(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc.’s Ring division introduced its first car dashboard camera after a two-year delay, expanding beyond home security with a new category.
The device, called the Ring Car Cam, can record both inside and outside of the vehicle, the company said Thursday at the CES conference in Las Vegas. The product also has sensors to detect motion within the vehicle and external disturbances, such as when the car is hit or broken into.
The debut marks a long-awaited expansion for Ring, which Amazon acquired in 2018. The product — a version of which was first unveiled back in 2020 — provides the division with another way to attract consumers after years of selling smart doorbells and home-security cameras.
The monitor works with the Ring app, letting users view a live video feed as well as communicate with two-way audio. The app can also receive alerts in the case of a triggered sensor.
Amazon has made a broader effort to get its products into cars, betting that internet-connected vehicles and accessories represent an opportunity to extend the reach of the Alexa voice assistant and compete with driving-focused features of Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. smartphones. Amazon sells a device, called Echo Auto, that puts Alexa on the dashboard, and it has struck deals with automakers like Ford Motor Co. to embed the software within car entertainment systems.
In an interview, Ring Chief Technology Officer Josh Roth said the new dash-cam device has a privacy shutter that can disable audio and video recording inside the car. It uses a similar approach as Tesla Inc.’s Sentry Mode, which can record external events like car accidents. Ring had announced plans in 2020 for a Car Connect device that would allow a Tesla to send its video feed to the Ring app, but Roth said that feature has been canceled.
The Car Cam plugs into a vehicle’s OBD-II port for power and connects to the windshield via a sticker. The device can store seven hours of camera footage and then sync it over Wi-Fi to a phone. Ring is also offering a $6-per-month or $60-per-year plan to enable LTE network access, which will send alerts and notifications without a Wi-Fi connection and move video to the cloud automatically.
The car camera has limited voice control via Alexa, which can trigger it to begin recording during certain scenarios, such a traffic stop.
The company wouldn’t disclose why the product was delayed for more than two years, other than to say it didn’t feel like the camera was ready for market. Ring had also announced plans for a car alarm two years ago but now says that’s on hold.
The new device is scheduled to ship in February for $250 but the cost will be $200 for customers who preorder it, beginning Thursday. The launch will be exclusive to the US at the start, Ring said.
The company is also bringing back its Peephole Cam, a video doorbell that installs over door peepholes. That accessory, which also goes on sale Thursday, costs $130.
--With assistance from Matt Day.
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