Will the Butterfleye take flight?

  • AFP
  • Updated: May 26, 2014 10:43 IST

Equal parts guard dog and personal photographer, it's a camera with a quirky name that is focused as much on home security and peace of mind as it is on life logging and its creators are hoping it can crowdfund its way into consumers' homes.

As a proposition, the Butterfleye is quite clever as it manages to tap into a number of emerging consumer tech trends -- the quantified self, smart homes, life logging and the selfie. And of course, there's an app involved.

A small, wireless, battery-powered stills and video camera with some clever algorithms and technologies running in the background, the butterfleye is there to inconspicuously and automatically capture all of those Kodak moments that life throws forth. No need to reach for the DSLR, camcorder or smartphone, the Butterfleye ‘recognizes' when something's happening and starts snapping.

It also eradicates the current photo-based problems of group shots that are always missing one person -- the one holding the camera; and worse still, the posed shots when the camera is on a timer and everyone has 10 seconds to get into position.

The Butterfleye's shots should always be clear and in focus too. It packs a proximity sensor, has facial recognition for pulling focus, and is calibrated to shoot in low light without a flash.

The stills and HD videos it captures are saved to its internal disk and can also be uploaded to the cloud. The device's makers will be offering cloud storage as an optional extra when the camera officially goes on sale in 2015.

But regardless of where the snaps are saved, using the supporting iPhone app makes it easy to view and download them again and of course to share them via any number of social networks.

This is all well and good and only a step or two above what a decent smartphone or camera already offers. However, where the butterfleye could come into its own is as a surveillance and remote communication device. Users can get a live video feed of what's happening at home simply by launching the smartphone app, no matter where in the world they are.

"Butterfleye gives you instant access to what's going on in your home no matter where you are. It will not only send you pictures and videos that you can share via social media, but will allow you to take a live look inside your home whenever you want, giving you peace of mind that your loved ones and valuables are safe," said Ben Nader, founder and CEO, Butterfleye.

The same technology that helps the camera recognize when an exciting social happening is unfolding also helps it understand when to snap into action as a surveillance device. Rather than filming constantly day and night, its learning software enables it to understand when people are at home and when they're out.

Its sensors mean that the camera automatically starts snapping and filming again when a person or a pet enters a room that was empty. The device can also be triggered when it registers certain sounds.

Butterfleye, the smart, social and connected camera. Photo: AFP

And in terms of audio, it can be used for two-way communication. So, like with a long-distance intercom, a user can tune in and talk to and see the rest of the family if stuck in traffic or away on business. And the same goes for uninvited guests. You can ask an intruder what they're doing in your lounge from a safe distance.

This intelligence that allows it to sit dormant or spring into action means that the battery should last a full two weeks between charges and also means that like a smartphone or camera, it could conceivably be used on the go -- say in the garden or at a picnic. Just sit it in a good position and focus on having fun.

The device is already available for pre-order via the company's site for $149, an early adopter special price, $50 less than its planned retail price. As well as snagging preorders that won't be fulfilled for another 12 months, Butterfleye will also be looking to crowdfunding to bring the device to the masses and to increase awareness.

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