Wyze, makers of extraordinary cameras, scales, and smart bulbs, has a problem. Due to a series of unfortunate events, the company had to pull person detection from its cameras last year. Wyze promised to bring the feature back in the cloud for free—but it’s expensive. The company has a potential solution—asking for volunteer subscribers.
In July 2019, Wyze partnered with Xnor.ai to offer a bold feature—person detection powered by Wyze cameras. Rather than reach out to the cloud to detect people, the cameras would do the work locally. Skipping the cloud sped up the process and avoided extra costs.
But then Apple bought Xnor.ai and pulled the plug on Wyze’s contract. Wyze had to remove the feature from its cameras. The company promises to bring Person Detection back and promised to keep it free, even if that meant eating the cloud costs.
Now in an email to its users, Wyze says those cloud costs were greater than it anticipated:
[Cloud-based Person detection] is that it’s very expensive to run, and the costs are recurring. We greatly under-forecasted the monthly cloud costs when we started working on this project last year (we’ve also since hired an actual finance guy…). The reality is we will not be able to absorb these costs and stay in business.”
Wyze wants to keep its promise, but it is facing the reality that its costs are too high. So it wants to try an experience—voluntary subscriptions. It made the promise to 1.3 million users, and it’s sending all those users a request. Volunteer to subscribe to the person detection service.
When Person-Detection leaves beta later this year, those users will see a “name your own price” prompt. You can choose $0 if you want, or you can offer to throw some money Wyze’s way.
The offer applies to anyone that created an account before Nov 26, 2019. It’s not entirely clear what Wyze plans to do for anyone who created a user profile later. It sounds like they may have to subscribe to the company’s upcoming Wyze Cam Plus subscription, which will cover both Complete Motion Capture and Person Detection.
If you don’t want to subscribe at all, you can use your cameras as usual without person detection. You’ll still have basic motion detection. Adding subscriptions where none were necessary before can be a fraught journey, as Wink discovered. But at least, in this case, Wyze is making the process voluntary.