How Doorbell Cameras Work and What Their Uses Are

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Doorbell cameras help you keep burglars and unwanted guests at bay. The core technology has existed in one form or the other for a fairly long time.

As many of us recall, in the ’90s and up to the mid-aughts, it wasn’t uncommon to see video intercoms in homes, offices, institutions and elevators. Some of you might still own these telephone-operated gadgets.

Legacy Video Intercom
Legacy Video Intercom System (Source: CC)

Video intercoms played a regular part in movies and television with one memorable example being the characters in Star Trek Enterprise (2001-05) interacting with fancy 22nd century versions of these gadgets.

Video Intercom Star Trek Enterprise Tv Series

Some of these sci-fi concepts have apparently rubbed off on modern smart doorbells which are fast replacing the legacy video intercom. They now come with Wi-Fi, touchscreen, motion detectors and high-quality speakers.

Also, from a security standpoint, the modern video doorbell devices fulfill many more objectives than possible earlier.

How Smart Doorbells Work

A full-featured smart doorbell incorporates the following elements. Each feature works in combination with the other.

  • Connectivity mechanism: most use 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, but some might additionally use Bluetooth, BLE or Narrowband IoT to stay independent of the home Internet router.
  • Cameras: the cameras should be of a high resolution (720~1080p) with a wide angle view. Some might have night vision and weather-proof capabilities.
  • Speaker and microphone: for two-way communication with the visitor.
Components Of A Video Doorbell
  • Sensors: light sensors (LED), motion sensors (passive infra-red detectors), gesture control sensors, etc.
  • Ring button: this is your new “doorbell” that connects to your phone or tablet apps.
  • Support for integrations: should connect via apps with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT or any other IoT platform.
  • Video recording storage: this is an additional cost component with Ring, a very popular video doorbell device, charging up to $30 per year for saving all your recordings. Some video doorbells are a one-time purchase and have no extra costs for cloud storage.
  • Batteries: 2 AA batteries or similar. For Ring doorbells with normal use, the batteries may last six to twelve months. The batteries deplete faster with too many motion events. The doorbells come with a micro USB which can be connected to any USB outlet.

Uses and Applications of Doorbell Cameras

Doorbell cameras are very useful smart devices that give you the complete information about people who visit your homes and offices. You can speak with them in real time, store the videos and audio and share them through email and social media.

If there are intruders in your home during your absence, you will get instant alerts. Most smart doorbells are tamper-proof, so if someone is trying to change the device location or break it, you will get an alarm.

Samsung Csc

With video cameras, any burglary will leave behind powerful video evidence. For working parents who leave their children home with babysitters, this technology is very useful, as it is easier to monitor what is going on in their absence.

If you are expecting an urgent parcel, you don’t have to take a day off from work, as you can now directly speak to the delivery person whenever they show up.

Conclusion

Not very long ago, a whole home video doorbell system was something that only existed in science fiction. For almost all our lives, “dumb as a doorknob” has served us as a trite expression. Surely, not anymore.

With a smart video doorbell, you can control the access to your home without ever having to get off your couch. In a few years from now, if you’re the parent of a bratty teenager who’s been asked to “answer the doorbell,” prepare to be greeted with a wide-eyed stare of disbelief.

Perhaps that is the only valid reason to hold off a purchase. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

3 comments

  1. “Doorbell cameras help you keep burglars and unwanted guests at bay.”
    You are assuming that these individuals will brazenly waltz right up the walk, straight into the camera. Maybe even declare their name, rank and serial number?

    “With video cameras, any burglary will leave behind powerful video evidence.”
    Unless the burglars cover the lens. How many times have we seen on TV and/or in movies, the miscreants either hanging a rag over the CCTV camera or simply spraying it with black paint? Also, how many times have seen the miscreants feed false video to the surveillance system?

    If you live in an apartment, a doorbell camera has you covered. However, if you live in a house, a doorbell camera only covers the front. It will not see anybody approaching from the sides or back of the house. Neither will it see anything above the house.

    1. These are valid points of concern. But a few video doorbell products come with an alarm so if anyone is trying to take off or tamper with them, you will get an alert/video feed on your smartphone app. Not all of them have this important security feature though.

      Ring has a written policy in place for stolen devices. After verifying a police report, they replace it free of cost.
      https://support.ring.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003475783-What-to-do-if-Your-Ring-Device-is-Stolen

      We’ve had burglar alarms in the past, most of us didn’t worry about a thief making way with the very alarm. Considering that the video doorbells do not cost much, the thieves are unlikely to find enough takers for a used product.

      That only leaves the pranksters and the vandals. Sadly, there’s no cure for them, at the moment.

      1. I said nothing about criminals stealing the doorbell. That would be silly and pointless on their part. My point is that video doorbells are useless as recording devices if the lens is covered or obscured. They can still record audio but that is much harder to use as evidence.

        The current commercial for Ring doorbell running on American TV is an insult to anybody with intelligence. It is designed to snare the gullible as much as any scam on the Internet.

        According to the commercial the “burglars” are going to furtively sidle up the walk, straight into the camera, in the middle of the day and the owner will scare them off by talking to them through the Ring??? It may work on kids intent on a prank or on a desperate, drugged to the gills junkie but not on a burglar with even a smattering of experience.

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