Exploring a privacy friendly smart doorbell

Smart doorbells are one of the most popular smart home products right now. But these devices are very blunt, and don't respect privacy as much as they could. They contribute to a climate of surveillance, and it can be unclear where data is sent, and who is analysing it.

So the question is: can we create a privacy friendly alternative that offers the main features without the downsides?

One obvious feature would be that it would record data locally, in the home, and not in the cloud. This is a minimum for all Candle devices. On top of that, as with other Candle devices, you'd want to have control over whether is records at all, and if so, how long data is stored.

A few weeks ago I sat down with Douwe Smit, who works on the Tada.city project to to help smart city initiatives be more value sensitive. While discussed how such a doorbell could function, he proposed adding a physical slider to the camera. That way you can be sure that the camera really isn't recording you. This would bring it in line with Dinie Besems creations which also used "skirts" to manage privacy in a very hands-on and physical way.

In the picture above you can see a first 3D printed prototype. It has a small servo motor inside that can move the cover up or down. This would allow to camera's lens to only be revealed once someone presses the doorbell. Or even better, only when its then actually necessary, which is when someone is using it to look outside. For example if you'd need ot make sure that the mail delivery person really is who they say they are.

There are some other exciting thoughts on how to improve privacy and security for such a device, but since this is in a very early prototype phase those things may be best to reveal at a later stage.

Various iterations of 3D printed enclosures