“Finally a doorbell for the pandemic era,” we noted when Alarm.com introduced its sub- $ 200 Touchless Video Doorbell yesterday. But what was once a curiosity has now become a trend: Netgear spinoff Arlo now has its own non-contact video doorbell as well, all the way down to the same product name.
Arlo does not have a price, release date or even a picture of the new doorbell, which made me think: why does it need to be different from the doorbells that Arlo (and Google’s Nest and Amazon Ring, etc.) already offer today?
This is how Arlo describes the idea:
Arlo Touchless Video Doorbell uses precise proximity sensing technology to measure a visitor̵7;s distance, and zeroes in on the visitor’s approach. When it is detected, the guest hears an audible chime and sees a visible light, which signals that the doorbell has been “pressed” and the homeowner has been notified – all before coming into physical contact with the unit.
Most smart doorbells already have cameras with some form of motion detection. Some even let you fine-tune motion detection zones, and many already have lights and sounds that let a visitor know when they’ve pressed the button.
Why not just shoot a software update to existing doorbells, the ones that automatically ring the doorbell when the camera detects a visitor? It may play an audio message such as “We’m ringing the door for you, wait a minute,” too. Arlo’s video doorbells already support the sending of pre-recorded audio messages.
The humble webcam became 2020’s most important device when the pandemic hit, and most DSLR and mirrorless camera manufacturers responded to the lack of webcam by releasing software so you can turn them into webcams as well. Do doorbell makers think they can entice enough people to buy a brand new doorbell just for this, at a time when people are not going to visit each other’s houses? If I’m right, and existing cameras can do this, it may be more effective to try to sell more of the existing models by building some goodwill.
Arlo introduced its first battery-powered doorbell late last year.