Philips Hue: WiFi cameras and contact sensors against burglars
Full visibility and a good atmosphere in the home – in the future, Philips Hue wants to ensure this with more than just smart light. On the sidelines of IFA 2023, the manufacturer presented its first surveillance cameras and sensors. With them you should feel safer at home and be able to keep an eye on your own four walls even when you’re on the go. Alarms that warn off uninvited guests with sound and light signals are included free of charge. Additional features with AI-supported image analysis and video storage times require a paid subscription.
Cameras with ZigBee motion sensor
Two of the three cameras are intended for both indoor and outdoor use and are available in white or black. They differ in the energy supply and fastening. There is one with battery operation (250 euros), one with a power cable connection (200 euros). The latter can be set up flexibly in the apartment with an optional stand (50 euros). There is a ground spike for both (40 euros) that anchors them in an elevated position in the bed or flower pot. The third model is a wired floodlight camera with a black housing for outdoors (350 euros). When an alarm occurs, it illuminates a larger area in a desired color, for example white, but also signal red.
A two-part contact sensor is intended for window sashes and door leaves (40 euros). He reports when something is open that is otherwise closed. The sensor is available in a black or white housing. Almost all products will go on sale this year, the floodlight camera won’t be available until next year.
The manufacturer’s first safety products are intended to use sound and light alarms to report or warn off dangers. All functions are only available with a paid subscription.
The contact sensor transmits via ZigBee, camera images require WLAN. If the WiFi fails, the cameras can continue to serve as motion detectors for automatic lighting thanks to the built-in ZigBee. This is a special feature of the Hue cameras. A Hue Bridge is required to control the security components. A personal cloud account is also required – so Hue wants to ensure that only authorized mobile devices communicate with the cameras. Basically, the optics process all images locally. Access to the video clips, snapshots and live views is end-to-end encrypted. This ensures protection against unwanted glances from third parties, even during remote access or when optionally uploading to the Philips Hue cloud storage.
Standard functions for free, AI image analysis and cloud storage costs
The cameras broadcast live streams or store videos in 1080p resolution, with infrared vision at night. If the cameras detect relevant movements, they send status updates to the smartphone. The camera housings contain microphones and speakers for verbal contact.
If the contact sensor reports an open state, this can be converted into a switching command using an automatic rule – for example one that activates the hallway light when the front door opens. If movement is registered, the cameras can also illuminate with Hue lights or play an alarm sound. The Hue app also displays a button that initiates a call to the local authorities or an emergency contact.
The functions mentioned are free. However, Hue charges an additional fee if you want to use activity zones to hide neighboring properties or avoid false alarms caused by the front yard flag fluttering in the wind. The additional paid functions also include messages that report a dropped package, a sighted animal or a vehicle. To do this, Hue requires you to take out at least a “basic” subscription for 4 euros per month or 40 euros per year – per camera used. Storage of video sequences for 30 days is included. With the “Plus” subscription for 10 euros per month or 100 euros annually, the storage period increases to 60 days. Also, it applies to “multiple” cameras. The provider does not mention a specific limit.
Passing on the costs of cloud storage to customers is standard practice. However, charging for AI-supported image pattern recognition via subscription cannot be justified by the recurring computing requirements of web servers. According to Hue, it is purely local. The camera hardware is powerful enough for this, the manufacturer explains to heise online.
Matter update in autumn
The new subscription model is intended to make the effort for the system’s function updates, which are generally distributed free of charge, more financially bearable from the company’s perspective. The next major release is the long-promised update to the Matter standard. “Autumn 2023” is now the vaguely worded start period. The aim is to make the Hue Bridge compatible with Matter instead of the individual Hue products. Without the bridge, the recently introduced products from Philips Hue are not Matter compatible.
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