Yale’s Super-Smart Doorbell Cam: ‘Look’ Viewer with Video, Intercom, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi
CEDIA Expo 2015: Yale to launch Look Digital Door Viewer, replacing standard peephole with IoT camera, video display, two-way audio, Wi-Fi and home automation via Z-Wave and ZigBee.
Yale, a popular maker of smart door locks, is broadening its access control line with the new Look Real Living Digital Door Viewer, an IoT doorbell camera that replaces the common peephole with a camera, video display, two-way audio, Wi-Fi and home automation via Z-Wave or ZigBee.
The product will be demonstrated for the first time at CEDIA Expo 2015.
Peephole viewers are a growing category in the smart home – Brinno has been a leader so far – but Yale seems to be the first with a product that provides intelligence to the device, enabling it to communicate two-way with both people and other IoT devices.
Starting with the mundane features of Look, the outside-facing hardware includes a doorbell, intercom, PIR motion sensor and peephole that doubles as a camera.
Behind the scenes, inside the home, is the Look “hub” that mounts to the door. It features a 4.3-inch LCD monitor and contains the processor, card slot for video storage, batteries (four AA), Wi-Fi and (optionally) ZigBee or Z-Wave.
There is a companion app for iOS and Android devices.
The app enables two-way live video communication with a visitor utilizing the Look’s camera, mic, speaker and Wi-Fi radio.
A photo is automatically taken when a visitor pushes the built-in doorbell, and homeowners can choose a photo or live video to be displayed on the monitor at home. In addition, a motion sensor can be set to automatically snap a photo when someone comes within 6.5 feet.
Photos and videos are stored with time stamps on the viewer itself, as well as the app.
Where the Look Gets Smart
The Wi-Fi-only version of Look works like many other video doorbells, just in a different form factor – and one that makes sense given the video display on the homeowner’s side and the ease of installation.
But add home automation to the mix, and you have something that is unique in the category, at least for today.
Yale’s first automation option will be Z-Wave, allowing the Look to communicate with hundreds of third-party devices by way of a Z-Wave gateway. Users can sprinkle virtual doorbell sounders throughout the home, for example, and also use the Look’s built-in motion sensor to receive alerts of activity at the front door, whether or not the guest rings the doorbell.
Yale Real Living Look Door Viewer is smart doorbell camera with home automation via ZigBee or Z-Wave. Price will be $180 for Wi-Fi only, $200 for Wi-Fi and Z-Wave.
Alerts might also include low-battery warnings and tamper alarms.
Using Z-Wave or some other low-power protocol for this type of communications will save battery life and reduce latency vis-à-vis Wi-Fi.
Kevin Kraus, Yale’s director product management for Residential EAC (electronic access control), tells CE Pro that the company will release APIs for cloud-to-cloud integration through Wi-Fi. Yale already is working with third party SHaaS (smart home as a service) providers such as Alarm.com, and is “also looking at IFTTT,” the cloud-based if/then engine for do-it-yourselfers.
The new Yale Real Living Look Door Viewer will be available in first quarter 2016 for $180 for the Wi-Fi only version and $200 for Wi-Fi and Z-Wave version.
A Sidebar on Smart Peepholes and Yale
I like the idea of smart peephole viewers, cameras and communicators. It could well be the future of “smart doorbells.”
The big problem is going to be with battery life, given the power requirements of an LCD screen (even if it only lights up once in a while), Wi-Fi, video transmission, two-way voice, sensor and home automation.
You can’t run power wires to the middle of a door – not elegantly, at least.
Questioned about battery life, Yale product manager Garrett Lovejoy tells CE Pro, "Low-power battery-operated devices are a core competency of Yale and [parent company] Assa Abloy."
In fact, this power-optimization experience is why Yale was one of only two device manufacturers to join Nest in launching the Thread networking protocol for home automation last year.
“We were brought in because they wanted a company that had experience supporting these [home automation] protocols, but was an expert in battery-powered products,” Yale's Kraus told CE Pro back then.
Perhaps at some point (this is me talking) we might see Look transmitting images over a low-rate protocol like ZigBee, something akin to the “Image Sensor” from Alarm.com, Ranger from Novi Security and motion camera from Abode.
On another note, I was told that Z-Wave and ZigBee versions of the lock would be available at launch, but at some point Yale would offer a Thread-enabled version, as well.
Interestingly, Yale just became the first partner to announce product (Linus lock) based on Nest’s Weave wireless home automation protocol, which runs on Thread. Thread is a network-only protocol that requires an application layer like Weave (IPv6) or ZigBee.
It is unclear how and when Yale might implement Thread in Look.
Whatever the case, CE pros now have at least two really good reasons to visit Yale at CEDIA Expo 2015.
RELATED: Nest Exposes ‘Weave’ Home Automation Protocol, Opens Camera API, Plans World Domination Ultimate Guide to DIY Security & Home Automation at CEDIA Expo 2015 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - JULIE JACOBSON
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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