April 1, 2011 at 10:52 AM ET
Last week, we told you about Mark Bao, a student in Massachusetts who was able to track down the guy who took his MacBook Air using an online backup program. But if he had the Witness security program, he would have been able to see the guy taking it, in real time.
Then again, it wasn't around months ago when the theft took place.
Witness, launched just two days ago, was created by a team of Belgium-based engineers and designers at Orbicule. The program turns Macs left at home into a motion-sensing security camera, using the built-in iSight. When it is activated and motion is detected, the program immediately sends an alert to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (or iPad 2), as well as snapshots of the burglary in progress and video.
The iOS devices function as a remote control for the app, with users able to arm and disarm the alarm remotely and browse through the alarm system's history. And so the thieves don't know what hit them, set the Mac to go into display sleep.
Here's a snappy demo video:
Witness also locks your Mac, blocking anyone from accessing precious info. It comes with a built-in lock screen, or use the standard Mac OS X screensaver password feature. Witness "integrates with your Mac’s screensaver password: when you come home and unlock your screensaver, Witness automatically turns off the alarm."
Unlike streaming nanny cams, it won't just sit there taking it all in for you, creating hours of boring video. No, this app is designed to be light on bandwidth, only showing you images when something is amiss.
You can add as many Macs as you want to the system, although Orbicule's Twitter feed recommends it's most convenient if you have separate accounts per location.
It's compatible for Snow Leopard and available through the App Store. No free trial version is available. You're all in for $39 — although Orbicule does offer a 30-day refund policy, no questions asked.
It's so new, there are still bugs to be worked out. This is from the description for the remote app at Apple's App Store:
Due to an issue with push notifications, the Witness iOS app will not receive alerts when motion is detected and the Mac status will not be updated when arming or disarming the alarm. We have submitted a fix to the App Store, waiting for Apple to approve it. In the meantime, you may use the https://www.witnessapp.com web app.
Witness Remote is only useful if you have a Witness account.Please surf to http://orbicule.com/witness for more information on how to install and use Witness.
We're eager to see the first thieves caught red-handed by this.
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