Weekend gadget review — the Cocoon — not recommended

This morning I set up the Cocoon I received this week — “Protect your whole home with Cocoon. Simple setup, HD video and audio, built-in siren, all controlled from your phone. Feel safe with Cocoon.”

Unboxing and setup — cocoon boxpretty standard box quality, nothing special about. Inside the box you get the Cocoon, usb cable and wall wart, some clunky international adapters, a stand, and a very small manual. While the manual was small, it was complete and clear.

cocoon elementsFor wifi setup the Cocoon uses an audio scheme — the Cocoon app on your phone blurts a song out which the Cocoon listens to for embedded wifi credentials. It was pleasant and fast, and way better than a bluetooth dance or a private wifi hotspot dance. Up and running in minutes, this promise was met.

Apparently the Cocoon will use location services and when it knows you are out of the house (ie when your phone is out of the house), will “arm” itself and start watching for movement and listening for sounds. It will then alert you to anything, and you can connect to see the video snippets, and set off the alarm if you want (or call the police or whatever). I didn’t exhaustively check all this out, I mostly just played with the video.

And, well, video as a data type is hard. So many bits. So opaque. The promised “HD video” was not really HD, was very laggy (my guess is they are using something like HLS or DASH which guarantees lag), was corrupted at times, had a low framerate, sometimes didn’t show up over the LTE connection. I’d say that the Canary I’ve used in the past had better video.
cocoon subsound
The Cocoon also has some feature called Subsound. I could not tell from the app screen what this was supposed to be doing. The website says it uses an infrasound microphone, geolocation, and machine learning. You can only see the app screen if you are at home. I guess this is to detect a broader array of movement or sound.

So…this is fairly expensive device. But with poor video. And a bag of other features which seem ok but not amazing. The economics on this thing are challenging to justify, if you want to see what’s going on in your home, a raspberry pi based system would be FAR cheaper tho of course you would have to futz with it yourself. The big downfall of this device is the poor video experience, at $400 I expect something pretty freaking amazing.