Ecobee adds baby monitoring features to its SmartCamera

Technology

Ecobee has updated its SmartCamera home security camera with a few new features that make it easier to use as a baby monitor. The new Baby Monitor mode, which is enabled during setup of the camera, adjusts the camera’s settings to dim the LED lights on the front, makes it harder to accidentally enable the camera’s Siren alarm, and, perhaps most importantly, adds an audio-only streaming option that lets you continue to listen for disruptions even if you switch to a different app or lock your phone.

Using a home security camera as a baby monitor is hardly a new idea, but this is the first one to my knowledge that actually makes it easier to do so. While traditional video monitors provide an always-on feed to a dedicated screen, home security cameras require the use of your phone and an app, which can be slow to load and cumbersome to use. Ecobee’s audio streaming mode effectively turns the camera and your phone into an always-on audio monitor, from which you can then tap into the app to check the video feed when you hear a disturbance.

The SmartCamera is also compatible with Apple’s HomeKit platform (including HomeKit Secure Video) and Amazon Alexa, which allows you to view the video feed from an Echo smart display or the Home app on an iOS or macOS device. Ecobee’s dedicated app is the only way to access the audio monitoring and other dedicated features such as pan and zoom on the SmartCamera, however.

One thing the new baby monitor features don’t specifically address is the security concerns inherent with aiming an internet-connected camera at your baby’s crib. There have been numerous accounts of security cameras being accessed by an unauthorized user and children’s privacy being violated through the camera, speaker, and microphone. Ecobee does have two-factor authentication for its accounts, which helps prevent these kinds of attacks, but that might not be enough comfort for some parents.

Ecobee notes that you can switch between the baby monitoring (which disables some of the home security features of the camera) and the standard security camera modes at any time, so once you no longer have the need for a baby monitor, you can repurpose the camera elsewhere in your home.

In addition to the new baby monitoring features, Ecobee is also now selling a bundle that includes a SmartCamera and a SmartThermostat for $299.99. The SmartCamera is available separately for $99.99.