Person Detection Update: A New Experiment for Premium Features

Update 9/9/20:

Hi, everyone!

App 2.13 is releasing today but we’re not sending out the email to folks eligible for the person detection experimental pay-what-you-want plan until tomorrow morning. We have scheduled website maintenance tonight and didn’t want to frustrate folks. :slight_smile:

Original Copy:

This is the copy of the email being sent out shortly to everyone signed up for the newsletter that received the free person detection promise when we announced the upcoming separation from XNOR.ai in November of 2019. We are posting here for visibility and we will be sending out more information about CMC, Cam Plus, and how to enable the proposed volunteer plan later. We wanted to give people a heads up about the upcoming changes so we don’t surprise folks. :slight_smile:

Email Copy

Hey Friends,

We keep calling you friends. That’s because our founding principle is “Be friends with customers.” With every decision we make, we imagine how our best friend might react if they were in the room.
Today we’re announcing a new experiment that will put that foundation to the test.

Many of you have been greatly anticipating the release of Person Detection for Wyze Cam. Over the last few months, we’ve had this service in beta testing, and we’re happy to report that the testing is going really well. Person Detection is meeting our high expectations, and it’s only going to keep improving over time. That’s the good news.

The bad news 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.

We hate asking our customers to pay subscription fees, but the most logical solution seems to be to at least put subscriptions on the features where we have recurring monthly costs.

Our issue is that in an email last year, we promised 1.3M of our earliest users that when we finished building person detection that it would be free; even if it was cloud-based. You are receiving this email because you are one of the people that received that promise.

Things are certainly very different than they were last year. With ongoing tariff costs, a horde of challenges stemming from the coronavirus, and an uncertain economy, we’ve been forced to change many of our plans. But this promise to our users has been weighing on us the most.

Trust and loyalty from our users is our highest priority, and we can’t break that. Instead, we have an idea that could possibly make it the solution.

We are going to keep our promise to you. But we are also going to ask for your help.

When Person Detection for 12-second event videos officially launches, you will be able to name your price. You can select $0 and use it for free. Or you can make monthly contributions in whatever amount you think it’s worth to help us cover our recurring cloud costs. We will reevaluate this method in a few months. If the model works, we may consider rolling it out to all users and maybe even extend it to other Wyze services.

We’re hoping that something really cool is born out of the mistake we made. Something totally different than what any of our competitors are doing. A method to cover the cost of premium features in a way that is truly being friends with customers, and customers being friends with us.

We’ll be sending you more information when this program officially launches in September with app release 2.13!

-Your Friends at Wyze

FAQ

What if volunteer contributions don’t cover the cost? What will happen to Person Detection for 12-second Event videos?

We don’t know yet. We are going to evaluate the results of this experiment after a few months and see if we have enough contributions to at least subsidize the cost. If it doesn’t work, we will come up with a new plan, but it is possible that free 12-second person detection will be discontinued.

Just 1.3M users?

We emailed 1.3M telling them Person Detection would be free, but we are going to make this available to all Wyze users that created an account before Nov 26, 2019, the date the email was sent. If we can successfully cover the costs of Person Detection for these users, we may roll this out to all users and maybe even into other features like Cam Plus. We love the idea of volunteer contributions being our method of service revenue but we have to see if it can work.

Wait, what’s "Cam Plus”?

Cam Plus is an optional upgrade for Wyze Cam with a more traditional subscription model. It will not affect the out-of-the-box Wyze Cam experience. It adds Person Detection to Complete Motion Capture Videos. This will be the only option to enable Person Detection for Wyze users that joined after Nov 26, 2019. We will be sending out more info about this in a few weeks. Cam Plus will be available in the 2.12 app release coming later this month.

But wait, why do I already have Person Detection?

If you already have Person Detection on your camera, you are enrolled as a beta (pilot) tester. Person detection will be removed for beta testers in September with app release 2.13.

Edit on 7/30 to answer some questions that we’ve seen come up:

  1. Will international customers be able to use Cam Plus? If not, when will they be able to purchase subscriptions?

A. We are looking into this but don’t currently have timelines.

  1. Did you know this information before you launched your new outdoor camera?

A. We were still assessing different solutions at the time of the outdoor camera launch.

  1. Will the “name your price” amount we volunteer to give be on a per customer basis or per camera basis?

A. This is a per-customer basis.

  1. Is there a technical reason that such expensive processing couldn’t be done by a PC on the same LAN?

A. It’s possible but more expensive. Lots of work needed for that.

  1. Why does Person Detection use the cloud rather than being Edge-based now?

A. It isn’t easy to create an Edge solution for these cameras. They have a fraction of the computing capabilities of the cloud.

  1. If I do nothing, will my Wyze Cams still work the way they do now? I do not remember installing Person Detection. But I do get video when something moves in the camera view.

A. Yes, your camera will still work with all the out-of-the-box features if you do not subscribe to Cam Plus or the legacy Person Detection.

  1. I’m going to subscribe to Cam Plus. So when the September update arrives, that means I don’t lose Person Detection, right?

A. Correct, you won’t lose Person Detection if you subscribe to Cam Plus.

  1. Why does Person Detection cost more than regular motion detection?

A. It requires processing power to run the algorithm on the videos and it costs more to do this than to just store videos.

  1. How long has Wyze known they are losing money with Person Detection?

A. Since we hired the finance guy. :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. What else might happen if the volunteer contribution plan doesn’t work? Higher prices for Cam Plus? No Person Detection?

A. We’re not sure yet.

  1. Just to confirm: Only the 1.3 million users who got that email will have free Person Detection? What about the people who are just buying Wyze products now?

A. People that made accounts before November 26th will have this option. That group is larger than the number of people that received the newsletter. Newer folks can purchase Cam Plus.

  1. Why is it that some people get newsletters later than others or they don’t show up at all when we’ve subscribed?

A. Those newsletters may be filtered into your spam or promotions tabs. It’s also possible that the setting isn’t enabled. Please check those email areas and your Account settings in the Wyze app to see if those could be the issue.

If you are missing newsletters but you believe you should be receiving them, please contact customer support about this. In the longer-term, we’re working on an easier way for people to see and adjust their notification/subscription preferences.

  1. Will Person Detection not work on devices that use microSD cards and not rely on the cloud?

A. No, the person detection algorithm is run in the cloud and will not work on microSD cards. However, you can use the cloud storage and a microSD card if you would like.

  1. What will the pricing be for cloud storage for Wyze Cam Outdoor?

A. Wyze Cam Outdoor is not compatible with Cam Plus at this time but we are working on it for the future.

  1. This has nothing to do with motion detection, correct?

A. Cam Plus is separate from motion detection. Motion detection will trigger the Event video that is saved on the cloud and the Person Detection algorithm is run on the existing video.

  1. If I have access to the legacy Person Detection, will all of my cameras be included or just the ones I purchased before November 2019?

A. All of the cameras that your account is the primary account for will have access to the legacy Person Detection.

  1. Will the cloud-based person detection perform better than the on-camera XNOR.ai?

A. We’re already seeing a high rate of success. But one of the cool things about a cloud model is that it can be updated separate from firmware updates so improvement can be made more quickly and continuously.

  1. Will you enable PayPal as a payment method for premium services as has been requested multiple times by your overseas customers?

A. This is something we’re looking into but we’re being careful because of legal requirements so we don’t have a timeline at this point.

  1. I don’t want Cam Plus and don’t want to have it enabled. How can I opt out of the free trial?

A. You can opt-out of the free trial by disabling it under Services in your Wyze app.

  1. How are my monthly and annual subscriptions billed? Are they grouped together?

Whenever you purchase or adjust the quantity of monthly plans, you are charged a prorated amount and then they fall into the same billing cycle for next month.

Annual plans are billed at the time of purchase and will be processed again the same day each year.

19 Likes

Here’s a thought- For those early members who joined Wyze Community the the “12 second person identificaiton “ will be free and those joining the community after Nov 26, 2019 will have the first 30 days of engaged
detection will be free and after that trail period of 30 days the fee will be :___________. There will also be a 2nd tier of service at the level of :________ which has the same features as free and tier 1, but with this level 2 tier you will have the ability to send sms noticification, gps location to open / lock say the front door… and bring up a screen on the app for 2 way walkie-talkie communcation…
<< just random ideas…>>>

Scott

12 Likes

Thanks, Scott! Those are nifty ideas and I’ll share them with the team. :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Appreciate the transparency. I’ve always scratched my head at the ability of a $25 camera to support the cloud costs behind it.

Not quite sure I follow what makes Person Detection so much more cloud-intensive than other clips/notifications, but to that end… I would think a much bigger impact would be coming up with what I’ll loosely call “bug mode”. I for one am capturing HOURS a day of video clips of nothing but split-second bugs and wiggly cobweb reflections at night. I know I’ve tried tuning, but to no avail. They’re damned annoying to weed through, but more to the point those come with real (but pointless) AWS costs.

33 Likes

Excellent. I do have some good ideas now and then… LOL

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Hi Wyze

Did you know this information before you launched your new outdoor camera?

6 Likes

When we launched the outdoor camera, we were still doing analysis and figuring out what options we had.

1 Like

It wasn’t clear to me but will the “name your price” amount we volunteer to give be on a per customer basis or per camera basis? Thanks!

7 Likes

The name your price will be on a per camera basis, I think. That may be adjusted later. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I have been concerned about Wyze’s business plan. I loved my Automatic for my car and the company was shut down this summer, leaving me with a device that does nothing. Automatic was too slow in setting up monthly charges for its users, it was paying for 2G connectivity for many of its users. I bought my last Automatic a few years ago and it included 2G connectivity at no cost to me, I wonder how much they lost on my purchase.

While I prefer to not have any more monthly bills, perhaps charging for premium services makes sense. This allows many to avoid them but provides a revenue stream where it is important. I like how Ecobee is doing it, basic services are free and certain features cost extra. In this case I am happy with what free covers.

8 Likes

Though I’m sure this can’t be tried anytime soon, is there a technical reason that such expensive processing couldn’t be done by a PC on the same LAN?

7 Likes

I know that we’ve been looking into what it would take to have some capabilities done through PCs but I don’t have a lot of info about that. Sorry!

1 Like

I also have a suggestion about this. I think that it would be a plus on bandwidth and truthfully a help to consumers to have the person detection on a trigger so that if you are outside of a geofence, the trigger is activated and once you are inside the geofence it is deactivated. This eliminates random hits, saves on cloud space and is better over all. I would also suggest that the person detection might also only be stored locally. That would also save on cloud storage. Another suggestion is to daisy chain the cameras. Once my outdoor camera gets here, I would make that my #1 camera, then my other camera pointed out doors would be my #2 camera. My interior cameras would not be attached to the cloud for storage. Again this seems like a reasonable solution for cloud storage that would work for all customers. I’m also not suggesting that there shouldn’t be a fee, but it would save money for everyone long term.

5 Likes

Thank you! I’ll share these suggestions with the team as well. :slight_smile:

1 Like

This is very disappointing.
One of the big reasons I choose Wyze to begin with was that they were in no way tied to any sort of subscription model.
1 time purchase and you were up and running.
Features were coming in that did not require a subscription plan to use said features.
The trend lately seems to be exactly opposite of that.

37 Likes

Two suggestions that could help increase donations FWIW:

  1. On your “pay want you want” form it might drive higher donations if you show the raw estimated cost per camera to run them. Someone might donate $1-2 to feel like they are helping, but if they see that it costs you guys $3/month (per camera for example) for the cloud services, then they might be more willing to at LEAST bump up to $3.
  2. Have you considered the “Humble Bundle” approach? It is a “pay that you want” approach, but if you (or the group) reaches a certain goal in donations, then larger features are unlocked. Could be an interesting way to get the community to chip in more.
23 Likes

While I like my wyze cams they are starting to feel a lot like a “free” app. Low up front cost and just a series of micro-transactions after that. Having features removed and then pay-walled later isn’t exactly great service (even though I’m one of the 1.3M) . The line “we’ve also since hired an actual finance guy…” Is not a comfort. I expect that to mean more micro-transactions in the future.

How long before the app makes us watch a 10 second ad before we can see our feeds?

meanwhile I still have to disable the wifi on my phone to get it to connect to my cameras reliably… (Authenticating 2/3)
maybe I could pay a dollar per camera per month to get a “reliable connection” feature.

26 Likes

I assume Wyze is unable to create a duplicate of the Edge Cloud person detection thay had before Apple rained on the party? I personally think the Edge solution you had before was the ideal As new camera come out s with more memory and stronger processors, it would only get better. Why is it Cloud rather than Edge based now?

Thank You

Greg

7 Likes

If I do nothing will my Wyze cams still work they way they do now. I do not remember installing person detection. But I do get video when something moves in the camera view.

4 Likes