Mark Bridge writes:
The ‘mobile doorbell’. What a clever idea. If someone rings your doorbell when you’re out, it’ll call your mobile phone and will let you talk via an intercom to the person at your front door. You can even protect yourself against burglars by pretending you’re inside the house.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a schoolboy from Surrey has recently invented the ‘mobile doorbell’. That’s certainly the impression much of the media has given recently. Croydon boy Laurence Rook invents phone-linked doorbell, said the BBC. The Daily Mail wrote something similar, as did many other papers. Even Mobile News covered the story, although reporter Michael House has been rather more careful in the wording of his report.
A Netherlands-based company called Waleli was promoting its GSM doorbell back in 2006. This went a step further than young Mr Rook’s device. It called the householder’s mobile phone when someone pressed the door bell. It let them speak via an intercom to the person at the door. And it could even open the front door via a remote-controlled lock.
Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone involved with the UK project knew about Waleli. It’s a very different type of wireless doorbell; ‘Smart Bell’ is low-cost and can be installed by a competent DIYer, while the Waleli GSM doorbell requires more installation work and more money. In addition, Laurence has certainly introduced some innovation, such as adding white noise so the phone call sounds more like an intercom.
But “inventing”? That was at least five years ago. What short memories we have.