The Memory Doorbell

1 September 2008 at 11:14 | Posted in Building Security, Innovations, Intercom Systems, Memory Doorbell, Security, Security Access Systems | Leave a comment
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[Category: Innovations. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

Today I was on the phone with someone at a courier service: they claimed they had tried to deliver a package last week, but I did not think anyone ever rang my doorbell. Although it could have been while I was away, but I had no way of verifying this.

I live in an apartment, and the doorbell is a video intercom, as is common in apartments. This is nice, because I can see who is there when the doorbell rings, but it is not a very smart device, because if someone rings the doorbell when I am not there, there is no way for me to know, unless the person tells me afterwards.

In some other places I have been, the video intercom is linked with the TV set (you can tune one channel to the video intercom) and the TV will switch on when the doorbell rings and show the person standing there.

This is nice, and conceivably I could record this event, but the recording facility is not part of the manufacturer setup so I would have to rig this up myself somehow which would be time consuming, costly, difficult and interfere with using my recording device for other purposes.

So I was wondering, why does the video intercom not have a recording device built in, much like a telephone answer machine?

So that when I get home after work, the device display says something like “3 events” and then I can playback the footage from the intercom.

Obviously the quality of the recording will need to be high enoughs so that the person is recognizable even without talking to them, or ideally, the concept of the video intercom would need to be changed somewhat, in the sense that it will need to have a built in “voice sentinel” that challenges the visitors in a way that does not reveal whether the occupant is home or not.

This could be done in the following way:

  • Visitor rings doorbell downstairs at apartment bell board.
  • Voice of sentinel erupts from speaker saying something along the lines of: “Welcome to the ABC Apartments. Please state your name and the purpose of your visit”.
  • Visitor states name and purpose of visit (this has already been patched through to the apartment in realtime).
  • Sentinel waits to see if door release is activated from apartment. If nothing happens within say 30 seconds, the sentinel comes back on the speaker saying: “Sorry there was not reply from the apartment just now. Do you wish to leave a message?”
  • Visitor leaves message if desired and leaves.

With this system, if the inhabitant of the apartment is away or does not want to answer the doorbell, there will be a recording that can be played back later.

Added on 18 September: an even better system would be one that would call my cell phone when someone rings the doorbell, and would patch through the camera so I can see live from anywhere in the world who is there. Again, this is a system I could rig up myself with some effort, however it would be nice if it were installed by default in new buildings…

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

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