GrannyCam is a safe, durable, videophone for kids and their grandparents. Wireless, portable, one-touch, the device is designed to be extremely simple and friendly to operate so seniors and their young grandchildren can video chat anytime.
The project grew from observing my mother and my 2-year-old son, Hudson, who struggle with the typical tools – smartphones, computers, tablets – available for communicating with one another. For my mom, now in her 70s, the tools currently available are an enormous challenge: too feature-laden, too complex. For my son, who just turned two years old, the tools are also challenging, though for slightly different reasons: too easily broken or disconnected, too expensive to handle unsupervised, too fraught with concerns over privacy.
For my wife and myself, giving grandma and our little boy a way to speak to one another whenever they want is a great way for our family to keep in touch, saves us time, and allows more frequent check-ins with our aging parents. GrannyCam provides a quick, easy way to share the latest progress in our son’s development and provides an opportunity for increased socialization and improvements in our toddler’s speech.
GrannyCam is currently in a prototypical, mainly off-the-shelf stage, and has gone through two early versions.
The first prototype was built around a Raspberry Pi, a custom 2.7in. LCD, webcam, WiFi, sound card, and open source VOIP/SIP software. Power supply was AC.
The current prototype is now built around the Beaglebone Black, and other (relatively) low cost parts, including a 3-inch LCD, webcam, and sound card. Devices communicate with one another over WiFi (dongled) via open source VOIP/SIP software. No cellular connection is planned as part of the design road map. Power supply is currently AC, though the next goal is rechargeable DC. Configuration of the devices is done remotely via command line.
GrannyCam’s external design is intended to be both Grandma-and-toddler friendly, so it’s covered in a soft fabric, crocheted shell. A physical button includes an oversized “arcade-style” button for both initiating and accepting a chat session. This button also flashes to alert an end user that they have an incoming call.