Evoz Baby Monitor's Potential for Disruption

Published Jul 12, 2011 00:00 AM
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A Silicon Valley startup, Evoz, is receiving extensive tech press coverage for a new baby monitoring service that incorporates audio analytic technology. In this update, we examine the potential for Evoz to be disruptive to the home monitoring / surveillance / security market considering their upside potential, risks involved and competitive alternatives.

Let's start with an overview of Evoz's key differntiating capabilities:

  • The service can be monitored from mobile devices and in the near future a general web interface. By comparison, almost all of the many current baby monitors are local listening only (inside the home, direct proprietary connection).
  • The service integrates audio analytics to detect if a baby is crying. The company claims to be able to detect / alert accurately in the presence of background noise. A few crying alert [link no longer available] monitors exist but they are relatively basic and likely prone to false alerts.
  • The service generates ongoing reports (see image sample [link no longer available]) tracking a number of parameters such as how many times the baby cried, how long the average cry was for, how significant the noise level in the room was, etc.
  • The monitor in the baby's room can be either an iOS device (like an iPod Touch, minimum price $229) with an app loaded or, coming this fall, a dedicated Evoz monitor starting at $120 [link no longer available].
  • Evoz offers a freemium service: no monthly fee to listen in for up to 30 minutes per day, $7.95 per month for unlimited listening, crying alerts and reporting
  • The system does not include any video but the company says it plans to add video in 2012

To get a sense of its positioning, it is useful to contrast it to the two main options available today for baby monitoring:

  • Systems / kits purposely built for baby monitoring. These kits average about $100 and come with a monitor and handheld receiver. The devices communicate over a proprietary wireless connection for use within a home. The receiver device needs to be carried around and it does not work outside of the house (on the road, at work, etc.). Many include video as well. For background, see our test results of Lorex's baby monitor.
  • Webcams with audio used for baby monitoring. These are traditional low end IP cameras adapted for use as a baby monitor. The camera cost about $100 - $150 and the user monitors with their PC, mobile phone, etc.

Compared to these two, here is Evoz's basic competitive positioning:

  • Strengths: Audio analytics and data reporting (plus likely simpler to set up than a webcam)
  • Weaknesses: No video, cost - especially recurring monthly fee for premium service
  • Questions: How well does the audio analytics work? How useful is the reporting?

Ultimately, we think the overall differentiation of the company rests on the crying alerts and reporting. That will need to justify the premium cost of the product.

On the one hand, Silicon Valley is an echo chamber. Right now, the tech publications act like this is the world's only baby monitor worth considering. The reality is that there are a lot of alternatives, most significantly cheaper and some with more functionality (like video). On the other hand, this is the first and only company we are aware of that has dedicated real technology resources to this specific problem. As such, we do think it has potential as a premium offering in the market that could disrupt and undercut the more basic offerings from traditional home / DIY manufacturers.