Smart door locks and video doorbells are great conveniences for those living in single-family homes, but what about the millions of people who live in flats, apartments, and condos? They may prefer to answer their front door from their phone — whether they’re home or not — and perhaps buzz off their visitors without getting out of bed or rushing home from the office. Ring, the creator of the original video doorbell, thinks it has a solution.
The Ring Intercom is a DIY, retrofit device that attaches to your indoor intercom and connects to the Ring app on your smartphone via Wi-Fi. It is specially designed for European apartment buildings where multiple flats (or apartments) have one entry point and only one audio intercom system is installed. With a ring intercom installed, when someone rings your flat, you can talk to your visitor and buzz them through the app. There’s no video component — it’s all audio — and no recording feature. Ring Intercom mirrors your existing intercom function on your phone, allowing you to talk to your front door from anywhere.
The main purpose of a ring intercom is to talk to visitors and buzz them remotely using your phone from anywhere or an Echo device if you are at home. But having packages or food delivered inside the building and to your front door, rather than sitting on the doorstep exposed to the elements and potential thieves, adds another level of security and convenience.
The battery-powered Ring intercom is launching this week at IFA in Berlin. It will be available first in the UK for £119 and in Germany, with preorders starting on September 28 and shipping scheduled for October 26. A bundle with a Ring battery charging station and a spare battery is £149.99. Ring, which is owned by Amazon, is offering the product for a starting price of £89.99 including extra battery accessories, making the total worth around £48. Ring Intercom will be available in France, Spain and Italy in early 2023 and will arrive in the US next year
“It’s as obvious a solution as a video doorbell,” Ring founder and chief inventor Jamie Siminoff said in an interview. to the edge. “If I had been born or raised in Europe, I probably would have built it first.”
Three times more people worldwide live in multi-unit buildings than in single-family homes, so this is a solution the company has been trying to develop for a long time, he said. Siminoff said its doorbell product line “has done well in Europe,” where a large percentage of the population can’t afford it.
Ring introduced Peephole Cam a few years ago, which worked for apartment doors (the doorbell camera is in the peephole). But it doesn’t address how to talk to someone calling at your building’s door (and Ring discontinued the peephole last year).
“There are tens of thousands of variations [on intercom systems],” said Siminoff. “It’s designed to work for over 90 percent of them. It took a lot of work to develop and has a ton of intelligence that determines what it’s connected to, similar to how some smart thermostats work.
The Ring Intercom connects to your internal intercom handset and is powered by a rechargeable, rechargeable battery. It’s compatible with most audio intercom handsets (but not video systems), and Ring.com has a compatibility checker. Your apartment does not require any structural changes and the installation process is completely DIY.
When someone presses your apartment button at the main entrance, it triggers two-way talk through the Ring app. You can only answer calls when someone buzzes into your apartment, so you can’t use it to hear people hanging in the doorway whenever you want.
Ring does not have recording capability as with video doorbells; There is only direct, two-way discussion. “I don’t know if people want it or not [recording],” says Siminoff. “And there are local laws about audio recording.” The activity log in the Ring app lets you know if you’ve lost visitors. The activity log shows every time a shared user activates the remote unlock feature, either by you or someone you’ve granted access to in your home.
Ring Intercom has an optional feature that allows Amazon delivery drivers secure, time-based access to your building to drop off packages, just like the Amazon Key program, so you don’t have to answer the buzzer. Ring says it will add an auto-verified guests feature that lets you share virtual keys that can be picked up by your dog walker or cleaning person. This is what most smart door locks allow you to do.
Ring Intercom can also connect to Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, so you can use any Echo smart speaker or display as a hands-free intercom and talk to your visitors through it. You can also unlock the door with voice, but you must set up and use a voice PIN code.
While Ring Intercom operates in the US, Siminoff chose to focus on Europe for Ring’s launch, where there is a largely untapped market. “I think everyone always recognizes that once you get to the Amazon, you have a magic wand full of engineers and unlimited resources,” he says. “But we have to focus, so we wanted to focus on Europe, start it there, keep it going, and then we’ll bring it to the US.”
Although Ring says you can link the Ring Intercom to other Ring devices, such as the Ring Indoor Cam, there’s no composite functionality; Both devices can be accessed from the same app. Intercom is purely an audio device. “There are ways you can add video to these types of devices,” Siminoff said. “But it’s a much tougher thing and involves more parties, like the building owner. “With a ring intercom, you can have it connected to your front door with a device you can buy and install on your own, “just two screws and half an hour on a Sunday,” says Siminoff.