Earlier this month Ring, the smart video doorbell company, announced its first major acquisition – that of Cleveland based Mr Beams: an innovative LED lighting technology company. The acquisition, of which no financial details have yet to be revealed, marks a major milestone for Ring, who have gone from niche product specialist to major home security brand inside five years.
The company, which was born out of founder Jamie Siminoff’s garage, has raised over $200 million in series funding, and is now estimated to be worth over $1 billion. It counts Richard Branson, Amazon, Qualcomm Ventures and Goldman Sachs amongst its investors.
Siminoff explained to smart home website The Ambient that the takeover was the result of an alignment of ideas and cultures and that any future acquisitions would have to fit the same mould.
“It’s not a revenue thing and it’s not a technology thing – it has to be an area that we see as fitting the mission and it has to be a culture that we think we can work with,” he said. “The stars have to align.”
“When we find a company like Mr Beams, with founders like David and Mike, who are just so culturally on the same plane as us – when you have that and you can get them at a price that’s not a crazy Silicon Valley price, it’s a rational price, and you can say, ‘We’re going to do something great, you’re going to do something great, let’s do this together,’ that’s when it works.”
“If you look at some other companies that have faltered in our space, I think they have tried to do everything in house too much,” he added. “But, I think there’s a balance. If you just buy companies and stick them together you’ll never have any cohesion.
“Soul is the thing. As we grow as a company things will change and evolve, but soul would be the most upsetting thing for me for us to lose.”
Mr. Beams will continue to operate as an independent division inside of Ring and the first products to be born out of the partnership, Ring Beams – a range of external LED lighting was announced at CES 2018, and will go on sale in the spring.
Perhaps best known for its doorbell cameras, Ring has a Floodlight Cam that’s geared toward protecting other parts of your house. This $249 device has two powerful lights and a sharp, 1080p camera. Combined with a neighborhood-watch feature — which lets you see videos of suspicious activity recorded by other Ring cameras in your area — this camera makes for a great set of digital eyes for your home.
Ring isn’t breaking any new ground with its Floodlight Cam. Apart from the camera section, it looks pretty much like any traditional floodlight that you’d find at a home improvement store. Made of metal, the device comes in black or white.
Below the two LED lights is a fairly large, rectangular housing that contains the camera, a speaker and microphone, and a dome-shaped motion detector on the bottom. All three parts are connected via adjustable arms to a semicircular base, which attaches to the side of your house.
Installing Ring’s floodlight cam is similar to the procedure with most other floodlights: A metal ring screws into the junction box on the side of your house, and then the camera/light housing connects to that box. This setup method requires you to use a small s-shaped hook to temporarily hold the housing in place while you attach the wires from your house to the camera and light. It’s not as simple as the setup with the Maximus Camera Floodlight, which attaches to the baseplate much more easily.
However, I found it easier to adjust the Ring camera than the Maximus version; the latter requires you to push the camera in and then rotate it. With the Ring, you simply twist the arm the camera is attached to.
After physically connecting the Ring to your house, you must then connect the camera to your Wi-Fi network via the Ring app, specifying things such as your address and the sensitivity level of the camera. In all, setup took about half an hour. Connecting the wiring is fairly simple, but if you’re uncomfortable with electrical work, consult an electrician.
The Ring’s camera records crisp and colorful 1080p video. It picked up the rust-red deck and fading green grass of my backyard, and I could even make out features of my dog as he bounded around.
Although the Maximus camera advertises a 155-degree field of view, the device measures that diagonally, rather than horizontally. By comparison, while Ring’s camera has just a 140-degree FOV, in practice, it showed far more of my backyard than Maximus’ camera did; I could see the neighbors’ yards two doors down in both directions.
What’s more, Ring’s app lets you specify motion zones: areas in which, if it detects motion, it will alert you. Maximus’ app has this feature, but only if you subscribe to one of the company’s plans. So, if you don’t have a plan (like me), the Maximus would often send me alerts when a neighbor pulled in his car on the very fringe of the frame. In Ring’s app, you can also set schedules for when the lights and the motion detection should be active.
The Ring camera also has night vision, something the Maximus lacks. Both cameras can be set to turn on their lights when they sense motion, but only Ring’s can work in the complete dark, which is helpful for seeing things at the edge of the lights’ range. You lose a bit of definition in Ring’s black-and-white nighttime videos; I couldn’t distinguish any features in my face as I walked in front of the camera.
Ring’s camera also has two-way audio, so you can talk with whomever you see on camera, as well as a 110-decibel alarm that’s loud enough to draw attention. One thing that the Ring lacks — and the Maximus has — is the ability to play prerecorded messages, as well as sounds of barking dogs, gobbling turkeys and more when the camera detects movement.
Want to know what’s going on in your neighborhood? The newest feature of Ring’s app lets you view security-camera footage that other Ring owners (from any Ring camera) have shared, as well as other alerts — such as fires and reported crimes — around your home. However, you don’t need to own or have purchased a Ring device to use this feature; anyone can download Ring’s app and view and report incidents.
You can specify the radius around your house from which you will receive alerts, and you can both post and comment on footage put online by others.
I found it both unnerving and reassuring to watch video of people stealing packages and testing door locks in my neighborhood.
Smart Home Integration
The Ring Floodlight Cam works with Alexa, Google Home and IFTTT.
You can view a feed from the camera on the Echo Show, Echo Spot, and Amazon Fire TV Sticks and TVs.
For $30 per year (or $3 per month), Ring’s Protect Basic plan covers an unlimited number of cameras, gives you 60 days of video and lets you share it with others. That’s better than Maximus’ starting plan, which cost $4.99 per month but gives you only seven days’ worth of footage.
However, if you don’t subscribe to any plans, Maximus lets you review the past 2 hours of video and download three videos per month. Without a plan, Ring lets you view live events only as they’re happening, but you can set motion zones.
The Ring Floodlight Cam brings Ring’s strong security camera bona fides to an outdoor floodlight. Not only was the quality of the video great, but its other features — such as neighborhood alerts in the app — also further enhance the floodlight cam’s utility as a home-security device. While you’ll need a Ring subscription plan, the company’s $30 yearly price is one of the most affordable among its competitors. If you want a security camera and a floodlight in one, Ring is the way to go.