Apple's Acquisition of AI Company Leaves Wyze Cameras Without People Detection

Thursday January 16, 2020 3:05 AM PST by Tim Hardwick

Apple's recent purchase of Seattle startup Xnor.ai, which specializes in on-device artificial intelligence, appears to have had a knock-on effect on home security cameras made by Wyze, another Seattle-based company.


The Verge reports that the Wyze Cam V2 and Wyze Cam Pan rely on Xnor.ai's on-device people detection, but now that Apple owns the company, the support has been pulled in a beta firmware update currently rolling out to Wyze customers' devices.

As it happens, Wyze issued a statement in November 2019 saying that Xnor.ai had terminated their contract, and that a firmware update rolling out in mid-January 2020 would remove the feature from its cameras. Whether Xnor.ai planned to be acquired by Apple in January, or it already had been acquired, remains unknown.

Despite the apparent forewarning, Wyze says it is still working on an in-house people detection replacement feature, but it promises to launch it as a free update sometime this year.

Given Apple's deep interest in personal privacy, an acquisition of technology for handling AI on device shouldn't raise any eyebrows. Xnor.ai's work could potentially be incorporated into future iPhones, improving Siri and other AI and machine learning-based tasks that are done on device.

Tag: Wyze

Top Rated Comments

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11 weeks ago


Poor planning on their part. If your product depends on a 3rd party service like that that's both key to your product offering and not from a huge player in the market, you really should make sure that you have some kind of code in escrow that can be pulled in case they decide to stop offering it.


Disgaree. Most complex electronic products out there rely on some type of IP licensing with no fallbacks. It's far too expensive or complex to develop from square one for anyone but a Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. Ie. like Apple maps when Apple decides to stop licensing Google Maps and spend billions on their own.

Look at Huawei, they had had no OS near ready despite knowing of the ban for what, months? Longer? You could say the same about them then; and they made $125 billion in revenue in 2019. Wyze is worth about $100 Million (last number I could find in 2019), not even what Huawei made in 1 week.

And even then, companies license IP to each other. We just know Apple doesnt play nice with others and wont let them keep using it.

I woudnt expect a company selling $25 cameras has the assets to figure this out from scratch. That is why they are $25, more of a get what you paid thing for a basic good camera. Anything on top is gravy. Face detection is a not a key offering of a camera; many dont offer that or with a high priced subscription only (as they are likely licensing tech)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 weeks ago
Poor planning on their part. If your product depends on a 3rd party service like that that's both key to your product offering and not from a huge player in the market, you really should make sure that you have some kind of code in escrow that can be pulled in case they decide to stop offering it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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11 weeks ago
Wyze is a great company. Their products are awesome and cheap. Amazing customer service as well. I have no doubt they will have a fix for this soon. Products still work fine, you just can't go through your event logs and separate people from other moving things.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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11 weeks ago
Just to add as well even if you DONT update the firmware you are still loosing the person detection as they are disabling it on the server side.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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11 weeks ago
I have 5 Wyze cameras with this feature. Xnor.ai tech has been useful when quickly scanning “events” log in the house and being able to filter by a person being present or not. Sad to see it go, for now at least.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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11 weeks ago


Im more concerned why Apple would want a people detection feature for cameras? Would that not go against their privacy concern stance?


The whole point of this technology is that it runs on the device, not in the cloud. Wyze had no idea if my cameras were filming people, because the camera itself made that determination and flagged the presence of a person. I imagine that's why Apple chose them in particular.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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