At first glance, the WyzeCam doesn't look like much. It's a tiny white cube with a big black eye that swivels on a base, and the whole thing is so light you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a you. The WyzeCam might look a little familiar to fans of cheap, foreign gadgets, too, since it's actually based on another super-cheap camera system cooked up by a Chinese hardware maker and sold by Xiaomi. There have been plenty of cases where companies have rebranded existing products and sold them as their own, but this is a little different. Wyze Labs licensed the hardware, made some minor changes then built new, better software to power it.
That is Wyze's shtick in a nutshell. As director of marketing Jessie Zhou put it, the company's true value lies in "the ability to develop customer software for these products and sell them at an affordable price" rather than developing new hardware from scratch. "We consider hardware a commodity," she added. "Why reinvent the wheel?"
A future based on building new software for hardware that already exists seems fraught with potential problems, but that's the plan Wyze is sticking to for now. After a few weeks of testing, it seems the company might be onto something.
I set up two WyzeCams around the Engadget office: one was pointed at my desk to see if anyone alien wandered toward our growing pile of gadgets, and another pointed out the window to monitor the weather while I was futzing around in our studio. At $20 a pop, my expectations were basically subterranean. Despite their cheapness, though, the 1080p video feeds I tapped into from my phone looked surprisingly good — their wide, 110-degree field of view meant I could easily keep tabs on interlopers approaching Engadget's corner of the office and with better picture quality than I expected.