On Thursday Dropcam Inc. launched a next-generation model of its popular Dropcam cloud-powered Wi-Fi monitoring system that allows users to remotely monitor and communicate with others in the house or office. The new version, Dropcam Pro, adds a number of new features over the previous model including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for connecting to sensors and other devices in the home, and a wider field of view that's 30 larger than the previous generation.
"At its core, Dropcam is a software and services company. That means Dropcam gets better over time with hassle-free automatic updates to the camera, cloud service, and apps," said Greg Duffy, Dropcam CEO and co-founder. "With features like zoom and enhance, Dropcam Pro is an amazing camera today, and it will be even better tomorrow as we shape it into the ideal hub for consumers to see, sense, and control other devices in their home."
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The company claims that Dropcam Pro uses a six-element, all glass lens and a larger image sensor to provide 2x sharper video during the day, and 7x better performance during low-light conditions and at night. The device also now also provides an interesting pinch-to-zoom feature, allowing users to zoom in up to 8x in different quadrants of the image users are viewing remotely.
The new Dropcam Pro model arrives with a updated microphone with double the sampling rate, a new speaker, and the ability to remotely configure the camera from an iOS device. Dropcam Pro also now has dual-band wireless connectivity, allowing users to connect the camera to the less-used 5 GHz band on a dual-band router.
Dropcam's next-generation camera comes packed with a beta version of a feature called Activity Recognition. The company claims that by using advanced computer vision and machine learning technology, Dropcam Cloud Recording now recognizes motion patterns in the user's video stream and groups them together like activities. Customers can name these activities and customize alerts for them.
"Dropcam utilizes bank-level security to encrypt all video streams so customers can rest assured that no one but them can access their video," reads the company press release. "Dropcam Pro and Dropcam include full 720p streaming, motion and sound activity alerts, night vision, two-way talk, and pinch-to-zoom. With the optional Cloud Video Recording service, customers can access stored footage for the past seven or thirty days."
Both Dropcam devices send the user's encrypted video into the cloud, and then securely streams that content back to all registered devices. This is ideal for when leaving the kids with a babysitter while out on a movie date, checking in with the house when out of town, or to communicate with a family member in another room. Live video monitoring is free, but the company also provides optional Cloud Video Recording (CVR) subscription plans including $9.95 per month for seven days of continuous recording, and $29.95 per month for thirty days.
The new Dropcam Pro retails for $199, and the original Dropcam HD has been renamed to simply "Dropcam" and continues to sell for $149. Both are available now on Amazon and the Dropcam website, with other retailers coming soon.