Turn your old Android phone into a security camera

Tips & tricks
2 mins
Shield with a home on it.

In 2017, Edward Snowden along with The Guardian Project developed and released Haven, an open-source app designed to turn any old Android phone into a motion, sound, vibration, and light detector. Snowden describes Haven as a “safe room that fits in your pocket.” The goal of the app is to provide an easy way to watch for unexpected guests and intruders in your personal space. The project was developed with the support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

By this point in history, Snowden had been in exile for two years and living in Russia. Snowden has, on multiple occasions, spoken about the unsecure nature of popular smartphones, so you can imagine how important an app like Haven would need to be to gain his seal of approval.

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Broadly speaking, use cases for the Haven app can include protecting your home and property. Other possible uses include making sure your hotel room is secure and monitoring your personal space for intrusions by nosy family members or roommates. Whatever the reason, Haven basically provides you with your own DIY spycam!

Haven is currently available on Google Play and GitHub and has been in public beta since its announcement.

How to set up a DIY security camera

Setting up and using Haven is really easy. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, here’s what to do:

  1. Motion detection configuration

First you’ll need to calibrate the motion detection threshold by moving around in front the desired camera of choice (front or rear). This sets the minimum range of movement for motion detection to be triggered.

  1. Audio detection configuration

Then you’ll need to calibrate the maximum volume threshold to set the minimum volume level for audio detection to be triggered.

  1. Vibration detection configuration

Next you’ll need to shake your device to calibrate and set the movement threshold. This will make sure that your phone will detect any physical movements it may experience.

  1. Camera selection

Once motion, audio, and vibration settings have been calibrated, select a camera (front or rear) on your phone for motion detection.

  1. Notification (phone or Signal)

You can either enter your phone number or a Signal account to receive notifications.

  1. Tor remote access

Haven also allows remote access through Tor for online monitoring.

  1. Countdown

Place your phone in the desired location in the room, ensuring that the relevant camera (front or rear) is facing the area you wish to monitor. Then, when you’re ready to leave, set the countdown timer with enough time for you to make your exit.

That’s it! Now you have peace of mind knowing that your personal space is that much more secure.

Read more: Best home security camera systems for privacy and security.

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