Introducing Camera Smart Alerts (Preview): Enable Computer Vision-based Alerts When a Person is Detected on Your Camera Devices

Ben Grossman Dec 03, 2020
Connected Devices Cameras Smart Home News

Customers want their smart home devices to do more for them. Millions of customers already use Alexa camera features like Live View and 2-way communication to give them greater security and peace of mind. We’re building new computer vision (CV)-based experiences to make your camera devices even more proactive, helpful, and better with Alexa. Today, we are excited to announce the developer preview of Camera Smart Alerts in the US, a new CV-based feature to provide your customers actionable notifications via Alexa and your native app when a person is detected on their smart home cameras. Existing camera motion alerts can be too frequent, without context, and prone to false alerts. Camera Smart Alerts cuts down unhelpful notification noise by only alerting your customers when someone enters the camera view, without individually identifying any specific person.

For developers, we make it easy to integrate Camera Smart Alerts, whether or not you already have a CV solution. We’re excited to announce you can leverage Alexa’s new cloud-based CV service to quickly broaden your feature offering to all your customers, without needing to invest in and build your own CV solution or machine learning models. You can also choose to use your existing CV solution if you have one. Sign up today to learn more and get started with Camera Smart Alerts.

Better with Alexa: Enable Camera Smart Alerts via Alexa and Your App 

With Camera Smart Alerts, your camera experience gets better with Alexa, opening more opportunities to sell your cameras to the millions of existing customers with Alexa devices. When a person is detected on your cameras, your customers can enable Alexa to make voice announcements on their Echo devices such as “Person detected at the front door”, display live video on their Echo devices with screens, and send smart alerts via the Alexa app. Once enabled, you decide how to offer Camera Smart Alerts capabilities to your customers, such as including them within your existing or new subscription plans, or at no cost. You can further promote person detection capabilities on your Amazon product pages, packaging, and other marketing materials to differentiate your camera devices.

Easy to Integrate: Use Alexa’s New CV Service or Your Existing Solution For Computer Vision Processing

There are two ways to integrate Camera Smart Alerts for all your customers: You can use Alexa’s CV service or choose to use your existing CV solution if you have one.

Leverage Alexa’s Cloud-Based Service For Your Computer Vision Processing
If you don’t have an existing CV processing solution, there is no need to invest the time and money in building a team of data scientists and machine learning models. You can use Alexa’s new cloud-based CV service to handle CV processing on your smart home cameras, enabling Camera Smart Alerts experiences for all your customers in your app and via Alexa. We've designed this service to perform best with smart home use cases. CV processing is done in real-time on your cameras’ streams, honoring any zones or pre-filtering done by the camera, without any humans in the loop or storing any videos or audio. As a cloud-based solution, the Alexa CV service will continue to improve over time without requiring your intervention or on-device changes, making it easier for you to offer new delightful customer experiences for your customers. Camera Smart Alerts also supports CV verdict data sharing, enabling you to build complementary experiences in your apps and on your camera devices to further improve your customer experience. You receive metadata back after computer vision processing, such as the detection status (for example, a person is detected), image uri, and timestamp of the event in order to enable Camera Smart Alerts.

Brands like Abode are among the first to use Alexa’s CV service to offer Camera Smart Alerts for their customers. “By leveraging Alexa’s computer vision service, we were able to quickly enable our customers to get even more proactive and contextual experiences out of their Abode cameras without needing to reinvent the wheel and develop our own computer vision models,” says Scott Beck, Abode CTO.

For camera manufacturers, choosing to leverage Alexa’s in-house service for your computer vision processing requires a licensing fee billed per camera per month. To onboard, you need to have a smart home skill that supports the existing Smart Home Camera APIs and your cameras must use WebRTC streaming, enabled through integration with Alexa.RTCSessionController Interface. Camera streams must support video codecs of H264 (up to profile high, level 4.1) and a minimum resolution of 720p. To ensure the high privacy bar for our customers, you are are also required to support end-to-end encryption and two-step verification for customer onboarding.

Use Your Existing CV Solution
Beginning early next year, you can also enable Camera Smart Alerts using your own CV processing if you have an existing solution, making your cameras more useful and attractive to the millions of Alexa customers. You simply integrate with the Camera Smart Alerts API, available soon to preview participants, to pass metadata to Amazon to enable Camera Smart Alerts experiences in the Alexa app and on Echo devices. No licensing fee is required, you just cover your ongoing CV processing costs. Once you integrate, your customers can opt into Camera Smart Alerts for your smart home cameras in the Alexa app.

Protecting Customer Privacy and Security

Camera Smart Alerts are designed to protect customer privacy, and we want customers and device manufactures to have the assurance that their data is secure. Camera Smart Alert protections include:

  • CV processing is done without any humans in the loop or storing any videos or audio, keeping your customers’ data and privacy safe and secure.
  • Whether customers use your native app or connect their cameras to Alexa, the Camera Smart Alerts feature is disabled by default and customers will need to set up the experience for each camera in your native app and the Alexa app.
  • Customers can easily adjust their settings at any time and can choose to turn off Camera Smart Alerts for each of their compatible cameras, such as turning person detection on or off for specific cameras, turning Alexa app notifications off if they only wish to receive mobile notifications only from your native app, or selecting specific Echo devices for camera announcements.
  • Customers can review or clear their Smart Alerts history anytime in the Alexa App, or use a single click un-enroll option in the Alexa app to turn off Camera Smart Alerts for all their cameras, which deletes all images from their Smart Alert history.

You can read more FAQs here to learn about the many privacy and security protections built into Camera Smart Alerts.

Sign Up Today to Get Started

You can get started by signing up for the Camera Smart Alerts preview below.