A front doorbell camera, where you can see somebody, get notified immediately, speak to them, and then easily be able to transition into other aspects of controlling your home, is something that can provide a lot of value to homeowners.

You’ve been trained to hate doorbells, not necessarily by choice, but through experience — the human version of Pavlov’s dogs theory. Doorbell rings, and you just got stifled attempting to seduce your loved one with a night of chocolate strawberries and champagne. Doorbell rings, and Lebron’s game-winner was interrupted at the worst possible time. Doorbell rings, and that sweet, soothing, dreamless sleep you drifted into is now gone forever. The more the bell rings, the more hatred builds.

Now, I have a good news/bad news scenario here. The bad news is doorbells are always going to ring, probably interrupting you at the most inopportune moments. That’s just a fact of life, deal with it and move on. The good news is Vivint has gone to great lengths to build the sleekest, smartest, feature-laden doorbell on the market and it’s ready to change the way you ring and ding.

“A front doorbell camera, where you can see somebody, get notified immediately, speak to them, and then easily be able to transition into other aspects of controlling your home, is something that can provide a lot of value to homeowners,” Vivint CTO Jeremy Warren said.

The Vivint Doorbell Camera takes the concept of doorbells and brings that squarely into the 21st century. Gone are the days of hearing the doorbell ring, answering the door, and staring disappointment (see: salesmen, lurkers, in-laws) directly in the face.

“Our focus is always, always on full experiences,” Warren said. “Really trying to solve or mitigate these full problems for people, not just provide an interesting product or micro experience.”

Here’s the full experience: you’re in the office when your semi-annoying neighbor Tom rings your doorbell, searching for a ladder to borrow. Now, you definitely hate Tom, but not enough to deny him access to your ladder. As soon as the bell is rung, a push notification is sent to your phone detailing activity and showing a thumbnail of Tom mean-mugging your door (the thumbnail option is currently available on Android, with the iOs feature coming soon). Without unlocking your phone, you can click on the “view door” notification, taking you into a live video and audio session with Tom. You can converse with him, drop a few insults, feel bad about those insults, and relent to his demands by remotely unlocking your garage and granting access to the ladder.

“Everything needs to work like an orchestra, being all in sync, otherwise it won’t be successful,” Warren said. “If it takes a long time for notifications to arrive, if it takes a long time to get in and look at the video or help somebody, they may have already assumed that nobody is home and walked away. Then you haven’t done anything, you haven’t solved any problems.”

The most impressive feature is the camera itself, a 180-degree wide-angle camera that allows users to capture video (and record it) in the brightness of day or darkness of night. Why wouldn’t you want to capture film of Tom scratching himself on your doorstep and then share that with the world? You would, and that’s the point.

“The whole thing just happens naturally,” Warren said. “That, a very simple, streamlined experience, is crucially important to making it a successful product and something we focused on from very early on.”

Even though the Doorbell Camera has just recently hit the market, users are already finding unique ways to integrate its features. There are obvious ways — one customer watched a person pulling on latex gloves at the front door and used the walkie-talkie feature to verbally defend their house — and not so obvious ways — children ringing their own doorbell because they know it offers quick access to Mom and Dad.

“In the past, you’re required to be at home, walk to the front door, open the door, and talk to somebody,” Warren said. “They can have that exact same experience, in all the different forms and shapes that it takes, regardless of where they are.”

The ability to interact and the ability to interact and do something are two very different things. Vivint’s Doorbell Camera allows the latter, giving users the ability to converse with people at their doorstep and then, depending on what’s being asked, act upon those demands.

While it might not cure your hatred for ringing doorbells, it will definitely provide a variety of features and options that turn your doorbell hell into heaven.

“I should know who’s at my door before I have to decide to walk up, interact with them, and let them see my face,” Warren said.

Published 5/21/2015