Butterfleye, Nero 1, and Smart Cam: Cordless Security CamerasBy - 01/09/2019
I first wrote about Butterfleye in 2015 when they were in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign and I was writing for a different website. It was that same year that I had my first hands-on experience (CES 2015). I wasn’t impressed. Since then, Butterfleye has created a flurry (pun intended) of news including improved features via a newer version of their original camera (Nero 1), a third camera announced at CES 2019, and an acquisition. (Butterfleye was acquired by Ooma, a VoIP phone service provider who launched a DIY security system last year.) I sat down with the Ooma/Butterfleye team and dove back into a product that I previously undervalued.
The Basics: Butterfleye, Nero 1, and Smart Cam
Butterfleye was one of the first cordless cameras to hit the market. The catch with this cordless camera is that at two weeks, the battery life is significantly shorter than current competitors including Blink and Arlo. However, Butterfleye’s rechargeable battery, combined with its local storage feature, allows the camera to work without an internet connection, something its competitors can’t do.
Not long after shipping to backers, Butterfleye launched Butterfleye Nero 1. Had I backed the original camera I would have been a little upset at this move, but the difference between the two is slight. Nero 1 is black, Butterfleye is white. Nero 1 sells for $199.99 ($249.99 upon launch) and offers 32GB of internal storage, Butterfleye is $149.99 ($199.99 upon launch) and offers 16GB of internal storage. Finally, Nero 1 offers a 30% improved battery life. Other than that, they share the same features.
Smart Cam launched over a year after Nero 1 launched, after Ooma’s acquisition of Butterfleye. It sells for $149.99, similar to Butterfleye, but has better features. It has a slightly wider field of view (130° vs. 120°) and an improved battery life. Finally, it offers night vision. Like Butterfleye and Nero 1, Smart Cam offers facial recognition, motion and sound detection, two-way voice, and internal storage (16GB).
|Battery Life||18 Days||14 Days||6 Months|
Social Camera or Security Camera
When Butterfleye launched on Kickstarter, it was marketed as a social camera; a device that goes with you, takes pictures of your memories, and uploads them when connected to the internet. Butterfleye is still walking a fine line between both social and security camera, but several features help identify it as a home security device.
1. It’s a Camera
Surprise! It’s a camera. And a pretty good one at that. Ben Nader, Founder and former CEO of Butterfleye and now general manager of video solutions at Ooma, provided a demo of the Butterfleye app. During the demonstration, he shared several pre-recorded video clips and the quality was strong.
Butterfleye offers a FHD 1080p resolution backed by a 120° field of view. You can live stream from anywhere using your Android device, iPhone, or Apple Watch, and the camera offers an 8x digital zoom. It also offers traditional security camera features including sound and motion detection.
2. Motion, Sound, and Face Recognition + an Accelerometer
To protect your home, Butterfleye monitors for multiple events including motion, sound, person, and device tampering via its built-in accelerometer.
Of the features aimed at protecting your home, facial recognition and Activity Based Recording (ABR) stand out.
ABR is a patent-pending technology that is aimed at improving Butterfleye’s battery life. Instead of waking up to capture all events, it can discern important events from not important events. In their own stated example,
Activity Based Recording (ABR)…allows for Butterfleye to distinguish a person walking from that of a tree branch blowing. Our technology looks for heat sources and uses computer vision to take into account the size of the object it is monitoring, leading to a positive detection.
Of course, it can not only tell if a person is walking, but who that person is. Nadar provided an in-depth look at Butterfleye’s facial recognition capabilities. According to Nadar, Butterfleye’s ability is set apart from other cameras in two ways: it uses onboard facial recognition, and it learns quickly.
The camera’s ability to learn and remember faces happens on the device itself, not in the cloud, and yet it doesn’t lack any capabilities. From the app, you can manage multiple faces which are sorted into known and unknown groups. You can filter events by face, sound, etc., but you can also set up events to only occur if a face is unknown. For example, if you don’t want footage of your kids recorded, simply set up a user profile for your children and ask the camera to ignore them.
Facial recognition requires a paid subscription.
3. Cloud and Local Storage
Though processing is done on the device itself, recorded clips are sent to the cloud. From the app, you can quickly scroll through to view stored footage of any given event, person, or persons. A clip can most definitely capture and recognize multiple faces. Clip length is a minimum of 10 seconds, and there is no maximum length. Instead, the camera will continue to record until activity stops. Even when idle, the camera is constantly buffering 5-seconds of video. When an event is detected, it uploads footage of the event along with the pre-buffered footage.
For free, Butterfleye offers 7 days of cloud storage plus local storage. The onboard storage device is used during internet outages. If your camera can’t connect, it will record events to your SD card and upload them to the cloud when a connection is established, assuming your battery is powered. On a related note, you can leave the camera plugged-in and allow the battery to act as a backup power source.
If you want more storage, plans start at $4.99 per month for a single camera and $9.99 per month for two to six cameras. The plans cover Butterfleye, Nero 1, and Smart Cam cameras. In addition to storage, paid plans add geofencing, two-way audio, and facial recognition.
4. Sorting, Downloading, and Scheduling Events
To further preserve the camera’s battery life, you can decide when it should record and when it shouldn’t. For starters, the camera has a privacy mode which you can activate via the mobile app.
Second, you can create a schedule for the camera to follow. You can program the camera only to send alerts when you’re at work, for example.
Third, the camera offers geofencing. Geofencing requires a subscription, but when activated will arm and disarm the camera based on your presence.
Finally, you can download and share clips via the mobile app.
5. No Night Vision (Except Smart Cam)
Of the traditional boxes a home security camera should check, Butterfleye is missing one box: night vision. Though it offers low light performance, it does not offer traditional night vision. If you want night vision, you will need to purchase, Ooma’s Smart Cam.
Using The Cameras With An Ooma Security System
You can use Butterfleye, Nero 1, and Smart Cam as a standalone security camera, or you can add them to your Ooma Security System. When integrated, you can control the camera using the Ooma app.
From the app, you can view video clips and even create relationships between the camera and Ooma sensors. For example, Butterfleye can record when your front door is opened.
One bonus feature added by the Ooma integration is more notification options. Butterfleye can send push notifications, but Ooma can send phone call alerts, text alerts, email alert or push notifications.
Butterfleye and Ooma both work with Amazon Alexa devices.
Learn more about the Ooma Security System here.
Buy Butterfleye, Nero 1, or Smart Cam if you want a camera that will work with or without internet and power. Of course, it’s hard for me to say yay or nay to the cameras without trying them for myself. There are currently very few professional hands-on reviews of the device, and the camera has both good and bad reviews on Amazon. Fortunately, now that Butterfleye is under Ooma’s umbrella, they seem to be on the right track. You can purchase Butterfleye and Nero 1 on Amazon.com. Meanwhile, Ooma Smart Cam is expected to hit the shelves this year. You can check it out here.