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This is an actor placing a Dropcam Tab on a door

Last week at Techcrunch Disrupt, Dropcam announced a new line extension to their popular WiFi camera called Tabs. In short, Tabs are single piece motion and movement sensors that can attach to a door or window and communicate with a the Dropcam to alert it about an event.

A very interesting move. It shows Dropcam is consciously evolving its camera from a basic home awareness solution to a platform that can be something more, including - through the addition of smart home technology - a security system.

Beyond the obvious platform aspirations made clear by this move, what I found most intriguing was that Tabs don’t use Wi-Fi or a low-energy radios typically found in smart home sensors like Z-Wave or Zigbee, but instead will use Bluetooth Smart, (or Bluetooth Low Energy) for communications.

Now, it was obvious back when Dropcam launched the Dropcam Pro with Bluetooth LE that they intended to use it for something. What wasn’t so obvious was they would use it for a smart home sensor network with a range of up to 100 feet.  

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bluetooth, that’s a very long range for a technology typically used as a personal area network and for very short-range communications with devices like smart locks.  Typical Bluetooth range is around 20-40 feet, so extending this far is pretty impressive.

In fact, if Bluetooth can be engineered to extend this far, I’d suggest that this is a little worrisome for both Z-Wave and Zigbee since there’s no doubt that Bluetooth as a smart home technology has been gaining momentum in devices lie smart bulbs and smart plugs, but the range hasn’t been there.  Combine this with others working to make Bluetooth a mesh technology like Zigbee, and the technology, which is also in hundreds of millions of smart phones, and things start to get interesting.

In short, a Dropcam Tab range of 100 feet - if it is indeed that long (and that’s a big if) - blows away a lot of assumptions about Bluetooth as a smart home technology. 

I’ll be talking to Dropcam about Tabs later this week to get more specifics on that stated range the the product more generally, and will post the conversation early next week. Make sure to check back over at the Smart Home Show to hear it.