Dropcam Pro is a Wi-Fi-enabled camera that can store its footage to the cloud.
The Wi-Fi video camera Dropcam is about to get even better. The company announced Tuesday that Dropcam Cloud Recording subscribers will receive a software update to support people detection. In other words, the software can tell the difference between your dog running across the room or a human walking through an open door.
The company also announced its next hardware product, Dropcam Tabs, an add-on for Dropcam Pro.
The Dropcam and Dropcam Pro consistently rate as some of Amazon's best-selling products in the Camera and Photo section, and the brand is Amazon's best-selling surveillance camera.
Not only are the cameras affordable — the Dropcam Pro goes for $199 — but they are extremely easy to set up. Just connect a Dropcam to your wireless network and then configure the camera using your computer. If you have iOS, you can even do a PC-free setup directly from the iOS app.
Dropcam CEO and co-founder Greg Duffy told Mashable that most of its business is from home and small business users, where Dropcam is used as a security camera, baby monitor, weather camera or as a way to easily monitor pet activity. Users can tune in wand watch video streams live. Users can also choose to store video recordings on the cloud, where they can be made public or private.
Dropcam's software is designed to send users alerts when movement is detected in front of the camera. You can then configure these alerts to only notify you if there is movement in a specific area — say, a door opens — or alert you every time movement is detected within a certain radius.
Although basic alerts are free for all users, Dropcam is adding a new feature called people detection for its Cloud Recording subscribers, which Duffy says is about 40% of its users. According to Duffy, people detection is one of the service's most-requested features.
Dropcam won't be able to identify individuals (yet), but it can tell the difference between the movement of a human and that of a dog or catDropcam won't be able to identify individuals (yet), but it can tell the difference between the movement of a human and that of a dog or cat scurrying around.
The detection, which Duffy says requires almost as much computer power as all of Dropcam's other services combined, takes place instantaneously. Users can choose to receive movement alerts related to a human in an area, but skip getting other types of alerts.
Since the detection uses Dropcam's cloud software, the new feature is coming to all Dropcam devices. So even if you have an older Dropcam HD or the new Dropcam Pro, you'll get support for the feature.
The detection types will also make it easier for Dropcam to create video clips grouped on activity. That means you can quickly scan through your Dropcam cloud footage and directly find each time a person came into the camera's view.
In addition to people detection, Dropcam also announced its next hardware product, Dropcam Tabs.
Dropcam Tabs are Bluetooth LE-based sensors that users can affix to various areas of their homes, sort of like an enhanced iBeacon. The Dropcam Pro camera acts as a communications point for these tabs and can monitor movement, proximity and state.
The tabs, which are each about 3.5 inches long and very thin, are powered by two watch batteries. Don't let the size fool you: There are a "ton of sensors" packed in, Duffy says, including an accelerometer and the Bluetooth Smart (a.k.a. LE or "low energy") chip.
Those sensors let the Dropcam Tabs be used for more than just pure locational data. Attach a Tab to a door, for instance, and it can be programmed to send a user an alert any time the door is unlocked. Even if the door is only opened very slightly, the Dropcam Tab's sensors can pick up on the slight movement and trigger an alert. It can also be configured to tell the difference between open and closed. You can check in on various Tabs around a location to make sure everything is locked and safe.
Dropcam Tabs can also be used to alert users when someone is in the area. Affixing a Tab to a keychain or inside a purse or backpack can set an alert that will notify a user every time that person enters a designated area.
Dropcam Tabs can be used within about 100 feet of a Dropcam. If you have multiple Dropcams in your house, they can be networked together and the closest Dropcam will be the device that picks up on the Tabs location.
"Part of what differentiates a Dropcam Tabs from a regular beacon is the fact that we have the Dropcam camera," Duffy says. The ability to pull up live or time-matched video related to a Tab offers an entirely new context. Any beacon-style device could issue an alert that a door was unlocked, but Dropcam Pro will also let you tune into a live video feed or replay what happened when that door was unlocked.
Although the early appeal of these types of devices will likely be the security, Duffy sees much bigger potential. The Bluetooth LE-requirement aside, Duffy says the plan is to continue to offer major updates and improvements over software, just as it does with the Dropcam cameras.
This is part of Dropcam's broader strategy to build out a platform, rather than focusing on individual hardware items. By focusing on the software aspect of the tools and how devices can work together, Duffy thinks his company has a shot at making the idea of a "connected home" a reality.
Dropcam Tabs will sell for $29.99 and are available for pre-order now with a ship date expected for late summer.