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August’s New Privacy-Minded Doorbell Tolls for Amazon and Google

April 9, 2019, 2:55 PM UTC
August View
August's new smart doorbell, the August View.
Courtesy of August

Having secured the top spot on smart lock sales in the U.S., August Home is going after some outsized competition in the video doorbell market: Google‘s Nest and Amazon‘s Ring.

Priced at $230, the August View smart doorbell features two-way audio, adjustable motion sensors that can be set to capture either all passersby or just those who make it to your porch, and interchangeable front plates to boost the unit’s aesthetic appeal. The battery-operated doorbell has a video resolution of 1485 x 1920.

August Home executives believe the company’s focus on security privacy—it was acquired by lock manufacturer Assa Abloy in 2017—sets the new doorbell apart from competing products by Nest and Ring. Both Amazon and Google have, at times, been challenged on their commitment to customer privacy.

“We are in the business of access control and home security and that’s all we do, literally nothing else,” says Jason Johnson, founder and CEO of August Home. “We don’t sell any other products or services, we don’t sell diapers, or advertising, or data…. I like to point that out because I think that is a feature.”

In February, August published a privacy strategy for its products, which included a commitment to two-factor authentication for all of its users and automatically deleting doorbell videos 30 days after being uploaded. In the statement, Johnson also said the company will only share video with government agencies or law enforcement when compelled to do so through a court order or warrant.

But the San Francisco-based August is looking beyond American borders for sales. The company is now compliant with the European Union’s privacy-minded General Data Protection Regulation. And, in the United States, August CTO Christopher Dow hopes the federal government or the smart home industry will eventually consider setting industry-wide regulations instead of relying on individual states to make those calls. “The more complex it gets to comply, the more advantage it gives to larger companies because they have more resources to apply it,” says Dow.

With smart locks, video doorbells, and WiFi-connected cameras growing in importance on the home security front, “cameras are really becoming security 2.0,” says Johnson. “It’s the future of security.”