Amazon-owned Ring is expanding from home and neighborhood security to the automative world, with three new products it debuted today at Amazon’s expansive devices and services extravaganza. These include Ring Car Alarm, Ring Car Cam, and Ring Car Connect – two new devices and one API/hardware combo aimed at automotive manufacturers, respectively. Each of these will be available beginning sometime next year.
“Truly since we started Ring, and even back in Doorbot days, people were asking for automotive security,” explained Ring CEO and founder Jamie Siminoff in an interview. “It was something that we always kind of had top of mind, but obviously we had to get a lot of other things done first – it does take time to build a product, and to do them right. So while it did take us some time to get into it, our mission is making neighborhoods safer, and a lot of the stuff that happens to cars happens in the neighborhood.”
Siminoff said that he’s especially pleased to be able to launch not just one, but a full suite of car security products that he feels covers the needs of just about any customer out there. Ring Car Alarm is an OBD-II wireless device that can detect any bumps while the car’s unoccupied, or even break-ins and when the car’s begin towed. Ring Car Cam is a security camera, which can work either via wifi, or LTE available via an add-on plan, and check for incidents while parked, or offer emergency crash detection and traffic stop recording when on the road. Finally, Ring Car Connect is an API and aftermarket device for carmakers that allows them to integrate a vehicle’s built-in cameras, and lock/unlock state.
I asked Siminoff why start right out the gate with three separate products, especially in a new market that Ring’s entering for the first time.
“As we started looking into it more, we realized that really, it wasn’t a one-size-fits all kind of product line, even to start,” he said. “We realized that it really was about trying to build more of a suite of products around the car. At Ring. we try to – and I won’t say we hit this 100% of time – but we’ve certainly tried to only launch something when it’s truly inventive, differentiated for the market, fits our mission and can really make a customer’s life better.”
The products definitely span a range of price points – Ring Car Alarm will retail for $59.99, while Car Cam and Car Connect will both be $199.99. Ring Car Alarm is obviously aimed at the broadest swath of customers, and provides a fundamental feature set that can work in concert with the Ring app to hopefully provide deterrents to potential criminal activity around a user’s vehicle. The device sends alerts to the Ring app, and they can then trigger aa series if they want. Car Alarm can also be linked up to other Ring devices, or Amazon Alexa hardware, and Alexa will provide audible alerts of any bumps, break-ins or other events. Ring Car Alarm will require connectivity via Amazon Sidewalk, the low-bandwidth, and free wireless network protocol that Ring’s parent company is set to take live sometime later this year.
Ring Car Cam goes the extra mile of actually letting a user check in on their vehicle via video – provided they’re either within range of a wifi network, or connected via the optional built-in LTE with a companion plan. It also provides additional security features when the car in which it’s installed is actually in use. Ring’s Emergency Crash Assist feature will alert first responders to the car’s location whenever it detects what it determines to be a serious crash. Also, you can use the voice command “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” to trigger an automatic recording in case of a traffic stop, which is automatically uploaded to the cloud (again, provided you’ve got active connectivity.). On the privacy side, there’s a physical shutter on the camera itself for when you don’t want it in use, which also stops the mic from recording.
Finally, Ring Car Connect consists of an API that car manufacturers use to provide Ring customers access to mobile alerts for any detected events around their vehicle, or to watch footage recorded from their onboard cameras. This also allows access to information that wouldn’t be available with a strictly aftermarket setup – like whether the car is locked or unlocked, for instance. Ring’s first automaker partner for this is Tesla, which is enabling Ring Car Connect across the 3, X, S and Y models. Users will install an aftermarket device coming in 2021 for $199.99, but then they’ll be able to watch Tesla Sentry Mode footage, as well as video recorded while driving, directly in the Ring app.
Ring’s security ecosystem has grown from the humble doorbell, to whole-home (now, much more now) and exterior, to a full-fledged alarm service, and now to the car. It’s definitely not resting on its laurels. And it’s also releasing a $29.99 mailbox sensor, which will quite literally tell you when “You’ve got mail,” which is Iike a delightful little cherry on top.