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10 Apr '15

Behold - The LED Alarm Clock to Hide Your Dropcam is out

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

You gave us feedback and we listened. Our customers have been loving the mirrored tissue box but had one major criticism: '...but what about the cable?' They are worried that the Dropcam cable coming out of the tissue box would arouse suspicion.

Good point, well made. So we went back to the drawing board to develop a hidden Dropcam enclosure where the existence of the Dropcam cable would not make people suspicious. Our customers suggested dozens of great ideas but the most frequent suggestion was to make a practical and functional LED Alarm Clock - and here it is:

LED alarm clock to Dropcam mood 1

This low key design of the LED Alarm Clock helps it blend in seamlessly into any room. The display shows the time, date, weekday and temperature and, of course, an alarm function (Duh!).

The Dropcam is well hidden behind the speaker. Upon very close inspection one can vaguely recognize the round shape of the Dropcam lens, but it is practically indistinguishable from the round shape of a normal speaker.

LED alarm clock to hide a Dropcam back 1LED alarm clock to hide a Dropcam back 2

The Dropcam and its cable are inserted from the back and concealed by the back lid of the enclosure. The back lid stabilizes and conceals the camera from the back while keeping it well ventilated. The cable coming out of the Dropcam does not arouse suspicion. 

LED alarm clock to hide Dropcam white background front

The front of the speaker is made of special material that allows 100% of infrared light to pass through! That means 0% IR light reflection and 100% night vision capability!

We think the product turned out pretty well and we hope that you guys have as much fun with the product as we had designing and making it!

Love!

Your Dropcessories Team

 

29 Mar '15

Dropcam footage helps to disprove dishonest Yelp review

Posted by Ben Cook

Most interesting man in world on yelp and Dropcam 

Yelp is great...most of the time at least. However, among the helpful and genuine reviews there are a great many of overly enthusiastic fake reviews and needlessly negative revenge reviews. The latter are every restaurant owner's  worst nightmare because they can have a devastating effect on the business and the owner has little or no recourse against anonymous, vengeful Yelpers.

 In one of our previous blog posts (Big Brother’s Little Brother – how Dropcam  revolutionizes old notions of security & surveillance) we talked about how  Dropcam gives surveillance control back to the people, decentralizes  surveillance power and democratizes security. The rectification of a dishonest Yelp review is a great example of that.

Casual restaurant reviewer Dan W. posted the flowing review on the Yelp page of a Bay-Area restaurant which generally receives favorable reviews. 

---"My experience was at around 730pm on a Wednesday. I was flying solo that night, after a particularly challenging day. The waiter came up and asked how many. I said one, I had planned to sit at the bar or get the food to go. She said "one? no, one?" and then ran off. I waited a minute at the door, and then left. They were busy and potentially understaffed. It's not that classy of a place, but they refused to seat me. Sure, I was wearing jeans and a baseball cap with my flannel shift not tucked in. I had no intentions of taking a full table, just any corner I could fit in, or order off the menu to go once the guy next to me was done with it. Oh well, next time I go out in a group of three to six we'll take our business elsewhere. The key to a good business is to be consistent in the small things. That sucks, I just wanted food and I had cash..."---

This review could have become one of thousands of negative reviews on Yelp and it may, or may not have damaged the business of the family run restaurant.

However, thanks to the detail provided by Dan (time of arrival and a detailed description of what he was wearing) the restaurant owner was able to identify him on the restaurant's Dropcam footage and posted the below video as response to the false claims made on Yelp.

 

---"In this first video, you can see that you entered at 19:07, which is earlier than you quoted. You can also see that you did not wait a minute at the door. You spent a total of 22 seconds in the establishment. This video also clearly shows that there were other patrons waiting. We are sincerely sorry that we forgot to recognise your very, very "VIP" status at wonderful, a status so special that you don't have to sign the waiting list like everyone else... I've never been to a restaurant where to refuse to seat people because they're wearing what you were wearing... You're dreaming if you think that's why you didn't get service. [...] Dan, we didn't refuse to seat you. You refused to wait in line like everyone else. You thought you were special, so special that you don't have to follow the rules. That's not true, we caught you."---

After this incident people flocked to the restaurant's website to state their support for the family owned business and overall the incident generated a lot of positive publicity - and all that thanks to the Dropcam footage. 

This is yet another incident of how Dropcam has given surveillance power and a feeling of security back to individuals and small business owners.  

16 Mar '15

Google's vision of a smart home, home security and what role Dropcam will play

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

Warning: The below article contains excessive use of the word 'smart'

Now that Dropcam is 'part of the nest family' and therefore ultimately a mosaic piece in the Google empire, we at Dropcessories are just as curious as anyone else to find out what's next for Dropcam.

Dropcam was bought for US$555m - a hefty sum in nominal term. However, the relative valuation is even more astonishing: Dropcam sold for 10x its annual revenue. This indicates that Google attached enormous value to Dropcam - beyond the cash flow the young company was generating at the time. 

But what role does Dropcam play in Google's long term strategic considerations to create a 'smart' (and hopefully secure) home?

A recent patent application by Google may shed some light on the question.

The patent outlines how the nest thermostat, Dropcam and other smart devices will turn your house into a smart and hopefully secure home. 

The patent tries to cover all the bases and vaguely outlines all the things in a house that can be made smarter: electric sockets, light switches, doorknobs, doorbells and many more. 

Smart switches and wall plugs

Smart wall switches and smart wall plug Google Nest Dropcam patent

Smart wall switches and wall plug may detect 'ambient lighting conditions and control a power and/or dim state of one or more lights. In some instances, smart wall switches 108 may also control a power state or speed of a fan, such as a ceiling fan. The smart wall plugs control supply of power to one or more wall plugs (e.g., such that power is not supplied to the plug if nobody is at home)'. 

 This could dramatically reduce a home's energy consumption without impacting the residents' habits. 

Smart doorbells

Smart door bell Google Nest Dropcam patent

'The smart doorbell 106 can recognize a registered occupant approaching the door and instruct the smart doorknob to automatically unlock. ...Occupants can use a registered mobile device to remotely unlock the door. For example, if when inside the home, the occupant receives notice from the smart doorbell 106 that a trusted neighbor is approaching the door, the occupant can use a mobile device to unlock the door so the neighbor can let himself or herself in. Alternatively, the occupant can speak an audible command instructing the smart doorknob to unlock. According to some embodiments, the smart doorknob includes a remote controlled electronic motor that turns the spindle 1404 to disengage the latch 1406 of the doorknob from the strike plate 1410 of the door stop 1414. Accordingly, the smart doorknob is able to automatically open the door, without the user having to touch the doorknob.'

Smart doorknobs

Smart doorknob Google Nest Dropcam patent

 

The smart doorbell and the smart doorknob will finally enable mankind to see who is at the door and open it without having to move away from the TV. An outdoor Dropcam with face recognition software may very play a vital role in notifying owners about who is at the door.

Google's vision extends beyond individual homes. Ultimately, whole neighborhoods of 'smart homes' should be interconnected.  

Smart neighborhood 

Smart neighborhood Google Nest Dropcam patent

This would be particularly helpful for security reasons by linking all smart homes collectively to police stations, fire departments and other emergency services.

 

13 Mar '15

Videos like these do not need further explanation

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

With rising popularity of IP cameras such as Dropcam, burglars are increasingly on the lookout for them. 

The below videos show only some instances of shameless intruders seeing and disabling Dropcams right after they have broken into a property: 

 

Even when the Dropcam gets stolen and disabled the footage remains stored in the cloud. This allows the victims to at least establish a timeline.

However, by hiding your Dropcam you can ensure that intruders don't disable the camera when they break into your house AND you get to keep your Dropcam!

07 Mar '15

You now require a nest account to access your Dropcam footage

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

We at Dropcessories recently received the following email in our inbox:

Dropcam email nest account

Now you need to open a nest account in order to access our Dropcam footage. Not the end of the world, but a minor inconvenience. However, a lot of users reported bugs with the account integration and aired their frustration on twitter

One point that went largely unnoticed in the debate about the new account is the fact that users now agree with nest's privacy policy which allows nest to share infromation about your home with Google Now.

 

01 Mar '15

5 Reasons Why You Should Hide Your Dropcam

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

5. Babysitters

When you let a stranger in your house and allow them to be so close to the people you love most, you cannot afford to take any chances. You have to be 100% certain that the person is morally upright, treats your children well and respects your property. Of course you could record her with a non-hidden Dropcam, but this would not tell what she does in corners of the house that are not under surveillance nor would it tell you how she acts if she were not monitored. You need to test her character and see how she behaves in your house when she thinks that she is not being recorded.

 

4. Caregivers

Your elderly relatives raised you and cared for you with all their devotion, you owe it to them that when they come of age they are being looked after by caretakers who treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve.

 

3. Maids

The concern that cleaning personnel might damage or even steal you property is as old as the cleaning industry itself. Hiding your Dropcam can help you uncover their misconduct. 

 

2. Intruders

The burglars in the below video spot the Dropcam, cover their faces and unplug the camera - thus rendering it useless.

 

1. Cheating Spouse

Admittedly: the cheating spouse video had a rather surprising ending! But I guess it was cheating nonetheless. 

We don't know if the husband was mad? We also don't know if the husband should have been mad - that's for the philosophers and scholars to decide.  

However, there is one thing we are 100% certain of: You should hide your Dropcam!

In the words of the 'the Gipper':

 Ronald Reagan Trust but Verify

You are trusting people enough to let them into your life - verify that they deserve your trust.

 

Our products help you turn your Drocpam into a hidden camera: http://dropcessories.com/

Our current favorite: The Mirrored Tissue Box

Mirrored Tissue box to hide DropcamMirrored tissue box 2Mirrored tissue box to hide Dropcam

24 Feb '15

Police have asked Nest for Dropcam footage - Should we be worried?

Posted by Ben Cook

We at Dropcessories follow all Dropcam related news and updates very closely. This week Fusion broke the story that police have asked Nest to share recorded Dropcam footage in order to aid criminal investigations. Is this a case of law enforcement overreach into our homes? Should we be worried? How long until police can casually change from one live feed to the next and watch our every move? 

Picture Dropcam Pro

While the announcement offers a welcome opportunity for Dropcam-critics to point out the Orwellian risks of security cameras, the news is really a none-issue...here is why:

1. The police merely asked for recorded footage: Since the dawn of video recording law enforcement agents have asked for video footage when it helped to solve a crime. This is true for public CCTV recordings, more conventional IP cameras like Foscam and now Dropcam - no news here! Nobody asked for / or was given access to the Dropcam live stream.

 

 

 

2. Search warrant or even subpoena are required: Nest has been compelled to hand over the footage after being presented with a warrant or subpoena. That means that a judge has reviewed the case extensively and it has been proven that probable cause for a search exists.

3. Account holders have been informed: Nest informed all affected account holders about the police action - so no information has been shared with authorities without the knowledge of camera owners.

All things considered we can still sleep tight knowing that we (and not Big Brother) are watching over ourselves via Dropcam. 

15 Feb '15

What if I want more than a hidden Dropcam - a shout-out to our friends in the security industry

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

We at Dropcessories have taken the first step to turn Dropcam into a covert cam...and we're a little proud of that!

However, there are instances when you may want to become a little more secret-agent like, or when you may need a comprehensive home security system. That's why we would like to point you to some of the experts we know and trust: 

Our friends over at SpyVille offer a wide selection of DVR camera systems, complete outdoor long range cameras, and secret-agent-like spyware such as awesome eye glasses with an integrated camera:

 

Spyville logo

12 Feb '15

Behold! Our First 100% Hidden Dropcam case: Mirrored Tissue Box

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

Our customers have asked for it for some time and after many months of hard work we have finally done it - the first enclosure to completely hide your Dropcam is here.

Check out this beauty:

We developed the 'Mirrored Tissue Box to Hide your Drocpam' with two goals in mind:

1) To create a beautiful and practical piece of furniture

2) To create an enclosure that will completely hide your Drocpam (Duh!) 

The tissue box is inspired by Venetian glass work. Due to its timeless design it blends in well with any interior design. Its massive wooden base and the bevelled  edges make it a beautiful piece of furniture in its own right. Throughout the process we worked closely with experienced furniture designers who helped us create a product with a distinct personality while remaining agnostic to the interior of the room it is placed in.

Concealing the camera was a tricky exercise. When designing the tissue box we made sure that the Dropcam cable could be hidden effectively. The cable is connected inside the tissue box. By placing the tissue box close to a wall you can effectively hide the cable and no one will suspect that this tasteful piece of furniture secretly houses a Dropcam PRO that records everything in its sight.

 

So...we had a great looking piece of furniture and we had figured out how to hide the cable effectively- the last problem we had to overcome was to make sure that the cameras day and night vision would not be impaired. After a LOT of research and many consultations with optical engineers we found a special one way mirrored material with a very low attenuation coefficient. When placed in our hidden Dropcam enclosure, the camera's day vision is not impaired at all and the night vision works up to 20ft.



If you guys have any questions or comments regarding the tissue box, new product ideas or if you just wanna chat about your Dropcam, just get in touch with us - we love to hear from you.

 

 

  

A big thank you goes out to Sean and Danny from HK Photography Studio, who have taken amazing product pictures...again. Every product is only as good as its pictures and you guys did a great job conveying what's great about our mirrored tissue box.

10 Feb '15

Nanny Cam Comparison – Why a Hidden Dropcam is the Best Choice

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

A nanny cam (năn’ē kæm), or nanny camera, sensationalized to the phrase "spy camera", is a hidden video camera that has been installed within a household object and is usually used to secretly monitor and record the activities of home caregivers, such as nannies, hence the name.
There is a wide selection of nanny cams available online and we want to give you an overview of what is out there ('top selling' hidden cameras on Amazon) and how the different hidden cameras compare. 

We will use the following criteria and rank them between ★☆☆☆☆  and ★★★★★:

a) Ease of Set up & Use
b) Video Quality (day and night vision)
c) Covertness & Conclusion

Our contestants are: 

1. Hidden Camera Clock Radio

Radio clock hidden cameraThe hidden camera radio clock leads the pack of the no-name hidden cameras.Video footage is recorded and saved on a micro memory card. It claims to have night vision of up to 9ft (a little shortsighted). The camera has to be charged and, according to the product description then runs for 16 days when it is set to only record when it detects motion. However, a fair amount of reviewers have pointed out that running time is a LOT shorter and that the product simply does not work as advertised. The most negative reviews were posted very recently, but more to that later. 

 

2. Mini AC Power Adapter Hidden Spy Nanny Camera

 

 

This camera is hidden in a power adapter and can be plugged into any socket of you home directly - a clever idea to solve the charging/electricity problem.The footage is saved onto an internal memory card. Unfortunately, the product description does not offer more detail. The review section is split between 5 star one line reviews and a fair amount of 1 star reviews - never a good sign. 

 

 

 

3. Dropcam PRO

Dropcam PRO

Dropcam has revolutionized home security. Great video and sound quality as well as fantastic mobile integration and many more features have made Dropcam a trailblazer of the new era of affordable home security. The Drocpam has powerful night vision, a microphone and speaker. However, the item is fairly pricey (not everybody can afford it) and hiding the camera effectively is a major problem. 

 

 

 

 

Now on to our first category:

a) Ease of Set up & Use

1. Hidden Camera Clock Radio: The product does not come with instructions. and the online instructions were probably written by someone whose first language is not English. Fun fact: While the packaging was missing proper instructions -  it contained a CD-ROM - now, I can't tell you what was on that CD, because in order to find out, I would have had to go to the basement to find a computer with a CD Drive- I am sure it's next to the VCR on top of my stack of vintage floppy disks. After a bit of trial and error I kind of got it to work...but not for very long. The device only records footage intermittently. The motion sensor is completely off and at times it does not work at all. Normally, 1 out of 5 stars, but the fact that they added a mysterious CD- made me nostalgic about the good old days of computing - this (possibly unintended) vintage touch turns it into 1.5 out of 5 ★☆☆☆☆ 

2. Mini AC Power Adapter Hidden Spy Nanny Camera: One shortcoming of the product idea is that you have to insert it directly into a socket. Which means that you need to be in the lucky position where one of your electric sockets is facing directly into the part of the room that you wish to monitor. However, the theoretical set up is really easy. Just plug it and the camera starts recording once it detects motion. And it did do the job - for around half a day until it started working very unreliably - 2 out of 5 ★★☆☆☆ 

3. Dropcam: Everybody who has a Dropcam can confirm that it is incredibly easy to set it up: Just plug it into your computer and, connect it to your wifi, then plug the Dropcam into your socket and it works. Computer and mobile app are super intuitive and easy to use. Depending on the security settings of your wifi or if your router is not broadcasting at 2.4GHz, set up can get a little fiddly - and that's why only 4 out of 5 ★★★★☆ 

 

b) Video Quality (day and night vision)

1. Hidden Camera Clock Radio: The technical data regarding video quality are actually not stated anywhere. Suffice to say that the picture is relative low res and. The night vision does work but the IR light is very weak. Night vision does not go beyond 3 ft - overall for video quality: 2 out of 5 ★★☆☆☆

2. Mini AC Power Adapter Hidden Spy Nanny Camera: According to the manufacturer, the hidden adapter camera also records a 720p HD video footage. While I think that the footage appears to be of lower quality than that of the Dropcam (i.e. less than 720p), the video quality was not bad. However, the product does not have night vision capability and after the first two days it only recorded footage in a unpredictable manner - 2 out of 5 stars ★★☆☆☆

3. Dropcam: Records 720p HD quality footage, with a 130 degree wide angle and the option to zoom into the picture by a factor of 8x. The camera's night vision works well up until 20ft. In terms of image quality Dropcam leads the pack of IP cameras. - 5 out of 5 ★★★★★

 

c) Covertness & Conclusion

1. Hidden Camera Clock Radio: At the time of writing, this item sells for US$149.99 - which may not appear like a huge price tag but it is way too much given the fact that the camera is of low quality and rather temperamental. On the plus side: The camera is very well hidden in the item. But the poor qulaity of the camera itself make it almost useless as a security device. This conclusion is corroborated by the Amazon reviews- many reviews point out that many of the positive reviews are fake and were made by one-review accounts.  ★☆☆☆☆

2. Mini AC Power Adapter Hidden Spy Nanny Camera: At the time of writing, the adapter sells for US$169.00 - bad value considering that the camera delivers low resolution footage, is unreliable at times and has to be unplugged to view the footage. A view at Amazon reviews for the products paints a similar picture  ★★☆☆☆

3. Dropcam: At the time of writing, Dropcam sells for US$199 - a slightly higher price tag than the other two options, but you get what you pay ... and you get the most technologically advanced IP camera out there. One major problem though - the Dropcam is not a hidden camera by nature - in fact it's rather visible - that's why ★☆☆☆☆  in this category. However when using the Dropcam with one of our hidden Dropcam enclosures you can transform your camera into the world's most technologically advanced nanny cams.

Scientist have boiled it down to this simple formula

Dropcam + Dropcessories' Hidden Dropcam enclosures = ★★★★★ hidden nanny cam

Our personal favorite is to hide your Drocpam in our mirrored tissue box

Mirrored Tissue Box to hide Dropcam 1Mirrored Tissue Box to hide a Dropcam 2Tissue box to hide Dropcam 3

04 Feb '15

What’s going on at Dropcam/Nest?

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

Since Nest bought Dropcam for US$555m in June 2014 – a lot of things have changed. Pre-orders for Dropcam Tabs (the motion sensors) were cancelled, then the company stopped selling HD cameras, the Drocpam support forum, twitter, facebook and youtube channel have been idle since November 2014…and now one of the Dropcam founders who joined nest after the acquisition - Greg Duffy – is leaving Nest after only being with the company for around half a year.

In November 2014, Business insider reported of a culture clash between Dropcam and Nest. Dropcam employees were supposedly unhappy about the hierarchical structure of Nest, the ‘endless meeting culture’ and the glorification of Nest CEO Tony Fadell.

Dropcam employees are required to work on Saturdays in order to prepare for a product launch called ‘the Quartz’ – and while we at Dropcessories are very excited about the new product – we can understand the frustration about having to work on the weekend all too well.

All of the above factors and probably a LOT more behind the scenes intrigue must have led to Duffy’s decision to leave the company.

He tweeted:

He has not specified what he will be doing after Nest. We are very excited to see what’s next for Dropcam? Maybe they will finally make an outdoor camera or integrate it further with Nest’s thermostat, or maybe even make a hidden Dropcam? Only time will tell.

02 Feb '15

To hide, or not to hide...your Dropcam – that is the question

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

In this blog post I would like to settle an argument as old as home security itself – should you use hidden cameras (or in our case: hidden Dropcams) or are cameras more effective when they are placed in plain sight.

In this article I will mainly focus on whether or not hiding a Drocpam increases the camera's usefulness to the owner – and ignore other aspects. In a previous blog post, we talked about the legal aspects of a hidden Dropcam (spoiler alert if you haven’t read the post: in your house you can record whatever you wish – whether a camera is hidden or not makes no difference in the eyes of the law). And that means if there is no legal distinction between a hidden and a non-hidden camera it comes down to one point and one point only – which one is more useful to you –  a covert or an overt Dropcam?

One of the most persuasive arguments against a concealed cameras is:
'The presence of a camera alone can regulate people’s behaviour and discourage them from engaging in illegal activity. A hidden camera only records people as they break the law. The ‘after-the-fact nature’ makes hidden cameras less useful than overt ones.'

My answer: Good point well made! – But the argument fails to make one very important distinction. Because not all cameras are created equal. There are two types of cameras: one kind which may have a preventative function – a CCTV system in a bank or a supermarket for example. The mere presence of cameras in those places might already be enough to deter a thief. The Dropcam, however, is an entirely different beast, since it is only recording on your premises (your home, holiday home etc.) and other people have no right to enter it the first place. Therefore the Dropcam does not have preventative function.

Imagine the following scenario: a group of burglars have been observing your house for weeks, they have noticed that you and your family have left for a long weekend and they decided that this weekend, will be the weekend they strike. They get into your house through a window on the ground floor and slowly make their way into the living room – upon seeing the Dropcam on your cupboard they decide to … quickly get heck out of there and abandon all attempts at stealing your belongings. Not a very likely scenario, is it? Upon discovering the Dropcam they rather do the same thing the fellows in the below video are doing i.e. hide their faces and disable the camera.

 

 

Home security systems become more powerful, the more covert they are. Any home security camera should be completely concealed in order to make it as hard as possible for intruders to spot and disable it! When installing your Drocpam you shouldn’t ask yourself whether to hide or not to hide it, but rather how well to hide your Dropcam. The better you hide your Dropcam, the higher its effectiveness at catching people who should not have been in your house in the first place. 

30 Jan '15

New York Times Reporter: The Power of Dropcam

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

Recently New York Times reporter Brian Chen posted a short piece about how his Dropcam made a number of interesting recordings when looking at the road in front of his house.

Some of the incidence are fairly amusing for example after discovering an unusual large piece of fecal matter, hes assumed it was his dog only to find footage on the Dropcam proving that the pile of waste was made by a human. Funny...and a bit disturbing. Other instances that were caught by the Dropcam are a collision between a biker and motorist and a 'random act of fireworks'.

Brian Chen also briefly reflects on the implication of giving a large number of people access to IP cameras, and comes to a similar conclusion we arrived at in one of our previous blog posts (Big Brother’s Little Brother) i.e. that the increasing penetration of Dropcam will lead to to surveillance power being put in the hands of ordinary people who can watch out for each other - a democratization and decentralization of big brother. We at Dropcessories are glad that the NYT agrees with us.

28 Jan '15

Panda Bear for Dropcam - Baby monitor and Hidden Dropcam

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

You already use Dropcam to keep an eye on your house, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to set it up that’s more attractive than simply having a plain camera sitting in the room? Meet our Panda, Li Li, a fully functional plush toy enclosure for Dropcam.

Panda bear hidden Dropcam

Handmade of quality materials, Li Li is prepared to watch over your home day and night. The Ever-Watchful Furry Friend The panda bear plush toy enclosure lets you hide your Dropcam yet allows all of the features of the camera to work. You’ll still enjoy full security with an unobstructed view thanks to Li Li's innovative construction. Tested and approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials, our Dropcam enclosure is built to last.

Your Dropcam fits snugly inside Li Li's nose while the cord of the camera comes out his back. This secure setup keeps the camera fixed exactly where you want it, and you retain the ability to control the camera's functions including the all-important night vision that allows you to monitor your home around the clock.

And at a compact 7.8 by 11.8 inches, Li Li fits anywhere you want to place your Dropcam. More Than Just a Baby Camera Kids feel more secure when Mom and Dad are watching over them, and what better helper for that job than an adorable panda? Whether you’re using your Dropcam as a baby monitor or are keeping an eye on your toddler, this Dropcam enclosure helps your little ones feel safe. They’ll love interacting with Li Hidden Dropcam Panda bear Dropcam baby monitorLi, knowing that you can see and hear them. With Dropcam’s microphone feature, you can even talk back. That means you can always be there with your kids to say goodnight or soothe your baby to sleep should he or she get fussy.

Make this plush toy even more fun by inventing stories about how Mr. Panda helps you keep your kids safe with his magical night vision even when you can’t be home. Your kids will be much calmer having a plush friend rather than trying to sleep in a room with a camera staring at them all the time. Plus you get peace of mind knowing that the panda enclosure is non-flammable and fully ventilates the camera so it’s safe for use anywhere in the house.

Stay Alert You can travel with confidence when you have a hidden Dropcam watching over your house. Peering out of the nose of the panda, your electronic monitoring system keeps an eagle eye on all activities. When something’s not right, panda will alert you via the Dropcam Smartphone app so you can check up on your home right away. It’s total security—wrapped up in a cuddly panda plush that makes your Dropcam a part of any room’s decor.

24 Jan '15

Big Brother’s Little Brother – how Dropcam revolutionizes old notions of security & surveillance

Posted by Ben Cook

Do you remember when you were forced to read George Orwell’s 1984 at school? No? Then you must have read Animal Farm instead.

If you missed his dystopian vision of the future you won’t have missed all the pop culture references that it inspired. Starting with the TV show Big Brother, where a collection of socially mal-adjusted individuals must co-exist in what must be an evolution of a frat-house for adults (evolution in that unlike a frat-house the participants can’t leave whenever they want). To neologisms such as “Doublespeak”, “Thought Police”, and yes “Big Brother” that have now entered common usage.

Surveillance by cameras in 1984, a practically sci-fi concept when the book was written in 1948, were one of the primary ways of keeping the populace in line. Nowadays such a reality is not so farfetched. It is hard to avoid some TV pundit yelling “surveillance state” every time someone’s privacy is infringed in the news. Moreover, the NSA scandal has taught us that those conspiracy-laden theories of the government, WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE, aren’t as crazy as they must have sounded ten, twenty years ago!

 'George Orwell 1984 Cover1949 British first edition cover of '1984

Technology has evolved at such a pace that we are now facing something of a revolution: a revolution that puts power back in the hands of the individual. I’m talking, of course, about IP cameras. Previously if you installed a dozen or so CCTV cameras around your house your neighbours would assume you were living out a Scarface fantasy, holed up with a mountain of cocaine and an M-16A1 waiting for the neighbour’s kid to jump the fence in search of that lost football. The reality has become far more prosaic.
With the plummeting costs of cameras, camera phones, webcams, etc. it was only a matter of time until the surveillance industry jumped on the band wagon. Everybody wants to feel secure and protect what’s most important to them. To do so with unobtrusive cameras is simply taking advantage of the technology that is now more affordable than ever. One company that is leading the pack, Dropcam, are flooding the market with their effective, simple to use cameras that can live-stream footage to your laptop or phone at any time.

So what would Orwell think of this surveillance? On the surface you would think he’d be vehemently opposed. The Telescreens, monitoring devices used by the Thought Police, are a source of oppression in 1984. My question to you: is it cameras themselves that Orwell opposes or the corrupt governments that wield them?

If I decide to monitor a nanny in the sanctity of my own home to ensure the safety of my children is that any different from a bank installing cameras to ensure that no one tries to rob them? No one would think to call the bank oppressive… not when there are so many other, better reasons to hate banks. In a perfect world security cameras would not be necessary. In this perfect world, one assumes, banks would trust you to only take out as much money as you put in.

If Orwell has taught us anything it is not to trust in this perfect world, nor to follow blindly those institutions which promise you it at the cost of your own civil liberties. When you install your Dropcams, hide your Dropcam and hook them up to your phone, you are decentralizing surveillance power – away from the government to the individual. Something that Orwell may have been excited about.

It might seem like a small gesture, but the world is made up of lots of small gestures that only together make a big one. Let’s try to bring back the days when if you said “Big Brother” people took it as an affectionate name for, you know, your older brother. Not a paranoid vision of the future…

09 Jan '15

Host uses hidden Dropcam to record Airbnb guests - a dicey issue for hosts, guest privacy and Airbnb

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

Recently a story broke that Airbnb was investigating a host for recording his guests while they were staying at his place.

I think the story is worth discussing because it touches on a few interesting legal issues regarding hidden Dropcams.

An Airbnb host allegedly recorded guests using the below contraption: 

Hidden Dropcam in Airbnb

The Dropcam is loosely attached on the right hand side of the basket and can look through one of the little gaps in the basket's fabric. A bit of waste of the 135 degree wide angle camera lens, if you ask us ;) (our hidden Dropcam enclosures allow for full use of the camera's wide angle and night vision)  

Afterwards, the guests searched the flat and found two more cameras. 

A few key questions that arise from this incident are:

Can you record people in your own home by concealing a Dropcam?

The short answer is: of course you can, it's your own home! The questions whether or not the camera is hidden has NO LEGAL EFFECT whatsoever. So that's good news for every homeowner.

Hotel or private residence - what exactly is Airbnb?

While it is your right to record whatever you want in your home, guests in a hotel room are 'afforded a legally protected expectation of privacy'. Does the fact that Airbnb guests 'pay' their host, afford them the same rights as hotel guests? Does receiving money from a guest mean that a private residence becomes a 'commercial enterprise' or at the very least a 'short term lease'? If that was the case, this may have a huge impact on Airbnb's business model. 

But let's not get carried away by the potentially massive impact on Airbnb's business! The important thing is that in the US and Canada you can freely place Dropcam's in your house and it is legally irrelevant if the camera is hidden or not.

18 Jul '14

Best Ways to Hide a Dropcam

Posted by Ben Cook

7. Any busy place filled with lots of stuff

Dropcam hidden in messSometimes it's already enough to place your Dropcam somewhere where it doesn't stand out. If you can't hide it, distract from it as much as possible - place it somewhere where there are lots of other items that take focus away from the camera.  

Maybe a place where you already have lots of electronics like close to your TV - there are already lots of other devices one more or less is not going to stand out too much. Just don't place it in a spot that is bare.

 

 

 

 

6. Build your own Birdhouse

If you are very DIY inclined, you can build your own Dropcam birdhouse enclosure like DIY Queen Mimi . But the birdhouse is best suited for the outdoors...unless you have a very quirky interior designer!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. In a Dropcam Box

 

By simply cutting a hole into the Dropcam

 

box!!  

However,the night vision is heavily impaired

Also, it's not really a 'hidden Dropcam' per se - since there is a huge picture of a massive Dropcam right on it.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. In artificial plants/flowers

One of our first products allows you to hide a Dropcam in a tasteful bouquet of artificial plants and flowers.  

Hide Dropcam in fernHide Dropcam in Hydrangea

3. In a plush Panda

Hide Dropcam in Panda 1Hide Dropcam in Panda 2

2. Hide you Dropcam in a mirrored tissue box

 

1. Hide you Dropcam in an LED Alarm Clock

 LED Alarm clock to hide a DropcamLED Alarm clock to hide a DropcamLED Alarm clock to hide a Dropcam

16 Jul '14

Why we started Dropcessories...

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

I have been using Dropcam for a bit more than a year now. Most of the time it was standing on a window sill in my living room and whenever I have guests over, they feel somewhat uncomfortable with being watched by the camera. Weirdly enough that feeling only gets stronger when I explain that the camera is recording and saving all the footage using cloud storage.

Reason No 1: Friends and guests find it weird to be watched by a camera in plain sight! While they appreciate that I want a camera in my home to feel more secure, many take issue with how much 'in your face' the camera is. Good point, well made!

Six months ago I quit my job, which was probably one of the most liberating things I have ever done. 

After quitting, I went on a much anticipated, long holiday and left my flat unattended. I did not worry about being burglarized too much mainly because it had never happened to me before and I thought that somebody who spends a lot of time conceiving and executing a burglary will very quickly come to the conclusion that there are lower hanging and juicier fruits to pick than my frugal one bed room apartment. You can probably guess what happened... exactly. One night two guys marched into my flat. Upon seeing the camera, they covered their faces  and unplugged the camera. Aforementioned gentlemen were never caught by the police...which is gutting because they took my Xbox! This leads to me to the second reason...

Reason No 2: Some people are not supposed to know that there is a camera! If I had had an accessory to hide my Dropcam in, the burglars would not have discovered the camera,  would not have covered their faces and maybe the police could have found those guys- classic case of shoulda coulda woulda!!

One would think that the above examples are the misfortunes of one single person, but I figured that I could not possibly be the only person who has had these problems...

Weirdly enough it was relatively hard to come across video footage where robbers saw a Dropcam and went on to disable it...but there are a few examples. My favorite is the below footage from the Palo Alto Police Department where two burglars break into a house, see the Dropcam, cover their faces and disable it. 

 

 

Youtube is full of footage of burglars being successfully caught on Dropcam. Many of the criminals in those internet videos, remind me of Harry and Marv - the two dumb criminals from the hit holiday comedy 'Home Alone'. But the fact of the matter is: a lot of criminals are not that inept. However, someone breaking into a house, noticing the camera and subsequently disabling it, does not make for a very good marketing story for the Dropcam, which is why they haven't received as much attention in the media. 

To wrap this up: We believe that hiding your Dropcam - making it less intrusive to guests and less obvious to burglars - is a great idea!



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