Startup - Surveillance / Photocamera Combo: ButterfleyeBy: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 01, 2014
This startup, Butterfleye [link no longer available], is offering a cross between a cloud security camera and a personal photo camera, billing it as the 'world's smartest home camera':
Hot off the heels of Google's Dropcam acquisition, is Butterfleye bringing a valuable new combination or are they forcing a bad match? In this note, we dig in.
The company's overview video below explains the concept and provides an overview of how they envision Butterfleye will be used:
Key features of the unit include:
- 1080 Video: Exact performance of the camera is sketchy, and details like focal length, FPS, WDR, and IR sensitivity are 'still being decided' by the company. However, the company is specifying full HD, which is increasingly common but slightly better than contemporary offerings that are more typically 720p.
- Onboard Analytics: Using analytics the company calls 'Active Eye Technology', the camera uses onboard sensors (ie: BLE, PIR, WiFi, and Mic) to learn things about its environment. For example, the camera will record video on motion while the user is gone, but as soon as the user's smartphone comes within range, the unit stops recording on motion alone. The company also suggests 'face detection' will be part of the production offering, although details are not provided.
- 'No' Installation: Butterfleye claims 'no installation' is needed. The user simply unboxes the camera, syncs it with a smartphone, and charges the battery when it gets low - no software or hardware installation, wires to run, or remote access configuration is needed.
- Onboard Storage: The camera also is equipped with memory on the device, which the company claims is good for up to about 12 hours of storage. No word on the exact capacity or type of storage that will be included.
- Cloud Accessible: However, extra service will need to be purchased to tap into that onboard storage and keep it. The company offers 'one day' of recorded video access for free, but '7 day' and '30 day' accessibility will cost ~$10 and ~$30 per month respectively.
- Price: Butterfleye is crowd funding now at a price of $199. The company plans to raise the price to $250 once production begins, but will offer discounts on purchases of multiple cameras.
Butterfleye is distinguished by being battery powered and entirely wireless. Compared to options like Dropcam that use wired outlet power, Butterfleye will be powered for up to 2 weeks on a battery charge.
The unit also claims it will be integrated with other BLE-based devices and systems, like Pebble, Jawbone [link no longer available], and even locks like Kevo or Lockitron, but the company is mum on actually finished integrations at crowd funding stage.
Founder / Management
The founder, Ben Nader [link no longer available], is a former TI and Intel manager so has relevant imaging / device development experience. However, their Angel.co listing [link no longer available] only shows 3 employees total.
They have gotten quite a bit of tech blog press showing that they have some resources and connections to promote their fledgling effort.
Multipurpose or Mediocre?
In terms of image quality, camera mounting position is key for both surveillance and good snapshots. While Butterfleye is lightweight and easy to relocate, setting up a camera to properly frame a subject is much more difficult and may involve placing the unit in less than optimal locations or trying to awkwardly mount it to walls for surveillance use, or awkward aiming positions and wide FoV for candid snapshots.
For casual photography, even cheap 'point n shoot' snapshot cameras include optical zoom and shutter speed options, which Butterfleye does not. Given that surveillance generally places a premium on wide fields of view, and photography seeks to capture only the target subject, the position that Butterfleye is good for both uses more likely will result in unhappiness with either.
What Do You Think?