Introducing Custom Activity Zones

Today, I’m excited to tell you about an all-new feature that many of you have been asking about for quite some time. We’re launching Custom Activity Zones, which is now available as part of our optional Cloud Recording service. It’s a feature that provides you with more control over what motion alerts you receive and how you review important activities on your timeline.

We designed Custom Activity Zones to be as simple as it is powerful. Once you log in to the Dropcam web app, you can select specific areas within Dropcam’s view. Whenever there’s motion detected in a zone you’ve created, you’ll receive an alert. You can:

  • Customize the shape of a zone to fit just about any area
  • Create multiple zones – as many as you’d like
  • Apply your own labels to zones (e.g. hallway, front porch) to make notifications more meaningful

Dropcam - Custom Activity Zones

Creating activity zones is a great way to get the alerts you want and none of the ones you don’t. Once you create a zone, you’ll only receive motion alerts for activity zones by default. Of course, you can still receive alerts about activity that occurs outside the zones you create, just to make sure your bases are covered. Either way, you can filter all motion activity on your timeline more quickly and focus on the activities that matter to you.

As an added bonus, whenever you create a zone, we automatically go back in your Cloud Recording history (for the past week or month, depending on your plan) and display markers for activity that’s occurred in that zone. This comes in handy in cases where, for example, you want to see all the times people have passed through your hallway. Or, it might even help you determine what activity zones make sense for what you’d like to know about.

Want to see how it works? Check out our tutorial video:

Custom Activity Zones is part of our ongoing effort to provide Cloud Recording customers with better, more relevant alerts. And ultimately, it’s all about offering customers an experience that gets better and better over time.

We hope you like what you see! Let us know what you think in the comments.

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64 thoughts on “Introducing Custom Activity Zones

  1. This helps a lot. How do I specify which zones I want alerts for? If it’s by unchecking the box then I think it could be made a little more clear by graying out the alert icon.

    1. Hi Ian,

      There is currently no way to set a zone to not receive alerts. If you create a zone, you will be alerted to when Activity is detected within it. If you do not wish to receive alerts for a particular zone, simply delete it.

      Hope this helps!

    2. does that mean I have to buy more cameras? I have 2 now and find that they now only work for a year, then I have to buy new ones as is. How do I cover a zone in the driveway if the camera is in the bedroom?

      1. If your camera is in the bedroom, but you want to monitor the driveway, yes, you’d need another camera so you can monitor the driveway and the bedroom. Or, you could move the camera out of the bedroom so that it watches the driveway instead. You also don’t *have* to do anything. Your current cameras will continue to work just fine.

  2. I asked you guys for this ages ago — and I’m glad you finally delivered on it. I live on a busy street and have my camera facing out to my patio — notifications were previously useless due to cars — but now this should work. HOWEVER — only one of my 3 cameras prompted me to setup activity zones — and I can’t figure out where on earth to get to the settings manually — you guys should make this more evident or provide directions for how to do this. Thanks Dropcam!

  3. WoW!! Great improvement in alert specifity and ease of use. Need more time with the new alert options to determine how best to outline specific areas for better isolation. Good stuff!! Keep up the good work!

  4. Custom activity zones are a great addition, but if would rather see you focus on getting location based camera on/off working properly. I was told by support that when Apple introduced iOS 7 it broke that feature and there were not plans to address it.

  5. OUTSTANDING WORK!! No more false alarms or alerts about what I don’t care about. What was once good is now Outstanding!! Thank you!!!

  6. well done guys, great feature…. perhaps you could get around to accepting credit cards from other countries if not too great a challenge?

  7. It appears there is no way to setup a zone to exclude alerts from that area? I want alerts for an entire room but exclude the TV. Short of setting up zones to cover everything *but* the TV this does not seem possible.

    1. Hi Chris,

      You are right, there is currently no way to set a Custom Activity Zone not to receive alerts. The workaround would be to set zones all around your TV and turn off alerts for motion outside of your zones.

      Thanks!

  8. Nice, but I wish Google hadn’t bought you. Now I have to sell all my Dropcams.

    Just as well, I’ve needed weather proof models for years and I see none on the horizon. Most likely ads soon, I’m guessing…

  9. This feature is appreciated, but sometimes my camera does not detect these areas, while learning the conduct?

  10. Great feature. I just realized though if the camera is not mounted and it is moved then all the outlined zones move too on the frame. Our cleaning people move the cameras every week and sometimes even we jostle them in the active areas and the activity zones get moved enough that they will catch things in other areas.

  11. One other thought. I have 3 Dropcams. I only want motion alerts for one of the three but I do want the color coded activity zones for all 3 so the areas I designate show up color tagged on the timeline. Right now it appears I cannot set alerts on or off for individual zones or cameras. Is this correct?

    1. Hi Marc,

      That is right, there is no way to set alerts off for individual zones. You can however, customize the color of your markers on your timeline to match others from other cameras.

      Thanks for reaching out!

  12. cool. works well so far for activity around the gate. Wait, I’ve got a dropcam “tab” on order that I was gonna use to tell me if the gate opened. hmmmm do I need the “tab” now?

  13. Others have already mentioned this. I’m now adding in my request as well – please make it so the user has the ability to enable/disable notifications per activity zone. As it currently functions today, I cannot not use it – I don’t want to receive an notification every time someone opens the front door. I do however want to see the the item highlighted in my time line as a particular color.

    Thanks!

    Greg

    1. I second this. I also have issues with shadows. We’ve got a lot of trees and every time the wind blows, the moving shadows set off the alerts, which renders the whole feature useless and I have to shut it off. I know that detection of “meaningful” motion is a very hard problem, so I can’t fault DropCam too much. I read somewhere they’re working on detecting people. That is probably my only hope of ever getting meaningful alerts.

      1. I Third this…shadows and even the ambient reflection of light off peoples clothing as they walk by is triggering an alert in a zone this is otherwise quiet. But overall, zones are an improvement.

        1. I 4th this. On totally cloudy days or totally sunny days, it works great. When intermittent clouds are causing the sun to cast shadows on and off, it is pretty much unuseable. Since the shadows don’t “move” I don’t really consider this “motion”… The shadows come and go… they don’t move. I realize this may be a bit of a challenge but I wouldn’t think it impossible to solve.

  14. I’m trying to figure out how I can use Custom Activity Zones to decrease the false activity alerts that I receive during certain times of day when shade trees blowing in the wind move through the camera’s view.

    Any suggestions?

  15. I have not received my email alerts or any alerts of activity since this has been established. What might be going wrong?

    1. I’m also not receiving alerts, and the detected activity within the new zones is not showing up in the timeline. I e-mailed support, and this is what I received this morning:

      Hello there,
      Please accept our sincerest apologies for the issues with your alerts. Our engineering team is aware of the problem and is currently working on a fix. We hope to have this fix deployed soon and will make sure to update you once it has. If you have any questions, please let us know.
      Thank you for your patience.
      Best regards,
      Adrien
      Dropcam Tier 2 Support

    2. This is likely a server problem on Dropcam’s side. I’ve been a frustrated user of Dropcam for over a year now. Their alerts frequently break and get messed up as they try to add new features or tweak their algorithms. I just emailed them yesterday asking if alerts were broken. They confirmed there was a known issue and they were working on it… again… (please, this is so “beta”, you must offer a cheaper subscription option until you iron out all the bugs).

  16. Being able to customize into zones is great! Any chance there will be a “timer” feature added. Example: I don’t particularly need to be alerted everytime my dogs run through the yard during the day, but I would like to know if there is movement in the yard at night.

  17. This is a great idea. However, I am receiving alerts even when there is no activity in the zone. For example, a car drives on the street, but I receive an alert for a zone on my driveway.

    1. I have the same problem. I still get alerts for events outside of the activity zone and it even tags most of them as having happened inside the zone.

  18. I agree, great idea, but I’m having several issues already. I’ve been struggling with activity recognition and alerts from Dropcam for quite some time. I think if you just passively monitor alerts, it can seem like they are working fine, but if you track them and test them, you will likely find many bugs. Just a few bugs so far:

    - I don’t get alerts from activities outside of activity regions. They show up on my timeline, but no alerts.
    - Alerts in general have been very spotty in general lately. Sometimes cutting out for hours, and then randomly working on and off.
    - I get some false alerts inside activity zones when nothing happened in there
    - the app seems to have reduced functionality, activity alerts don’t link directly to videos anymore. The app gets stuck on certain screens even when you minimize and open again…

  19. Thank you for adding this request. I always loved Vitamin D and their software having this feature. This is the fix for making notifications functional. I am going to turn them back on now – hoping the light changes want trigger as many results.

  20. Activity Zones are a step in the right direction, but I still struggle with light and shadows false alarms. I’ve suggested this before, but it would be far more useful to include an overall motion sensitivity setting like you might find in a home alarm system motion detector.

  21. I got an email today from Dropcam that states it is a nest company in the subject line, but there is no info. What does this mean?

  22. This customizable feature is very welcome, been waiting a long time to have this level of control.

    However you guys should allow/quickly develop the ability to send or not send notifications for these custom zones, its makes more sense for this to be customizable to the user.
    Being only able to turn off the notification for “noise” or “outside of activity regions” is not enough. This should also apply to the custom areas also.

    In addition, I’m not getting push alerts frequently enough, even for the new custom zones (I’m only getting alerts for one custom zone), something must not be right ! Can you look into this please…

  23. This is a fantastic new feature but very poorly designed and implemented. I like having activity zones that will be monitored and color coded but I don’t want an alert. As an example, I want to monitor movement so it’s color coded on the recording but I don’t want an email alert every time my cat walks in front of the window. With the current design I’m forced to either NOT monitor or get an email every time my cat walks in the area. This doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t a single engineer think of this when creating the feature? Clearly it’s the first thing everyone noticed based on the comments above.

  24. Love the feature but I’m not able to setup properly. Once I click “create new zone” I am presented with the sizeable zone box but then there is no “save” option under activity zones.

    I’ve tried multiple browsers but that hasn’t helped. Anyone have any ideas?

  25. How can I turn off alerts Outside the Activity Zone . . I uncheck the bubble and I STILL get the alerts! I two narrow zones set up to focus on a driveway, with the zone line no where near the street. I get alerts when a car drives by 15 feet away. How can I STOP this?

  26. I am using Safari v7.1. I am prompted to create an activity zone, however, there is no option to save/name it. And when I exit the browser, then reopen dropcam the zone i create is no longer there.

    PS also disappointed in the Google acquisition of Dropcam. They have a terrible track record when it comes to respecting personal information. So, I plugged my Dropcam into a zwave power receptacle, allowing management of camera on/off status using my zwave controller and apps.

  27. Dropcam not showing activity (inside or outside of zone) on the timeline. One of my co-workers came in my office, dropped off some files on my desk, all within my zone, and the timeline showed no spikes for activity. It worked when I first bought it (a couple of months ago), but not now. If you review the tape, you can see the person and a tag that says activity in zone, but it doesn’t show up as a spike on the timeline.

  28. I just bought a drop cam and set a custom zone to be monitored. I have tried walking around in this zone several times but I get no email alerts of motion being detected. If I return to the timeline it shows he motion as being detected. But, no email alert. Why is this?

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