There is a stranger at the door – Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI review

There is a 38-year-old male wearing glasses and a hat at your door.

It’s easy to get excited by the new tech. You can see a very glowing and positive reception of the Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI in this post. A week has passed since I mounted the doorbell on my door. It’s time for the more level headed look at Xiaomi’s offering.

Does it work?

Yes, it does work. I have not missed a single stranger (to my knowledge, based on motion detection). It works sufficient enough to wake me up in another city (mobile notification) after a night shift when the postman comes with a parcel. It takes about 2-3 sec to receive the notification on your phone and the Xiaomi MiHome Hub. I find this to be acceptable.

I use the Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI with Xiaomi MiHome Gateway, but you could use it on its own with the app any compatible MiHome gadgets (lights, speakers, hubs).

I have a nice custom ringtone and after trial and error, I configured the camera to record video if someone is present for longer than 3 sec and notify me on button press only. The trigger sensitivity is set to once every 60 sec and I disabled the “detect knocking” feature. I’m also considering turning off “tamper alarm” as I live in a good area, and this thing triggers when I slam the door (my bad).

The Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI works independently, and I get phone notifications even if the MiHome hub is offline.

Apartment vs Home

Before I tried to persuade you one way or another, I want to answer a very important question. Where could you use the Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI? I’m fortunate enough to live in a house. The doorbell is not designed to work in a harsh environment and it’s prone to the temperature (0°C-45°C – probably due to batteries used) and water ingress.

With that said, I use mine “outdoors” with the help of 3D printed case. It’s been a week with one rainy day, and I’m pleased to report that the doorbell works.

Should you use the Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI outdoors? Probably not, unless you are willing to protect it. It’s probably the biggest issue with the doorbell I have. It’s designed for apartments. Mine will stay outside, protected by the custom shell. I like to live my life dangerously!

Fun times with Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI

The doorbell is very sensitive. It can detect the movement from 12m away (triggers when a car passes by) so play with the motion detection settings. I found 3-6 sec to be the best, as you can capture the face of the people approaching the doorbell.

The video footage is great. It’s 720p, but in all honesty, it’s more than needed to recognise faces and tell you what’s happening outside. This footage is stored on the server but can also be downloaded to your phone if needed. There are no automation features to do it automatically.

The night performance is also a huge advantage. The Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI is equipped with IR and HDR functions. Both provide very good results. I have street lamps around, so the area isn’t pitch black, but I consider the image to be at good quality.

I’m thinking about my door bell – when it’s gonna ring it

When the doorbell is activated, you get the notification and the LiveView options. This is when you get to talk to the stranger, send him pre-recorded (you can use your voice) message or take a picture of the stranger outside.

Stranger danger

Xiaomi Video Doorbell comes with Face AI. What is FaceIA – a system that can identify faces and apply custom tags to it? A mobile notification will tell you who’s at the door even without the tag applied.

Apparently! This is how every B class horror should start

Some faces will need more than one time in front of the camera to be identified from each angle but the Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI but the gadget does a really good job at identifying faces. It’s fun to glance over your mobile to see if you should bother at all to answer the door. The doorbell notification contains the tag or “stranger” information.

Sonoff POW R2
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Room for improvements

Weatherproofing aside, I’d love the doorbell to connect to the server once a day. The doorbell remains in the standby mode until triggered, so if you turn off the motion notification settings then change anything else – these changes won’t apply until the doorbell is online again (needs to be pressed).

So far, there is no ability to act on tags. You can trigger the doorbell, but you cannot change the lights to “red” when under 10 are queueing at the door for Halloween. Something tells me, we won’t wait long for that to happen, I already submitted the feedback about that.

There is no setting to store the data on your own servers. The backup plan is cheap (about $15 a year for 7-day backup), the doorbell comes with a free one year plan and Xiaomi is nice enough to include 24h backup outside of the paid options, free of charge. Since the backlog is stored on a Chinese server you will see the timestamp overlay with their timezone – this should also be addressed.

The doorbell is not yet available officially in the west. You cannot find it in the western servers of MiHome app, which means there is no GoogleHome or Alexa support (yet?). There are integrations with Chinese assistants, so perhaps this is something that will come in the future.

LAN mode would also be welcomed. I hope this will come soon. The device is very new to the market (few weeks at the time of the writing) so I’m expecting firmware revisions soon. Xiaomi has been great with these.

Hacking?

The first hardware hack would be very obvious. You can supply a DC voltage instead of running on batteries. It won’t change the way the doorbell works, but you will be able to set the Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI to the most power hungry settings.

Working with the WiFi stack will be problematic as the device needs to be awake to be connected. I will see in what way I could access the data sent to MiHome app and if this is something I could use in NodeRED. I would love to get the FaceID info – so I could play with this. It’s not going to be a short process for sure!

Conclusion

Disclaimer
The Xiaomi Video Doorbell has been sold to me at great discount for the purpose of the review. As usual, with all my reviews I reserve the right to an honest critique of the product.

It’s an interesting doorbell concept for anyone looking for a Video Doorbell that needs no wires. The battery operation comes with certain shortcomings, but I believe the FaceAI and perhaps possible 3rdparty integrations make this doorbell stand out. It’s a strong recommendation if you live in an apartment, otherwise, consider the installation process. The
Xiaomi Video Doorbell with Face AI is my first Video Doorbell, (I used an AmazonDash as a button for deliveries before) time will tell if I ever feel like I need a replacement. For now, I’m pleased! If you want to share your thoughts use this Reddit thread!

Sonoff POW R2
Support NotEnoughTech
Buy Xiaomi Video Doorbell
Smart Video Doorbell with Face AI and other awesome features
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