Webcam monitoring and surveillance
- Highly configurable
- Strange interface
- Takes up a lot of memory
- Requires an account for most purposes
iSpy is a free, open-source webcam monitoring and surveillance program.
It distinguishes itself by being free, without skimping on options. In fact, iSpy is hugely flexible, and all but the most demanding users will find that it offers enough to happily meet their needs. The interface is a little strange (the top half looks great, but the bottom is old-fashioned), and the program takes up a huge amount of RAM. But these problems aside, it's a really impressive piece of software.
iSpy can be configured to work with various input sources, whether a conventional webcam, IP cam, capture card, desktop camera or microphone, all with a view to monitoring your home and making sure everything is well. Setting up a camera for iSpy is easy - in all probability, it will automatically detect your device, but if it doesn't, there's a handy wizard to help you along the way.
The iSpy interface is completely configurable, but the default layout gives you a main feed on the top, the movement captures beneath, and quick options to the side. It's also accessible from the taskbar, and remotely, provided you have an active iSpy subscription.
Although iSpy is ready to go from the moment you install it, it's really worth taking a look at the configuration options and settings. Although extensive, they're not complicated, and will really help you get the most from a very flexible app. Just bear in mind that for a lot of the program's features, you will need a paid account - primarily secured remote access, SMS, MMS, email alerts and mobile device access.
On the iSpy web site, there's a huge list of possible uses, and it certainly gives you food for thought. The program's options certainly back this up, as it's flexible enough to cater for all eventualities. The only problem we can see, in fact, is the resource-intensive usage.
When we tested iSpy, it seemed clear that only those using pretty powerful machines would be able to run it at the same time as other applications. Of course, as iSpy is mainly used for remote monitoring, that may not be a problem for all users, but it's worth bearing in mind.
iSpy is a very promising piece of surveillance software - but you'll need a subscription and a powerful PC to get the most from it.