Amazon Ring’s New Security Cameras and Tech Protect Your Car (and You)
September 25, 2020
From Car and Driver
The Ring Car Alarm is a simple device that will let you know something may have happened to your car through the Ring app.
The Ring Car Cam includes two cameras: it can film bandits taking your groceries from the back seat, and it can also record traffic stops and send the video to people on your predetermined list.
Finally, Ring Car Connect is a way for automakers to integrate their own sensors and cameras with the Ring network.
Amazon already has a few ways to get into your car. There are dozens of models that come equipped with Alexa. There’s Amazon Key, which allows delivery drivers to put your Prime packages right in your trunk. But Amazon also wants to keep people out of your car. That’s why the company announced three new automotive-related Ring security products this week: Ring Car Alarm, Ring Car Cam, and Ring Car Connect.
Don’t get too excited yet: there’s a disclaimer. “These devices have not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. These devices are not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.”
Still, they’re promising. Here’s the rundown.
The $59.99 Car Alarm is the most basic of the three. In a sense, it’s just a simple device that will notify you if it senses the car has been bumped, towed, or perhaps broken into. Connected to your car through the OBD-II port, there’s one key difference between this and other vehicle security systems.
“Most other car alarms alert other people when there’s a problem,” Nathan Ackerman, Amazon’s director of devices, told Car and Driver. “Our car alarm alerts you.” That’s because the Ring Car Alarm works like the Ring doorbell, sending an alert through the Ring app when an event is detected. The car can hoot and holler like a typical car alarm, but only if the user activates that feature.
To send messages, the Ring Car Alarm can connect to your already existing Ring network (i.e., when it’s parked in your driveway and connected to your home WiFi) or operate on its own using Amazon’s Sidewalk network for low-bandwidth devices, which will launch later this year.
Ring Car Cam
It’s the Ring Car Cam ($199.99) that is likely to be the star of the new Amazon car security show. Like the camera-carrying Ring doorbell, the Car Cam can show you who’s messing with your vehicle, thanks to two cameras, one that points forward out of the windshield and the other that films the vehicle interior. Like a dash cam, these are on when you’re driving, but they’re also in “guard mode” when you’re parked, ready to turn on as needed, Ackerman said.
“If a disturbance around your vehicle is detected, then a notification will be sent and a short video will be sent to your phone in the Ring app,” he said.
Another Car Cam feature, called Traffic Stop, feels like an exceptionally good fit for 2020, even though Ackerman said it is part of the plans for the Car Cam since it was still on the drawing board. If you’ve connected the Car Cam to an LTE cellular network (which requires an optional connectivity plan), you can say “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” when the flashing lights show up in your rearview mirror. The Car Cam will then record your interaction with law enforcement and save the files in the cloud.
“Traffic stops are a time when video can be very important and we believe that having video of a traffic stop really keeps everyone on their best behavior,” he said. If you’ve set up a predetermined list of contacts, Ring will notify them that you’ve been pulled over and send them the video as well.
Ring Car Connect
Lastly, there’s Ring Car Connect ($199.99) which is not a physical product, but a set of APIs that allow every automaker to integrate their vehicles with Ring. The only compatible vehicles right now are the Tesla Model 3, X, S, and Y, and they can make video from Tesla Sentry Mode or recorded driving footage available on your phone.
“The idea is to leverage the hardware, both cameras and sensors, that are being built into carmakers’ vehicles and to allow that content and those notifications and the video to be seen inside the Ring app,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said Amazon made the decision to move into car security because it was the number one request from Ring customers, making it clear to Amazon that cars are something people want to protect. “Cars get messed with and cars get tampered with, and it’s happening everywhere,” he said. “Having the same level of safety and security that you have in the home in the car is something that people were really asking for, and they were asking for it for a long time.”