We’ve probably all seen movies where a secretive company has dozens of CCTV cameras along their perimeter, and the security control room has multiple TV monitors that display the live feed from these security cameras. All of a sudden, Jack Bauer bursts in and knocks out the security guards in the room, before carrying on with his mission.
Okay, that final bit isn’t too relevant here, but it does raise the question – if you have multiple Ring devices (cameras and/or doorbells), can you view all of them at once?
You cannot easily view the video feed from multiple Ring devices in a single place, but you can see a snapshot from all your devices due to the ‘Camera Preview’ (or ‘Snapshots’) feature that was rolled out a year or two ago. This can then be viewed on a TV monitor via Ring.com, which you can access in a web browser.
I cover this approach in detail in my YouTube video below, but if you prefer text then read on for the article guide:
Recapping How Ring Devices Work
Ring cameras and doorbells can be powered in various different ways (battery, electric or solar power) but they all fundamentally work the same way: they only record when motion is detected (for around 1 minute), or ‘Live View’ mode is manually initiated (up to 10 minutes of recording). Ring Doorbells also record when the doorbell is pushed.
Ring currently don’t offer the capability to record 24/7, and it doesn’t look like this feature is imminent.
Equally, Ring give you access to view recorded footage through the Ring phone app, the Ring computer app, or via your browser by going to Ring.com. However beyond that, Ring is a closed system – it doesn’t expose its video feeds for easy fetching via iSpy, Blue Iris or similar systems. You also can’t easily capture the video stream and save them locally.
How You Could (In Theory) View All Your Video Feeds At Once
I mention above that Ring is a closed system which doesn’t make it easy to capture the video. Having said that, some people have tried and there’s a few projects that require technical knowledge which may allow you to capture the video feed:
- A Node.js based unofficial Ring API by Dusty Greif. Once you’ve hooked the project up to your Ring cameras and fetched a refresh token, you can call “camera.createSipSession()” and then “camera.startVideoOnDemand()” to fetch the video stream.
- The Python Ring Door Bell API by various developers. This introduced live streaming less than a year ago, using the same sort of approach as the Node.js project.
- ring-hassio by Jeroen ter Heerdt. This is a Home Assistant add-on which you should activate periodically (or on demand) to see live footage from your cameras. However please note that there’s a warning on the project page that says:
DO NOT run this add-on with 24-hour streaming – use this addon by starting it on-demand.
I’ll come back to that warning in a second, but the reason I mention these projects is that if you had technical (programming) knowledge, you could write a script that pulled the live video feed of multiple devices, and show it on a local webpage. This webpage could then be shown on a TV monitor in your house, allowing you to view all your Ring devices at once. In theory…
So why does that warning exist? Well, it’s because Ring devices aren’t currently built to support 24 hour streaming, and any clips get saved in Ring’s cloud (if you pay for Ring Protect, that is). If you try to force 24/7 video viewing, this will max out your Ring device’s capability – and also your Ring cloud storage!
Whilst there’s no stated limit to how much video can be stored in the Ring cloud, Ring will notice if you’re recording 24/7 because your data usage will be much higher than anyone else’s. At this point, Ring have been known to limit people’s streaming/saving capability.
In extreme cases, Ring could potentially cut off access to your account under their Terms of Service. Whilst I haven’t heard of this happening, the point remains that Ring don’t want you streaming 24/7, meaning that if you try it (especially over multiple devices!), Ring may take action to limit your account or streaming capability.
So whilst it’s technically possible to pull down video feeds from all your Ring devices (to view at once), it’s not practically possible. That begs the question: is there an alternative? Let’s take a look at two potential approaches.
Approach #1: Use SmartThings
Samsung SmartThings is a smart home hub that supports hundreds of difference smart devices, including a number of Ring’s cameras and doorbells:
This works similar to the Amazon Alexa platform – you add all your devices to your SmartThings hub, and you can then manage them all in one place. This functionality includes setting up automations (i.e. routines), and it also sort of allows you to view all your Ring camera feeds in one place.
This is really neat because it does genuinely allow you to view the live stream from multiple Ring devices, all on one screen. There are unfortunately some downsides to this, though:
- Samsung appear to be slowly killing off SmartThings, by switching their focus away from the smart hub to other forms of smart device control – such as via Samsung smart TVs. This has led hardcore SmartThings fans to say: “SmartThings is basically dead. But not because of hub shortage, but because of the actions being taken by Samsung.”.
- Not all of Ring’s devices are supported on the SmartThings platform, including many of their newer releases such as the Doorbell Pro 2 and the newer Floodlight Cams. As a result, this approach is becoming less feasible as time goes on.
- Some SmartThings users have had loads of bugs with SmartThings’ multi-camera-view feature, meaning they have never got this working as expected. With Samsung moving away from the SmartThings platform, I think these bugs will only increase over time – sadly.
Whilst this is disappointing, there is a decent alternative – which I explore below.
Approach #2: Viewing the Camera Preview (Snapshots) All At Once
Ring rolled out a ‘Camera Preview’ (also called ‘Snapshot Capture’) feature in 2018-2019, which takes still pictures from your Ring cameras and doorbells every 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
You can then view them all in the Ring app (as explained in Ring’s support page for the camera preview feature):
You can also see this view when logging into Ring.com and viewing your dashboard there too. I only have a single Ring device at the moment, but if you have multiple, it’ll show all of them here:
Whilst this isn’t a perfect replacement for viewing live feeds, it’s actually pretty useful because you can put this Ring.com webpage on a TV monitor and see snapshots from all your Ring devices updated every 30 seconds – 3 minutes.
To get this all setup, firstly ensure that all your Ring cameras and doorbells have camera preview (or ‘snapshot capture’) enabled. It’s often disabled by default, so to enable it:
- Launch your Ring app
- Go into each device, and click on the settings cog.
- Click on ‘Device Settings’.
- Go to ‘Camera Preview’ or ‘Snapshot Capture’.
- Make sure the toggle is enabled (i.e. is showing blue, not gray) and set the snapshot frequency. “Every 30 seconds” is best if you plan on putting all your devices up on a TV monitor.
Once you have done this for all your devices, verify that it’s working by launching your Ring app and verifying that the timestamp says “Just now” or “1m ago” under each device. If not, a particular device may be having internet issues – or maybe camera preview isn’t enabled properly. If these both look fine, sometimes the timestamp just shows up incorrectly – I’ve had someone knock my door, but the timestamp shows up as “30m ago”.
Then hook up your TV or PC monitor to a computer or laptop, and go to Ring.com before logging in. You can then see all your Ring cameras and doorbells in a single place, with an automatically-updating picture showing the latest view from the device – updated every 30 seconds – 3 minutes.
This actually work really well, although two suggestions that I have to improve it further are:
- When you’re logged into your Ring.com account and viewing the dashboard, zoom in by clicking CTRL and the “+” icon together. This will allow you to see a closer-up view of each individual device’s camera preview.
- To prevent you being automatically logged out of your Ring.com account due to inactivity, head over to the Chrome or Firefox add-on store and search for ‘refresh’. Chose the highest rated ‘auto refresh’ plug-in that exists.
Then after you have logged in, you can set the webpage to automatically refresh every 1 minute or so – thereby keeping you logged in for much longer:
Approach #3: Open Multiple (Private) Browser Windows
Thanks to Andy in the comments for this one. Another way to view the camera snapshots – or possibly even the live fees themselves – is to open multiple browser windows. Most browsers all you to do this by clicking the menu and selecting “Open Private Window” or “New Incognito window:
You can then go to Ring.com, login (again – since it’s a new window), and access each camera from there. This works well because for all Ring knows, you are a new user on a different machine. Then just resize each browser window, so that you have as many as you’d like side-by-side.
Does Ring Plan To Allow 24/7 Recording (Or Multi-Video Viewing) In The Future?
Whilst multi device Ring camera preview is a really nice feature, it still lags behind professional security camera installations which record 24/7 and allow for multi-video viewing. So is Ring planning to allow this in the future?
Well nowadays, Ring are tight-lipped about any future feature plans (unlike previously where they outlined their future roadmap). Ring did announce in 2018-2019 that they planned to release 24/7 video recording capability for an extra (optional) monthly fee, but this feature never got released.
It’s thought that they hit upon technical (or physical device) limitations and so they parked the feature, possibly to release with new devices in the future.
In terms of multi-video viewing, this would mean that Ring would have to ‘open up’ their devices by way of supporting RTSP stream URLs (like you can access a website via a normal URL, you can also view video streams via an RTSP URL), or to create an official Ring API which supports this in some way.
Unfortunately neither look likely, either. Ring is a closed-off system by design, and this doesn’t look set to change – especially since Amazon own them now, and Amazon’s smart devices are also (relatively) closed off in this regard.
The Connected Home over IP (aka Matter) project may help to change this in the future, but it’d probably be 2-3+ years before we see any real change from this project.