October 8, 2018

Everybody needs good neighbours

At this year’s CES, smart home leaders Ring (pre-Amazon acquisition) and Vivint had booths opposite each other both promoting the same great concept – smart neighbourhood watch. Vivint called theirs Streety and Ring’s is called Ring Neighbors. Since CES, Streety has dropped the Vivint branding and both apps are being promoted as free and not tied to any particular product ecosystem.

As with all great ideas, it seems such a simple one with so much potential. Consumers download the app and can share live feeds from their cameras or doorbells, as well as add comments and observations.

The smart home market has seen a surge in growth over the last couple of years as consumers buy into the ‘peace of mind’ that home security provides. Home security and safety is relevant both inside and outside the property (we talk more about 360-degree coverage in a previous blog. As consumers cover the perimeter of their homes with video doorbells and external cameras, a great opportunity is unfolding to drive mass market adoption through local communities, and not just individual homeowners, increasing hardware sales and the all-important monthly recurring subscription/service revenues. It also increases the chance of catching criminals in the act or deterring crimes from taking place. The authorities are keen for consumers to use smart home tech to help on this front. As consumers cover the perimeter of their homes with video doorbells and external cameras, there creates a great opportunity to use local communities to drive smart home adoption even further into mass market adoption, driving product sales and important monthly subscription/service revenues. It also increases the chance of catching criminals in the act or deterring crimes from taking place.

From an individual consumer’s perspective, they get to enhance their security as well as the additional peace of mind they get by working with neighbours to share important events or related activity. They contribute and in return enjoy the advantage of the contributions of others. Although it is worth highlighting that privacy has to be (and is) baked-in from the start, I might give my neighbour the ability to see clips from my outdoor camera but not the ones indoor. Alternatively, neighbours could be given time-limited access.

From the perspective of companies like Ring and Vivint, they will amass groups of consumers interested in home security who can be sold to directly or their products could offer enhanced capabilities or closer integration with the neighbourhood watch app. As consumer tech brands compete for unit and subscription sales then the selling power of enthusiastic, influential product ambassadors in each community becomes an effective weapon in their marketing arsenal.

At the moment both Ring and Streety apps offer an ability to share video clips either all the time or on a request basis. For example, should a package be stolen from your front porch you can ask neighbours to share their external camera feeds during that time to see who took it and possibly help the police track down the culprit.

Beyond the manual sharing of video clips and commentary, intelligent smart home products should be able to share information and alerts within this local network automatically. Effectively calling on the eyes – and ears – of all local devices that have been given permission to behave this way when threats are perceived.

For example, if my video doorbell or outdoor security camera detects the sound of a car alarm, a window being broken or an intruder alarm it can alert all of my neighbour’s cameras or doorbells, collating intelligence and recordings from immediately before and after the event in question to capture the perpetrators before the act, in the act and as they get away. In turn, this information can be packaged up, making it easier for consumers to access and more easily shareable with the police if needed. Or perhaps a homeowner is out but they have a visitor come to their house and knock on the door or ring the doorbell, the homeowner can respond via their phone but can also flag the visitor as potentially undesirable, alerting neighbours and neighbour devices to a potential threat and enabling them to take action or be ready.

In addition to security, smart neighbourhoods could also look after an ‘at-risk’ occupier (perhaps elderly or requiring medical assistance). The occupant could feel safe in the knowledge that if their smoke alarms goes off, they press their panic button, fall over or call for help then a small group of trusted neighbours will be alerted. It isn’t just for those who need extra help. If you are at work and your smoke or CO alarm is going off, then neighbours who are at home can be given special permission (and possibly access via your smart lock) to deal with the issue.

By combining the intelligent capabilities from smart home devices that can listen within and outside the home then market leaders can:

  • build communities of local ambassadors and users that will drive product and service adoption and stickiness
  • reduce crime and increase peace of mind
  • help to restore the community feel of local neighbourhoods.

If the title of this article makes no sense to you then you are advised to acquaint yourself with the theme song from the hit Australian soap drama Neighbours, which started in 1985 and was very popular in the UK.

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About Audio Analytic

Audio Analytic is the pioneer of AI sound recognition software. The company is on a mission to map the world of sounds, offering our sense of hearing to consumer technology. By transferring our sense of hearing to consumer products and digital personal assistants we give them the ability to react to the world around us, helping satisfy our entertainment, safety, security, wellbeing and communication needs.

Audio Analytic’s ai3™ sound recognition software enables device manufacturers and chip companies to equip products with Artificial Audio Intelligence, recognizing and automatically responding to our growing list of sound profiles.

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