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Chamberlain, a company that’s long been known for garage door openers and is the maker of one of my favorite connected products (the Chamberlain MyQ connected garage door opener) will launch two new products at CES this year. The first is a garage door opener that is like the MyQ but does away with the hub that comes with that product to build the Wi-Fi network and connected components directly into a garage door openers that will be available this Spring and sell for between $235 and $250 depending on the power of the garage door opener.
The second product is something that I’m way more excited about: it’s a way to get video from your front door. The device is called Notifi and consists of an LED light and a video camera that is attached to the light via a cord. You screw the light bulb into your porch light by your front door and the socket provides power for the video camera, which you then clip to the light’s fixture.
The idea is when motion triggers the camera as someone approaches the door, you get an alert and a picture on your smart phone. If you want video, you click a button on the app and it starts transmitting. The Notifi uses Wi-Fi to transmit the video, which can lead to a wonky experience in some of the other products that try to deliver two-way or even one-way video to a mobile phone via a Wi-Fi connection from a doorbell or front-door camera.
Cory Sorice, VP of Marketing for Connected Products and eCommerce at Chamberlain, said that by sending a picture first instead of video and prepping the video while the user looks at the picture helps give the system time to start the transmission without leading to excessive buffering or packet loss. The other problem is a bit more prosaic: installation and power can be a bit of struggle for the average homeowner.
Many connected doorbells or peephole cameras that are wireless require a battery change every six months or so, which can get aggravating as we add more and more connected devices. But those that are connected to the existing electric line for the doorbell intimidate some folks, who then take a pass on the device. So while the Notifi is pricey at $199 and won’t come out until the third quarter, the fact that the light socket provides power and an easy installation (plus light for the camera) makes it attractive.
If it can overcome the video transmission challenges, I’m eager to I’m eager to add the Notifi to my collection of smart home gadgets, especially as Chamberlain adds more and more integration partners including Apple’s HomeKit and Nest.