Smart homes can’t afford dumb doorbells

As home automation makes its way to the mainstream, a system that lets you answer your doorbell on your smartphone or tablet is now available in New Zealand. The reason? Smart homes can’t afford dumb doorbells.

While doorbells are great in that they let us know when people (or things) are at our door, they are also unquestionably a hindrance to our lives. After all, how many of us have stood by the door waiting for something to arrive? All of us, probably – whether we’d like to admit it or not.

So we should probably admit the doorbell is a decidedly 20th-century invention. But fortunately, that relic of the past has been updated for the modern era, and an Auckland company is bringing it to our shores.

Ring may have a deceptively simple name, but the technology behind it is anything but. In short, the product allows a connected doorbell to screen a live audio and video stream of your front doorstep straight onto your smartphone or tablet, with instant alerts sent via the free Ring app. The app – which is iOS and Android-compatible – lets you speak with people at your house wherever in the world you may be, and watch 720p HD footage of what’s going on at the front door in real-time.

“It’s all part of a growing demand for people who want to have a connected home,” says Joe Caccioppoli, managing director for SeeChange, the technology research and product marketing company bringing Ring to Aotearoa.

“We think it’s going to be a hot item for Christmas. It offers real value. It’s not a gimmick.”



Originally developed by Santa Monica, California-based Bot Home Automation, Caccioppoli says Ring first made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January. He says the number of locations in the United States – including big-box stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, Fred Meyer, Sears, Target and Lowe’s – selling it should reach 7,000 by the end of October.

“If Americans are buying this product, there’s no reason Australians and Kiwis won’t either. It’s been very well-received by the retail market.”

Caccioppoli uses the product at his own home, he says, and the benefits have already paid off.

Studies show over 80 per cent of burglaries start with a burglar ringing the doorbell to see if anyone is at home, Caccioppoli says. But with Ring, he adds, “answering” the doorbell is possible wherever someone is. All they have to do is use the app and speak into their phone or tablet.

“It’s actually quite disconcerting how many people wander in and out of your driveway when you’re not at home,” he says.



As an added security feature, Ring records video, which Caccioppoli says is stored on “military-grade” servers in the US. He adds the product has a lifetime guarantee in case its stolen, as well as a one-year warranty.

Security aside, another benefit is the convenience of the system, which can be accessed by multiple users from multiple devices simultaneously. Couriers who require you to be “home” to drop a parcel off can be told to leave packages at the door – even if you’re not actually at home.

“It’s convenience from anywhere,” Caccioppoli says.

“It’s a great convenience tool.”

Even if Ring doesn’t take off here, Caccioppoli claims it’s just the latest offering in the emerging market of home automation, or 'smart' homes.

“Home automation is very early in its life cycle,” he explains.

“People have a more connected home than they think these days.”

Tech-savvy homes certainly seem to be a focus for SeeChange. Besides Ring, the company has also been involved in 3D printers, mobile power, and the FUGOO Bluetooth Speaker.

Ring does cost a bit more than someone might have in their back pocket, however. Available in Harvey Norman and Placemakers stores nationwide and online, as well as on Noel Leeming’s website, it retails for $399.95 per unit.

Still, Caccioppoli can’t stop gushing about it.

“Ring is the best of its type in the world.”

Would-be burglars could not be reached for comment.