Don’t think you need a home security camera? Here’s a really cute reason to get one. The Ulo is an adorable little home-monitoring owl on Kickstarter that communicates through eye expressions. The Kickstarter has been wildly successful, hitting its original goal of $223,119 on November 1. As of publication, the device sits at $827,030, with 9 days left in the campaign. The device was created by Vivien Muller, who is known for other inventions such as the Electree and the WatchMe.
Although an animated owl may not be the scariest thing for a robber to see, it is an adorable home monitor.
The device, which needs to be connected to Wi-Fi, communicates through eye expressions. For example, when Ulo’s battery is around 10 percent or lower, the owl will look sleepy and tired. Other animations include blinking when you take a snapshot, or squinting when someone is watching its live video feed. The owl’s eyes follow all movement in its vicinity, which can be really cute during the day, but kind of horrifying when you’re walking around in the dark at night.
The Ulo’s big, cute eyes use an LCD display, similar to the ones on smartwatches. You can customize the eye color, shape, and size through the Ulo webpage or app.
Certain features, such as the 1080p camera, were added in after the Kickstarter campaign hit certain milestones. As the campaign is nearing the end of the listed features, all that’s left for it to reach is Spanish voice control and facial recognition. The campaign just passed the milestones to unlock voice control in English and French.
Ulo has a capacitive button on top, which turns it on, and double tapping it sets it to Alert Mode — but those are the default options. Muller says users can configure custom and secret sequences to trigger Ulo to turn on or off and to turn on Alert Mode.
What’s pretty neat about Alert Mode is that it also activates when your smartphone leaves your Wi-Fi network. When you reconnect, it disengages. While on, all movement is recorded in an animated GIF and sent via email.
In Alert Mode, eye expressions are not displayed, and the device can last for a week on full charge in this mode. In the normal mode with eye expressions, the Ulo needs to be recharged every two days, or you can leave it plugged in. The device ships with four magnets should you want to place the Ulo on the wall or ceiling.
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If you want to take a peek at what’s going on at home or wherever you left the Ulo, users can watch and listen to the live feed on the Ulo’s secure webpage or Android and iOS app. The device only stores a few minutes of video locally. Taking a snapshot sends the image as a secure webpage directly to your email or your Dropbox account. Although an animated owl may not be the scariest thing for a robber to see, it is an adorable home monitor.
Muller says the device is compatible with IFTTT, the Web-based service that lets users create chains of commands. So for example, if you have other connected devices in your home like a Philips Hue bulb, you could make an IFTTT recipe for Ulo to turn on the lights when it detects movement. Users can also use IFTTT to make Ulo show emotions with the weather, so you can make the owl look grumpy when it’s raining.
The adorable little owl, also the Kickstarter Staff Pick, costs 200 euros and packs the following:
- Round 1.22-inch LCD screen
- 1080p 30fps surveillance camera and motion sensor under the two-way mirror beak
- Mono microphone
- Capacitive button at the top of the owl
- Neodymium magnet under the rotative base
- Four Adhesive neodymium magnets
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac module
- Orientation sensor
- Li-Po rechargeable battery
- Micro USB to USB cable
On the Kickstarter page, Muller said he expects the Ulo to ship late 2016. If you want one, you can get your Ulo on the Kickstarter page here.