For a while, I was using a webcam and Orb software to spy on my cats while I was out. The solution worked well, but was fairly limited. And I got frustrated seeing all of the cat shenanigans in my home office — these two felines bat at each other like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots when we’re not around. Since my webcam is fixed, I really can’t see what’s going on off-camera though. When the Astak folks pinged me last week about their brand new $299 wireless Mole camera with tilt and pan, I said I’d be happy to take a look at a review unit.
The Mole arrived late last night, so I’ll have to put it through the paces for a few days yet. From a specification and features perspective, it sounds pretty impressive. Like many standard webcams, the resolution isn’t all that high — we’re talking QVGA and VGA at up to 30fps here. But, it’s a standalone camera so it doesn’t need to be tethered to a stationary computer. The Mole has integrated Wi-Fi so it works as long as there’s a wireless signal. And if you need to extend your viewing beyond your network, there’s an SD card slot to record what the Mole sees and hears. The Mole can also upload videos directly to YouTube which I’ll test, but I’m not sure I’d use that feature all too much.
As far as remote access, you can view the live stream from any Internet connection. Astak says that it even works on the iPhone, so I’ll have a look-see on my 3GS. Remote tilting and panning is also supported: the vertical tilt range is 120-degrees while the horizontal panning is a wide 270-degrees. 15 LED lights help the Mole see in the dark and there’s a motion sensor feature too. When the Mole detects movement, it can email or tweet. I see a number of good uses for the Mole, so I’ll get it set up and take a closer look. Kitties — you have been warned!