Feeling antsy lately? Is there a delivery van idling in your neighborhood every day? Have you noticed men in black suits watching you everywhere you go? Paranoid you’re the target of government surveillance? Depending on your line of work — journalist, activist, government worker — that may actually be true.
There are probably few people on Earth who understand those concerns better than Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Whatever your opinion is of Snowden, he has become an icon for activists who oppose government surveillance. Most recently, Snowden has worked with an organization called The Guardian Project to create Haven, an app that turns your phone into a personal security device.
Smartphones are chock-full of sensors — including cameras, microphones, gyroscopes, and accelerometers — and Haven uses those sensors to detect disturbances near the phone, alerting you via text. The idea is that you install Haven on a “burner” phone you have lying around, one running Android 4.1 or higher. Once installed, you can set Haven up to detect sound or motion, configuring the levels of detection, and you can use either of the phone’s cameras to record video.
To receive alerts, enter your phone number in the app. If you’re concerned about providing your number, you can always use Signal, which is a security-focused messaging app.
Once that’s finished, leave the phone somewhere you want to watch (maybe looking at a door), then set a countdown so you can leave the room. Once the countdown finishes, the app goes into surveillance mode. If it detects appropriate levels of motion or sound, it will start recording, and send an alert to you. That’s all there is to it!
Keep in mind that the Haven app is currently in beta, so it may not work perfectly, and it’s currently only available on Android devices. If you prefer a more traditional security camera, check out some of our favorites. If you’re concerned about your online privacy, we recommend using a VPN when browsing the internet.
David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr.com, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him over at Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.