I was lucky enough to meet with Joanna Santander, the Head of Business Development at ManyThing. She took some time out of her innovation-fueled day to tell me a little bit more about their product.
Björn Svensson: What exactly does ManyThing do?
Joanna Santander: In a complete nutshell, Manything is an app that turns your spare iPhone into a remote video monitoring camera.
The idea behind it is you can get started with quite sophisticated home security without the need to go and buy quite expensive security camera and also without the hassle of lots of wiring or setup before you can get started. It works through a simple app download. So if you’ve got an old iPhone that you’ve upgraded from, or one with a cracked screen – it doesn’t matter – you download the app, and then you have two options. You an either place the app into camera mode or viewer mode. If it’s a device you want to repurpose as a camera, you select camera, press the red record button, and a video is live streamed to our cloud servers. This means you can check them live from wherever you are, just to check in on the feed.
As an example, this is the phone I take with me, so I use it as a viewer. And from here I can see any ManyThing cameras that I’ve got running. So I’ve got an old iPhone 4 that I don’t use anymore. I’ve got that recording in the apartment back at home. I can see my live-stream and I can also see any motion. We have motion detection analysis on the phone as well – so we can give you a push notification or an email alert to let you know something’s happened and a little thumbnail and a link to the clip so you can check in when you’re away. And you can also remotely control that camera as well – start it and stop it. You can switch it from front and back camera. And also set up motion detection masks. Say, for example, I just wanted an alert when the door opened, I might mask out the rest of the scene.
Joanna demonstrates to me how to set up motion detection in only specific areas of the screen and camera.
BS: Oh man, that part’s cool. That’s super cool.
JS: And here’s sensitivity threshold – where you set it up to react to small movements or big movements. As well as viewing live from your phone, you can also view live on the ManyThing website as well. We do live streaming, motion detection, cloud video recording. The video is stored so the user can look back at past footage as well the current stream. Another thing we do is integrate with IFTTT, which is a platform that lets you connect Internet based products. So through the IFTTT Platform, we can connect with Phillips lightbulbs, remote door sensors, a variety of different internet based services, which then allows us to work with them, and do trigger and action based recipes. An example would be, if my ManyThing camera detects motion, trigger my lightbulb to come on. Or if my door sensor opens, trigger my ManyThing camera to start recording…
At this point, a crowd started forming around us. I wasn’t sure why, but then I looked up and saw that an image of me was on the big screen, but in a thermal detection mode, with reds, yellows, and greens. It looked similar to how the Predator sees in the Predator movies. Once I realised it was me, I laughed, and then quickly took a step to the side. Joanna also laughed and explains it to me.
JS: Fleer One is a new integration we’ve been working on. Fleer One turns your iPhone into a thermal imaging camera. We’ve done a partnership integration with them, so now you can have thermal imaging, remote monitoring, and triggers on if something falls below a temperature threshold or goes above a temperature threshold. That’s in Beta at the moment but coming out next month.
BS: If the phone turns off while you’re on holiday, can you remotely turn it on?
JS: What happens is that when you set the app running, the screen will dim after about 2 minutes and carry on recording. You can turn it on and off remotely.
BS: So how did ManyThing get started?
JS: The company was started around 2012. And the CEO and CoFounder had his bike stolen actually. So he tried to set up a security camera system at home. He’s really technical but it was really complicated thing to do – with tons of wiring and getting things set up. It coincided with the time he was looking at the number of smart phones out on the market. And he put 2 and 2 together and came up with the idea. “it’d be great if we could redeploy these devices that have got great computing power and loads of things in them great cameras.” So he made it easy to set up really quickly and easily without any complications just through a simple app download. That’s kind of where the idea started from. We launched the app in 2013 in a real Beta phase when we were learning about functionality vs. possibility. And then relaunched the app in 2014.
BS: Awesome. So what do you do when you’re not out and about setting up remote video- and thermal-monitoring systems?
JS: I love outdoors stuff. So you’ll find me at the gym or… Or with friends. But I will say that working with ManyThing is like working with family and it’s 24/7. We’re all really motivated. So a lot of our time is spent thinking about work.