Webcams at home and at the office, and in most cases more than one computer, in different rooms. So what would you say if I would try to tell you that the same webcams we use with Skype and Windows Live Messenger could be use for surveillance and keeping our home and office secure? This is what Mobiscope is all about.
Mobiscope includes two parts, one is the desktop module and the other is the mobile device module. The first picture bellow shows the main screen of the module that is installed at our desktop computer.
The software shows the input from the cameras (up to 4 cameras simultaneously), and allows us to set up recordings (according to time schedules) and motion sensor (a mode in which the software will begin actions at the moment if feels from the camera input that there is some movement in the room.
The picture above shows the screen in which you can choose a recording to view. I've choosen the recording by its date and time, and use the calendar for that. The user interface is very easy and comfortable to use.
Setting up the motion sensor is also easy and fast. All you have to do is to set the threshold sensitivity and the actions to be taken. Regarding sensitivity, it is recommended to begin by the default and change it later according to the results you experience. Regarding the actions, the software can record and also send a warning by E-Mail, telling that motion has been detected. Combine that ability with Direct Push E-Mail you have your alerts in real time!
The picture above shows the scheduled recording settings screen. You can set the recording for specific days of the week and times, dates, etc.
The main difference between Mobiscope and other software is that the client module is developed for the device. I am talking here about Windows Mobile Pocket PCs, but actually there are client modules for a variety of devices.
This is what you see whenever you start the client module:
The first screen is a screen to choose which computer you desire to look at. Surely, at the first time you start the software you don't see anything, and you need to add the computers according to the numbers they have received at the desktop module setup time.
Another thing you can see from this screen is that we can see many computers. So you always have the choice between connecting many cameras to one computer or having many computers seen by the same client:
This is the picture from the camera in real size:
You can also zoom to 2x and concentrate in a specific place of the picture. Then you can just pull the image to move from a place to another:
You can also set a "fit to screen" option, so that you can see the whole picture and the menu-structure is very simple:
- If there is more than one camera connected, we can use the first option to change between cameras.
- Change the zoom level (like the left-softkey)
- Search for recordings and see them.
- See/hide details about the recording.
- Start/Stop recording
- Surely: we can also leave the system.
And what's about compatibility? Let's begin by the desktop: the system is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista and with Mac OS.
Regarding the devices, the compatibility list is quite comprehensive as well. Shape Services have clients for Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm OS and even a small Java client for Java and Symbian phones.
And what about cameras? The first time that I tried the software I had problems getting images from newer Microsoft LiveCams. The software worked very well with older technology (lower res) webcams, but the image of newer cams would be out-of-sync. I wrote to the developers and the same day they answered to me, asking for a screenshot. I sent it and the next day I had a mail with a new DLL to check. It worked perfectly and since then I have never had problems in connecting to any camera. I quite believe that at this stage the new DLL is already implemented in the commercial version.
While there is no charge for the required desktop Module, each Mobiscope mobile module costs US$ 29.95. There is a fully functional 7-days trial version available anyway which might be a little bit short, but enough to feel the results.
If I needed to give a grade to the software, it would get a 9.0.
Helio Diamant is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile and the founder and Editor in Chief of "Pocket PC Freak - Your Pocket PC Hebrew Site"