Amazon-owned Ring is getting chatty. A new feature – available to premium Ring Protect subscribers – employs Alexa to converse with visitors at your front door. The Ring Protect service allows subscribers to set Alexa to screen anyone who interacts with the Ring doorbell. Alexa will then greet them, determine their intentions, and will either relay a message to the homeowner or offer instructions about where to leave a package. The doorbell can also be integrated with Ring motion sensor/security cameras and Alexa can, through the doorbell, warn visitors that they are being recorded.
According to Interpret’s Smart Home Martix™ research, nearly 30% of consumers own a smart speaker or display, and 11% of consumers own a smart doorbell – meaning that this powerful merger of smart home devices will likely become commonplace in the near future. This combination of technologies is likely to increase owners’ sense of security, and, hopefully, reduce the occurrence of package thefts from front porches.
Convenience often has a cost, however. The latest smart home technologies raise numerous privacy questions, including the fact that facial recognition technologies could soon provide homeowners with extensive information about the person walking up the driveway. A neighbor stopping by might not object, but the delivery service employee or postal worker may not want to share their background story with random homeowners. “The sticky issues surrounding data privacy will only increase with the rise of new monitoring technologies,” noted Stuart Sikes, Senior Vice President at Interpret. “Ring’s policy of sharing video data with local law enforcement has generated criticism for the past several years, and that is a problem that’s going to expand as each home’s potential to know its visitors increases.”