Leaked pictures of a sleek black-and-silver, conical Ecobee-branded camera turned up on Zatz Not Funny this week. Okay, it’s not exactly a surprise, but more like an inevitable addition to Ecobee’s lineup that nearly everyone in the smart home technology market has expected for some time.
Why is a new camera from Ecobee not a surprise? For starters, the company’s flagship product has always been its smart thermostat, closely followed by the smart light switch it recently added to its growing lineup, so a smart security camera — which has a lot of competition partially because the base technology really isn’t that hard to stitch together — isn’t a particularly huge stretch.
Secondly, Ecobee doesn’t have the kind of money that Google has sunk into its Google Home or Nest-branded products, but it’s not exactly cash-poor, either. Last year, the Toronto-based startup announced a $36 million windfall from investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec, which brought its total investment total to a not-insignificant $155 million. That kind of cash can fund a lot of design and engineering time, and a new product would be the logical result for investors.
“Now, this round of funding will allow Ecobee to continue transforming the way consumers control their homes as we build the world’s first home operating system that leverages voice, advanced sensor technology, and powerful A.I.,” said Ecobee founder and CEO Stuart Lombard in the press release at the time.
That statement is virtually a preview for some of the bells and whistles you can expect in the new Ecobee security camera. Let’s connect the dots.
First, let’s take advanced sensor technologies. Dave Zatz also made this connection but presence sensors would totally make sense in a security camera that is wired into a smart home operating system. Naturally, release details and features are completely unknown at this point, but a presence sensor on a security camera could theoretically fire up an alert when packages are being delivered, trigger the video camera in the event of an unknown visitor, or even change the temperature on your Ecobee thermostat when you get home.
Secondly, the idea that an Ecobee security camera would leverage voice technology is almost a given when you consider Ecobee’s corporate and product history. First of all, Ecobee has baked Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant into its products — the A.I. is fused into its thermostat and light switch already. Amazon has dumped more than $60 million into Ecobee already, so it’s almost a lock that the security camera will integrate Alexa.
As a couple of other outlets have pointed out, the four LEDs that are visible at the top of the leaked images of Ecobee’s security camera are another clue. While LEDs can be used to indicate almost any function on a smart home device, Ecobee has a history of using them to indicate the status of the camera’s microphone.
As always with leaked technology, take it with a grain of salt, since there’s no word yet on a release date, price, or any technical details. We’ll keep you posted as usual.
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