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Smartbell is the high-tech doorbell that lets you video chat with your visitors

The doorbell is one of the simplest, smartest inventions ever, and the concept hasn’t changed much since its conception in the 1800s. Yet, it’s only effective if someone is actually home to hear it. A company in Las Vegas called Scrambled Brains Tech is aiming to evolve the lowly doorbell with an advanced solution called the Smartbell, which uses your home Wi-Fi and smartphone to notify you of who’s at your front door with sound and vision – whenever and wherever you may be.

The Smartbell app for iOS. It will also support Android.

The Smartbell app for iOS. It will also support Android devices.

When a visitor presses the Smartbell, the unit contacts you on your smartphone (via Wi-Fi) to alert you of someone at the door. Because there’s a built-in camera, mic, and speaker, you can activate a real-time video chat between the Smartbell and your phone (the Smartbell can be set up for multiple users). You can tell your guest to walk right in, or tell the deliveryman to leave the package on the front porch if you aren’t at home. With a motion sensor, the Smartbell can snap a pic of a visitor to notify you of who stopped by; they can also leave a message for you when you’re not home. One useful feature is that the display can be customized with special messages, like your house number, a do-not-disturb request, a note for the UPS guy, or when you might be home (although, for security, we would recommend against doing the latter).

The Smartbell unit contains a high-res camera with an infrared LED for nighttime use, motion sensor, touchscreen 320 x 480 display, doorbell button, microphone, and speaker. It works with iOS and Android via a dedicated app, and the company says you can get messages or enable video chats anywhere in the world, as long as you have Internet access. Besides Wi-Fi, the Smartbell is also compatible with Z-Wave home automation equipment like door openers, lighting, and security cameras. Oh, and yes, the Smartbell functions like a regular doorbell too.

The unit is easy to install. If you’re handy, you can self-install the Smartbell by mounting it using standard screws. The Smartbell requires 5V to 36V DC voltage, which is standard for nearly all home electric doorbells. Wi-Fi setup is as simple as finding your network and punching in your password. The company says the Smartbell’s software can up updated via the app, and there’s no monthly fee to involved.

Smartbell isn’t for sale yet, as it’s planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project (you can check out its Kickstarter draft). The company expects to retail the unit for $279, but it plans to have an early-bird special of $149, with delivery estimated for March 2014.  If you own a second home that you don’t frequent often, the Smartbell is a great solution for the times you aren’t there. Comparable solutions like this exist, but they’re expensive and involve complicated installation.

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