Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Cut the wires on your handheld stream

VIDEO POWER TIP

By Richard Siderits

Wouldn't it be great to be able to monitor live Internet video from different locations using your palm device? I wanted to use my palmOne Tungsten C over the wireless network at work to monitor a CNC milling machine in my basement at home. To do this, I needed my Tungsten C, a home and office Wi-Fi network, an office PC with an Internet connection, and a home Linksys wireless-G Internet video camera.

The one piece that made it all work is the Win-Hand application. The Win-Hand server running on my office PC allows me to access that computer, and all of its applications (including an Internet browser), from the palmOne Tungsten C over the wireless network!

I use a Dynamic DNS server that lets me alias a dynamic IP to a static hostname. In other words a "dyndns" client runs on my home PC and lets me name my home network something friendly like "GottaSeeHomeStuff.org", even though my home IP changes dynamically. This brings me reliably into my home network on an assigned port of the Linksys wireless-G router and lets me connect to the Linksys wireless video camera to view the live video stream. There you have it.

The image in Figure A shows my "office" notebook at work with a browser window open to my home Linksys wireless Internet video stream (the camera is pointed at a hobby CNC milling machine in my basement).

FIGURE A

Here it is, all together, streaming from one computer over a network, to the handheld. (click for larger image)

The Palm Tungsten C is connected to the notebook using the office wireless network and the Win-Hand virtual desktop server. This allows me to see the live video stream from the browser window on my PC through the Palm. It's also possible to run any PC application remotely.

Walking down the hall at work, or sitting at the lunch table, I can open up a Win-Hand connection to my office PC, where the PC's browser has a view of the live video stream from my home Linksys video camera. By the way, it's just as easy to access up to six different remote computers that can each have their own Webcams. Each of these will allow live video images using the same Win-Hand server.

There are tons of variations on this theme. It didn't take long to realize I could access my office PC Webcam from the conference room at work. You can also use the camera's motion detection to send an email letting you know when to access the live image (a UPS truck in your home driveway is one example). This is a lot of fun and I have found it to be very reliable.

Richard Siderits is an assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School and is an avid proponent of wireless technologies in medicine.