Baby monitors–you know, those specialized walkie-talkies that give parents a sense of security when they seek a momentary respite from their mewling offspring–are surprisingly expensive. On Amazon, even simple baby monitors can cost $100 or more. But why buy a baby monitor at all when most of us have at least one or two outdated smartphones or tablets collecting dust since our last upgrade?
That’s the idea behind Dormi, a new app that turns old Android phones and tablets into Internet-connected baby monitors. Not only is it a slick idea that could save you some change, but it’s a great example of a trend we’d love to see more of: apps aimed at giving new life to supposedly obsolete gadgets that would otherwise be headed to the silicon graveyard.
Capitalizing on the built-in recording and Internet capabilities of even the oldest smartphones, Dormi can be installed on any Android device running on Gingerbread version 2.3 or greater. Once you’ve got the app running, you just plug it into a socket in your baby’s room and let it run like a regular baby monitor. On your primary phone–the one you always have with you–you can switch between other Dormi-connected devices in your house, and push a button to listen or even use it like an intercom.
In addition, Dormi can automatically alert you when your baby wakes up by tracking the ambient noise in a given room. And if for some reason the smartphone you’ve setup as a baby monitor still has cellular service, Dormi will even send you notifications if you miss a call or text. Not a bad deal for a one-time fee of $7.
We live in an era when cellular contracts and constant phone upgrades devalue our devices at a staggering clip. What’s so impressive about this app is that it’s built around the notion that the gadgets collecting dust in our desk drawers are still useful. That two- or four-year-old smartphone is still a palm-sized computer with always-on Internet connectivity and advanced video and audio sensors. As the casualties of perceived obsolescence grow in the mobile era, let’s hope we see more apps like Dormi that figure out cool things to do with our gadgets in order to keep them out of the landfill.