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The Withings Home camera is a high quality HD webcam that serves many purposes. Marketed as a security camera, baby monitor, and even a pet cam, it serves several roles, including indoor air quality monitor. It’s a multitasking device that grows with your family. I appreciate that it can be used elsewhere as your child grows up and doesn’t need a monitor in their room.
Thomas, our 10 year old, set up Withings Home independently in about 10 minutes and we’ve spent some time testing it as a baby monitor, using it as a home security device, and investigating how it can be used as an indoor air quality monitor.
Using Withings Home as a Baby Monitor
As a baby monitor, it can provide alerts to your smartphone triggered on movement or loud noises. It has a live HD video stream for you to see and hear what is happening in the baby’s room, including night-vision for a dark room. Withings Home also has the ability to talk back in real time via two-way audio.
“Attention Baby, please go back to bed.”
I really wanted this feature when our kids were little, although I’m not sure if it would have really caused the baby to go back to bed. It’s worth a shot.
The Withings Home Monitoring System also has a lullaby mode where the camera can play music or white noise and gently light the room in soothing colors for a period of time.
The camera has a surprisingly good speaker built into it and the LEDs in the base of the camera glow according to the music selection that you make. One nice feature is that you can adjust the brightness level of the lights so that it’s not overpowering if the unit is right next to a bed.
How Withings Home Functions as a Security Device
Once your baby grows up and doesn’t need to be monitored with the Withings Home Monitoring System, it can be used as a home security device. As a security device, it can watch your front yard through a window or monitor the family room or den.
If there is movement or loud noises, it sends alerts to the phone and records video. There is also a 48 hour time lapse mode where it can show you a time lapse video of whatever you choose (accumulating snow on the ground, the Halloween candy dish going empty, or siblings who deny they were in their brother or sister’s room).
I’m not sure if there is a good way to download, save, or share the videos taken on the unit, so don’t expect to have a file you can upload to YouTube as the next viral baby video.
Monitoring Air Quality with Withings Home
One intriguing feature on Withings Home is an indoor air quality monitor. I am not aware of any other smart home products that monitor VOCs. I might have even overlooked its existence on this product had the mobile app not started alerting me to marginal and poor indoor air quality within our house. This fascinated me.
The Withings Home unit isn’t measuring carbon monoxide like you might expect. Instead it is monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are compounds that are giving off gas. VOCs come from cleaning products, petroleum products, adhesives, aerosols, pressboard furniture, as well as burning natural gas, and car exhaust.
How dangerous are VOCs?
“The health effects of volatile organic compounds can vary greatly according to the compound, which can range from being highly toxic to having no known health effects. The health effects of volatile organic compounds will depend on the nature of the volatile organic compound, the level of exposure, and the length of exposure…. Long-term exposure to volatile organic compounds can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Short-term exposure to volatile organic compounds can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, loss of coordination, allergic skin reactions, nausea, and memory impairment.”
—From NIH Tox Town
According to the EPA, people spend 87% of their lives indoors. The level of VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors versus outdoors
We originally set the Withings Home camera in our 10 year old, Thomas’, room on his antique dresser. The Withings mobile app was sending periodic alerts that the air quality was marginal and sometimes rated as bad. The app shows you a graph of the last few days, and there appears to be a pattern of bad air quality at night.
So what do you do about it?
That’s not completely clear. I tried moving the monitor from the old part of our house to an addition that was built in 2006. The results were similar.
We have spent a fair amount of time and effort to insulate our house, but half of the house is old plaster and lath walls and poorly sealed single pane windows. I would have expected our leaky house to have pretty good air quality.
The EPA has studied VOCs extensively, but there don’t appear to be any government guidelines for overall VOC exposure. As indicated in the quote from NIH, the impact of the VOCs varies greatly depending on exactly what chemicals are making up the high VOC reading.
Indoor air quality testing looks to be a relatively expensive project and I’m not sure if it would help you track down the source of the high VOC readings in your house. I am going to experiment with running the furnace fan periodically to see if that will stir up things. I also want to run tests in each room of the house to see if the marginal air quality is only on the 2nd floor, or if it exists on the first floor and in my basement office.
Withings Home Hardware
The Withings Home unit is about the size of half-a-soda can and is white with a wood grain replaceable trim ring. It magnetically attaches on a coaster-sized base, looking like a saucer under the camera. The magnetic base allows you to tilt the camera up or down at different angles, and the magnets hold the unit in place. The Withings Home camera comes with WiFi and also an ethernet port for those that like running wires. Either way, it was a breeze to setup. Thomas (age 10) actually completed the setup of the system independently in about 10 minutes!
Overall, the Withings Home appears to be well built with a quality camera and quality speaker. The camera functioned very well in low light, and it switches to night vision mode when the room is dark, still producing a good quality image. The Withings Home software app functioned just fine and had no setup issues.
Withings Home is a great product for use as a baby monitor or general purpose security camera in your house. It is a stylish product that has great picture quality, solid software, and good features. With an MSRP of $199, it’s priced similarly to the ArloQ, another high quality indoor webcam that focuses solely on security monitoring. Withings Home and other products by Withings are available from Target.
Target sent us a Withings Home to review and provided a gift card for our time evaluating the product but of course, all opinions are our own and based on personal experience.