'Alexa, I'm getting pulled over': Ring debuts dashcam with Traffic Stop mode
Ring's new Car Cam, Car Alarm and Car Connect aim to boost driver and vehicle security and safety on the road, when parked and if you get pulled over.
Antuan GoodwinReviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
ExpertiseReviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainmentCredentials
North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
The most fully featured product announced is the Ring Car Cam, a dual-camera dashcam with connected features powered by Amazon's
voice assistant. It records video of the road and the vehicle's cabin as you drive along, which in the case of an event -- perhaps a fender bender -- it can send to the cloud for retrieval.
When a severe impact is detected, Emergency Crash Assistance is triggered and an audio call is made to a response center to determine if the driver is OK. Respond that you're fine and no action is taken. Ask for help or fail to respond and emergency services are directed to you. The system will also try to contact the driver's phone if it can't get a response.
The Car Cam also has a Traffic Stop mode that can record interactions with the police, saving the audio and video to the cloud. When being pulled over, drivers can say, "Alexa, I'm getting pulled over," and the unit will verbally communicate that it's recording and streaming the content to the cloud. Traffic Stop can also notify a list of driver-specified emergency contacts.
"Traffic stops can be a time when having video is important, so that everyone remains on their best behavior," said Ring's Head of Mobile Products Nathan Ackerman, in an interview with Roadshow. "So, we developed a feature to support that."
The Car Cam is also on guard when parked, ready to turn on and record video if the sensors detect bumps or loud noises. The owner is then notified and can decide whether to watch the video or sound the alarm. And because sometimes you might not want a camera watching your every move, the Cam will feature "helpful privacy controls like a physical camera shutter to electronically disable the interior video and audio."
"The Ring Car Cam is a part of the overall Ring system and I think 'linked devices' is a concept that's really powerful here," said Ackerman. "It's not just a single camera; it's a camera working with all of your Ring devices. So maybe an alarm trigger in your driveway turns on your house's floodlights and the cameras on those floodlights. The Car Cam can work within the larger Ring system and connect all of your devices together."
The Ring Car Cam will retail for $200 and require an LTE subscription to upload video and access connected services. Subscription pricing hasn't been announced, but Ring tells me that it will be "affordable" and can be added onto an existing Ring subscription.
Ring Car Alarm
The simplest of the trio is the Ring Car Alarm, a device that plugs into the car's onboard diagnostics (aka OBD2) port and uses sound and accelerometer sensors to monitor the vehicle for bumps, break-ins, tows or other events. If triggered, a notification is sent to the user and, if preferred, an onboard siren can be sounded. The Ring Car Alarm will cost $60 and will not require a paid subscription to operate and receive notifications, operating on Amazon's Sidewalk IoT mesh network for low-bandwidth devices.
Presumably, Ring needs the diagnostics port connection so that the Alarm knows when the car is running and doesn't sound the "I'm being towed!" siren while you're driving. The standardized connection also ensures that the device is powered when the car is turned off. However, that same OBD2 port outputs information about your car's performance and your driving habits that the Ring Alarm could collect and report back to the Amazon mothership, something to keep an eye on when you browse the device's privacy settings.
Ring Car Connect
Finally, there's the Ring Car Connect. This $200 aftermarket device uses a vehicle's built-in external cameras to capture video in the event that something happens to the car while driving or parked. The first compatible vehicles for the Ring Car Connect will be the Tesla Model S,
, tying into those vehicles' Sentry Mode cameras. Like the Cam, Car Connect sends real-time phone alerts to the owner who can watch the recorded video footage and see vehicle information (like whether the doors are locked) in the Ring app. Certain Ring Car Connect features will require an optional connectivity plan, the pricing of which is yet to be determined.
Eventually, Ring wants the Car Connect API to be adopted by OEMs natively in their future vehicles. Much like how you can just log into Amazon Alexa in certain cars without the need for extra hardware, so too would Ring like to tie Car Connect into new security and monitoring systems allowing users to monitor their cars' cameras from the Ring app -- perhaps even without the need for an additional hardware purchase. Ring has made its API available to all automakers, but has not yet announced any additional partners.
The Ring Car Cam, Ring Car Alarm and Ring Connect hit the road in 2021 and will be available on Ring.com and Amazon.com.