OMG OMG OMG, I just tried it and it works! Better yet! I came up with it myself! I have to share it with the world right now!
So, this is a problem we’ve had time and time again while on the road, but as it turns out, we have it a home too: Petit Bibi is asleep, I’m home alone and I need to go to the late shop around the corner to grab a beer. Every parent gets that, right? So, here’s how to convert any computer into a baby monitor, without Skype, without having to install programs or apps, without having to create and account with a web-service… without having to even use a service.
Also, there’s a free app for Android that lets you turn one device into a baby monitor while you keep the other one with you, but it’s much more restrictive because both devices need to run android, and people usually like to keep their device with them. iPhoners can also do the trick with two iPhones, with the same inconvenient plus that they need to pay, of course.
So, you need two internet-connected devices. Let’s say one is a laptop and one a smartphone. In that case, we’ll assume the laptop stays in the room with baby and you’re taking the smartphone with you. But really, it can be any combination.
- You open Firefox on the laptop.
- You start a Firefox Hello window (or any webRTC link).
- Send the link to the smartphone and open it. (I made a QR code on the laptop and flashed it with the smartphone, but you can email yourself the link…)
- Mute the sound on the laptop.
You can walk out with the smartphone, go to the other side of the house with it, or in the street for quick shopping. As long as you stay online, your smartphone will broadcast whatever sound there is in the baby’s room. If you get disconnected, just click reconnect. And if you can point the webcam of the laptop towards the baby, you even get live video feed!
EDIT: Let’s get into the details of making this work. With screenshots!
If you’re using Firefox, that’s cool, because Firefox has a button especially made for video-calling. It’s called Firefox Hello and here’s the screenshot:
If you don’t see it, it’s probably hiding in the hamburger menu. What’s the hamburger menu? Well that would be the button most to the right. See? Hamburger menu!
Clicking on the button will set up the URL. All you need to do is open that URL on another device, using firefox or whatever other modern browser you might have. (Hint: “modern browser” is IT jargon for “Not Microsoft Internet Explorer”.)
If you’re starting on something else than Firefox, say Chrome, you’ll need the extra step of using a third-party website to generate the link for you. Good news is: it takes a minute. Let’s try with Appear.in!
Open Chrome, go to
Choose a name for your baby-monitoring page. (This step requires some artistic creativity.)
Voilà, your baby monitoring videotalk link is created. The page will ask you permission to use the webcam and microphone of your computer. Now go open the exact same page on another device and you’re set. (I highlighted which URL to use.)
WebRTC: Videoconference through your web browser. It works with any modern web-browser. You’ll never need Skype again. Don’t look it up though. It would be like trying to understand how cool the internet is by looking up the specs of HTTP protocol.