Why Ring Acquired Mr. Beams: New Ring Smart Lighting System at CES 2019

Ring Smart Lighting system launches at CES 2019 one year after the acquisition of Mr. Beams, maker of quasi-connected outdoor lighting products that Ring is IoT-enabling. Why the proprietary RF and bridge?

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Why Ring Acquired Mr. Beams: New Ring Smart Lighting System at CES 2019

At CES 2019, we saw the fruits of Ring's acquisition of Mr. Beams: full line of outdoor lighting products utilizing proprietary RF technology and connecting to the smart home via new Ring Bridge.

At CES 2019, security and surveillance powerhouse Ring launched “Ring Smart Lighting” with a full line of landscape lighting and sensor devices — most of which are battery-powered and touted for outdoor applications; all of which are very affordable, starting at $25 (retail price) for a sensor-enabled Steplight.

The products evolved from Ring's 2018 acquisition of Mr. Beams, a 14-year-old manufacturer of energy-efficient, battery-operated LED lighting devices that had no connection whatsoever to the network, the cloud, the IoT, the connected home ….

We asked Ring at the time why such a connectivity-centric firm would acquire such an unconnected lighting company. The response was pretty much what the press release said at the time: The acquisition was “another example of Ring’s commitment to providing the most comprehensive Ring of Security around homes and neighborhoods” and the two companies “shared [a] commitment to reducing crime in neighborhoods.”

After CES, we now have a better understanding of the acquisition and what Mr. Beams (a brand of Cleveland-based Wireless Environment, LLC) brings to Ring, not to mention Ring's new parent company Amazon, where Mr. Beams has been a top-seller for years. According to Crains Cleveland Business, Mr. Beams generated more than $25 million in revenue in 2017, up from $15.9 million in 2015.

As it happens, 2015 was the year Mr. Beams launched the NetBright line of “Intelligent Networked Wireless Lighting,” a misnomer which might suggest the products connected to the home network. They did not.

Instead, the new NetBright outdoor-lighting products interconnect with each other over a proprietary 433-Mhz network: When one NetBright device detects motion, any or all devices on the NetBright network can respond.

With the existing Mr. Beams NetBright line – a $20 motion sensor, plus sensor-enabled spotlights, floodlights and pathway lights – up to four zones can be created.

The system requires no hub, no central controller, no app. Instead, NetBright creates a network the old fashioned way: dip switches.

The new Ring-branded products will connect the new-fangled way: through a Wi-Fi hub and an app.

Another IoT Hub and Proprietary RF Tech?

The new Ring Smart Lighting products communicate via a proprietary RF technology, requring a Ring Bridge to connect to the home network and smart-home ecosystem.

Don't pound your head on this one. If have a few dozen wireless lights spread throughout a property, you want them to use a technology purpose-built for energy efficiency. That's a lot of batteries to change.

Proprietary RF Lighting and the new Ring Bridge

As part of its new Smart Lighting line, Ring introduced the Wi-Fi-enabled Ring Bridge, which connects all the outdoor lighting products to the home network and the cloud, enabling app-based control and home-automation integration.

Via the bridge, users will be able control outdoor lights through the Ring app, and integrate them with other Ring devices and applications, namely, cameras, doorbells and Amazon Alexa. For example, if the sensor on any particular light trips, it can trigger the Ring video doorbell to start recording. 

Related: New Ring Low Voltage Transformer Makes Dumb Landscape Lights Smart

Mr. Beams has been using a proprietary 433 MHz RF technology in its wireless products, enabling relatively long-range communications in an uncrowded band, without straining batteries – important attributes for outdoor applications.

David Levine, co-founder of Mr. Beams and now president of Ring Smart Lighting, told me at CES that Ring acquired the company because of its expertise in “off-grid power,” which of course entails the optimization of battery life … which explains why Ring now has a full slate of outdoor lighting products based on a proprietary lightweight RF technology.

Ring is not saying anything about its implementation of the RF technology at this time, other than calling it “Ring’s proprietary long-range network.”

The company does tell CE Pro, however, that Mr. Beams-branded products are not supported in the Ring ecosystem.

UPDATES ON SMART LIGHTING INTEGRATION: A Ring spokesperson tells us the Smart Lighting ecosystem (via Ring Bridge) will not integrate with Ring Alarm at launch, but it will do so “at a later date.” There seems to be no technical reason why the two ecosystems couldn't mix it up in the cloud. Ultimately, we imagine the lights will indeed find their way into the Z-Wave-enabled Ring Alarm base station, enabling mutually beneficial interactions — for example, a tripped Z-Wave sensor in the home could signal the landscape lights to turn on; a tripped sensor on an outdoor spotlight could signal the Ring Alarm siren to blare.

Ring furthermore confirms to CE Pro that third-party integration with Ring Smart Lighting (cloud-to-cloud via the Ring Bridge) isn't happening, at least “not at this time.” Ring has been slow to provide rich integration with its video doorbell and surveillance cameras, so this should come as no surprise.

Price and Availability

Ring Smart Lighting products are expected to ship in March 2019.

Retail pricing starts at $25. More details on the product line can be found in the press release, page 2.

{pagebreak}PRESS RELEASE

CES 2019: Introducing Ring Smart Lighting

Ring launches new line of affordable, smart outdoor lighting, networking security lights to further enhance security around the home

SANTA MONICA, Calif. & LAS VEGAS–()–Ring, whose mission is to reduce crime in neighborhoods, today announced at CES 2019 that its newest home security product line, Ring Smart Lighting, is now available for preorder. Ring Smart Lighting creates an affordable, easy-to-install network of outdoor, motion-sensing lights that work together to illuminate the dark areas around the home. When they detect motion, the Smart Lights turn on, trigger one another, and can send notifications via the Ring app on your mobile device. They can also integrate with Ring Doorbells and Cams so that when one camera or Smart Light detects movement on your property, the other Smart Lights turn on and all cameras begin recording. Ring Smart Lighting is available for preorder at Ring.com and Amazon.com today and will begin shipping on March 6, 2019.

MAIN STORY: Why Ring Acquired Mr. Beams and Used Proprietary RF

Jamie Siminoff, Chief Inventor and founder of Ring, said: “Ring Smart Lighting helps deter crime by acting as the ‘eyes’ of the home security system and delivering an ‘always home’ presence. Darkness is a major contributor to safety and security concerns among consumers, yet most currently available outdoor lighting solutions have limited capabilities and can be difficult to install. Ring Smart Lighting takes home lighting to the next level and can even make existing outdoor lights smarter. In just minutes, neighbors can create an entire network of security lights around their homes and integrate all their Ring cameras and lights right in the Ring app for enhanced, proactive home security.”

By combining energy efficient LED lights with motion sensors and Ring’s proprietary long-range network, Ring Smart Lighting can turn on other Ring Smart Lights as well as Ring Doorbells and Cams and alert customers of motion on their property. For example, when one Ring Smart Light detects motion in the driveway, it can trigger the other Smart Lights to turn on. For Ring Protect Plus subscribers, the Smart Lights can also trigger any Ring Doorbells and Cams installed on the property to begin recording when motion is detected. The user can receive a push notification via the Ring app on their mobile device and see and speak to anyone who is there via their Cam or Doorbell. Connect Ring Smart Lighting to compatible Alexa-enabled devices to ask Alexa to “turn on my back yard lights” and/or alert you when there’s motion in your yard.

Ring Smart Lighting system includes floodlights, pathway lights, steplights, low-voltage transformer, motion sensor and Ring Bridge for integrating into a home automation system.

The Ring Smart Lighting line includes eight integrated products ranging from battery-powered, motion-sensing landscape lights and spotlights to an AC-powered, motion sensing floodlight and a low-voltage transformer:

Wired

  • Ring Floodlight Wired ($69.99) – AC-powered, motion-activated smart light that mounts to a pre-existing electrical box and shines 2000 lumens on high-traffic areas around the home.

  • *Ring Bridge ($49.99) – Integrates all Ring Smart Lighting, Doorbells, and Cams – when one Ring Bridge-enabled device detects motion, it can activate all Ring devices, giving the Ring of Security endless combinations.

Low-Voltage

  • Ring Transformer ($99.99) – Low-voltage transformer that replaces older transformers to unlock smart controls for your pre-existing landscape lighting. Simply link the Ring Transformer and Ring Bridge to all pre-existing low-voltage landscape lights to turn on the lights, adjust their brightness, create light patterns, and more, right from the Ring app.

Battery-Powered

  • Ring Spotlight ($39.99) – Motion-activated, wire-free smart light that can be installed almost anywhere around the home, including above a garage, shed or porch.

  • Ring Pathlight ($29.99) – Motion-activated smart light that is installed along walkways, driveways and other high-traffic areas.

  • *Ring Floodlight Battery ($49.99) – Wire-free, motion-activated smart light perfect for illuminating the driveway, yard, and walkways that features a combined 600 lumens and adjustable mounts and settings.

  • Ring Steplight ($17.99) – Motion-activated hands-free safety light that can illuminate stairs, decks and porches for brightened security where you need it most.

  • Ring Motion Sensor ($24.99) – Connects to your Ring Smart Lighting, Doorbells, and Cams to activate lights and video streaming whenever motion is detected.

Pricing and Availability

Ring Smart Lighting ($24.99-99.99) is available for preorder today at Ring.com and Amazon.com and will begin shipping on March 6, 2019. Once shipping, Ring Smart Lighting will also be available in other major retailers. Ring Smart Lights will be available outside the U.S. in select countries later this year. Additional Smart Lights with a range of power options, including solar power, will become available in the future as well.

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