Wyze, the Seattle-based smart home company which sells security cameras from just $20, is adding AI-powered person detection for free.
This bucks the trend among smart home security cameras, where some charge more for intelligent software features, either at the point of purchase or via a subscription service. Instead, Wyze will give person detection out for free to all new and existing customers via a software update.
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What makes this more remarkable is that the Wyze camera range starts at $20, and the Wyze Cam Pan, which has a motor so it can pan 350 degrees left or right, costs $30. These prices are between five and 10 times less than cameras from rivals like Amazon, Nest and Arlo.
Before the update, Wyze cameras were only able to notify their owners via the smartphone app if they saw movement. This meant you had to be quite particular about where the indoor camera was placed. If it could see traffic outside, or people walking by, then it would likely alert you far too often to be useful.
But with the help of artificial intelligence, the cameras can now be set to only alert you when they see a human. This also means you can sort recorded video into two lists; one where general movement was recorded, and one where a person was seen by the camera. The AI used by Wyze comes from fellow Seattle firm Xnor.ai.
The only real drawback to Wyze cameras is that they are not weather-resistant, so cannot be used outside. Instead, they can only be fitted inside the home, then located so that they face a door or window.
The important new software update comes as Wyze slowly builds out its smart home system. First came the cameras with Alexa support, but now the company also sells the Sense security kit for $20, which includes window and door sensors, and the new $8 Wyze smart bulb. As with its cameras, these pieces of hardware seriously undercut the competition, where a smart bulb from the likes of Philips Hue can cost $30 or $40.
The question now is, what additional features can Wyze add to its cameras, before it is met by hardware constraints. We wonder if the AI can be improved to offer facial recognition, letting you know exactly who is seen by the camera. Wyze cameras also miss out on continuous cloud recording for now, although this footage can be saved to an SD card instead.