The ‘Real Front Door’ Gets a Video Upgrade

How Chamberlain Group created a video keypad for the garage and an arsenal of smart video controls as part of its growing suite of intelligent access technology.

Written by Taylor Rose
Published on Jan. 24, 2024
The ‘Real Front Door’ Gets a Video Upgrade
Chamberlain Group
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When most homeowners walk into their house, it’s not through the front door. 

“We realized that 70 percent of homeowners with an attached garage use it as their primary entry point, but they didn’t have visibility to who is coming and going in the driveway,” said Group Product Manager of Residential Services, Aubrey Arnosky

Arnosky is part of the product team within Chamberlain Group, an  intelligent access solutions company that is developing smart home technology like the new video capabilities that are now being built into the product portfolio. 

Two of the four brands under Chamberlain Group, LiftMaster and Chamberlain, account for a large share of garage door openers installed in new homes as of 2018. Since then, the company has released new products under its myQ brand and acquired startups that create smart locks and smart security cameras. 

Chamberlain Group’s latest undertaking? Building video keypads and video surveillance into “the home’s real front door — the garage door,” as Arnosky put it. This project involved both the residential and commercial teams at Chamberlain Group, working together to integrate video capabilities into the myQ ecosystem. 

 

Read MoreWill the Smart Home Ecosystem of the Future Start in the Garage?

 

“Our video intercoms and other solutions like the video keypad, which are powered by our myQ apps — myQ, myQ Community and myQ Facility — are leveraging video technology as a central part of the user experience,” said Senior Product Manager of Software, Mark Yeandle. “On our mission of making access simple, visual information is critical to satisfying the customer’s needs for safe, secure access to their home, condo building, gated property and beyond.”

On the residential services side, Arnosky’s team introduced the idea of the myQ Smart Garage Video Keypad. “We did extensive research on use cases — asking questions like, ‘What features does the customer need?’ and ‘What are the biggest pain points?’ to develop key feature sets,” said Arnosky. 

From there, both teams studied things like the viewing angle, installation, battery replacement and PIN management, all to ensure an optimal user experience. Eventually, Arnosky noted, Chamberlain Group will unveil AI-powered facial recognition into the video keypad. 

“This video solution is an example of the product development process where we really stepped back and focused on customer insights and looked at the opportunity to provide more value and control around the home’s main access point,” said Arnosky.
 

Several Chamberlain Group employees stand together at an event. 
Chamberlain Group

 

The process of integrating video into the myQ ecosystem was a snowball that gained momentum throughout 2023. In July, the company announced that myQ Community video calling could be integrated into other myQ Community products through a software development kit. By November and December, that capability allowed video calling to become an integral part of Chamberlain Group’s commercial and residential products — meaning that single family homes and multi-family properties could have video built into a front gate, garage or front door.  

“We needed a video services partner that we could leverage from not just a hardware perspective, but also from a software perspective,” said Yeandle, noting the technicalities of using a software development kit. “This allows our smart video intercom hardware to make those calls into the myQ app, which we saw as a key differentiator from other experiences out in the market right now.”

 

“This allows our smart video intercom hardware to make those calls into the myQ app, which we saw as a key differentiator from other experiences out in the market right now.”



Using software development kits allowed Yeandle and others on the product teams to rapidly iterate and implement improvements. “It allows us to offer an app experience that provides a best-in-class video streaming service,” said Yeandle. 

 

MYQ COMMUNITY APP FEATURES

  • Remote access capability
  • Guest access and management
  • Credential managements
  • Event history with video recording
  • In-app video calls

 

“There’s trial and error whenever you adopt software development kits,” said Yeandle. “What gets released and what’s available for you to implement can work for 80 percent, and then you have to fix the 20 percent once you get it right — that’s where trial and error comes in.” 

The benefit of using software development kits is how quickly it can be scaled and adapted to different products — an important aspect for Chamberlain Group and the company’s growing reach in smart home technology. 

“As a company, we are looking for reusable assets everywhere, which allow us to accelerate adoption of our services,” said Yeandle. “Whether that’s in myQ within our Community offering, or in myQ in dock management and facilities — anything that gets built, we’re always trying to use the latest software development kit coding practices. That allows us to be able to pivot and adopt and reuse across all of our businesses and platforms.”

Group Director of Product Management Rebecca Peterson helped the commercial services side of Chamberlain Group launch the CAPXLV2, also known as Smart Video Intercom-L, which is designed for high-rise buildings and gated communities. 

“This is the third smart video intercom we’ve launched in the last two years,” said Peterson. “So, we now have a video access solution providing enhanced guest experiences for the residents as well as property managers of small, medium and large multi-family properties.” 

Peterson added that the smart video intercom solution is based on market observation and a clear demand in the market. Most commercial properties were only using a stainless steel box or a buzzer system.  

“We knew video would be a great way to let residents know who’s coming and going from their home or property with an additional level of security and control over the access experience,” said Peterson. “And for property managers, their biggest dilemma was a lack of traceability of who's coming and going within their property. So, video was really a natural solution that was lacking from this space, and we wanted to make our mark.” 

 

“Property managers’ biggest dilemma was a lack of traceability of who's coming and going within their property. So, video was really a natural solution.”

 

To Peterson, what truly sets Chamberlain Group apart from competitors is the continued focus on user experience, both in design of the hardware and development of the software experience. 

“I just don’t see that from others in our space,” added Peterson. “We have a driven culture to continue to ‘make access simple’ but in an extremely thoughtful way as it is a core value of all functions within the company.” 

Arnosky, on the residential side of the business, sees the same kind of connection with customers. 

“We’re always looking to simplify access for our customers,” said Arnosky. “It’s so much more powerful to know ‘who’ opened the door rather than just that the door was opened.”

Arnosky gave some examples of what this kind of simplification looks like: providing customers with smart locks, in-dash garage controls for cars or a video doorbell for the garage. “We study movement at entry and exit points and are constantly looking for ways to make it faster, more seamless, and more secure,” she noted. “A big part of this is providing knowledge and visibility through video.”
 

“It’s so much more powerful to know ‘who’ opened the door rather than just that the door was opened.”

 

When the teams created the Video Keypad, they relied on the secure access that is baked into the tech of the traditional keypads. “We noticed this important piece of access was lacking from other comparable solutions like the video doorbell where you get the visual confirmation, but you don’t have any way to grant access,” said Arnosky. 

The product teams on both the residential and commercial sides of the business were able to integrate camera technology into the existing core competencies of maintaining secure access to deliver the video keypad. “We’ve got a one-two punch for our value proposition,” said Arnosky. 

“There were a lot of new and unique elements to developing this product,” she added. “Even though we’re building off of a legacy platform, we had to develop new video capabilities, learn new technologies and understand the motivations of a new segment of customers.” 

 

“Even though we’re building off of a legacy platform, we had to develop new video capabilities, learn new technologies and understand the motivations of a new segment of customers.” 

 

Arnosky noted that it’s easy to see how Chamberlain Group is connecting with customers nearly everywhere you look. “We are listening to the feedback we’re getting and soliciting feedback directly through diary studies and other research mediums,” she explained. “So we can find those improvement opportunities where we've missed the bar.”

Peterson agreed, noting that listening, understanding and revising are all key aspects of the company as a whole. 

“This is where our company culture is very interesting to me,” she said. “Our CEO has challenged us as product managers to really be CEOs of our product line, to gauge risk and try new things.”

Smart video technology is one of the many projects from the residential and commercial product teams that allows members to experiment and develop scalable solutions to everyday problems for their customers. 

“I’ve never been at a company where I felt like my team was treated as a startup, where we make impactful moves and then really see the results in real time,” concluded Peterson. 

 

Read MoreChamberlain Group Partners With Auto Makers to Launch Smart Garage Tech

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Chamberlain Group.

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