Do references to robots working alongside us touch a nerve, cause a pinch of uneasiness that grew out of mid-20th century cautionary films? Are they taking our jobs, taking over the world, watching us all the time?
Maybe that subliminal feeling arose when Jamie Siminoff pitched the Doorbot to the Sharks on Shark Tank in November of 2013. Perhaps we were not ready to attach a robot to our front doors. Siminoff introduced the Doorbot as the first Wi-Fi enabled video doorbell that directly interfaced with the homeowner’s smart phone, offering two-way audio communication and one-way video surveillance. It was a new technology not only for the old category of doorbells, but also for the newer segment of Internet-enabled home security.
But, most of the Sharks stepped away from the Doorbot. Laurie thought it was not different enough from the existing end-user technologies for home video cameras to justify the difference in price points ($50-$100 per unit vs. $199 for the Doorbot). Mark failed to see the technological progression of the stand-alone product. Damon struggled with the market placement for the Doorbot. Robert tapped into what might have been the root of the problem: he did not trust the Internet technology as a consumer-based security device. Could it be hacked? Only Kevin, “Mr. Wonderful” offered Siminoff a deal, which he respectfully rejected.
That might have been the death of the Doorbot, but Siminoff knew that he had an idea and product that was “nimble” and positioned to be part of a big change. At that point, he already had $1 million in direct sales. So where did the Doorbot go?
The big change was our acceptance of the Internet of Things (IoT). IP.com’s last blog touched on the evolution of IoT since the 1999 emergence of the concept to use the Internet to access a network of physical objects. Apparently, in 2013, the Shark Tank investors were not quite ready for it or did not recognize the cog for this particular gear. Overall, our faith in, and understanding of, systems that exchange and act upon information that emits from our devices, goes to a computer somewhere, and then bounces back to our devices, has been very gradually growing.
Amidst that growth, the name Doorbot disappeared — conspicuously dropping the “Bot” and its connotations, perhaps? Siminoff founded his company in 2012 as Ring, the company that made the smart doorbell, and the product became synonymous with that.
Now, Ring, is a brand with which we are more familiar. We know that smart doorbell — the one that keeps porch pirates from stealing our Amazon packages before we get home from work. Amazon plays a very important role in this story. In 2017, Amazon picked up what the Sharks had left floating in the water four years earlier. Making waves as a disrupter in the home security market, the ecommerce giant acquired Ring from Siminoff for a billion-dollar price tag. Amazon is becoming a powerhouse in the integrated home technologies sector, and its brand familiarity and established trust are making the once nebulous “Bot” welcome to sit by us on the front step.
In addition to home security and package protection, the smart doorbell offers some entertainment value. As more households embrace the technology, people are sharing the recorded video through social media. Yes, we are catching criminals in the act and seasonal delivery persons throwing packages across the yard. We got ‘em! But we are also catching endearing animal videos, insects creeping across the lens, funny visitors, and practical jokers setting up a friend for a laugh. Further, the cameras can help us find lost pets, or lost people. Ring has a variety of clips to show on their website, calling it RingTV.
So, whatever happened to the Doorbot? It’s here. It’s been rebranded, updated, and expanded. We call it Ring. And we have gotten used to it.