Sensr and Social Networks

People often ask us why Sensr has Facebook integration.  We use Facebook for authentication, but we also use it for sharing.  We’ve also recently added YouTube for sharing, and Twitter will be added as our next sharing mechanism.  To many people it seems strange that a “surveillance service” would be integrated with Facebook or any of these other social networks.

FacebookYoutubeTwitter

Sensr is a web-service for monitoring video feeds emitted by cameras. Sometime soon, we believe cameras will be everywhere, but they’ll only be useful if there are easy ways to access them.  That’s what Sensr is about.  Sensr allows you to access your own private cameras from anywhere in the world using a web browser.  Sensr also lets you access your friends cameras and public cameras using a web browser.  But what do you do when you see something interesting?  How do you get it out of Sensr and to where you want to put it?  That’s where sharing comes in.

In the very old days, you’d download a JPG or a MPG and email it somewhere.  In the less old days, you’d share a link to the data. These days, you share the ‘picture’ or ‘movie’ on a social network and don’t think about how it’s formatted or what the URL is.

Sensr asks you to think beyond the traditional uses of surveillance cameras that are viewed only after a catastrophic event (like a robbery).  Instead, cameras become data producers that can used for creative purposes.  Here are some ways users are using their cameras
and sharing interesting things.

Some users keep cameras in their family room.  The camera produces an endless stream of photos of the kids and the dog.   It’s fun to post the pics on Facebook with cute captions.

Another user keeps a camera on a home construction site.  He’s set his camera to take a photo every 30 seconds.  Using the YouTube movie-creation feature he creates time-lapse movies of the construction project.

Another user shares a “live view” of the lobby of his business on his business’s Facebook Fan Page.  The feed from the surveillance camera becomes part of his advertising strategy.

Have fun!  Be creative!  Sensr is a utility.  You supply the imagination.

(Here’s a movie created by Adam from his surveillance camera.)

Setting up Sensr to monitor a DCS-920 Camera

Sensr.net makes it easy to Watch Your Stuff with an Internet-enabled Wireless camera.  The D-Link DCS-920 is one such camera that is often available on Amazon for a good price ($48 in April 2010).  This article takes you through the steps to add a new camera to your Sensr account and program your DCS-920 to send its images there.  Many other brands of Network Cameras (both wired and wireless) have FTP-upload capabilities too.  If you have one of them, you may find this article helpful in setting it up.

The DCS-920 Network Camera

Add a New Camera to your Sensr Account

Login to Sensr using your Facebook username and password.   Select the “My Cameras” page.  Here you will see thumbnails of the latest images from your cameras.  To add a new camera to your account, click on the big green button labeled “Add New Camera.”

Sensr.net - "My Cameras"
Select the "Add New Camera" button on the "My Cameras" Page

Tell Sensr About your Camera

On the “Camera Info” page you should fill in the fields marked with arrows.  Give your camera a name that you like.   Select an appropriate timezone.   When you are done, click the “Add Camera” button at the bottom.

"Add New Camera" Setup Page

The “Add Camera” step allocates a new Camera Server on Sensr to watch your DCS-920.  As part of creating a server, Sensr has created a new FTP account for your DCS-920 to upload its images to.  The FTP credentials are displayed on the following page.  The important bits of information are

  1. the FTP server,
  2. the FTP Username, and
  3. the FTP Password.

These three items of information need to be entered into the camera."FTP Settings" Setup Page

Tell your Camera about Sensr

Now we turn our attention to programming the DCS-920 so that it sends its images to Sensr.  You should have already gotten your camera added to your network.  If you have not already done that, you may find my previous post about the adding the DCS-920 to my home network helpful.  Now, navigate to your DCS-920 Home Page.  On my network, the camera gives itself the address http://dcs-920 – which makes it easy to find.

From the Home page, select the “Setup” tab.

DCS-920 Home Page
DCS-920 "Home" Page

And from the “Setup” Page, select the “FTP” Parameters page.

DCS-920 "Setup" Page
DCS-920 "Setup" Page

The FTP Setup Page is where you enter all of the detailed parameters – including the FTP Credentials created for you by Sensr.

  1. In the “Host Name” field, enter the “FTP Server” from Sensr.  (In our example it is “f4.sensr.net”.)
  2. In the “User Name” field, enter the “Username” from Sensr.  (In our example it is “cam205”.)
  3. In the “Password” field, enter the “Password” from Sensr. ( In our example it is “itbazlmx4t”.)
  4. Select the “Passive Mode” check box.
  5. Double-check that you’ve left the “Path” field with it’s default value “/”.

There are a few other parameters we want to set in the camera.  We want to tell the DCS-920 to upload a new image every second, so be sure to select the “Enable uploading images to the FTP server” button.  Also set the upload frequency to “One Frame Per Second.”

A few parameters that set the uploaded file name should also be set for best results.  Leave the “Base File Name” as “DCS-920.”  Select the “Date/Time” suffix option.  (What these two settings do is tell the camera to give each uploaded image a unique filename of the form “DCS-920-201001021231.jpg.”  Giving each file a unique name prevents successive uploads from interfering with one another.)

Finally, click the “Save Settings” button at the top of the page to store these settings in the Camera.

DCS-920 Ftp Setup
DCS-920 "FTP Setup" Page

At this point, you are done!  You can close the browser window programming your Camera and go back to Sensr.  Click on the “Take Me To My Camera” button to see the Gallery view of images coming from your camera.

Now you can share your camera and its images with your friends on Facebook.  Have fun!