Get some use out of your old smartphones by turning them into security cameras
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Credit: Salient Eye

Israeli startup Salient Eye has created an app that turns old smartphones into alarms that can photograph intruders and sound an alarm. No SIM required

Credit: Salient Eye

Credit: Salient Eye

What do you do with your old smartphones after upgrading to the latest iPhone or Galaxy? Most of us keep those old phones in a drawer in case, you know, our new baby breaks for some reason and we need a quick backup.

Tel Aviv startup Salient Eye has found a way to put those old smartphones to work so instead of collecting dust in a drawer, they can protect your home against intruders. Salient Eye is an app that turns any Android device into a full home alarm security system. Without needing a SIM or any other hardware, the app uses the phone’s camera to sense motion and can immediately capture images when motion occurs. After collecting images the phone will sound an alarm and notify the homeowner within seconds by text or email (via wifi) with photos of the intruder.

“Having spent around 12 months developing the technology after I was robbed, I was fastidious on creating a responsive and dedicated support to handle real security alarm situations, ensuring the user is alerted as fast as possible,” Salient Eye CEO Haggai Meltzer said in a statement. “Only when photos are taken and backed up on the cloud do we sound the alarm, before the burglar can discover and disable the device.”

Smile for the camera

Meltzer’s house was broken into two years ago. The burglar took his computer and made a huge mess of everything when searching for what else to take. While the police looked for the burglar, Meltzer’s things were unable to be recovered. According to Salient Eye, police catch only 13% of burglars due to lack of evidence.

Last year 3% of homes in the U.K. or about 700,000 homes were broken into and the average cost of stolen items and damage was £30,681 and £745, respectively. Meanwhile, in 2012, there were an estimated 2.1 million burglaries in the U.S., with an average loss per burglary at $2,230. Of these burglaries, just 45% happen when no one is home, but even when someone is home nearly 50% of those burglaries are unnoticed while in occurrence, meaning the faces of most burglars are never seen.

Many homes do not not have alarm systems, or just have minimal security measures such as double locks. Having an alarm system can increase the chance of police capturing burglars, especially because the system can capture photos that will help identify the offender.

Put those old phones to work

“Salient Eye turns your redundant smartphone into a portable home alarm system for a fraction of the cost”, Salient Eye’s VP of business development Amit Goldberg said in a statement. “Advanced home security measures are not accessible for many people and this provides a perfect solution for the basic protection of your home.”

The app was released for Android in March and has since been installed 60,000 times. The iOS version is coming in the fall, and iOS owners can register on the website to get a notification when it launches.

The app is free and does not require users to sign in. All it needs is info of where to send pictures should any intrusion occur and access to a wifi network. It seems like a great way to use use old Android phones if you have a dock that can keep the phone in position. Hopefully though, even if you download the app, you never need to use it. Just remember to keep those doors and windows locked!

Video: How it works


Download the app here

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Aviva Gat

About Aviva Gat


Olah Chadasha and former finance reporter from New York City. Gat is a writer, runner and traveler who came to Israel for the good food and weather. She writes for Geektime’s English and global desk.

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