A webcam is a low-cost option for individuals who need to monitor their room while at work or on vacation. Homeowners may have several reasons to secretly record a room, such as having proof for an insurance claim if the home is burglarized. A hidden webcam also can be used as a simple "nanny cam" to record a babysitter and ensure they're treating your child correctly. Several programs are available online that can either record the video to the laptop's hard drive or broadcast the live feed to a cell phone for real-time monitoring.
Purchase a webcam if you don't already have one. Use the webcam embedded in the laptop's lid if it has one, though it will be harder to conceal it. If you must purchase a webcam, choose one with high megapixels, good low-light ability and a wide-angle lens.
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Install the webcam driver onto the computer if the device isn't already installed. Some webcams are plug-and-play. Plug the device into the laptop; it will automatically be recognized. Others types require a driver to be installed. Insert the driver disc provided with the webcam into the laptop. Follow the installation wizard directions.
Place the laptop on a flat inconspicuous surface, such as a table, where it isn't likely to be moved. For example, if you place the laptop on a dining room table, the laptop may be moved to a different location at lunch time. If the room you're recording is empty, place the laptop on any flat surface facing the direction you want to record.
Conceal the webcam if you're using an external USB camera. You can place the laptop near a plant on the kitchen counter, for example. Place the webcam amongst the leaves of the plant. Ensure the lens isn't blocked by any items. Point the camera to the location you're most interested in recording, such as the front door. Wireless webcams also are available. They can be placed anywhere in the room.
Install webcam recording software onto the laptop. A laptop with a built-in webcam will have webcam software installed. Type "webcam" into the Start Menu search field to locate the software on the computer. If webcam software isn't installed on the computer, download and install a webcam application. Many free webcam applications are available online, including Yawcam, EyeSpyFX and WebcamXP.
Click on the webcam application's icon to launch it after the installation has finished. Wait for the program to recognize the webcam; a video will appear in the video box when it is ready. Reposition the webcam if necessary. Choose a save location if you want to save the recording to the laptop. Otherwise, choose "Broadcast" and set up a live Internet feed. Set the live feed to "Private" if you don't want it to be available to anyone except authorized viewers. Create a password if desired for extra security. Write down the broadcast URL. Enter the URL on the work computer or on a smart phone to view the recording live.