Published by Fast Company, Mark Wilson, Thurs 10 November 2016
Every once in awhile, the internet of things gets things right.
The missed package is the bane of every modern Amazon shopper’s existence. You’re gone at work or play, only to return home to see that little yellow slip stuck to your door, a punishment for the neighbourhood to see like a scarlet letter. If you’d been home, you would have heard the doorbell. But now you’ll never get that 36-pack of Sriracha!
Now, one Kickstarting company has an enticing solution. It’s called the Ding Smart Doorbell ($99). And it’s essentially your run-of-the mill doorbell with integrated intercom system, but as a bonus, it connects via Wi-Fi to call your phone if someone rings the bell while you’re away. So whether it’s the UPS guy, some neighborhood kid selling fundraiser cookies, or maybe even a potential thief ringing your doorbell to check if anyone’s home during the day, you can respond as if you’re home (but unavailable to make it to the door), or admit that you’re away.
“Ding started off as a side project to design a contemporary doorbell . . . most of the market fall into ‘dumb doorbells’ that look great and are made from solid metal, but are essentially pushbuttons, or ‘video doorbells’ that offer endless features and integrations, but look like HAL 9000 and would never suit a front door. That gap in between design-led and technology-led products is what inspired us to make Ding,” says co-founder and CEO John Nussey. “Our approach was all about simplicity and ease of use, so we started with a doorbell button and chime, like a traditional doorbell and then added useful layers of technology on top.” - CEO John Nussey
In other words, the doorbell has an intentionally plain design to make it approachable. It can run up to six months on a set of batteries, or it can be hardwired into your home instead. A very decent-looking speaker, available in various colours, is placed wherever you like in your home so you can hear the bell itself. All of this is relatively typical–the revolution is that this otherwise typical doorbell and intercom system has an infinite range. Because when someone rings the bell, you get a push notification through Ding’s app. And all you have to do is tap the notification to open a VOIP phone call with whomever is at your front door.
In this regard, Ding gets the internet of things right. While it connects to a smartphone, it doesn’t need a smartphone to work. And while Ding has a standalone app that’s loaded with analysis about when people are ringing your doorbell–and all sorts of other stuff that, quite frankly, is only going to bloat an otherwise simple product–you don’t really have to use it for the doorbell to be smart. So Ding avoids that trap of requiring users to open up a discrete app for yet another smart device in their homes for it to function.
Instead, the core interaction model of the doorbell/intercom is merely extended. The visitor doesn’t have to do anything new. They just ring the doorbell! The doorbell chimes normally for anyone at home, via a normal speaker. Nothing bugs you or blinks if the doorbell isn’t actually being rung. When something does happen, it’s of minimal consequence, living as just one notification on your phone. Yes, the deeper app layer is there if you really want to nerd out about doorbells, but using Ding doesn’t have to be any more difficult than answering a call or text message. And truth be told, either of those options is easier than actually getting up and answering your door.
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