5/13/2017 NOTE: Sense is no longer creating a smart camera. Angee on the other hand, is going full speed towards production.
Smart cameras can raise your home's "IQ", but not all smart cameras are created equal. Cameras like Nest use their ability to connect and control a wide range of devices to synchronize your smart home. Others, like Netatmo Welcome, can recognize your face and respond accordingly. Undoubtedly, smart cameras are getting smarter by the minute.
Two particular smart cameras are battling it out to be known as the smartest of all: Angee and Sense. Both cameras are created by startups, who aim to make smart homes more secure and more intelligent. Both are not yet a reality, with Angee post a successful crowdfunding campaign and Sense still running an active campaign. With that said, which of the two should you make room for in your smart home?
Angee is best described as taking Amazon Echo and adding a camera that can record and stream 1080p footage. It is a cylinder case jam-packed with sensors, 1.5 GB of on-board memory for storage, and a 10-hour backup battery. But perhaps its most compelling feature is that it can do a full 360-degree rotation. Imagine, a camera that can snoop around an entire room!
Angee is quite smart too. It calls itself "the first truly autonomous home security system". It lives to the idea that home security systems should never be a burden to its users, but rather they should be responsive and easy to use.
Sense was conceived by a startup called Silk Labs, headed by Mozilla's former CTO Andreas Gal. Sense is a uniquely designed device. The base is a wooden box where all the components are hidden, and the face is curved glass with a small window for the camera lens. The camera's specs are TBD, but what we know is that it has some awesome features like facial recognition and powerful machine learning abilities.
Angee vs Sense—Home Security
Cameras are indispensable when it comes to beefing up your home security. A normal motion sensing camera is enough to beef up security, but who doesn't want more?
Angee For Home Security
Angee has friends to help you with home security. These friends, called Security Tags, are round sensors that attach on doors or windows to monitor your home's entry points. When someone walks in, Angee wakes up and will identify if it's you, a family member, or an uninvited guest. It uses a two-step authentication process to do so. First, by identifying your smartphone. It works like this: You connect all the smartphones in your house to Angee, and Angee remembers them. Walk in with that smartphone, and Angee automatically knows it's you. But what if my smartphone is dead? If your smartphone is dead, the second authentication process takes over—voice recognition. Every person in the house will have to introduce Angee to a personal spoken password. (Mine would be "Bacon".) In case your phone is dead, speak your password and Angee will know it's you. But Angee doesn't just listen for the password, it listens for the right voice saying the right word. So even if my neighbor yells "Bacon!", Angee would ignore him because my voice is way sexier than my neighbors.
Angee has other security features including motion and sound sensors. While motion sensors are already common in security cameras, Angee took advantage of its ability to rotate 360-degrees to stand out. It has 6 PIR motion sensors, each evenly distanced and placed around Angee's body. In essence, Angee can sense motion from all around itself, but you can also set detection zones to limit Angee into monitoring only necessary areas of the room. If it does sense motion, it quickly notifies you and starts recording. Better yet, Angee can follow motion, so the crook has nowhere to hide.
Finally, Angee is smart enough to know when to arm itself. If you are guilty of leaving the house without arming your system, Angee's got your back. It knows exactly when the last person has left the house and it knows when someone arrives home. It uses smartphone authentication to arm your system, and both smartphone and voice authentication to disarm.
Sense For Home Security
Sense has a different set of features. It has smart motion detection, but it is smart in another way. Sense is smart enough to know if motion is coming from a lifeless object, a pet, or a real person. Obviously, you only need to be notified of motion events coming from a person. Not only that, it also recognizes faces. In effect, it knows to notify you only when an unrecognized person is in your house.
While Sense cares about your security, it also cares about your privacy. Silk Labs has taken measures to make sure what your camera sees stays private. During setup, Sense creates an end-to-end encryption between itself and your smartphones. That is so it can make sure that only those smartphones can access live-streaming and recorded videos. Also, Sense has eliminated the need for a cloud connection, which is not-always-so-secure, by placing a powerful smartphone-grade processor into the camera. The processor is capable of handling smart functions locally.
For security, Angee wins. It covers much more than one room through the use of Security Tags. However, Sense's facial recognition and local processing should also be given credit. And from a personal privacy perspective, Sense is clearly the winner.
Angee vs Sense—Home Automation
Angee For Home Automation
Angee has features beyond home security, but home automation isn't its greatest feat. There are three features you can possibly use for automation. First, you can use Angee as a voice assistant, very much like Amazon Echo. Just tell Angee what you want it to do for you, and it'll do it. It also makes use of its voice recognition feature to know who's talking so that it can make its responses more personalized. For example, it might know what you prefer Uber Black, but your roommate prefers an SUV. Angee's second automation feature can track your in-home air quality. The data it gathers can be used to control your smart thermostat. Which leads us to the last smart home feature, and perhaps the best you can get from Angee. It integrates with other smart devices, like Philips Hue, Honeywell Smart Thermostat, Belkin WeMo, and many others. There is talk that they are also partnering up with LIFX, Ring doorbell camera, Nest, Sonos, and August.
Sense For Home Automation
Sense, just like Angee, integrates with well-known home automation devices, like Philips Hue, LIFX, Sonos, and Nest. It can also respond to simple voice commands and gestures. But Sense has a greater purpose. Silk Labs created Sense to be the eyes, ears, and brains of a new home automation platform they are developing called Silk. The thing is, hardware makers usually design their own software. But Gal believes hardware makers lack the expertise needed to make the smart home smart enough. So, he is hoping device makers will adopt Silk's home automation platform and use it in future products. They are also calling out on developers to familiarize themselves with Silk and develop their own apps that would work with Silk and Sense. Do I think this will happen? No. No I do not. There are already so many other options for developers and the incentive for them to spend time on this project isn't there currently.
For the second time, Angee wins, mostly because Sense is a much greater home automation risk. Angee isn't rich with home automation features, but at least their concepts are more solid than Sense. If Angee turns out to be as good as they say it is, you can make your home a little bit smarter just by adding it to your smart home. Meanwhile, the success of Sense is affected by how device-makers and developers buy into the idea of Silk's new home automation platform, and how Silk Labs actually delivers on their promises.
Final Say On Angee and Sense
Angee won both in home security and automation, but that doesn't mean that you should shy away from Sense. Sense puts quite a good fight against Angee and many other smart cameras. That being said, you should carefully consider what you need before choosing. Are you looking for an easy, all-in-one security solution that can smarten up your home? Angee it is. Or do you want to level it up and go techie? Sense it is. Only you can tell which one is better for your lifestyle.
What I can tell you is that if you choose a camera now, you can save money using their pre-sale pricing. You can get Sense for as low as $249 with delivery estimated for December of 2016. Angee can be preordered for as low as $312 and is expected to ship in October.
You can pre-order Sense here or Angee here.