The Amazon-owned security company makes an excellent alarm system. But it creates an anxiety-inducing feedback loop.
Ring smart- For the past few months, I’ve been letting Ring—and, by extension, Amazon—monitor my house.
When no one’s home, the Ring Alarm system keeps watch through a system of contact and motion sensors, ready to send alerts to my phone—and, optionally, to a professional monitoring service—if the sensors detect an unwelcome presence. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Echo speakers provide extra protection, letting me arm and disarm the system by voice and listening for the sound of smoke alarms or broken glass.
If I wasn’t using a Ring Alarm system on loan from the company, it’s the kind of thing I might’ve already bought for myself—perhaps during Prime Day or the many other occasions when Amazon puts the product on deep discount. Even at a regular price of $199 for an entry-level kit, it undercuts competitors like Nest and ADT by hundreds of dollars, and it’s more reliable than cheaper do-it-yourself systems that lack cellular and battery backups. It is, in short, a great product, and it’s one that Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff tells me is central to the company’s future.
“We do believe it really is a core, foundational piece of our overall long-term vision and mission to protect and keep our neighbors safer,” Siminoff says in an interview, which Ring set up to discuss the company’s strategy around alarm systems.
At the same time, it’s hard to reconcile my appreciation for the Ring Alarm with my unease about the company behind it. Even as crime rates hit record lows, Ring has convinced millions of people to surveil their property through doorbell cameras, and it’s now helping police departments around the country ask residents for warrantless access to the footage. Meanwhile, Ring’s Neighbors app provides an open forum in which people can discuss threats—both real and perceived—in their communities, risking heightened paranoia over whatever their cameras are dredging up.