Skip to main content

Touchless doorbell feature shouldn’t be exclusive to new models

Ahead of CES 2021, we were already expecting touchless experiences to ripple throughout every corner of the smart home. Cleanliness and social distancing have proven effective in reducing the spread of germs, so if there’s a possibility to lessen exposure through physical contact, you know it’s an application that companies will want to exploit. That’s exactly what we saw with the touchless video doorbells introduced at CES 2021. On one hand, it seems like a feature that’s practical for the times, but I would argue that it is one of the laziest implementations we’ve come across.

Our natural inclination to touch

I’m pretty sure it’s everyone’s inclination to press the doorbell once they approach a home’s front door. Even with today’s existing video doorbells, you’re still required to press the button to ring the bell. It’s this natural instinct that may prove to be the biggest challenge for touchless video doorbells to become practical. Yes, the Touchless Video Doorbell addresses this issue by not only slapping verbiage on the doorbell explicitly stating it’s touchless, but it works in conjunction with a mat on the floor where visitors are told to stand.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

On the flip side, I’m curious about Arlo’s touchless offering. The company announced it during CES 2021 but didn’t provide any details beyond it leveraging ‘Proximity Sensing Technology’ to achieve a touchless experience. Who knows what that entails, but I think companies will need to come up with mechanisms that would help distinguish this touchless ability — mainly because people are just too inclined to press on doorbells.

Why not just roll this out to existing doorbells?

Indeed, this feature is useful in the age of COVID-19, but I’m left wondering how it can be rolled out to existing video doorbells. Seriously, there are ways companies can go about rolling this out so it’s just not exclusive to new models. In fact, I think it’s more feasible than you’d think.

Ring Video Doorbell 3
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Given how some cams can detect people or faces, the software could be tweaked to determine whether a subject is close enough to the doorbell for it to automatically ring. That’s probably the simplest way to achieve this in some doorbells. Another implementation could be related to using a passive infrared (PIR) sensor in order to detect a person within close proximity to the doorbell. Both solutions are feasible, so I feel it’s something for manufacturers to consider.

Containing the spread of germs has become a public fascination during the pandemic, which is why it’s imperative that a feature such as a touchless doorbell should be rolled out in some capacity to existing doorbells. Adding this feature doesn’t seem too challenging. What will be, though, is changing our habits.

Addressing the approach

Explicitly having verbiage on a doorbell to inform visitors that it is touchless may work for now, but it’s not the best solution — nor does it make them physically attractive. Plus, it wouldn’t work if it were rolled out to older doorbells. What I’d like to see perhaps is a way to inform people visually. Since most doorbells have LEDs that turn on whenever they’re pressed, it would be useful if they could somehow be activated to pulsate as a sort of visual cue. It could be enough to give people pause on approach.

Pair that with an automatic audio message that could be played to let people know as well to not touch the doorbell, you have all the ingredients necessary to change habits. And that would be the unintentional result of bringing this feature to all existing doorbells. It wouldn’t take a lot, so I’d love to see it happen sooner than later.

Editors' Recommendations

John Velasco
John is the Smart Home editor at Digital Trends covering all of the latest tech in this emerging market. From uncovering some…
New Xfinity Home Video Doorbell coming soon to all Xfinity customers
The Xfinity Home Video Doorbell works with xFi security to resist cyberattacks.

Today, Comcast announced the availability of its new Xfinity Home Video Doorbell. The doorbell will provide added security and peace of mind during this holiday season, especially when more people are expected to do their holiday shopping online this year. With all those packages being delivered and family and friends passing by the front door, an intelligent and secure doorbell will be necessary. 

Xfinity aims to curb the worry by providing their Home Video Doorbell to customers and integrating it seamlessly into Xfinity Home Systems. In addition, the Xfinity Home ecosystem includes other smart home devices, such as security cameras, xFi, and mobile apps. "We make it easy, for instance, for a homeowner to view the in-app video feed to see who is at the door or to check to see if a package has been delivered,” said Matthew Ecker, VP of Consumer Services.

Read more
Swann dives into home security with new video doorbell and window sensor
SwannBuddy Video Doorbell

Swann has long been a name in the home security space, but now the company is taking its first steps into the smart home arena with the introduction of two products: The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell and the Swann Alert Sensors.

The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell is designed for people who want DIY home security, and it works whether you're in your own home, in an apartment, or even for a small business. The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell works with both iOS and Android, and comes with a lot of different features like two-way talk, night vision, and both heat and motion sensing.

Read more
Wyze Video Doorbell Pro gets double the features at double the price
Wyze Doorbell Pro

With the holiday season just around the corner, you want to be more vigilant about porch pirates than ever. Wyze's new Video Doorbell Pro can help with that. This smart doorbell improves on the previous Wyze Video Doorbell with twice as many features, but also comes with a higher -- but still affordable -- price tag of $65.

The Wyze Video Doorbell Pro can be hardwired or powered through batteries. It will get up to six months of battery life on a single charge, making it perfect for users that can't hardwire a video doorbell due to hardware constraints.

Read more