I’ve been playing with the new Wyze sensors for the last week or two in my temporary apartment, and I can say without a doubt that getting this level of insight into what’s happening at your home for roughly $50 is completely worth it. I’d add that if you have a graduate going off to college or a new apartment this June, send them off with this little set and provide them a little bit of security.
The Wyze Sense system costs $20 for a motion detection sensor, two open-close sensors, and a bridge that plugs into the back of a Wyze camera. You do need to have a Wyze camera for the Sense system to work. However, at $20 for the base camera and $30 for the panning camera, it’s not a huge investment. The Sense sensors are much smaller than most of the existing sensors on the market, and if I hadn’t packed my other sensors away I would have included a photograph to show the difference. SmartThings’ motion sensor is 2.23″ x 2.19″ x 1.98″, for example, while the Wyze Sense motion sensor is 1.2″x.9″x1.2″.
The Sense system comes with double-sided tape and a key that you use to press a recessed button to connect the device to the camera. The camera+ bridge acts as the hub for the proprietary radio network Wyze has chosen to use for the sensors. My hunch is that the proprietary radio network helps reduce battery consumption and might offer a mesh for resiliency.
Installing the system takes about 15 minutes. New users will download the Wyze app, register and then set up their camera. Existing camera users will start from this point. After opening the Sese package, pull out the four items. First, plug the bridge into the USB slot in the back of the camera and then go into the app to add a device. You’ll select the sensor you’re adding and use the provided key to press a recessed button on the side of the sensor. A light will blink and then the sensor should appear in the app.
From there you can name the sensor and add it to the camera you want acting as your bridge. Note, that if you are a Wyze cam user who daisy chains your cameras together using the USB port, you’ll want to plug the bridge into your end camera. You’ll complete this process for each sensor. It takes about 15 minutes total to get everything up and running. From there, stick the sensors where you want them and turn to the software notification settings.
Within the Wyze app, you can tell the camera to record a video each time a sensor is triggered. The resulting video snippets show up in the Events section of the app. While the camera does not automatically send video data to the cloud during normal use, in this case, videos from events are stored there. Users can also plug in an SD card to the camera and have videos recorded locally.
Controls are not terribly sophisticated with this system. Unless you hook up the Wyze to a service such as IFTTT, you can’t use sensor notifications to trigger alarms or lights. And even if you do, there’s latency using IFTTT which that can make it slower and less helpful in an emergency. What you get is notifications and good quality video recordings for very little money.
For many, that level of security could well be enough. I also fully expect Wyze to come out with other products such an alarm. (The camera can sound a beep when an event happens if you’d like, but it’s not loud.) Some will complain that the proprietary radio signal between sensors and the camera make Wyze Sense less convenient for integrating with other smart products, but for the price, I don’t agree. There are half a dozen other sensors that can provide security in a more open manner if you want the pain of adding ZigBee or Z-wave sensors to a smart home hub.
When asked about the proprietary radio, Mike Sobaski, director of product management over at Wyze, said via email, ” Starting out our goal was to create a sensor system for our users that would be easy to set up, deliver the best possible range, and do it at an affordable price. Since our focus was on building a product for our existing Wyze customers we are able to leverage the Cam’s existing WiFi to connect the sensors to the cloud. This, along with using the sub-1G frequency, allows us to make setup effortless and have the best possible range without relying on a mesh network. ”
I get it, plus in this case, the hub is a one-inch device that plugs into an existing camera, so it’s not like it’s taking up space on a closet floor or hogging a valuable Ethernet port. As for integrations with other devices, there is the aforementioned IFTTT integration as well as one with Amazon’s Alexa. For now, the sensors do not work with Alexa (but you can see your camera using the Echo Show). Wyze says it’s still in the final review stages with a Google Assistant integration.
Wyze has done a lot with its product at a pretty low price. Wyze supports two-factor authentication for greater security, the SD card for local recording for those who care about privacy, and recently it also launched the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) for those who want to stream their Wyze video outside of the Wyze app. For those wondering how Wyze can do all of this for such a small amount of money, please check out my podcast interview with Elana Fishman, COO of Wyze Labs, from last year.