Ventrilo as a Baby Monitor?
by, 01-15-2009 at 02:04 AM (4577 Views)
This may be less than interesting for those of you who've never had kids. For that matter, it may be less than interesting for those of you who do have kids, but I had to share this little story of my geekdom. I've found an interesting use for Ventrilo that I very much doubt the developers ever thought of when they designed it. Turns out it makes a great baby monitor. So, here was the dilemma I was faced with.
It turns out that our new boy, Chris, is a very noisy sleeper. He's constantly squeaking and groaning except for brief respites where he actually settles into a deep and restful sleep. That pretty well scuttled our original idea of having his bassinet in our room with us, since his little noises are just loud enough keep you from falling into a deep sleep. On the other hand, I will only be working half-time for this next week and then it is back to work full time for me. So, I needed a solution that would allow the wife and me at least some rest between feedings. I tried using a standard baby monitor, but if it is set loud enough to pickup his crying and wake us up, it is also loud enough to pickup his constant racket.
While I was out purchasing our little basic baby monitor though, I saw this fancy model that actually had a little webcam deal and a video feed on the monitor. That got the idea spinning in my head -- Heck, I could do that myself. Discovering that the baby monitor just wouldn't cut it if we wanted to be able to sleep, I decided to try my idea out.
So, I rolled his bassinet over to the computer and clipped my webcam onto the frame and I dangled a bluetooth headset on the canopy just above him. I used Skype to get a video feed, but I muted the mic feed for it. Next, I setup a little internal Ventrilo server and connected to it. Ventrilo fit the bill perfectly, since it allows me to set a minimum sound level to trigger the voice transmission. With a little monitoring, I found that his squeaks and groans never really rose above what Ventrilo claims was 3-6 dB at a distance from the mic of maybe one foot. So, I set the sensitivity to 10, which was safely well below his crying dB level.
I then setup my laptop in our room and connected up to the Skype webcam feed and to Ventrilo. It worked like a charm! It wouldn't transmit the squeaks, but if he started crying it didn't subdue the sound and it woke us up immediately. Then, if he settled right back down, we had the webcam going so we could tell if he had gone back to sleep--as opposed to Ventrilo messing up and not transmitting when he was actually crying, or the mic giving up the ghost, or whatever... What can I say? Being a parent makes you worry about these kind of things.
So, there it is. Ventrilo makes a great baby monitor! I highly suggest it for those extra noisy baby-sleepers!