For anyone who’s tried to set up an outdoor motion sensor, you know how difficult it is. Regular motion sensors have hair triggers and camera motion sensors are unreliable. I wanted to have a motion sensor for my driveway that would alert me when someone pulled in. I have a condo and I don’t have any windows facing my driveway. So, when I was expecting guests, I would have no warning they were here until they rang my doorbell. So, I installed an outdoor IP camera to look at my driveway. I had a setup where software on my PC would be turned on via a virtual switch and that software would monitor for motion and send a webhook to smartthings when it was detected. That worked okay but the software was a resource hog and the only way i could get it to trigger reliably was to have the sensitivity way up. My neighborhood is kinda busy and there are young kids riding on their bikes all the time, so without the virtual switch to control when I got alerts I was getting them all day long.
Well, I have finally found a solution to my issue, I think. It’s called OpenALPR, which stands for Automatic License Plate Recognition. Basically, I have linked OpenALPR to my IP Camera with a plugin on my PC and it monitors and reads any license plate that it deptects. I then have OpenALPR send a webhook to smartthings whenever a plate is detected. I use that to alert me through WebCore. Since it only triggers on license plates and not on any motion at all, I can leave it running all the time. That way I’m not inundated with alerts. And the best part…it’s FREE!!! I’m still test driving it but it looks to be a real winner. If anybody else wants to try it out, you can find it here: openalpr.com
Now, of course this is limited to only automobiles. So it won’t detect if someone if walking up your driveway. But in my case, that’s exactly what I wanted to avoid. So, if you already have an IP camera facing your driveway, this seems like a no brainer to add, even if just as a backup for other techniques for alerting you.
Also, the API sends the plate that was detected with the Post message. So, i’m working on having WebCore announce who just pulled up by comparing it to a list of plates that I know. But more on that as I get it to work.