Thursday, April 21, 2011

Witness in my pocket

As promised, a few words on a low cost motion detector on your laptop. 
Witness, an application from Orbicule, "...turns your Mac into a home alarm system, using its iSight camera as a motion sensor. If motion is detected, Witness sends mugshots and video to your iPhone or iPad."

When I first downloaded Witness, I was surprised at the ease of setting it up. You create an account online, and can access it from any computer AND (here's the great thing) yes, there is an iOS app for both iPhone and iPad. After you install it on your computer, a little house appears on your menu bar, and you can activate and deactivate from either your laptop, or, get this, from your iPhone or iPad. So if you leave the house, and forget to turn it on, you can do it from afar. And the $39 price tag is pretty good for this little mini alarm system.

But (of course, a but), it was only AFTER I paid the $39 and received my license by email that I was notified of a small bug, that the notification system did not work with the iPhone and iPad, and that Orbicule was waiting for their fix to be approved by Apple. Oh sure, now you tell me, I thought. Of course, I wanted to believe them, but experience prevented my optimism.

And how happy I was to be wrong, they INDEED fixed it within a week of my purchase, and although it is no substitution for a true alarm system, now we can find out if our landlord is visiting us while we are not at home.

More from Orbicule:

Witness not only functions as an alarm system, it also locks your Mac, preventing anyone from looking at your files. You can use the built-in lock screen that comes with Witness, or the standard Mac OS X screensaver password feature. Witness nicely integrates with your Mac’s screensaver password: when you come home and unlock your screensaver, Witness automatically turns off the alarm.

Other products from Orbicule include Undercover, theft recovery software for Mac and iOS, and Incognito, a Safari extension that prevents Facebook and Google from following you on the web.


When Orbicule's fix was accepted by Apple for the App store, they sent an email apologizing for the delay, and offering a 15% coupon on all of their products. I think they should have offered half price off for at least  one product, but I am still happy with this mini security system.

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