Amazon is going all in on car security. The company announced three Ring-branded devices for cars at its Sept. 24, 2020 event — an alarm, a dash camera and an aftermarket device called Ring Car Connect that will integrate some of these monitoring features into vehicles themselves. And there's a software API for Ring Car Connect, too.
These products are still not available, but Amazon says it's received massive demand from car owners. Because who wouldn't want to integrate the same Ring suite of security feature inside their vehicles? Some people have even been installing Ring doorbells into their car to keep everything safe.
Here's what we know about the Ring Car Cam and Car Alarm so far.
Ring Car Alarm
We'll start with the Ring Car Alarm, an OBD-II device that sounds when it detects a break-in, towing or an accident. Should any of those situations occur, you'll be notified via another Alexa-compatible device, and you can even remotely fire the alarm manually if you so choose.
You might wonder how the Ring Car Alarm is capable of linking up with other devices. As it turns out, the OBD-II dongle doesn't employ a data connection or even Wi-Fi, but rather relies on Amazon's yet-to-be-launched Sidewalk network of Bluetooth Low Energy devices. Sidewalk figures to be an underlying part of Amazon's Ring and Echo hardware going forward. We were initially told it should be live before the end of 2020, but it's now 2022, and there's still no sign of the device.
Because of this, the Ring Car Alarm doesn't require any sort of monthly fee. That means all buyers will have to pay is the $59 cost of the device itself.
Ring Car Cam
Next, we step up to the Ring Car Cam, a $199 dash cam that does rely upon Wi-Fi and LTE. (And with this device, you'll have to pay for data separately.) Ring Car Cam features two HD cameras: one facing out the windshield, and another facing back into the cabin. Like the Ring Car Alarm, it'll notify owners should it detect anything awry, but being a full dash cam with a true data connection and a link to the cloud, it can do a lot more than that.
For example, if you've been pulled over, you can say "Alexa, I'm being pulled over," and the Ring Car Cam will begin recording a feed of the interior. Amazon promises all footage will be "securely stored," and that you can also opt to have a loved one notified upon saying that command.
Additionally, the Ring Car Cam's Emergency Crash Assist system will notify first responders immediately when an accident occurs. It's an appreciated feature, though it must be said that this kind of functionality is also making its way into phones, like Google's Personal Safety app on Android.
Ring Car Connect
Think of Ring Car Connect as a way to integrate the Ring Car Alarm and Ring Car Cam's software into a vehicle that already has around-view or interior cameras. Car companies are free to integrate Ring Car Connect in their vehicles as they please, but until that happens, interested car owners can purchase a standalone, aftermarket $199 device that essentially enables these features within cars.
For example, all four vehicles in Tesla's current model range can add Ring Car Connect to supplement Tesla's Sentry Mode. When Sentry Mode is on, owners will be able to watch the feed through Ring apps. They'll also be able to watch recorded driving footage on other devices, though it's worth pointing out that like the Ring Car Cam, you'll have to pay a monthly fee to upload your data to the cloud via LTE.
Ring Car Cam and Car Alarm outlook
Given Ring's increasing prevalence, as well as the prevalence of the best dash cams, it was only a matter of time before Amazon made a play like this, leveraging the strength of the Alexa software and footprint for car security. It's also encouraging to see that the company's chosen to offer to options for customers — one that's more agreeably priced, as well as another with a truly extensive feature set.
Sure, $199 for a dash cam is quite expensive, as a cursory examination of the best selling candidates on Amazon demonstrates. That said, many of the companies in this field are quite lesser known, and the pricier options from mainstays like Garmin and Vava end up costing about the same as Amazon's proposition, if not more.
We look forward to testing out Amazon's slate of car products as soon as they're available.