My Mobile Phone As A Webcam

I'm finally making use of Bluetooth. Well, not exactly making use of, playing with is probably a better phrase. I've hated the Bluetooth technology ever since I getting my first Bluetooth enabled phone (Nokia 6600). I couldn't get Bluetooth working properly, at all. I brought one of the Vodafone Bluetooth USB adapters and I could never get it to work with a Bluetooth stack, except with the really bad dongle software. Tip: Never buy this dongle!

Now, I've got a new phone (Nokia 6680, very good by the way) and I've invested in a Belkin Bluetooth adapter (eBay the Vodafone one?). This adapter actually comes with the Widcomm Bluetooth stack and works (eventually, after a few problems... probably caused by the Vodafone piece of crap), fine.

After getting my phone and computer synchronized, I did all the usual phone management stuff, transferring images and videos as well as backing up my contacts. But then I decided to find out what I could do with them together...

First thought: My phone has a camera (two in fact) and my computer is lacking a webcam... let's combine the two! After a quick Google search (and I mean pretty damn quick), a little bit of reading (and I mean a little!) and the downloading of two programs (small programs at that), I got it working! How about that.

The two programs you need are: Remote S60 Professional and Softcam. Both programs are available as trail versions, and these are what I used.

First I played around with Remote S60 Professional. There are two parts to this program, one for the PC and one for your Series 60 mobile phone. After installing both I connected my phone to my PC and the software using my Bluetooth connection. Now you are presented with your mobile screen on your PC!

At this point, the "video stream" I had of my phone on my PC was unrecognisable. It was extremely fuzzy with brightly coloured strips running down it. I tried all the settings such as colour-depth and frame-rate but nothing. So, I emailed the company about my trail version problems. Within 30 minutes I got an OBVIOUS personal reply (not like these fake computer generated ones which are supposed to sound personal!). They explained that they'd just released a new version (don't know how "just" coz I thought I got the latest of their site). They provided a link, which I used to download the new version, which worked perfectly. Now, companies aroudn the World, a lot of you could take note from this company!

Now, back to the application itself... Using a skin (one is provided, but more are available) for the PC application I was presented with a Nokia 6630 phone wrapped around the faux mobile screen. Although the phones are not the same, they have the same buttons. Clicking the buttons on the skin actually controls the phone. You can have so much fun with just THIS application on its own (Which I did).

I took the phone downstairs and told my housemate to watch the screen. I raced back upstairs and proceeded to open up "Create a Message" and started typing (this'd be a quick way to write text-messages in future!). The message, of course, appeared on the mobile downstairs. I then moved around the menu system and activated the camera. This sets the front camera on, which of course, my housemate was staring into. I could see all this from my PC screen, while he looked on, a little bemused that he's just appeared on my phone out of seemingly nowhere!

After this fun was had I started the Softcam program. First thing I noticed about the program was it's absolutely terrible interface. It was like a really bad Winamp 3 skin. Tip: Popular applications have squared containers, not fancy alpha-blending (but still with bad aliasing) rounded edges. Anyway, after clicking around the application for 10-15 minutes I couldn't work out how to send part of my screen over the internet as a webcam stream. (Which is what the main purpose of this application is for). After a quick look around the FAQs on the frame-based website (ug) I found a general answer which seemed to work. I needed to change settings in the application I was using to send the webcam with; MSN. After playing with this it worked.

Combining my phone camera, which is beamed to my PC screen via Bluetooth and Remote S60 Professional, then Softcam which broadcasts part of my PC screen as a webcam stream to the internet, I was able to show someone, via the internet, around my whole house!

Admittedly, the picture quality was pretty jerky, but then it's really a big geek gimic! Also, BOTH programs had watermarks over them, which kinda ruins the illusion. However, fact has it, it works! Ain't technology brilliant.