A number of companies today leverage the ubiquity of smartphones in order to offer parents “connected” baby monitoring systems that can be accessed from anywhere. Often, as with devices like NapTime or Evoz, these include a monitor and camera of some sort and an accompanying mobile app. But a startup called Dormi has historically offered a different take – instead of selling new hardware, the company allows you to re-use old Android smartphones or tablets in order to remotely monitor your baby’s room.
Now its system has received a long-anticipated update, with the much-requested addition of video monitoring.
Previously, Dormi’s system was audio-only. Using an app that worked over Wi-Fi or cellular connections or even WiFi Direct/WiFi Hotspot, you could listen in on baby while out of the room, much like traditional baby monitoring systems allow for today. You could also press a button to speak into the app which would transmit the sound of your voice to the other device in the child’s room.
The devices you use with Dormi could be an extra Android phone or tablet you had lying around the house. Or you could use your current Android device as the primary one, if you chose.
In addition to the simplicity of the system, the app has been priced compellingly – perhaps even too cheaply considering its hardware-based competition sold through baby superstores and other retailers is often exorbitantly priced.
While technically a subscription-based app, Dormi offers lifetime usage for just $7.00. It’s sort of a no-brainer for those looking for simple and affordable alternative to traditional baby monitoring systems, or just wants a solution that’s easier to carry around when traveling, for example.
That price point remains in effect today, despite the new feature set. You can also pay $1 per month for Dormi or $5 per year. The company is, however, considering the introduction of in-app purchases later on when it enables high-quality video – support for which is already built into the app but not yet available.
With the just released update, the app now supports real-time video streaming with hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding (even on old 2.3 Gingerbread devices). Explains co-founder Pavel Kryl of Sleekbit, the Czech Republic-based company that makes Dormi, extending support to older devices took a lot of work on their part, including reverse engineering low-level Android libraries in order to interface with them for hardware-accelerated video encoding. The implementation promises minimal CPU usage and battery usage.
Dormi’s app has also been visually updated to match up with Android’s new “material design” philosophy, the company says, which includes animated transitions to and from full-screen video, for example. There have also been improvement’s to Dormi’s intelligent noise level monitoring, including a new manual sensitivity control, which should address some users’ earlier complaints about the app’s sensitivity, which increased on hard, flat surfaces.
Another more major addition is support for Chrome OS, which means Dormi’s system can now be accessed from a Chromebook computer. It will also soon become available by way of the Chrome browser on all platforms, too, the company says.
And there have been a number of other ‘under the hood’ updates that improve battery usage, reliability and reduce latency.
As an Android-only application, Dormi is doing well enough with around 120,000 active users following 250,000 downloads, and steadily rising sales. However, because of its rather low pricing, the company is only generating $6,000 per month we’re told. That’s concerning because for Dormi to stick around, it will need to figure out how to scale that revenue. (Though Sleekbit does have a number of other apps on the market, which does help.)
One thing that may help increase Dormi’s sales is that the app just a few weeks ago has managed to score the second position in Google Play when users search for “baby monitor.” That could give Dormi increased visibility, and ultimately more downloads and paying customers.
Dormi is a free download on Google Play.