A man walks up to a home’s front door and places a cardboard box in front of it. He taps a few keys on his mobile device and leaves. The woman who owns the house watches the whole thing. She brings the package inside quickly.
Two people going door-to-door in a neighborhood ring a doorbell. The homeowner informs them that he cannot be interrupted, and they leave.
In both of these situations, the homeowners may have been upstairs or in the basement, or possibly not home at all. However, they were able to monitor the delivery and respond to the visitors because they had installed smart doorbells in their homes.
A smart doorbell is one example of the “internet of things,” non-computer devices connected to the internet. It contains a camera and microphone that connect to a smartphone or tablet. It allows a homeowner to see who is approaching the front door without having to be there to answer it. In addition to notifying the homeowner when someone is ringing the doorbell, some models offer features such as:
- Video recording and storage in the cloud
- Motion detection
- The ability to take snapshots
- Live streaming
Smart doorbells give homeowners several advantages:
- If a delivery is expected, the homeowner can learn immediately when the package has been delivered and can quickly retrieve it.
- The doorbell can be answered from anywhere. A homeowner in the middle of a task can respond to a ring without stopping.
- Solicitors and proselytizers can be screened without the homeowner having to physically answer the door.
- Homeowners can share videos with their neighbors to warn them of suspicious activities occurring in the area.
- Some doorbells store videos in the cloud for a few weeks, allowing homeowners to retrieve recordings after an incident occurs.
- Some also create logs of all activities, including doorbell rings and motion detections.
In addition to deterring unwanted visitors and permitting homeowners to more quickly secure deliveries, a smart doorbell with recording capabilities can assist law enforcement in apprehending burglars. This also makes it more likely that stolen property will be recovered. These features should help prevent and reduce property losses, making these homes more attractive to insurance companies. Homeowners insurance discounts for smart doorbells are not widely available yet, but it is expected that insurers will compete for homes that have them in the future. This should result in lower premiums for their owners.
Vendors of smart doorbells include Ring, Chui, SkyBell, Vivent and August. Their products are available online and from big box retailers. Prices vary according to the number and sophistication of features; they run from less than $50 to as much as $600. Many vendors offer installation for an additional fee.
The internet of things is giving our homes vastly more capabilities than they’ve ever had before. Devices such as smart doorbells can help homeowners protect their homes and belongings even when they are not home and these can be a wise investment for many homeowners.