Vitamin D turns your webcam into a virtual doorman

When I bought a webcam for my front door – mine is the Linksys WVC54GCA – I was faced with a predicament. The built-in motion detection software bombarded my email inbox with images of an empty frame. It was set off by the motion of a leaf or a reflection, rendering one of the most important aspects – notification of trespass – ineffective.

At an impasse, I decided to build a cyberbiomimetic AI using a cockroach brain and a vat of amino acids. The resulting system, while effective at spotting intruders, eventually threatened to become self-aware and so I had to shut it down. Finally, I tried Vitamin D. Problem, as they say, solved.

Vitamin D is a three-step piece of software. You point it at a webcam on your network (it’s compatible with a few models right now) and tell it what to do when it sees evil people encroaching on your turf. Be they the UPS guy or brain-eating zombies, the system will record a clip of their activity and can even notify you via email and an audible chime when it senses movement. In short, it allows you to create a very powerful security system in a few minutes.

You can add multiple cameras and the system grabs only the most important parts of the day, ensuring you don’t miss a single entry or exit. Because it’s compatible a number of webcams, including webcams over a network.

I was able to connect my webcam and start recording in less than a minute. It’s a great feeling to know that the webcam has suddenly become more than a way to watch your front step. Sadly, you need a PC or Mac running the Vitamin D software to record 24/7 video but if you set this up on an always attended-to system it makes for an interesting and valuable upgrade.

It’s free right now and you can download the beta here. A subscription version will be sold in early 2010.

Note: My webcam is sideways because that’s how I mounted it in my window. Long story.