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iPhone 4's Operation Doorbell reveals mystery ringer


One of our readers sent us a story that was too good not to share. James, an iOS developer living in the UK, cleverly rigged his iPhone 4 against the peephole in his front door to catch a prankster that had been ringing his doorbell and running away every morning. His story is below.

For the past week, every single morning between 8 AM and 9 AM, someone has been ringing the doorbell to our flat several times and running away. We knew it was another resident of the flats -- as the outer door is locked and requires a buzzer to get in, our doorbell is obviously next to the internal door. I tried many times to catch the culprit, but the best I could do after leaping out of bed and rushing to the door was to hear the sound of footsteps running on one of the lower floors.

I'm not a morning person, as I'm usually up late learning how to build apps. I then came up with a plan to simply wait by the door and watch through the peephole. This was a failure, as not only is craning my head to watch the peephole for an hour uncomfortable, it also prevented me from being able to carry on my usual morning routine of massive coffee consumption.

Then I had a brainwave! I noticed the camera on my iPhone 4 was the same size as the peephole. With a bit of fiddling and adjusting the zoom I was able to stick my phone to the door using blue tac, thus providing a convenient window to the outside world and the ability to capture a pic of the culprit to use as evidence.

I had planned to try and stream live video from the peephole, into my iPhone and stream it to my iPad or MacBook. Sadly, I never managed to go that far as I couldn't find an app for that.

[Commenter 'FromOZ' points out that AirBeam (US$3.99) will stream from the iPhone to the iPad, so that would have worked here. –Ed.]

Sure enough though, this morning my girlfriend and I were sitting by the door, coffee in hand and able to chill out and watch the iPhone screen from a distance. As we hoped the culprit approached our door and rang the doorbell several times. I hit the camera button and got a great pic, catching him red handed. Turned out to be the kid next door on his way to school!

After grabbing the pic and quickly opening the door with a loud "HELLOOO!" and watching the poor rascal's skeleton leap out of his body in shock, we were able to show his mother the picture and peace was restored.

Great story, James, and it only goes to show that people are finding unconventional uses for iPhones all the time.

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