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Wyze Cam to test ‘pay what you want’ for upcoming AI person detection feature

It was July of last year when Wyze announced it would bring free person detection to its suite of budget-focused smart home cameras. But then, earlier this year, Apple purchased the low-power AI startup, Xnor.ai, which was behind Wyze’s on-device person detection.

Wyze told its customers that it would roll out an in-house person detection service, and it would remain free — but after finishing up the feature, Wyze has found that it’ll cost them more than they initially thought. On the bright side, Wyze plans to test a “pay what you want” program allowing customers to pay $0 or however much they think person detection is worth, but there are a few caveats.

Wyze will test “pay what you want” for AI person detection over the next few months

According to an email sent out earlier today, Wyze is doing its best to keep person detection free for users who had the feature before it was removed last year. In an effort to build out this new feature, the company found that it’ll actually need to be cloud-hosted and require ongoing charges to run. While most companies would just up and start charging monthly fees to its users, Wyze decided to take the best approach we’ve seen yet.

Soon, Wyze Cam users will have the option to “pay what they want” for AI person detection, as long as they’re one of the ones who received the email today, which was around 1.3 million users. This tier will allow customers to either pay $0 for the feature, keeping it entirely free, or choose any amount higher. Wyze is hoping that enough people choose to pay for the feature that it’ll offset those who need it free, but the company will reevaluate in a few months to see if this method is financially stable.

 

What happens if Wyze can’t afford to keep this model up?

In the email to 1.3 million users, Wyze stated that it initially made the claim that the feature would remain free before realizing what it would actually cost. Since then, the company hired an actual finance guy and is working to see how best to offset the new fees this feature will bring in. If the “pay what you want” setup doesn’t cover it, it at least subsidizes what the company will have to shell out for person detection.

After a few months, Wyze is going to sit down, run the numbers, and possibly come up with a new plan, but that plan just might not include the 12-second person detection feature. Yeah, Wyze did say that, depending on the financial feasibility of person detection, it might just have to nix the feature all-together for free or low-cost tiers.

Wyze Cam Plus might be a potential solution

Cam Plus is an optional upgrade for Wyze Cam that follows a more traditional subscription model. While Wyze Cams aren’t affected out-of-the-box by Cam Plus, this subscription could add person detection alongside complete motion capture. Users who signed up after November 26, 2019 (the cutoff date for being included in the “pay what you want” model) will only get person detection should they opt for Cam Plus, which might be how Wyze continues offering this feature.

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