There are a variety of applications. Some work with webcams, some work with IP cameras, and some worked with both. And some of the applications work with free software, while others work with free webware (that does not require downloading any software). We'll start with some examples that use free software.
Here are four examples of free software that you can download to turn your PC (or in one case, your PC or MAC) into a home surveillance system:
Yawcam is very easy to setup, but it has some very sophisticated features. For example, it lets you set whether you want to capture all of the motion within the frame or just a part of it. You can have it upload screen shots to a remote FTP site (which is a good idea, in case your computer is stolen), or it can send it as an e-mail.
Yoics can be set up to send you an e-mail if it detects motion, or it can also send a note to a Twitter account and upload it's captured footage to YouTube or Daily Motion. Unfortunately, Yoics requires quite a bit of setup which can be somewhat overwhelming to the average computer user.
EyeSpyFX works on both PC and MAC computers. It has a mobile viewer that can be accessed on several different devices, including an iPhone.
If you do not want to install any software on your computer, here are several examples of "webware" options which operate through the browser on your computer:
Ugolog is an easy-to-use, web-based surveillance application that displays live footage and snapshots from your Webcam. It works with any camera that's attached to your computer or a remote camera with an IP address. However it's free usage plan only provides a limited amount of monthly storage.
UStream.tv let's you create a free live broadcast and you can make the video stream password-protected so that only you are able to see it. It does not have motion detection, but there is no time limit on recording.
Justin.tv works similar to Ustream.tv
There are other options that you might want to consider, although these will require you to spend some money:
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