VoltSafe Blog Team – March 2, 2023

“If it works, why change?” – The Evolution of the Doorbell

Tony Fadell, renowned engineer, inventor and entrepreneur, once ended his Ted Talk segment with, “The first Secret of Design… is noticing. By asking us to wake up each day and challenge ourselves to think, ‘How can I experience the world better?’”.  If we take a look at the lightbulb, the car, the cell phone, we can’t imagine going back to the time when the cost of lighting was double what it was, not being able to see a loved one while you are talking to them over the phone or finding a cost effective alternative to operating a vehicle during rising fuel costs.The doorbell, a simple means of alerting a homeowner that there was someone at their door has also gone through an evolution only in the last few years. The addition of video and smart technology have allowed it to become a part of homewowner’s security systems.  In our final edition of our “If it works, why change?” series, we take a look at the evolution of the doorbell and see how the small changes to a simple invention have improved our lives.

Ring My Bell

Around the 1800s, the first doorbell was a bell that was hung by the doorway that could be rung by pulling a string. While it was useful in a time when homes were smaller, imagine something like that in a home today! You would need to keep pulling the string if no one answered the first time. Eventually, a mechanical or wind-up design found its way into homes. The concept was simple, which was to turn a key on the front of the door that you would wind up and allow a small hammer to repeatedly hit a bell that was placed on the inside of the door. 

A Walk Down to Electric Avenue

No one wants to keep winding a key or hear a clanging bell repeatedly every time there’s a visitor at the door. So in 1831, Joseph Henry invented the first battery-powered electric doorbell. Then in 1837, a buzzer was added which was a more tolerable sound than a clanging bell. In 1913, the electric doorbell became more common in households and operated on electrical current rather than batteries. In the 1930’s, musical chimes were added as an alternative to the buzzer sound. The most popular tune was Taylor Swift’s…. just kidding, it was just a simple “ding dong”.

I Get the Feeling Somebody’s Watching Me

Let’s fast forward to a century later.  In 2013, Ring used video technology to allow us to see who was at that door. Nest Hello followed suit in 2018.  A homeowner could even interact with the intruder… I mean visitor… when the homeowner wasn’t physically in the home. The ability to monitor who was at your front door provided the benefit of additional home security

Today these doorbells are used as part of homeowner’s security systems and have provided sources of evidence for police in criminal investigations from front door mail and package thefts to abductions. They have also helped homeowners successfully carry out the “pretend no one’s home” trick with their family when those annoying relatives drop by unannounced. 

So why change something that has worked for a century? In an always-changing world, Joseph Henry saw the convenience of a battery-powered doorbell. When economics started to become a major concern, doorbells that operated on electricity became more economically practical than the expensive batteries that were used at the time. But it was safety and security that brought about the biggest change. In order to bring the doorbell into the 21st century, video and internet technology became natural additions in order to improve a home’s security. Just like the team at Ring and Nest, the inventors that came before them never stopped thinking about ways to make the experience of greeting visitors to your home better. In the same spirit, VoltSafe has solutions that will allow us to connect to high voltage electricity in a safe, simple and smart way. The goal is simply to make high voltage electricity accessible for all. Therefore, by swapping out prongs for magnets and our patented electrical fingerprint, we’ve made connecting to an electrical outlet a better user experience, more accessible, safer and simpler than ever before. Like Tony, we want everyone to “experience the world better” one outlet at a time. 

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