Amazon-owned Ring announced three new products today, in increasing order of coolness. They include two new products for the car and a new security drone for the home that can fly itself around, with the idea being that it can replace having multiple cameras…
Okay, let's get through the car stuff first, which does sound extremely useful, it's just… not from an ’80s sci-fi movie.
The Ring Car Alarm is a small unit that fits to your car's OBD port, where it just sits and waits for something out of the ordinary to happen. If it detects an impact, a break-in, a tow or other out-of-the-ordinary events, it uses Amazon's Sidewalk wireless tech (which can reach up to a mile away, according to the company) to warn you. This may mean it requires a new Amazon Echo 2020 in your home to function, because the new smart speakers have Sidewalk built in, so can act as a base station – we'll confirm that when we're able.
The Ring Car Alarm costs $59.99 (UK price TBC) and requires no monthly subscription, and Ring says it should work with 99% of cars.
Next is the Ring Car Camera, which sits in your windscreen, like a dashcam, and uses twin cameras (inwards and outwards-facing) to record what's happening in your can. This can be a theft alert – it'll tell you if it detects any movement or noise, and will start recording. Like other Ring cameras, you can then watch live thanks to built-in 4G, and you can trigger an alarm to deter any miscreants.
Ring hasn't said much about how functional it would be as a dash cam yet – we'll look for more information and update ASAP – but it did highlight some interesting security features. It will detect crashes, and can automatically call the emergency services, keeping video for later review.
More interesting is that you can now say "Alexa, I'm being pulled over" if you're asked to stop, and the camera will immediately jump into action, recording everything inside and outside the car in its field of view, while also contacting a specific loved one to tell them what's happening.
The Ring Car Cam costs $199.99 (UK price TBC), but you'll need to pay monthly for 4G connectivity.
What about the security drone!?
And now, the thing you really want to read about. The Ring Always Home Cam is a small drone camera that's basically a quad-copter with a camera sticking out the bottom. Most of the time, it sits in a charging cradle that looks to be about the size of a bread bin, but users can trigger it to fly on pre-determined paths around the home to look at… well, whatever's there.
Ring's examples include checking the oven is turned off, or that doors are closed, and so on. The user creates the paths it can fly to – there's no manual control at all. When it's not in use, the camera is blocked completely by its cradle – recording only starts when it's mid-flight, Ring says.
It can be triggered to fly somewhere by the user, or can respond automatically to alerts from a Ring Alarm system.
The Ring Always Home Cam will cost $249 (UK price TBC) and is due in 2021.
Ring also announced that video can now be end-to-end encrypted, meaning they can never be viewed by anyone other than the user. Ring has come under criticism for handing videos over to police in a way that many thing violates privacy, and there have also been reports of access to users' videos being far too easy for Ring employees. End-to-end encryption would make access to videos moot, since the videos would be unwatchable by anyone other than you, assuming it works as advertised.
Ring says that end-to-end encryption will work on compatible devices, but hasn't specified what those are yet. A redesign video 'Control Center' will enable you to see how your videos are encrypted, and to change the method.