How to Use the iPhone for a Parking Camera

by E.D. Strong

The iPhone could be the ideal answer for the owner of a vehicle without a manufacture-installed backup camera. A number of auto makers have introduced backup cameras that allow drivers to view what's behind. Additionally, there are several options for iPhone owners, turning the popular smartphone into a wireless backup camera. The phone's camera is widely lauded for its sharp imaging, and the iPhone also can connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, increasing its flexibility. Both features could save an old iPhone from a dusty retirement, turning last year's model into a lifesaver.

The Backup Threat

With the introduction of the SUV followed a string of headlines about parents backing out of the drive and accidentally hitting their children. The reason: unlike traditional sedan vehicles, the higher rear windows of SUVs can obscure a driver's view. Each week in the United States, at least 50 children are victims of unintentional backovers. According to Kids&Cars.org, an organization highlighting the danger, more than 60 percent of the events involve a large vehicle such as an SUV, truck or van. Additionally, 7 times out of 10, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel. Although the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was required in 2011 to develop rules improving the rear visibility of vehicles, such requirements have yet been introduced.

Make Your Own Backup Camera

There are a number of apps available for turning your old iPhone into a backup camera. Adapting a babycam or security cam app for a remote vehicle camera would require little modification beside mounting the phone at the rear of your vehicle. However, it is unclear how long such a home-made camera would remain. Not only would it be at risk of theft, but the jolts of daily road travel could be too much for the smartphone. Instead of acting as a backup camera, the iPhone is better suited as a camera monitor. Indeed, there are several products that stream video from an inexpensive video camera to your iPhone.

Valeo's Wireless Vue Wi-Fi Rear Camera

One option is the Wireless Vu Wi-Fi Rear Camera from Valeo. Introduced at the 2012 Auto Expo, the camera installs on a vehicle. Rather than using a proprietary video signal to a monitor, the unit uses Wi-Fi to send images to a smartphone app. The signal begins transmitting when the vehicle shifts into reverse and the app then displays your backup camera image on your iPhone screen.

ION's Air Pro Wi-Fi Sports Camera

Weighing under 5 ounces, the Ion Air Pro Wi-Fi camera is both waterproof and HD video compatible. Like the Valeo product, the Air Pro transmits the video signal to an app either for the iPhone or Android. The ION website shows the Air Pro mounted on the helmets of two skydivers, indicating the unit should be sturdy enough to handle the abuse of day-to-day driving.

GoPro Hero

A third option is the GoPro Hero, which is a 2.6-ounce device that has become the way for sports enthusiasts to document their feats of daring. The unit can easily be mounted on a vehicle with the built-in Wi-Fi streaming HD video to your iPhone.

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About the Author

E.D. Strong has worked in journalism since 1980. He covers the technology sector, including companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft. Strong's work has appeared on GigaOm, Cult of Mac and many other online and print publications in the United States.

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