SkyBell Interview: A Look at the Wi-Fi Doorbell with CCTV & Motion Detection

SkyBell (formerly iDoorCam) has come up with a product that has captured the imagination of many people, as last month they blew past their crowd funding target on Indiegogo to raise over half a million dollars.

The little metal roundel is a straight swap out for your regular old 20th century doorbell and provides a CCTV camera, motion detector, microphone and speaker to link to your SmartPhone via your homes Wi-Fi.

Friends, family, visitors and delivery drivers all get patched through to your SmartPhone or other mobile device whether  you’re in the back garden or at the other side of the world.  We talked to SkyBell’s co-founder, Andrew Thomas, to find out more about this innovative smart home device…

Hi Andrew, can you tell us about the products you’ve designed previously and what inspired you to create SkyBell?
The idea for SkyBell started from a desire to stay connected with our homes. Desiree, co-founder and CEO, wanted to answer her door and stay connected with her home while she was at work or travelling.

SkyBell co-founder and CEO, Andrew Thomas

The idea to have a device that allows you to answer your door no matter if you are home or not was appealing for her. Desiree felt it would be a great way to make one part of every day life easier and she liked the idea of the convenience and control it would provide.

What SkyBell features are you most proud of?
That’s a difficult question to answer because the device has so many extraordinary features. But, if I had to choose, I would say that we are most proud of the two exclusive features that make SkyBell a truly smart device: the motion sensor and the On-Demand feature.  The motion sensor is what differentiates SkyBell and it provides unparalleled convenience and control over your door. The motion sensor can initiate alerts and calls even if the visitor does not press the button. Home automation is all about using technology to perform on our behalf, without our interference, and this is exactly why we included it in the design.  SkyBell also pioneered the On-Demand feature that allows a user to access the camera feed at any time from the app, even if no one presses the button. Again, this is more control and more convenience.  Our vision is to create a device that gives users more control over their home sand to help make their daily lives a little easier. These features help make that possible and they help make SkyBell more than just a digital doorbell with a camera.

It looks like you have international support for 220v countries like the UK as well as 110v in the US?
Yes, that is correct. SkyBell works with both power standards and attaches directly to a home’s existing transformer. It works on the 220/230/240v power standards and we’ve been thrilled with the response from Europe. SkyBell will work great from the UK to Norway.

SkyBell iPhone

Silent mode looks like a great idea, how does that operate?
We created Silent Mode out of a desire to make life a little easier for users. It’s perfect for sleeping babies or while you’re working from home. The user will simply select Silent Mode on the app and it tells the device not to trigger the home’s normal doorbell chime.

Do you need power at your door already and what’s involved in installing and setting up SkyBell?
If you have an existing doorbell, all you need to do is remove the old doorbell and attached SkyBell to the same two wires. If you do not have power, you will need to run power to the spot where you’d like to install SkyBell.  Installation is easy. It involves four screws, a baseplate and the device.

What security is built into the product?
SkyBell is specifically designed with theft deterrents.  First, each device has a unique ID which is associated with the user’s account. If a device is removed from a customer’s home, the device cannot be re-registered to another account without the original owner’s consent. Second, we designed the device so that only the owner can remove the set screw without causing permanent damage to the device and rendering it unable to be installed again.

How are the ‘calls’ routed to a customers smartphone? You probably don’t have long to answer before a visitor or a courier walks away so we guess getting this time down to a minimum is really important here?
We created a feed design to quickly route calls to a user’s smartphone or tablet via WiFi, 3G and 4G LTE.

Have you any plans in the future to link with some lock hardware manufacturers so you can let visitors into your home with SkyBell?
We believe in the connected home and the future will include integrations with locks and other devices and platforms. For launch, we’re focusing on building the smartest and most resilient WiFi doorbell and then we will focus on integrating it with other devices and platforms.

Is your “Patent pending motion sensor” some sort of PIR and does it use any special algorithms to detect visitors?
SkyBell’s exclusive motion sensor is what makes the device a truly smart device. It can help make decisions faster and based on your preferences and we believe it provides unparalleled convenience and peace of mind to users. We have some advanced algorithms to detect visitors who do not press the button.

SkyBell could be a target for Vandals, is it sturdy enough to cope?
SkyBell is specifically designed with theft deterrents.  First, each device has a unique ID which is associated with the user’s account. If a device is removed from a customer’s home, the device cannot be re-registered to another account without the original owner’s consent. Second, we designed the device so that only the owner can remove the set screw without causing permanent damage to the device and rendering it unable to be installed again.

SkyBell Mounted on Wall

You have an iOS app available now, when is the Android version due and do you have any plans for a desktop app for Mac or Windows in the future?
The Android app is scheduled for release in December, if not before then. We are considering development for desktop apps for 2014.

Do you have any plans to open up SkyBell in the future with an API?
We are exploring all options for APIs and integrations.

What’s the launch price for the UK?
SkyBell is currently available on for $199 USD. SkyBell will be available for purchase in the UK in 2014.

Thanks for taking time out to talk to Automated Home – where can people find out more?
It’s our pleasure. Thank you for sharing our story. People can find out more information at…

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12 Comments on "SkyBell Interview: A Look at the Wi-Fi Doorbell with CCTV & Motion Detection"

  1. this is awesome, good work andrew!

  2. Paulo Amore | October 21, 2013 at 9:52 pm |

    Hmm. Love the idea.

    But …..

    What happens if sky bell aren’t the next apple. Won’t we need their servers running just to switch my new door bell on?

  3. Davy Van Calsteren | November 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

    Is it possible to aim the camera? Can it rotate a little?

  4. @Davy, looks like the camera is fully adjustable according to the install video. I’d like to know if I can view the camera feed without the app in order to hook up with an NVR. Ordered. Looking forward to them hopefully opening up the API so it can be integrated into my Vera!

  5. Why?? Andrew would you create such a great product just for apple phone users and only 4 androids phone on the app Google store? I ordered before seeing that app only for 4 android phone. Andrew I have a IP camera app works great. Why not update android app to work with many more phones. I have the HTC resound smart phone. Funny the lockitron app works great on my phone. Please update app for android phones more than 4!! Thank you a customer

  6. Hi are they available to buy in the UK yet?

  7. Today I cancelled due to one reason the app! Why would skybell not make sure that app works just like it does in there video??? Doorbots app will show in play store an install on all my devices old or new… I am upset I had to cancel due to skybell app. They will not even fix it!!!! 4 phones are not enough android versions.

  8. My personal experience is that they are the single most incompetent company I’ve ever dealt with.

    No-one is receiving their orders, and the company don’t respond to any emails or support requests. I ordered back in October, still no sign of my order, apparently because they are ‘updating firmware’ to make my experience more ideal when I receive it. I’d rather have a poor experience and a device in-hand!

    Such a great product idea, so disastrously executed by a clearly inexperienced, or overwhelmed set of people.

    Rant over.

  9. The kids who walk past my door will not care if it is not re-registerable or re-usable when they rip it off or put chewing gum on it. I need a camera that doesn’t look like one.

  10. Beware of ordering a skybell (was called idoorcam) like me you may not get yours for a very long time (I bought mine last September and it still has not arrived)

  11. I have promoted iDoorCam now known as SkyBell last year in August:

    Contribution Amount: $127
    Payment Method: Credit Card
    Perk: Early Adopter
    Estimated Delivery Date: October 31, 2013

    It is now JUNE 2014 and I still have not received my item.
    I have sent them many emails and they have what I would call the worst service on the planet! They did not reply to my first emails until threatened. Then it takes them 1-2 weeks to reply to a single email. They still have not send me anything. They will do that “soon” and promise me this for months now. This is such a horrible experience. I contributed, because I expected this device to be shipped in return. I even paid international shipping on top. Still nothing. This is the WORST COMPANY on the planet. DO NOT BUY if you expect any service. They do not deserve to be on the market much longer. Strongly discourage you from buying their products.

  12. Despite of the comment above, i did recieve the updated version of the skybell last week and it works great!
    Good work needs time 🙂

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