Doorbell Camera Owners Value Entertainment Over Security (#GotBitcoin?)
Some people are using their smart doorbells as nature cameras, checking the video all day long. Doorbell Camera Owners Value Entertainment Over Security (#GotBitcoin?)
Some people browse social media in their free moments. Kevin Huyghe scans his doorbell’s video feed.
The 31-year-old accountant in Broadview Heights, Ohio, checks the live and recorded footage from the smart device’s app on his phone at least a dozen times a day—while out and about, from the office, in the middle of the night—not for security, but to watch the deer, raccoons, birds and other creatures outside his home.
He developed the habit after the doorbell’s camera alerted him to a deer munching on his potted geraniums. Now he’s devoted to his front-porch fauna.
“I’d rather look at a squirrel than read comments on Facebook,” he said. “It’s not as depressing.”
Smart doorbells promise a range of security measures, including motion detection and the ability to see and talk to whoever is at your front door. Last year, Amazon.com Inc.’s Ring, Google’s Nest and other makers collectively rang up roughly $370 million in global sales, up 51% from 2017, according to research firm IHS Markit.
People usually buy the internet-connected devices to thwart package thieves and other ne’er-do-wells. Owners are also finding themselves transformed into obsessive nature watchers, captivated by the nonhuman prowlers outside their doors.
Kim Baltz in Hermitage, Tenn., bought a fancy doorbell after $230 worth of facial cream went missing off her front porch last year.
She has yet to spot any thieves, but she has ogled raccoons climbing on top of each other to reach bird feeders that hang from a tall metal pole. She’s cut back on perusing the online message board Reddit to make more time for gazing at all the furry foot traffic.
“It’s better than TV,” said Mrs. Baltz, a 51-year-old dispatcher for an auto association.
Billy Hankins and his wife, Anna-Leigh Hankins, of Hoover, Ala., watch their doorbell feed at the end of the day. “It’s something we do together to decompress,” said Mr. Hankins, a 35-year-old economics professor.
After coming home from work, the couple sits on the couch and spends a few minutes catching up on a posse of six cats that regularly use their front porch as a footpath between midnight and 5 a.m.
“It’s like a cat highway,” said Mr. Hankins. “We get excited when we see the black and white one because he, or maybe it’s a she, visits less frequently.”
Vivid footage of a small lizard puffing its throat near the front door hooked Ashley Reese. She used to occasionally check her phone when it dinged with a doorbell alert. Post-lizard, she checks every time to see what’s out there.
The video impressed co-workers at the Columbia, S.C., recruiting firm where she works so much, they listen for the alerts, too. “Anytime they hear it go off on my phone, they ask me, what is it this time? What’s on your doorbell now?” said Mrs. Reese, 36. “It’s made me popular.”
Ring founder Jamie Siminoff said although his company’s mission is to reduce crime, customers have sent in countless animal videos. A section of Ring’s website is dedicated to them.
The Amazon subsidiary recently released a commercial with one user’s footage of a bear climbing into a car. “It looks like a man in a bear suit because you can’t imagine it’s real,” Mr. Siminoff said.
Dennis Martire’s obsession with the possums and raccoons caught by his doorbell camera expanded beyond his front door. He installed three more internet-connected cameras to watch the action in his Leesburg, Va., backyard, too.
That’s when he discovered a blue heron treating his koi pond like a free sushi bar. Now he relies on the cameras’ motion-detection systems to warn him when the fowl shows up. The 54-year-old labor-union executive has hopped out of his morning shower more than once to shoo away the bird.
“I’ve even found myself getting up earlier to look for this stupid thing so I can scare him,” said Mr. Martire.
Susannah Brengel was similarly inspired by the wildlife she saw through her smart doorbell, such as when a band of squirrels managed to break into a bird feeder. She bought a second internet-connected camera to watch over a hummingbird nest with two eggs in her Westchester, Calif., backyard a few months ago. Then she bought a third.
Ms. Brengel, a movie-production accountant in her 50s, said she checked her cameras as many as 30 times a day for more than two weeks after the chicks arrived to watch them grow up. “They went from tiny jelly beans to filling up the nest to practically flying,” she said.
The babies have now left, but the mother, which Ms. Brengel calls Hettie, still drops by to snack from a feeder. “It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘empty nesters,’ ” she said.
Allison Peters uses her doorbell camera as a wildlife monitor for a more practical use. The nursing professor in Ocala, Fla., who is in her 50s, caught a snake slithering in front of it last year. She estimates it was roughly 4 feet long. “He had little beady eyes and his tongue was sticking out,” she said. “I shuddered.”
She has relied on her feed to make sure the snake isn’t there before leaving home. “Thank God we have other ways to go out,” she said. Doorbell Camera Owners Value, Doorbell Camera Owners Value