Level has announced it’s releasing a doorbell camera exclusively for multifamily buildings as an optional part of an overall smart home platform for multiunit dwellings. The video doorbell wouldn’t be available generally but instead comes to a smart home market for multifamily buildings that could benefit from a retail smart lock maker moving into the space.
Our initial impression was that it could provide camera shared by an apartment building’s residents, but Level says that’s not so, with the system designed to put them on individual units.
Level says residents can use the Level app to peer through the doorbell camera and speak with visitors on the other side. The press release adds that the camera includes “package identification intelligence” to notify residents when deliveries have arrived. Assuming the company brings the same level of creativity to its doorbell camera that it did the Level Bolt — its “invisible” smart lock that tucks all of its smart guts into the deadbolt itself — the Level video doorbell could bring sophistication that’s otherwise lacking in this market.
In an email to The Verge, Level’s chief revenue officer Ned Murphy said the camera will be compatible with locks found in Level’s multifamily catalog, and that users will be able to toggle their door locks from the video call interface.
Although, as we pointed out at the 2016 debut of competitor Latch, systems like this can have privacy issues, such as that company’s requirement that its locks keep usage logs that landlords can potentially review.
The release touches on privacy but only barely, saying the doorbell camera will be accessible from the Level app “while being mindful of neighbor privacy and owner liability.” It’s not clear what that means, though.
We asked Level for more detail, and in an email to The Verge, Murphy said Level stores 20-second video clips for 72 hours, but does not allow residents to record and store videos beyond that. Package detection, Murphy said, will notify all residents within a unit when a package is found, which includes anyone on the lease for a given unit.
How does the doorbell notify the correct resident about guests? What does “package identification intelligence” mean; are all residents notified when a delivery arrives, or can the delivery person somehow prompt the system only to tell the addressee? We’ve asked these questions and more of Level and will provide an update when we know more.
Level’s new smart system for multi-dwelling units comes courtesy of its acquisition of Dwelo in 2021. Dwelo, much like enterprise smart home company Latch, offers a smart home system for apartment buildings and landlords that gives control of basic preconfigured smart home devices to residents that building owners own.
As for whether this platform is an extension of Dwelo’s, Murphy writes it is not — the platform it launched today is “entirely new, designed and engineered by Level.”
Level CEO and co-founder John Martin is quoted in the press release:
“First-generation smart apartment platforms lack the quality and reliability that building owners and operators should come to expect. With Level technology and innovation finally there is an answer.”
Level said in its release that it would be retiring the Dwelo name, putting the system fully under the Level brand.
Update June 1st, 2023, 5PM ET: This article has been updated with details and quotes from Level.