Flutterby™! : WyzeCam

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2018-01-31 16:46:21.571096+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Did I mention here that we were burgled? Monday a week ago, someone came through our back gate and back door, stole a pillow case and emptied some jewelry drawers into it. I've been threatening to put up a few cameras for years, I'm now ordering bunch of them for evaluation.

On Facebook, a friend mentioned the WyzeCam, and I figured "for $20, how good can it be?" also "it's only $20", so I ordered one. Some impressions:

It's USB powered. They provide a brick and a cable. It's great for up and running quickly, but isn't going to be as useful as Power Over Ethernet for actual installations.

Attaching to your WiFi involves an smart phone app, pressing a button on the camera, and then holding the QR code on the smart phone in front of the camera. It took me a few tries to get this right because Android was doing some auto-corrupt on the password field. Luckily they do have the option to show the password field, that got it figured out.

Trying to connect to the camera, the phone told me the camera needed a firmware update. I tried, it failed. I tried again. It failed. Eventually I figured out that what was causing the failure was that the phone display was turning off. Kept the display on through the entire update, it worked.

The phone app and camera connection is... funky. I have yet to get a good live stream off the camera. Sometimes the camera connects, sometimes it doesn't. The camera settings only seem to be read back to the app somnetimes. The camera connection also seems to have an annoyingly short timeout; work quickly with whatever you want to do.

The camera looks like it's pretty good, but the H.264 video compression artifacts are so bad that I'm not sure I can see using this as a security camera: It does that smear close colors together thing such that there are nice crisp contrasty edges, but faces end up as flesh colored blobs. Once my spare SD cards come in I'll see if there's an option to save there that's got better resolution.

It's supposed to use AWS for storage, it apparently does so transparently (I had dreams of being able to easily see the raw data), and it sends a lot of heartbeat stuff to other servers. Which means, of course, that you're at the mercy of the company to not shut down.

The camera casing is not weather tight, which means it'd work nicely for interior installations. It has a vertical flip option, so it'd work well for ceilings, but that, of course, gives you the standard security camera issue of being able to see the logo on the ball cap; any real installation of something like this needs to be on the wall.

The alert sensitivity seems to be mostly about how often alerts get sent, not what gets alerted on. I've got an awful lot of alerts with nothing in them, but no video of people walking in front of the camera, because a door got moved, there was a pause, and then one of us walked through the door: The alert maybe captured the slight motion of the door, missed the human.

So it's an interesting first pass, and may get there, but the software is not yet ready for prime time, and I'll be moving forward with other cameras.

[ related topics: Photography Software Engineering Video ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: WyzeCam made: 2018-01-31 22:34:27.329492+00 by: Jack William Bell

I trust NONE of the Internet connected cameras on the market. NONE.

Instead I use a low-end standalone security camera system with a base unit and coax-connected cameras that records to an SD card and has no connection at all to a network. I am considering 'rolling my own' with a Raspberry PI, but that's pretty far down the project list right now.

#Comment Re: WyzeCam made: 2018-02-01 00:02:23.640263+00 by: Dan Lyke

I have two other options in play, the one that shows the most promise right now is this hardware (with some allowances for POE):


With this software to encrypt and upload the images to S3:


I think off-site backup is important in surveillance.

#Comment Re: WyzeCam made: 2018-02-01 09:24:25.965355+00 by: DaveP

The SkyBell is wirecutter's pick. Powering it off the existing doorbell circuit seems relatively clever to me. Haven't bought one yet, but was shopping for them yesterday.

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