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Ring's new custom alerts let you 'train' your outdoor camera to track almost anything

"Your fly is down." -- Ring, probably.


Ring announced at Amazon's fall hardware event Tuesday a new alerts feature for its popular Spotlight Cam Battery: You'll be able to train it to recognize different object states around your house, such as whether a garage door is open or shut or a mailbox flag is up or down. In addition, Ring will begin to roll out package alerts for its video doorbells.

Ring will offer custom alerts only with the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery to start with, though Ring didn't say it intends to keep it exclusive to that camera in the long term. You'll be able to take five pictures of each object state you'd like registered (say, garage door open and garage door closed) to teach the camera how to tell the difference between the states. Then the camera will send you alerts depending on your preferences.

The processing for this "computer vision"-driven feature will happen in the cloud, according to a Ring spokesperson. (Ring's approach to privacy has drawn heavy criticism in the past two years. For more, you can read my deep dive into Ring's current privacy policies.)

Now playing: Watch this: Biggest announcements from Amazon's fall event

The spokesperson also said the feature will work best with "solid-state objects," likely meaning immobile, solid objects with two distinct states of being -- open or closed, for instance. Sadly, that means the camera likely won't be able to alert you to more fluid situations, like your fly being down as you leave the house -- though we will certainly test its limits once the feature rolls out.

Custom alerts are fairly uncharted territory for most home security cameras at this point. Nest Cams can learn to recognize certain people using subscription service Nest Aware's Familiar Faces feature, and cameras from Nest and Arlo can distinguish between people, animals, packages and vehicles. But no major home security camera developer has rolled out customizable alerts.

Package alerts will also be available soon for the Ring Doorbell Pro 2 and the Ring Video Doorbell (2020).

Ring has largely avoided using event-specific alerts, other than distinguishing person alerts from generic motion alerts, so both the custom alerts and the package alerts position the video doorbell giant to be more competitive with others in the market.

Amazon also announced the Ring Alarm Pro, a new Blink video doorbell and more at Tuesday's event. The company unveiled that Ring will soon let you hire virtual security guards to monitor your doorbell feed, as well.