Always-on broadband internet connections make it much easier to keep an eye on your home while you’re away — all you need is a suitable wi-fi web cam such as the BT Smart Home Cam 100 and the know-how to set up remote access to it. Alternatively you can use the built-in camera on your PC, tablet or smartphone with a simple app called AtHome Video Streamer instead.

AtHome Video Streamer and its companion AtHome Camera app works with Windows, Android and iOS and allows you, for example, to use your iPad as a home security camera and watch live footage using your iPhone — though that’s just one possible combination.

This guide shows how to set up and use the app using an iPad and iPhone, but the steps are the much the same for other devices. The apps are free to install and use, but are ad-supported and you’ll need to pay to unlock certain features  — ones we’re not covering here.

Step 1: Install AtHome Video Streamer

Start with the device you want to use as the camera — an iPad, in this case. Open in its web browser and install the appropriate AtHome Video Streamer app using the links on the page.

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Step 2: Note the login details

Launch the app when it’s installed and allow it to use the iPad’s camera. You’ll then see a screen with a preview image from the camera, along with a CID (camera ID) number, and a default username and password — we’ll change both of these later.

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Step 3: Install AtHome Camera

Switch off the iPad for now and move to the device you’re going to use to view the video — an iPhone, in this case. Open the same page in its web browser, but this time use the links to install the AtHome Camera app (further down the page).

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[Related story: Webcam hacking - why does it occur and how you can protect yourself]

Step 4: Get ready to connect

Launch the app and tap the Start to Use Now button — you can register for a free account later. Tap the Streamer on Smart Phone button at the bottom of the screen to connect the camera app to the streamer app and then tap Next Step — but don’t go any further just yet.

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Step 5: Generate a QR code to connect

Back on the iPad, tap the Generate QR Code button to display a QR code (a bit like a barcode) on-screen.

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Step 6: Connect the two devices

Back on the iPhone, tap the Tap here button to scan the QR code button and point the iPhone’s camera at the QR code on the iPad’s screen — the camera app should detect the QR code almost instantly. The two apps are now connected.

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[Related story: The cheap way to keep an eye on your home at all times]

Step 7: Preview the camera image

Tap the QR code on the iPad screen to close it and position the tablet in a way that points its front or rear camera at something you want to monitor. On the iPhone, tap the streamer device in the list on its screen (there should be only one at this stage) and, once the connection is established, you should see what the iPad camera sees.

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Step 8: Use the other options

If the two devices are close together, you may get audio feedback, so tap the Mute button at the bottom of the iPhone screen to prevent this.

Other options along the bottom of the screen include Record for recording the streamed video, Hold to Talk so you can speak into the iPhone mic and play it through the iPad speakers and, if you scroll along the list of buttons, you can switch between the iPad’s front and rear cameras with the Switch button.

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Step 9: Change the default username and password

Once everything is working, it’s worth changing the default username and password to something more memorable and more secure. On the iPad, tap the menu button at the top-left of the app, then tap Change.

You can now give the streamer device a more meaningful name, and change the username and password. Tap Save at the top-right when you’re done and tap Menu - Home to return to the camera view.

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Step 10: Reconnect the camera

The iPhone camera app will stay connected until you exit it or tap its Quit option, but you’ll then need to enter the new username and password to connect again. Tap the Edit icon next to the iPad in the device list and type the new username and password — don’t change the CID. Tap Save and the connection will be re-established.

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Step 11: Remote camera tips

You can connect to the iPad over any data connection, but streaming video will use lots of mobile data, so be warned if you pay by the megabyte. Using your iPad to stream video will also drain its battery, but you can switch off its screen by tapping Dim on the Home page (the camera preview) and leave it plugged into the mains, of course. 

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Do you monitor your home with a security camera or app-based camera? Let us know in the Comments section below.