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Lighthouse AI’s security cameras become grist for Apple’s patent mill

Lighthouse AI’s security cameras become grist for Apple’s patent mill
[Photos: Steve Johnson/Unsplash; Tetsuya Tomomatsu/Unsplash]

Apple has acquired several patents from the now-defunct security camera maker Lighthouse AI, which shut down last December. As first reported by IAM Media (via Patently Apple), the patents cover methods for visual authentication, capturing video in low-light conditions, interacting with a home monitoring system by voice, and monitoring for security incidents.

Lighthouse was unique among home security cameras in that it included a time-of-flight sensor that created a 3D map of its surroundings. In my review, I noted that Lighthouse was great at filtering out non-human motion, though its facial recognition still required weeks of training, and the product was expensive at $300 for the hardware, plus a $10 per month service charge. Lighthouse had promised all sorts of potential uses for its system, including smart home controls based on who’s present and the ability to tell if someone suffered a serious fall, but it never got enough traction with consumers to implement those features before shutting down.

Apple could use the patents to build its own security camera, but analyst Brian Roemmele had an interesting alternative theory: By embedding time-of-flight sensors into devices like HomePod, perhaps Apple could bring Lighthouse’s presence detection and authentication to smart speakers. Of course, as with any other Apple patent, it could also amount to nothing.

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