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Do Sound-Activated Smart Cameras Exist?

So we’re all aware of the ever-popular motion-activated smart home security cameras. They’re the most popular cameras found in many smart homes today, and they work great! But what if you want your cameras to record with a different trigger? Say – with sound?

Many people have wondered whether there is such a thing as sound-activated smart cameras or other recording devices triggered by sound. Perhaps you’ve wondered this too. If you’re looking for a sound-activated camera or device, you may be surprised to find out that you have a few options.

Key Points

  • Wyze, Arlo, Eufy and Nest all offer some form of sound-activated features.
  • Alexa Guard and Routines can also be used for sound-based events.
  • Some ‘old fashioned’ voice recorders also offer sound-activated recording features.

Smart Cameras: An Overview

Smart cameras are a popular staple in the modern smart home. Brands like Ring, Eufy, Wyze, and Google Nest are just a few of the popular smart home cameras you’ll find nowadays.

Ring Video Doorbell 2020 release
Ring Video Doorbell 2020 release

They’re easily set up and have been helpful in catching criminals such as porch pirates and vandals, red-handed.

These cameras are also great for keeping a general eye on things, such as when family members get home, and even catching sightings of rare wildlife!

Most of these cameras connect to their respective apps and the internet via Wi-Fi. Cameras such as Ring’s Elite cameras, however, connect via Ethernet cables. Most smart cameras are also compatible with smart home hubs such as Alexa and Samsung SmartThings. This opens up a world of smart home automations that makes it even easier to keep an eye on your home. 

The most common trigger for smart home cameras, is motion. This feature works when an object or person enters the area you’ve specified in your smart cameras’ app settings. Sensors on the cameras pick up on said motion, and the camera begins recording. This gives you the ability to see what caused the motion and if there’s any action that you need to take.

If you have a Cloud subscription plan such as Ring Protect, or Arlo Secure, your videos are stored in the cameras’ respective app. Without a subscription, most smart cameras only offer live views and notifications of motion-detected events. One exception to this rule is Wyze, as they offer local storage if you have a microSD card inserted.

Wyze SD card slot with SD card partially inserted
Wyze SD card slot with SD card partially inserted

So we’re all pretty familiar with motion-activated triggers, right? But what about sound triggers? What could these be, and how are they useful?

Sound Triggers – What Are They?

Eufy cameras can be activated by sound
Eufy cameras can be activated by sound

Sound triggers can be particular sounds that get your cameras to start recording. Some cameras can even use their AI to differentiate between different sounds.

Some examples of sound triggers could be smoke or CO alarms, breaking glass, dogs barking, or even noisy neighbors – really noisy neighbors! Some cameras even offer the ability to detect babies crying, which is particularly helpful if you’re monitoring your baby from another room.

No matter which sound, when it reaches an audible level, your smart cameras can begin recording. This feature can be helpful if you’re having issues with loud neighbors, or if breaking glass indicates a thief has entered your home long before motion will detect them.

So with that in mind, do any cameras actually offer the option for sound-activated recording?

Smart Cameras That Offer Sound-Activated Recording

This isn’t a commonly touched-on feature, but some cameras do have the ability to record sound-activated events.

The ever-popular Ring cameras unfortunately don’t offer sound-detected recording. However, there are select cameras from other popular brands that do.

Wyze

Wyze cameras are a popular camera brand that also has the ability to record sound-detected events, in addition to motion-detected events.

Wyze Cam v3
Wyze Cam v3

To access the settings for this, go to the Wyze app, then select the particular camera you want to have Sound Detection on. Tap the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen to access Settings. 

Once there, you’re going to go to two different sections. The first is Event Recording.

Recording Settings in the Wyze app
Recording Settings in the Wyze app

On that screen, you’ll tap the toggles to make sure both Motion and Sound Detection are on.

Event Recording Options in the Wyze app
Event Recording Options in the Wyze app

Then go back to the previous screen. There, you’ll now choose Detection Settings. Here is where you can choose the sensitivity you want for your motion and sound-detected events. Adjust the sliders to change the sensitivity.

Sound and Motion Sensitivity Sliders in the Wyze app
Sound and Motion Sensitivity Sliders in the Wyze app

Wyze cameras even have a setting that will alert you to and start recording events that are activated by the sound of smoke and CO alarms. A notification will be sent to your mobile device, and the cameras will begin to record so that you can see the source of these events.

You don’t need Cam Plus to enjoy sound detection benefits. However, if you do get Cam Plus, your Wyze camera may be able to differentiate between different sounds, as opposed to realizing there’s just sound.

Arlo

When it comes to Arlo cameras, some of them offer Sound Detection that will trigger the camera to start recording. This feature is available on select models such as:

  • Arlo Ultra 
  • Pro, Pro 2, and Pro 3 
  • Q and Q Plus 
  • Arlo Go models 
Marketing image showing the body of the Arlo Pro 3 camera
The Arlo Pro 3 camera

All other models only have the ability to record only motion-detected events.

To ensure you have sound detection activated, first open the Arlo app, or sign into your Arlo account online. Next, you’ll select Mode. You’ll then select the Arlo camera you want to edit the Mode of, then tap on the pencil icon next to the particular mode you want to edit.

You’ll then come to the Rules section, and will tap on the Rule you want to edit. To ensure you have Sound Detection, you’ll want to make sure there’s a checkmark in the box next to Audio Is Detected. Afterward, hit Save to make sure your selection is saved.

Like motion detection, sound detection can be used with or without an Arlo Secure subscription plan. However, without Arlo Secure, you may not get saved recordings or smart detection that can tell you whether the sound was an alarm or something like a car crash.

Google Nest

Sound-activated recording is available with Google Nest, but only with certain cameras. These include:

  • Nest Cam (battery)
  • Nest Cam Indoor wired (2nd generation) 
  • Nest Doorbell (2nd generation, wired)
  • Nest Doorbell (battery)
A marketing image of a black Google Nest Hello Video Doorbell (on a white background).
A black Google Nest Hello Video Doorbell.

These models have sound detection, giving you the ability to have sound-activated recordings. 

To use sound detection, you’ll need to opt for a Nest Aware subscription. Without it, your cameras won’t be able to record or notify you of sound-triggered events. In addition, if you have a 1st generation Nest Aware subscription, sound detection won’t work. You’ll need to go for a more updated Nest Aware subscription. 

To make sure sound detection is active for your compatible cameras, you’ll need to go into the Home app. Once there, go to Settings, then select Nest Aware.

On the next screen, choose Sound Detection. You’ll then see a list of Devices. Toggle Sound Detection on or off for whichever devices offer the option.

Eufy

A 2k resolution Eufy smart camera
A 2k resolution Eufy smart camera

Eufy cameras are also capable of sound-activated recording. This feature is limited to a few of the Wired varieties. These are: 

  • The IndoorCam 2K Pan & Tilt 
  • Indoor Cam 1080p Pan & Tilt 
  • IndoorCam 2K 
  • IndoorCam 1080p 
  • IndoorCam Mini 
  • Outdoor Cam 
  • Outdoor Cam Pro 

There are also select models from the SpaceView Baby Monitor Series that also record sound-detected events such as baby crying.

To adjust the sound detection settings, you’ll first go into the Eufy app. You’ll then go to Camera Settings, then to Sound Detection.

Eufy sound detection features including sensitivity levels and what sounds to trigger on
Eufy sound detection features including sensitivity levels and what sounds to trigger on

Here, you can select All Sound and Baby Crying, and adjust the sensitivity levels to your liking. The higher the slider, the more subtle sounds the cameras will pick up.

Eufy sound detection features including sensitivity levels and what sounds to trigger on
Eufy sound detection features including sensitivity levels and what sounds to trigger on

Then when sound is detected, you will receive a phone notification:

Two Eufy rich notifications saying that sound has been detected
Two Eufy rich notifications saying that sound has been detected

You will also be able to view the recording (that gets triggered by the sound) in the normal place in the app, and it will tell you why it triggered (i.e. “Sound” in this case):

Two Eufy recordings triggered by sound
Two Eufy recordings triggered by sound

Other Options For Sound-Activated Recording

Alexa Guard

Another option that isn’t necessarily related to cameras, is Alexa Guard. This is a security feature offered by Amazon/Alexa to keep your home safe while you’re not home. It’s particularly designed to alert you to sounds such as breaking glass, smoke, and CO alarms.

Sounds that Alexa Guard detects
Sounds that Alexa Guard detects
Alexa Guard Sound Detection in the Alexa app
Alexa Guard Sound Detection in the Alexa app

Note: But, unfortunately, Alexa Guard pretty much stops there in terms of recording. It can alert you to the fact that there was breaking glass or an alarm went off, but the options for other smart home devices to react are limited. One of the only other options available is getting your smart lights to turn on in response to sound-detected events.

However, if your main concern is being alerted to sound, you can manually activate your smart cameras to see what’s going on. In that case, Alexa Guard may prove useful to you.

Routines

Some users have tried to explore the option of using Routines for sound-activated recording. Alexa even has options for Sound Detection.

Sound Detection Routine Option in the Alexa app
Sound Detection Routine Trigger Option in the Alexa app
Options for Sound Detection Routines in the Alexa app
Options for Sound Detection Routines in the Alexa app

However, this unfortunately hasn’t worked very well for recording purposes. This Routine trigger is designed mainly to be used with any connected smart lights and other devices.

Most cameras show up as Unavailable, as do Echo devices, making them unable to record or even show you devices that can at least get a snapshot of what caused the sound.

Smart Cameras Unavailable for Sound Detection Routine
Smart Cameras Unavailable for Sound Detection Routine

Routines are usually helpful in solving a lot of our problems with uniting smart home devices. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those cases. Even using Alexa Guard as a trigger isn’t helpful, as it only has the option if Alexa Guard is set to Home or Away, not when Alexa Guard detects sound.

However, there may be other options for sound-activated recording.

Other Devices That Offer Sound-Activated Recording

Holding a digital voice recorder
Holding a digital voice recorder

If none of the smart camera options are to your liking, or you’re looking for something a little different, you can also go for non-camera devices, such as Digital Voice Recorders.

Some of these small devices are specifically designed to be sound-activated and are often better at picking up even the softest sounds that smart cameras can’t. You can adjust the settings so that the Recorder is activated when sounds reach a certain level or decibel. This way, you can catch just what you’re looking for, and weed out things that may be irrelevant.

Digital voice recorders are just one device that can record when sound or voices are detected. This can be particularly useful if your main goal is to catch something someone says near you or your property.

The only downside to these devices is that, since there are no cameras, you won’t get any video of the offending individual or the source of the sound. However, if this isn’t an issue, then a sound-activated Digital Voice Recorder may just be the device for you. Another upside – they often cost much less than smart cameras!

Sound-Activated Security

Having a sound-activated smart camera or Digital Recording Device can prove useful in a host of situations. If breaking glass is heard, your camera can start recording in time to catch thieves before even motion can. You can even gather evidence for a noise complaint if need be. 

Sound-activated recording adds a new dynamic to home security and keeps you and your loved ones safe.

About Yvette Griffith

Yvette is a freelance writer who also happens to be a smart home enthusiast! She owns several smart home gadgets like strip lights, smart bulbs, cameras, and more! With a knack for troubleshooting device issues, she’s been the go-to for family and friends for all kinds of tech-related issues - dating back to VCR’s!

Here on Smart Home Point, she shares her knowledge with the world in hopes it’ll help you create and maintain your smart home.

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