Something interesting is happening in home security: Amazon.com Inc. is starting to deploy a line of devices—logoed with its iconic blue monocle—called Ring Video Doorbells. The company just revealed one new model called the Ring Floodlight Cam.
Over the past two years, Ring, which is privately held, has been building a line of camera-based home security. The company is owned by Comcast Corp., the largest cable operator in the United States. It uses artificial intelligence to identify people who live at a house and then tells you where they are at any given time, and in what location, via live video streams.
Using an app on your phone, you can then see who’s at your door through the Ring floodlight camera, which spots motion and comes equipped with a night vision mode. (Shared video streams are encrypted with Ring, and linked to a customer’s Amazon account so they can be viewed by another family member or trusted friend.)
The company sold about 150,000 units in its first 15 months of going public, according to COO Casper Stone. We talked with Stone about this new addition to the line, the demand it’s seeing, and what the company is learning from users.
Emily Glazer: How many customers do you have currently? How much do you sell each month?
Casper Stone: We have more than a million registered users. We expect to sell at least 1 million units this year. We’re providing service at a 2.99 percent discount right now, but expect our year-over-year volume to grow rapidly in the next few months, as more and more people try it out. The average active Ring customer buys three devices.
EW: So how many do you have currently? How much do you sell each month?
CS: That’s a proprietary number. The number depends on how many devices you have. Our average customer spends about $700 with us and has an average amount of about $200 for cameras.
EW: How does a new model differ from existing ones?
CS: We’ve upgraded to HD video streams and new scene detection technology, plus there’s a ring security switch to control access to the camera. It’s like Amazon Echo; you can turn the lights on and off and get notifications at the same time.
EW: There are others out there, too. Google’s Nest also sells an indoor camera and outdoor camera for security. Is there a space for more devices in this space?
CS: Home security is a big business. We’re seeing an increase in customer satisfaction, over 90 percent. Our customers really get the benefits of home security, but they also love the experience of using the Amazon Alexa to set up and control the cameras and the Amazon HomeKit to share these video streams with others. And it’s a way to get more sleep. I buy one everyday.
Amazon released a new set of Elements with a different naming convention. In the same way, we want them to be customized for the customer, depending on what the customer wants, and why they want it.
EW: Any specific features or benefits customers are asking for in a new device?
CS: New features include added alert reminders, peace of mind with Fire. We have an update to a feature that provides the user with two-way communication, and an update to support Amazon Alexa. The changes are at the top of the list: Voice messaging, 2-way audio and two-way video. Voice messaging is an option that when enabled, can record your voice and send it to the user; fire is a crucial feature in a HomeKit device that allows the owner to control the internal clock, and the ability to send audio to Alexa is essential.
EW: There are many virtual assistants, and we’re seeing people using more and more of them in everyday life. Is there a place for more video- and voice-based assistant devices?
CS: Voice assistants are incredibly powerful. What we’re finding is that users want things to work perfectly. Voice technology needs to be accurate, smooth and simple. In that way, two-way audio and video are compatible with Alexa and Google Home.
EW: Does using voice control with an Amazon device make it harder to find the app on your phone?
CS: The current Amazon app for Android and iOS can be a bit confusing. We’re working on removing some clutter and simplifying the home screen. We don’t have any specific plans for the Apple iOS world right now.