It’s a sorry indictment of the world we live in today that the security industry is as big as it is. Between private security, monitoring systems, training and the rest, we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar business sector. Like it or not, we all have to take security into account in our daily lives. Alice Dev Team has a number of Mac-based programs aimed at this market, specifically in terms of monitoring and surveillance, the most fully-realized of which is their handy Periscope Pro app for Mac OSX.
At its heart Periscope Pro offers a rather basic service, but does so with a robust, streamlined toolset that makes light work of your general surveillance needs. In its simplest form, the program links automatically to the built-in FaceTime camera on your Mac, allowing the user to record any comings and goings within the camera’s line of sight. It works effortlessly in this regard, offering quick and easy recording for novices. Open the app, select whether you want it to record automatically on start-up or only when the camera picks up sound or movement, and you’re set.
Power users who want to get more out of Periscope Pro will have to dig a little deeper. Firstly, using your FaceTime camera severely limits the strengths of the application – being restricted to only recording the view from your laptop or desktop takes away much of what Periscope Pro is capable of. Instead, get hold of one of the many IP cameras supported by the app, and suddenly your options grow exponentially. With an external web-mounted camera, Periscope Pro becomes genuinely useful for a vast array of applications. From recording your staff’s actions in your workshop or making sure no one is dipping into the cash register when you’re not around, to keeping a watchful eye while your toddler plays, the uses are endless.
A substantial caveat here is that, as it stands, there is only support for one camera at a time. This means that you’re unable to set up a sophisticated surveillance system covering a complex area. Multi-camera support is supposedly in the works for future update, so that may change. Another unfortunate misstep is the inability to use your iPhone’s camera within Periscope Pro. Again, support for this is also apparently in the pipeline. It’s a pity though, as it would have made the app more useful for those without external cameras.
If you’ve got the required kit and don’t need more than one camera, or are happy with the functionality of using your FaceTime camera, there isn’t much else to complain about here. Visually, the user interface is neat and easily navigated, clearly labelled and logically laid out. On the back-end, your setup options offer enough flexibility without becoming overly technical – adjust your frame-rate and resolution to optimize file sizes, set it to record continuously or with triggers (sound, movement, or both, and with adjustable sensitivity), and then leave it to do its job. Also, the ability to point the program at your Dropbox account makes viewing and managing the recorded files remotely a seamless experience.
While it’s mostly good news for anyone looking for a user friendly monitoring system, the asking price may wipe the smile off your face. At $49.99 some may feel that there are aspects which should have been refined or reworked to justify that price – multi-camera support being one of the most desired features. As a basic recording system for your standard surveillance requirements though, Periscope Pro is easy to use and customizable enough for most users.