The Raspberry Pi as a motion-sensing webcam

Big Pi is Watching

© Lead Image © racorn,

© Lead Image © racorn,

Article from Issue 160/2014

The new PiCam camera for the Raspberry Pi delivers image data with very little overhead, making it ideal for video surveillance applications. We find the bumps in the road you'll encounter and show you how to smooth them out with a few Linux commands and pipes.

Video surveillance has become a hot topic, but most cameras available are not really recommended: A colleague recently described the hair-raising vulnerabilities that Linux-based web and netcams typically entail in a blog post [1]. After this kind of read, Linux admins will probably prefer to look for alternatives, which will take them right to the Raspberry Pi with the PiCam add-on (see the "Rasp Pi HD Video Camera" box).

The Hardware

The equipment need not cost an arm and a leg. Figure 1 shows the components used in this example: Anyone wanting to use the camera in places without Ethernet wiring will need a WiFi dongle and case. The Pi detects most wireless dongles automatically; in our lab, I used a USB dongle by Edimax. The SD card comes with several OS images, which will save you a huge amount of work for a small additional price.

The Raspberry Pi project website has devoted a page to the camera with instructions [2] and a video documenting installation steps. The connector for the camera lies between the Ethernet and HDMI ports (Figure 2).


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