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iCam is the cheap, easy way to get remote video surveillance

iCam is the simple way to set up remote video surveillance, using your smartphone to keep an eye on things while you're away.

Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Video surveillance, often associated with bank-robbing and 7-11s, isn't just for retailers. Thanks to dirt-cheap apps like iCam, anyone with a computer and smartphone can set up their own video surveillance with little effort and without breaking the bank.

When you're on vacation, traveling for work, or even want to set up baby monitoring, iCam provides the tools to turn your computer's Webcam (or an IP camera) into a surveillance camera that you can monitor remotely with your smartphone or tablet.

You'll spend $5 total, and get access to features like motion detection, multi-camera monitoring, audio streaming, and even pan-tilt control for select IP cameras (more on that below.)

To get started, watch the video guide or follow the instructions below.

Now playing: Watch this: Simple remote video surveillance

Step 1: Set up iCam on your computer(s)
Head to and download iCamSource for Mac or PC. Once installed, start the program and select your Webcam from the drop-down list next to Video source. Then, create a secure username and password. Use one that you'll remember, but make sure it's secure so that no one, especially friends and family, can crack it.

Finally, click Start. If iCam asks, give it access through your firewall. Repeat this installation for every computer with a Webcam you want to use for surveillance.

If you want more cameras for surveillance without the bulk of a laptop or desktop computer, consider purchasing an IP Webcam (check out iCam's recommendations). These are standalone Webcams that can connect to Wi-Fi to stream to surveillance, and can be panned and tilted using your phone or tablet. Here are the setup instructions for using an IP camera with iCam.

Step 2: Install iCam on your Android or iOS device
With your cameras set up, you're ready to start remotely viewing the surveillance with your mobile device. To get started, get the app for Android (Play Store link) or iOS (App Store link).

When you launch the iCam app for the first time, it'll ask you if you'd like to receive push notifications when it detects motion. Enable or disable notifications based on your preferences. My advice is to begin by enabling motion notifications, only disabling them if you realize it's unnecessary or the pop-ups come too frequently

Then, log in with the username and password you chose in step 1, and you'll see surveillance cameras appear on screen.

Please note:

  • In order for this setup to work, the computers you use as surveillance cameras must remain on and connected to the Internet.
  • Since the stills iCam records when it detects motion are kept on the computer that sees them, you won't be able to access those images while you're away. To get around this, consider storing the stills in your Dropbox folder. Head to iCam on your Desktop, click on the "Motion detection" tab, and click Change under "Motion events folder."