Using your phone as a Webcam on Windows and Android
What with covid-19, a lot of people are remoting and not a lot of people have webcams. But everybody's got a smartphone. So here's a guide on how to use your smartphone as a webcam with Android an Windows over wifi.
This is pretty adminny. If you're not comfy with that you might need to look at other approaches.
One important wrinkle is performance: It runs down the battery on my phone, and it slams the CPU on my desktop with interrupts.
Note that none of the software I'm recommending in this guide is open-source. I cannot guarantee that the software discussed below has no malicious secret intent.
Before I get into the details: if you don't like my guide there is also the official guide from the developer of the tools I'm describing.
Setting up your phone as a server
First, you need to get your Android phone onto a static IP. So go to Settings -> About -> Status to find your Wi-fi MAC address, and in your router's DHCP/LAN settings, you need to bind that address to a fixed IP. Also take note of which wifi network your phone lives on, if you have more than one in your home or workplace.
Next, you need to install IP Webcam on your android phone. This turns your phone into a video server - which is why it needs a static IP. Run IP Webcam.
- IP WEBCAM SETTINGS -> Video Preferences
- Set the "main" camera to the front-facing camera. I know the rear-camera is better but this is just easier to set up.
- Set the "Video Resolution" to 640x480 or lower. I found performance problems at higher resolution.
- CONNECTION SETTINGS -> Local Broadcasting
- Set a Login and Password.
- I'm assuming your network is secure so we're not going to fuss with SSL, I couldn't make SSL work.
- Just to be safe, don't get naked in front of your phone while it's running the server
Notes on "run in background":
IP WebCam has the option to run in background, but I found the notification icon that indicates this is happening easy-to-miss and so it would be very easy to accidentally leave it broadcasting your life. It does save power because you can shut down the video view and do other things while it's streaming, but I recommend not using it. If power is a problem, get a power-cable for your computer desk.
Starting it up
Now that your settings are confirmed, click "start server". It will show the live video from your phoen that it is broadcasting, along with the address if the webserver your phone is running - eg http://192.168.1.X:8080. Note that this is not the address of the raw stream, but of a website you can use to configure your device. Feel free to hit that address with your browser to try it.
The actual video feed lives at http://192.168.1.X:8080/video. Note the /video directory. It's over HTTP, so again you can hit it with your browser. You'll be prompted for username and password.
Leave the server running while we set up the client.
Setting up your Windows PC as a client
First, confirm that your Windows PC is on the same WiFi network as your phone.
Now we install the client software. We're using IP Camera Adapter which will allow you to connect your Windows PC to the HTTP videostream and use it as a webcam.
Install the software. When completed, open the app "Configure IP Camera Adapter" that is now present in your start menu.
Type in the camera feed URL - remember this is the one that ends in "/video". So in total it should be something like http://192.168.1.X:8080/video .
Key in your username and password.
Click "Autodetect" - this will test our connection to your phone and read in its resolution. It should match whatever you set back in the server setup step.
Now use your video-chat program of choice's "video test" tool to confirm it works.
Did it work? Yay!
No? You're on your own, bud.
I find it best to keep my video stream off and just keep the button to turn my phone into a camera on my phone's home-screen. You will see a wierd backwards text in your video-feed if your computer cannot reach the phone. So when a videochat starts, I open the app, scroll to the bottom and click "start", and then put my phone in place to work as a camera.
Remember that the camera mode does run down the battery, so it may be handy to have a charge-cable near whatever cradle-like setup you've rigged for your phone at your desk.comments powered by Disqus