Wyze Cam, the low-cost security camera that competes with Amazon’s network of smart home cameras, is getting a lot smarter, thanks to a partnership with another Seattle startup.
Wyze Labs and Xnor.ai have teamed up to bring artificial intelligence-powered person recognition capabilities to Wyze’s catalog of smart home devices. Through a firmware update to existing devices, Wyze’s cameras will now be able to automatically identify when people appear in the field of view.
Person recognition makes it easier for users to “only get notified when it matters,” according to the company and easily find important pieces of footage on the device. Person recognition means that parents can get peace of mind that their kids have arrived home from school, or confirmation that someone who was supposed to come over and water the plants or feed the cat when the resident is away got the job done.
Wyze and Xnor came together because both companies want to make advanced technologies like AI and smart home devices accessible to more people, primarily through low price points. Xnor’s AI capabilities run on the devices themselves, rather than through the cloud, without draining a lot of computing power.
“Wyze is a company by the community and for the community. Nearly every new feature we ship is rolled out because it was asked for by our members,” Wyze Director of Marketing Scott Wilson said in a statement. “Improved notifications was one of those highly requested features so our team went to battle figuring out how we could deliver complex AI on a quality, but highly-accessible $20 camera. Turns out, the answer to this big problem was right down the street from us with our new partner, Xnor.ai.”
Wyze was founded by Amazon veterans Yun Zhang, Dave Crosby, Elana Fishman and Dongsheng Song in 2017. They ended up competing with their former employer when they released the flagship WyzeCam, which at a price of $19.99 severely undercut the Amazon’s Cloud Cam, released around the same time for $119.99.
Since then Wyze released a series of low-cost cameras, sensors, light bulbs and accessories to set up outdoor systems. With its expanded lineup and new souped up AI capabilities, Wyze has positioned itself as a low-cost alternative to many of Amazon subsidiary Ring’s home security offerings. Google’s Nest Cam IQ Indoor offers similar person recognition capabilities, but at the steeper price point of $299.99.
Wyze, which raised a $20 million funding round earlier this year, has more than 1 million users. In a GeekWire Startup Spotlight in September 2017, Zhang, the company’s CEO, said, “Just like Amazon, we operate on a low margin, high volume, high efficiency, customer-centric and value-driven business model. We believe as long as we focus on value and efficiency and always strive to provide the best customer experience that we can, the business will succeed in the long term.”
Fishman appeared on an episode of GeekWire’s “Elevator Pitch” series last summer and said at the time that the company had “sold over a quarter-million units in less than six months.”
Xnor’s partnership with Wyze is another example of its mission to shrink the hardware and power requirements for AI software. Earlier this year, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence spinout showed off a solar-powered computer chip infused with Xnor’s AI software. In May, Xnor released a self-serve software platform that simplifies adding AI capabilities to devices.