One of the benefits of Ring’s system is that it’s constantly getting upgraded, with new features coming online. Today, the company has announced two new automated features that use computer vision and AI to automatically monitor your outside: Package Alerts and Custom Event Alerts.
I sat down with Josh Roth, chief technology officer at Ring, to find out all about the new features.
Package Detection is as it sounds, a way of Ring’s doorbells telling you when a parcel has been delivered to your home. This feature will be available on the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 and the 2020-version of the Ring Video Doorbell.
As Roth explains, the feature is currently limited to those two models, as “package detection is on-device, so they have to have enough CPU processing power”.
While package detection has been available on competitor’s devices, such as the Arlo Pro 4, with these it’s an all-or-nothing even, with the cameras attempting to pick up packages when they spot movement. With Ring, the implementation is different, and users define the area (zone) that they want to monitor for deliveries.
“There’s a new zone called a package zone,” says Roth. “Computer vision on the doorbell detects a package in that zone and sends a customised alert that a package delivered to that zone.”
It’s possible to combine package detection with Quick Replies, which let your doorbell tell someone to leave a package outside; when done, you’ll get an automated alert telling you that the package has been delivered.
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Custom Event Alerts
Custom Event Alerts is a completely new feature, and I’ve not seen anything like it. It will be available for the Ring Spotlight Cam battery only, although processing is done in the cloud, it’s possible that other cameras and devices will get this feature in the future.
Rather than Ring defining what to look for, Custom Event Alerts lets you monitor an area for a change, getting a custom alert when that difference is spotted.
“You train your camera on different states,” says Roth. “Train your camera around, say a garage door and, using computer vision and learning, you get an alert telling you that your garage door is opened or closed.”
Training requires using five images of the first state and five of the second state, which you pull out of the Ring scrubber of video clips that you’ve already recorded. It’s recommended that you use images spread throughout the day (morning, daytime and night) to get accurate training.
What’s particularly interesting about this feature is that it’s completely open to how you want to use it, not constrained by a particular set of rules or object detection. Instead, the system has to be trained to learn the difference between two states. For example, you could train the alerts to tell you if your bin has been moved or if your car window is open.
Ultimately, you can train the system to spot any type of change, the only thing that’s key is the quality of the training images and the ability for the system to spot a clear difference between your two chosen states, in which case the system can intelligently detect the change you’re monitoring for.
“It comes back to computer vision – lighting and distance if you will,” says Roth. “Really [Custom Event Alerts] is a bounding box that you train. From that perspective, it’s extremely accurate.”
Both Package Alerts and Custom Event Alerts will be rolling out today and require the specific products mentioned and a Ring Protect subscription.
Ring also announced some new products and services, although we only have US information available on these so far. Here’s what we know.
Ring Alarm Pro
Building on the success of the Ring Alarm, the Ring Alarm Pro has a new base station that has an Eero Wi-Fi 6 router, so it acts as a wireless mesh system, too. It also adds backup internet from its built-in SIM card, offering 3GB of cellular data per month – extra data is available for a cost.
This device also adds a feature that people have wanted for a long time, offline video recording. Via the 64GB microSD card, you can choose which Ring cameras you want to use to record locally.
Ring Alarm Pro starts from $249.99 and is available for pre-order in the US today.
Currently, the Ring Alarm has assisted monitoring only: you get a phone call when the alarm is triggered, but it’s up to you to check the camera feeds and call the police. With the Ring Virtual Security Guard, you can have professional monitoring.
A security centre will be given access to your camera feeds when the alarm is triggered, so they can monitor what’s going on. Security staff can talk to people they see on the feed or they can call the police, medical or fire services.