From security cameras and deadbolts to light bulbs and more, the last few years have seen an explosion of new smart home products. You’ve probably noticed Ring doorbells installed on your neighbors’ front porch when you’re out for a walk, and if you haven’t, you’re probably at least familiar with one of a dozen of them. different viral videos captured by them.
Despite the rise of smart devices, there is an absolute shortage of smart locks that double as doorbell cameras. The two products seem like a match made in heaven, allowing you to secure your home and monitor it at the same time, but few manufacturers have experimented with the format. However, there are a few good reasons why these smart doorbells with lock plus video are in such short supply.
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that these hybrid locks/doorbell cams do indeed exist. There are only a few noteworthy examples (lockley and Eufy), though both allow you to secure your home and monitor it while you’re away. They’re not cheap, but the two products show that we have the technology to make this idea work.
Eufy’s, in particular, has sparked a lot of public interest. Their kickstarter campaign he has surpassed his $50,000 goal, netting just over $1.2 million. There is clearly an interest in this new category of smart home products, and consumers are willing to pay a premium to get their hands on it.
The most compelling reason these products aren’t being produced is that they are simply confusing to use. People have been ringing doorbells for decades, and we’ve gotten used to seeing a doorbell right next to the door frame. With door locks that work like video doorbells, you are now forcing people to break that habit, as the doorbell is now part of the lock.
This means that every time a new friend, family member, or your local DoorDasher shows up at your house, they’ll have to stop and think for a few seconds before figuring out how to announce their presence. And instead of reaching for a separate doorbell, they’ll be reaching near your doorknob, which could make it look like they’re trying to open your door without your permission.
Breaking into new technology takes time (and eventually people would acclimate to the new position), but moving a doorbell a few inches is a bit more revolutionary than you might think.
In addition to retraining brains to look for the bell near the doorknob, manufacturers must also contend with awkward camera angles. Most stand-alone doorbell cameras come with a variety of faceplates that allow you to adjust their position. This allows you to optimize the angles for your specific home, giving you the opportunity to mount the camera, up, down, or to the side.
With a camera built into a bolt, giving users the option to adjust camera angles becomes a bit more challenging. Everything must be kept level for the locking mechanism to work properly, and an alternative solution is expensive and demanding to engineer. And since the camera is now positioned closer to the center of the door, anyone waiting for you to open the door will block most of your peripheral vision, limiting its use.
Smart locks and doorbell cameras tend to last a long time without the need for a battery change. Some doorbell cameras can even be connected to your home, eliminating batteries altogether. But if you combine a smart lock with a doorbell camera, you’ll be using twice as much energy as before. That means you’ll need more juice to power the device. Since there are few hardwired options for smart locks, you’ll be left replacing batteries more often than you’d like.
At the moment, it seems that smart locks and doorbell cameras are better off existing as stand-alone products. There is no doubt that companies and their resourceful engineers will continue to experiment with the technology, and it may become a mainstay in the next decade. But until then, you can rest easy knowing the doorbells stay put.