HOWTO make an Internet of Things camera

Following on from their Internet of Things Printer, the good folks at Adafruit have produced a set of plans and a kit for making an Internet of Things Camera -- a tiny, standalone gizmo that turns an Arduino, a webcam's guts and an EyeFi card into a device that can wirelessly transmit photos to a computer, with complimentary software for processing, uploading and filing the images it captures.

Here’s our Arduino based “Internet of Things” camera. It’s a simple remote monitoring using the Eye-Fi wireless SD card and Adafruit Data Logging Shield for Arduino. The Eye-Fi card is a tiny wireless memory card. It stores photos and fits inside a camera just like a regular SD card, but also has built-in WiFi transceiver that can upload images to your computer, smartphone or to various photo-sharing sites. We use one here when taking pictures for our tutorials — it’s a great timesaver, eliminating the extra USB transfer step that’s otherwise necessary. Can the Eye-Fi card work in an Arduino SD card adapter? You bet! Adding a TTL Serial JPEG camera, together with some minimal prep work, we can then create a self-contained wireless monitoring camera with motion-sensing capabilities. Hide it inside a hollowed-out book or a plush dinosaur toy and discover who’s been eating all your Thin Mints cookies!

What makes this combination way cooler than just a normal SD card or a USB cable to a computer is all the infrastructure provided by the Eye-Fi service — not just transferring images to your computer, but pushing them to your smartphone, photo-sharing sites like Flickr, issuing email or Twitter notifications, etc. This is all configured through the Eye-Fi application — there’s no additional coding required.

An “Internet of Things” Camera


  1. I’ve got an Eye-Fi card. It’s configured to talk to the guest wifi network at work and the one in my apartment.

    It’s seriously freaky how something that small can do wireless magic. The first six pictures on my Flickr stream were deposited there by EyeFi:

    If you click on a description you’ll see the little canned EyeFi label.

    Drawbacks: You have to leave your camera on for transfers to happen. And — anecdotally — man-oh-man, does that sucker drain batteries.

    1. Yes,  but they’re not hacker friendly, which is the point behind all this arduino business.

      The only real downside is that the camera they’re selling is a rather low resolution. 

  2. Funny thing about words:  is the software provided for free, i.e. “complImentary,” or is it software which matches the hardware, i.e. “complEmentary” ?  Or both?

  3. I use EyeFi cards in my DIY Book Scanner. My makerspace’s book scanner will get a pair, too.

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