Japan’s Safie launches crowdfunding campaign for smartphone-based home security system

Japan’s Safie launches crowdfunding campaign for smartphone-based home security system

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See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Safie introduced a smartphone-based home security system of the same name earlier this week. What’s most unique about it is affordable prices. Their connected camera is available for 19,800 yen (about $168), while video recording and alert features are provided for a monthly subscription fee of 980 yen (about $8.3). They are apparently cheaper than conventional service operators, providing professional service for 10% of the cost of other conventional services.

Professional service for tenth those from rivals

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While security demands are growing at shopping complexes, public venues, and even at households, home security systems have not become so widespread because of cost; it requires over 50,000 yen (about $4,200) for installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) equipment as well as about 5,000 to 10,000 yen (about $42 to $85) for monthly subscription fee. However, videos are typically recorded in low resolution or in low frame rate on these systems, as well as stored into a local component which is obviously inaccessible over the internet.

Safie can solve all these problems. With Safie, you can start recording HD quality video into the cloud platform as easily as by connecting a Safie camera costing around $200 to a power source and wi-fi. With the current version, there is a three to four second delay when viewing live video but the company says it will be improved soon.

In addition to its affordable pricing, Safie gives you an advantage of cloud computing, giving the people you have chosen accessibility to recorded videos and live streams from your camera regardless of where they are. Both network path and storage for video streams are encrypted to prevent unauthorized access.

Since Safie has connectivity with various BLE(Bluetooth Low Energy)-enabled devices as well as cameras, we can expect a use case where you will be notified when your child having a BLE-enabled key holder comes home from kindergarten. You can confirm the status with live video, which is more likely to give you a sense of security.

What triggered them to launch the product?

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L to R: Safie co-founders Hidenori Kondo, Ryuhei Sadoshima, and Kazuma Morimoto

Safie was founded by former employees at Motion Portrait, an image processing technology startup carved out from Sony. Leveraging the connection with the Japanese electronics giant, Safie has fundraised a total of about 100 million yen (about $846,000) from Sony’s internet service-focused subsidiary So-net and angel investors. Safie was invented based on image processing and face recognition technologies used for mobile apps such as ZombieBooth: 3D Zombifier and ChouChou: Virtual Hair Makeover.

Safie CEO Ryuhei Sadoshima’s experience made a huge impact on the concept of the service. He elaborated:

We had been at the onset exploring scalable business which leverages the image process technologies we had acquired through developing apps at Motion Portrait. During the time, I built my house and tried to subscribe to a home security service but found that it costs more than 500,000 yen (about $5,000) initially. Furthermore, installation and monthly subscription fee will be charged. Then I came up with an idea of a smart home security system which is more affordable for average households to implement.

We have seen U.S.-based Dropcam offering a similar service, which was acquired by Google’s subsidiary Nest for $555 million in June 2014. In contrast with Dropcam manufacturing hardware devices, Safie focuses on providing an cloud-based video recording platform supporting cameras developed by partnering manufacturers like Nagoya-based Elmo. Hence, Safie provides a freemium app for using their cloud service in a form of bundle to camera products from these manufacturers, while obtaining monthly subscription fee from users for the cloud service.

Selfie plans to aggressively expand its target from households beyond to small businesses. It is said that about 3.5 million CCTV cameras are in operation all across Japan, but 99% of them records video locally but don’t upload to any cloud service. On the other hand, the number of connected cameras in operation grows by 1 million or 20% an year. Safie is entering the market with its affordable but high quality video solutions.

Launching crowdfunding campaign

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Upon announcing the launch of the home security system, Safie launched a crowdfunding campaign for it on Makuake, a Japanese crowdfunding site by internet service company Cyber Agent. If one completes a pre-order, one can obtain it a month earlier than ordinary users for a 40% discount price of 11,800 yen (about $100). Safie will start manufacturing and selling the product online from this April, followed by expanding sales channels to consumer electronics stores. They also see an option of marketing the product combining with internet service packages from their investor So-net.

Sadoshima added:

Safie offers professional home security service for one-tenth the pricing of conventional service operators. While our partnering manufacturers develop hardware devices, we are focused on developing a network and a platform required for the service. So we can create the best product through this combination. We target sales of 10,000 camera devices in the first year.

While more CCTV cameras have been recently installed at apartments in big cities, they are limited to places like entrances or inside elevators. Safie’s smart monitoring system will give consumers an option in installing additional cameras  in worrisome locations. The device will also help monitor the behavior of the pet or child at home during one’s absence.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by Masaru Ikeda and “Tex” Pomeroy