Smartbell doorbell shows you who’s at the door and more

Every time my doorbell rings, I find myself wishing I had a butler who would answer the door for me. That’s why I’m interested in Smartbell, a device that appears to do that job better than any butler can.

It’s a Kickstarter project that’s shaped like an iPhone that mounts next to your door, and it transmits an alert as well as a video signal to your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Instead of getting up answer the door, you can engage in a two-way video conversation with the caller, or you can take a one-way peek at that person without being seen, turning the visitor away just as you would send a phone call to voicemail.

Smartbell iPhone app

Smartbell iPhone app

From the visitors’ perspective, this Wi-Fi connected device lets them leave video voicemail for you. From your perspective, its motion detector can take a still picture of your visitors, even if they don’t bother to ring the doorbell.

This looks like a brilliant idea, but my concern is that in some neighborhoods miscreants might be tempted to steal this attractive bauble. Think about it: Would you be willing to hang a $279 gadget next to your front door? Maybe it could be somehow embedded into the wall.

However, thanks to that motion detector, you’ll have a nice keepsake photo of the person who stole it, a pyrrhic victory.

The Smartbell Kickstarter project began its campaign on Tuesday, where it’s already attracted 103 backers and $17,681 of its $100,000 goal. It has 31 days until its funding deadline of January 4, 2014.

I think it’s about time to modernize that most prosaic of devices, the doorbell. How about you? A pledge of $149 might end up being a good deal on one of the $279 Smartbell units. The company plans to deliver the first Smartbell units, as well as the iOS and Android apps, in March, 2014.

Graphics and video: Smartbell