video doorbell or video door phones have now become commonplace for many years. It is indeed very practical to see and talk to the person ringing your doorbell before letting them in. At worst, if the person seems suspicious to you or you are simply not interested in the direct seller going door-to-door, you can simply refuse to open the door. Practical, and above all reassuring, therefore.
Today, the trend is more and more towards the connected videophone. Many ask me if this is in any real interest. The word “smart” is nowadays used for all kinds of products, a good half of them having no interest in being “connected”. But it’s the buzzword, it’s salesman. So what about the connected videophone?
I. What is a smart video door phone?
A classic videophone consists of a camera placed at the front door, with a bell button. When someone presses the bell button, a screen “rings” inside the house and displays the camera video outside, allowing the visitor and occupant to chat together, and the occupant to see the other person. Usually connected to an electric strike, the occupant can also unlock the front door or wicket door with a simple push of a button on the door. A connected videophone does the same, but is also connected to the computer network, and is associated with a mobile application. It is then connected at home, but especially with the Internet, and therefore the world, whether by cable, Wi-Fi, or even GSM (like the Fenotek doorman for example). So when someone rings your doorbell, it’s no longer just the screen in the house that rings, but also your smartphone, wherever you are in the world.
While it was very difficult to find such equipment just 5 years ago, many manufacturers have gone through it: Extel, Somfy, Legrand, Nest, etc.
II. Interest of a smart video door phone
Some may think that the interest of the mobile application may be quite limited compared to the classic screen usually delivered. However, several significant interests can be identified.
First of all, as mentioned above, when a visitor rings, your smartphone will notify you, wherever you are.
Two advantages to this:
First point: If they are friends who were supposed to pass by, but who arrived early, for example, you can open the door to them remotely, so as not to let them wait outside. If you also have an electronic lock, like the Nuki we saw, you can even take them home. It’s a bit the same principle if a delivery person passes in your absence: if the package does not pass through the mailbox, you can open the door by giving him some oral instructions, so that he leaves the package safe at home. He will not need to come back, and you will not need to pick up the package at the nearest depot. It’s a win-win situation. 🙂
Second point: whether you are at home or not, you can answer when someone rings the bell. As I mentioned in my advice for a peaceful holiday, it is a very good protection: often the malautrus ring at your house several times. If no one ever answers, it is probably because the owner has gone on holiday, leaving the house open for burglary.
Moreover, in terms of security, some connected videophones, such as Nest’s Hello, make it possible to warn the owner when someone passes in front of the camera’s eye, even if it has not rang, the camera then simply operating in presence detection. A person with bad intentions will therefore be filmed for a few seconds without their noticing, leaving a trace of their passage. Depending on the settings, the owner can also be notified instantly of this visit.
While we are in the security field, it should be noted that some manufacturers have shared the use of the indoor video screen between the videophone and the security cameras: this way your screen allows you to view both your entrance and the cameras around and in the house. Practical!
But the interest of the connected videophone does not stop there. It can be used as a video “answering machine”. In your absence, if you cannot answer, a short video, or at least a photo, will be taken of your visitor as soon as he or she rings the bell. Some models even offer the visitor to leave a video message, which you can view when you are available. This way, no more visits will escape you.
More and more models also include an RFID reader, which unlocks the door it monitors with a contactless card, or sometimes a bracelet. Each “badge” being assigned to a person, it is very simple to know who is entering and when. This may be to receive an automatic notification when children come home from school: they pass their badge in front of the videophone to unlock the gate, and they can then enter the house. Parents, on the other hand, receive a notification on their smartphone. It is often possible to manage the rights on this type of access quite finely: the cleaning woman can for example have a badge that will only unlock the door on Thursdays between 9am and 12pm, for example. Outside these hours, his card will not give him access to your home. The same goes for the neighbor who has to come and water the plants during the holidays…
Finally, when you say connected, you sometimes say “connectable” to third-party systems, i.e. to connected objects or a more global home automation system. Let’s take the example of a person with a hearing impairment: when someone rings the bell, they may not always hear it, whether it’s the screen in the house or their smartphone. We can then imagine coupling the connected door phone to a connected bulb, Philips Hue type, and make sure to make the living room lamp flash when someone rings. Example here between a Ring doorman and a Philips Hue bulb, via the IFTTT service that interconnects objects and services:
At home, I have been using a Mobotix door phone for several years (one of the only models at the time, very expensive:(). It is linked to my Jeedom home automation system, as I explained in a tutorial, to manage various actions if I am at home or not. If I am present, it sends on all possible channels: Slack (since it is open on my computer all day when I work), Telegram, SMS, and it triggers the recording of my Arlo cameras. If I’m not there, he only sends to Telegram and also triggers the cameras.
Do you need any more reasons? I think all this already gives a good interest to the connected doorman. The possibilities will vary from one model to another, but the basic functions are often the same. The good news is that today several models are available, and prices have dropped, allowing everyone to equip.