Now there is another addition to the list of ways you can reuse your old smartphone: by turning it into a personal surveillance system to catch any unexpected guest or intruder trying to circumvent your privacy and security.
The credit goes to a new open-source Android app called Haven created by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and the Guardian Project.
When installed on Android phone, the Haven app activates different sensors on the device. It uses the front and back camera sensors to look for any motion change in surroundings. It takes the help of the microphone to spot changes in the volume level.
The app uses the ambient light sensor to notice changes in the surrounding’s lighting. The accelerometer is used to detect motion changes of the device itself. The app also observes whether the device is charging or losing power.
You can easily monitor all the things happening around the Haven-powered device as it regularly sends recorded feed and other information to your main smartphone via Signal. The same can be accessed in Haven’s log over the internet using Tor or if you have physical access to the device.
Where does the Haven app find its utility? Well, there are many places. You intelligently place a Haven powered device beside your valuables to capture any suspicious activity and prevent unwanted things from happening. For instance, it could be your laptop containing some top-secret documents, or you can use it to protect your precious gifts from your friends.
However, some obstacles might prevent your personal surveillance system from working efficiently. Haven would require an always-on internet connection. So, a user would have to make sure the device uses mobile data in case the WiFi connection is not available. Disabling the real-time notifications or receiving them via SMS could be a workaround.
A person aware of the device’s password or pin could potentially delete the app’s log if he has physical access to the device. Another concern is that the attacker can disable the device sensors by compromising it remotely.
Still, Haven is a free watchdog you have at your disposal. Currently, the open source Android app is released as public beta. You can download it from Google Play and F-Droid.