Technology has allowed us to move from the traditional two-tone bell to something much more complex. A staple of Hollywood science fiction movies, video bells first appeared on the market around 2013.

Exquisite gadgets allow you to see who is at the front door without getting up from the couch, and you can even talk to anyone you visit. As with many technologies, there is a dark side that most people do not know about.

Read on to see how doorbells can inadvertently record private conversations and what you can do about it.

Here is the background

Hanging a video in your doorbell is super convenient, as you can quickly take a look at your mobile device to see who is at the door. In addition, if there is a two-way microphone speaker, you can talk to the visitor.

But few people realize that the bell can record everything you do or say. And it’s not just your doorbell, it’s your neighbor’s. If you happen to speak ill of them (for example, complain to a friend about their barking dog) as you pass by, the doorbell can record your conversation.

Recording options vary between models and brands, but Consumer Reports has launched an investigation into what people can hear and how far. According to the report, Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus captures clear sound from up to 18 feet. The Arlo Ultra Security Camera can record recognizable speech from a distance of 30 feet.

The distances may not seem so great, but keep in mind that many houses or apartments are connected to the sidewalk just a few steps away. But how do you know if someone’s bell is recording you? The short answer is that you will never know.

However, a small red LED light illuminates when the feature is activated on some Ring devices.

What can you do about it

Recording audio or video in your home when you set it up is not as scary as someone else recording your conversations. But while you can’t control how others set up your device, you can adjust what your video bell records.

If you have not changed any settings on your Ring device, it automatically records video and audio as soon as it detects motion. Continue for two minutes or until it stops detecting movement. To stop Ring from recording audio:

  • Open the Ring app.
  • Tap three lines top left.
  • Tap Devices.
  • Select the device you want to adjust.
  • Tap Device settings.
  • Tap Privacy settings.
  • Then finally tap Audio streaming and recording switch.

Wired Ring devices also allow you to adjust the video length from 50 seconds to 120 seconds (which is the default). When you are inside Device settings of the app, tap Video settings and then Video length.

If you have a Ring Protect subscription plan, recordings can be viewed for up to 60 days through the app. You can also save or share them with the neighborhood group.

Keep reading

Here’s what Amazon knows about you when you use the doorbell

You can stop the police from asking for your videos on the Ring Bell – here’s how

Is your video doorbell picking up private conversations? Here’s how to tell

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