Dropcam is about to get smarter, as the company announced Tuesday that it is working on an update that will allow the Wi-Fi enabled surveillance camera to tell the difference between a cat and a person. The company also announced Dropcam Tabs, a new hardware product for owners of Dropcam Pro.
Dropcam can currently detect motion, but it cannot tell if it's just your pet frolicking in a patch of sunlight near the door or if it's a burglar walking in front of the camera. This means users have to deal with constant notifications or run the risk of someone breaking into their homes.
The update is meant to deal with this inadequacy as Dropcam has created an algorithm that analyzes hundreds of hours of publicly-shared videos to tell the difference between a harmless pet and a human being. The goal is to improve Dropcam's accuracy and reduce unnecessary and distracting notifications.
People detection, says Dropcam chief executive and co-founder Greg Duffy, is the single most requested feature by the company's customers. With the upcoming update, users will be able to receive notifications of a movement made by a human in one area and choose to ignore other types of alerts, say, the kind triggered by the wind blowing through the curtains. People detection will be available in August on all Dropcam devices.
Dropcam also announced its new hardware product, the Dropcam Tabs. Dropcam Tabs are low-energy Bluetooth sensors that look like a stick of gum. Users can attach the Tabs to certain parts of the home to monitor movement in places not covered by the Dropcam camera. Mashable's Christina Warren compares Dropcam Tabs to an enhanced iBeacon, but Duffy says Dropcam Tabs are better.
"Part of what differentiates a Dropcam Tabs from a regular beacon is the fact that we have the Dropcam camera," Duffy says.
Dropcam Tabs are 3.5-inch weather-resistant motion sensors that can be left in places where the camera cannot see, such as the front gate or a bedroom window. If a user attaches one to the front gate, for example, the Tabs can be programmed to send an alert every time someone opens the gate. It can also be programmed to tell the difference between an open gate and a closed one.
The Tabs have several other potential uses. They can be affixed to the washing machine to let the user know that the rinse cycle is finished. A user can also attach the Tabs to someone else's backpack or keychain and can send a notification whenever that someone has entered a certain location.
Dropcam is selling like hotcakes on Amazon, where it is currently the best-selling surveillance camera. Basic Dropcam cameras sell for $149 while the Dropcam Pro costs $199. Dropcam Tabs will sell for $29 each and are expected to last six years on a single battery.
Warren cites Duffy, who said that most Dropcam customers are "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."