There's much to report on Ring after CES 2018. The famous maker of video doorbells apparently has settled with ADT in the “Zonoff” lawsuit and will launch its newly branded Ring Alarm system soon. Also, Ring enhanced its surveillance app, and acquired the wireless lighting company Wireless Environment, LLC, dba Mr. Beams. Details on the acquisition below, and forthcoming.
First, the lawsuit. ADT filed a claim last year, alleging Ring stole IoT-related intellectual property from a now-defunct platform-developer called Zonoff. By that time, ADT had sunk $36 million into Zonoff to develop Z1, a SHaaS (smart home as a service) platform that would be used in two new security and automation systems from ADT. Those solutions never materialized.
A single source says Ring and ADT settled for $25 million, but the figure cannot be confirmed. That amount would be twice what Ring offered ADT last year to make the lawsuit go away. As CE Pro exclusively reported back then, ADT had declined that original $12.5 million offer. ADT put its own Zonoff property on the auction block, but apparently never sold it.
The next question is this: Won’t Alarm.com sue Ring now? More on that below.
Ring Protect Becomes Ring Alarm
It was just a few months ago that Ring announced the new Ring Protect security and home automation system based on Zonoff's Z1. Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff has maintained all along that his company rightfully owns the technology through a $1.2 million contract it had with Zonoff before Zonoff shut down.
The unsympathetic judge in the case at the Delaware Chancery Court issued a temporary restraining order to halt sales of Ring Protect – apparently an unusual move since his honor was still deciding the case.
Now that the lawsuit is reportedly settled, Ring will start shipping the newly branded “Ring Alarm” this spring. We imagine the company dropped the “Protect” moniker because Nest already uses the brand for its smoke/CO detectors.
Nest’s competing security system is called Nest Secure.
RELATED: Alarm.com & Icontrol Lawsuits
Ring Alarm is a scary prospect for the status quo in security and home automation. The service will cost just $10 per month for remote access, professional security monitoring, cellular back-up, and 30 days of video storage for an unlimited number of cameras … with no long-term contracts required,
Service like that usually starts at $30 on the low end, but typically costs over $50 per month with a two- or three-year contract.
Yikes! Traditional providers won’t be happy. On paper, Ring Alarm looks pretty sweet, with ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular radios in a hub that also includes a siren and 24-hour back-up battery.
A starter kit costs $199 for the Ring Protect Base Station, one keypad, one door/window sensor, one motion detector and a Z-Wave range extender.
That’s obscenely cheap. The closest equivalent is the ADT/Samsung SmartThings security and alarm system that retails for $450 and starts at $24.99/month for security monitoring and interactive services (no contract required). Granted, the Samsung product has a nice touchscreen, a much broader feature set, and a proven system with Nortek's 2Gig as the hardware provider.
Ring is still building out its ecosystem for the Alarm product. At CES, the company announced a water sensor, as well as a smoke/CO listener that reacts to the sound of a dumb smoke/CO detector. These, like the other announced sensors communicate via Z-Wave.
Furthermore, it appears Ring might be the first to incorporate the new Z-Wave SmartStart technology into its products, dramatically simplifying the process for enrolling devices into a system.
Will Alarm.com Sue?
Last year, Alarm.com inherited some patents from erstwhile competitor Icontrol, which it acquired last year (Comcast bought part of Icontrol, as well). At the time, Icontrol was in the process of suing Zonoff for patent infringement.
With Ring’s very threatening business model, it seems Alarm.com would absolutely continue the lawsuit it inherited … if the company believes there’s infringement (in general, merging professional security monitoring with interactive home automation via the cloud).
It’s possible Alarm.com quietly “settled” with Ring when ADT settled with the doorbell giant, earning some kind of licensing agreement in exchange for kiboshing a patent suit.
ADT is Alarm.com’s customer for at least five years, thanks to a deal negotiated during the Icontrol acquisition. ADT had been Icontrol’s flagship customer since basically day one.
That could be one reason that Alarm.com isn’t suing ADT and Samsung SmartThings for their latest offering – a DIY security and home automation system powered by Nortek’s 2Gig.
Alarm.com still has lawsuits pending against competitors SecureNet and ipDatatel.
It would be really surprising if Alarm.com were to allow Ring to go forward unimpeded. Ring will be a real threat to Alarm.com’s business model, even though Ring targets DIYs and Alarm.com goes to market through professional installers.
More Developments at Ring
In addition to the Alarm-specific news, Ring introduced some other goodies at CES, including a relationship with pitchman Shaquille O’Neal (“Defend Your Home Court Like Shaq!), a real-life sheriff who made an appearance at the show.
In case you’re wondering, Ring’s products are “Approved by Sheriff Shaq,” who is “more than just a big person with a big personality.”
Also at CES, Ring introduced a “revamped” Stick Up Cam, the company’s “first-ever” indoor/outdoor camera.
More interestingly, Ring is improving its app and back-end services. Users will be able to group cameras by location and view multiple cameras from a single screen. Also, new “preview tiles” will give users a “sneak peek” of every camera in an ecosystem, and a new event timeline will provide a “scrubbed” view of video to present the most important events of the day.
Finally, Ring acquired a lighting company called Wireless Environment, LLC, dba Mr. Beams. Stay tuned for more details on that company and its patent portfolio.