Once the solution for checking in on your dogs and babies, Piper's small cameras have evolved into something of an ad-hoc security system for a small home or an apartment.
It offers things like motion detectors, live video with cloud recordings, and a siren to scare away would be burglars.
One of Piper's shortcomings has been a lack of night vision, a standard feature among cameras in this class. This has now been remedied with the Piper NV, a new night vision equipped model for $269.
The extra money gets you an array of built in infrared lights for seeing in the dark and a new camera system that is sharper. Why night vision did not make it in the first go around was because of the lens design. It's 180 degree viewing angle made it extremely difficult to add infrared emitters that wouldn't hit the lens and create huge flares of light.
They fixed that problem by changing the shape of the lens ever so slightly to make it more rectangle.
Piper's night vision can be set to go on automatically when it gets too dark, or you can have it on all the time. The company switched to an all glass lens and a new sensor that is higher resolution than the original model.
It is now a 3.4 megapixel instead of a 2. With the switch to glass the recordings are much clearer and sharper than they were in the first model especially when zoomed in. These images are much clearer but still not sharp enough to see someones face from about 15 feet away. You still can not discern fine details as well as the Dropcam's Pro model.
The new version has a built in Z-Wave, the wireless protocol that lets you manage control lights and other home automation appliances. The new version gets twice the range of the previous model, has a faster data rate, and introduces encryption.
The wider range means that you will be able to cover more ground in a house without purchasing extenders, or another Piper for another room.
Does this mean Piper is a viable replacement for a home security system? Not yet says Russel Ure, the creator of Piper.
"Piper unlocks for these people a much bigger market, because people who rent, people who have homes who are not inclined to spend $50 a month but may be interested in something smaller and less costly there's a whole new market that these companies are looking at," says Ure. "And Piper is a good example of things to look at."