In my previous column, we looked at the Wyze Cam smart camera which retails for $19.99 at http://www.wyzecam.com. We discussed the camera’s robust functionality, attractive price point and (unlike higher priced cameras) its free 14-day cloud storage. In part, Wyze achieves this price point by only storing video in the cloud in 12-second clips after the camera detects motion. We raised the issue of motion detection sensors that trigger events in your home on Shabbat and promised to provide a solution. In this article, we’ll explore a solution that may be a foundation for many smart home applications.
I mentioned in the last column that while the Wyze Cam app does allow for turning off the motion detection at certain times during the day, it does not allow you to choose the day of the week, or to choose times based on sunset for Shabbos. Plugging the camera into a smart switch that turns the entire camera off for Shabbos is a solution, but one that leaves you without recording activity, negating the primary purpose of a security camera.
Addressing the 24/7 recording requirement turns out to be easy. The Wyze Cam offers an option to install a micro SD card and set the camera to record continuously. This changes the camera’s reliance on just motion; instead it records 24/7. The size of your SD card will dictate the length of playback available as the camera will overwrite older recordings as it needs space. A 32 GB SD Card will give you a few days of continuous recording. If you simply turn off the motion detection and choose continuous recordings most halachic authorities would agree that this is permissible on Shabbos. The motion detection, however, is a key feature that you would only want to turn off on Shabbos and Yom Tov but the app itself will not allow this.
I placed a development request to the company to at least allow day of the week scheduling and sunrise and sunset times for motion detection, but at this time the app still does not offer this. Additionally, this would only address Shabbos but not Yom Tov which, of course, occurs on weekdays as well.
Recently, the Wyze Cam enabled IFTTT connectivity which I believe can resolve all the camera’s Shabbos and Yom Tov issues concerning motion detection. IFTTT stands for If–This–Than–That and it allows many devices to integrate with other services. In our case, the “If” will be if it is Shabbos or Yom Tov and the “Then That” will be to turn off the Wyze Cam motion sensing. We can also create the reverse which is to turn the motion sensor back on Motzaei Shabbos.
IFTTT is a free app that can be loaded onto any Apple or Android device. Once you sign in, there are a growing number of services and devices you can integrate. In our case, we will be integrating a Google Calendar pre-loaded with candle lighting and Havdalah times for both Shabbos and Yom Tov.
I created a series of public Google calendars pre-loaded with all candle lighting and Havdalah dates and times for several years. These calendars and IFTTT can be integrated to address Shabbos and Yom Tov issues with the Wyze Cam and potentially many other devices. There is a separate calendar for several time zones. There is one for New York Metro, Chicago, LA, etc. and, of course, one for Jerusalem. If you need another time zone, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will be happy to add it.
To add the appropriate Tribe Tech Review Public Shabbos and Yom Tov Google Calendar to your personal calendar, follow the instructions on the Navigation Page.
I created two Applet on IFTTT as TribeTechReview. One to link the Google Calendar and turn off the Wyze Cam motion detection for Shabbos and Yom Tov and then another Applet to turn them back on after Havdalah. You can search for the TribeTechreview Applets by searching for the keywords “Shabbat” or “Yom Tov” or by clicking this link. To integrate IFTTT with both the Google Calendar and Wyze Cam you will need to login to both services on the IFTTT Platform. The App will prompt you for the appropriate login when required.
I setup the candle lighting Applet to trigger 15 minutes before the listed time to provide a buffer so that small execution delays and time zone differences should not be an issue. I tested both the Candle lighting and Havdalah Applets over several weeks and it worked flawlessly and ran within a few minutes of the scheduled time. This solution will work even if your phone is powered off.
The IFTTT integration is a tremendous step forward for Shomer Shabbos consumers of smart home technology. I would like to see more hardware companies integrate it as it can be the basis of solving the many Shabbos issues that seems to be emerging in home automation. With the Wyze Cam’s IFTTT integration, I can give the camera a high Tribe Tech Level 4 of 5 Rating for being Shabbos and Yom Tov compliant with third party integration. In fact, good things do come in small packages.