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.
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- How long has Wyze known they are losing money with Person Detection?
A. Since we hired the finance guy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.