The following article is extracted from PCMAG.
The Internet of Things has made it easier than ever to set up a smart home in which you can remotely control your door locks, lawnmowers, lights, thermostats,vacuums, and even pet feeders, using your smartphone and an app. It’s also made it very easy (and relatively affordable) to monitor your home from just about anywhere with a smart security system. Smart security systems are highly customizable and are available as do-it-yourself kits or as full-blown setups that require professional installation.
Depending on your needs you can go with a system that you monitor yourself, or pay a subscription fee to have your home monitored 24/7 by professionals who will contact your local police and fire departments when alarms are triggered. Of course, the more coverage you have the more you can expect to pay. Here’s what to look for when deciding how to outfit your home, along with the top systems we’ve tested.
A smart home security system connects to your home Wi-Fi network so you can monitor and control your security devices using your smartphone and an app. Entry-level systems typically include a couple of door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a hub that communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or a proprietary mesh network. You can add extra door, motion, and window sensors to provide coverage for your entire house and build a comprehensive system that includes door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, lights, sirens, smoke/CO detectors, water sensors, and more.
Integration and App
Any smart security system worth its salt offers components that work together in a seamless environment and can be manipulated using customized rules. For example, you can create rules to have the lights turn on when motion is detected, have your doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, and have a camera begin recording when a sensor is triggered. Some systems store recorded video locally on an SD card or a solid state drive, while others offer cloud storage. Locally stored video is a good choice for do-it-yourselfers on a budget, but you have to be careful not to overwrite video that you may need later. Cloud storage makes it easy to store and access recorded video, but it can cost hundreds of dollars per year depending on your subscription.
All of the systems here feature a mobile app that let you use your smartphone as your command center to arm and disarm it, create rules, add and delete components, and receive push notifications when alarms are triggered. Most apps also allow you to do things like view live and recorded video, lock and unlock doors, change thermostat settings, and silence alarms. Some apps will even use your phone’s location services to automatically arm and disarm the system according to your physical location. The more expensive systems usually come with a wall-mounted panel that acts as a communications hub, with a touch-screen display that allows you to do everything the app does, as well as communicate with a professional monitoring service when an alarm is triggered.
DIY or Professionally Installed?
Do-it-yourself setups such as the iSmartAlarm, the SimpliSafe Home Security System, and the SkylinkNet Alarm System are ideal for homeowners on a budget, because they can save you a bundle on installation charges and subscription fees. Most DIY systems are sold as kits that you can configure to suit your specific needs, and give you the option to add additional components at your convenience.
The iSmartAlarm system is easy to install and configure but it doesn’t offer a monitoring option, which means if someone is breaking into your house, it’s up to you to call the local authorities. It offers a variety of components, but lacks support for door locks, smoke alarms, and thermostats. The SkylinkNet Alarm System is one of the most affordable DIY kits out there and installs in minutes, but it is very basic and uses a proprietary wireless protocol (M-Code), so it does not work with third-party Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Zigbee components. The SimpliSafe system also lacks support for third-party devices, and its mobile app could use a makeover, but it offers a (paid) monitoring service and is very easy to install.
If you don’t want to go the DIY route, the Vivint Sky is an excellent alternative. This soup-to-nuts system has door and window sensors, door locks, glass break detectors, indoor and outdoor cameras, light switches, motion and water detectors, smoke/CO alarms, thermostats, a video doorbell, and more. It’s a multi-protocol system that communicates with RF, Wi-Fi, and Z-Wave wireless components, and offers complete 24/7 monitoring with direct alerts to your local police and fire departments. It features a well-designed mobile app and a 7-inch control panel that lets you communicate with a live representative when an alarm is triggered. You can also use it to view live video from the doorbell camera before opening the door. It requires professional installation and certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s a comprehensive home security system that doubles as a home automationsystem.
If you live in a small apartment and want to keep tabs on your place when you’re not home, a surveillance camera like the Canary All-In-One Home Security Device$159.99 at Amazon or the iControl Networks Piper nv$260.19 at Amazon will get the job done. These cameras have built-in sensors that track motion, along with humidity and temperature levels. They will send push notifications when motion is detected, and when humidity and temperature thresholds are exceeded. The Canary system also monitors air quality, while the Piper nv is equipped with Z-Wave circuitry that allows it to double as a home automation hub to control things like lights, smart plugs, and water sensors. Both are solid cost-saving alternatives to full-on security systems.
The following article is extracted from Wired.
KEVIN FOREMAN BELIEVES that homes will soon become intelligent enough to distinguish between family members and guests within physical spaces and adapt to individual needs based on biometrics like fingerprints, body temperatures and even the rhythm of our own heartbeats.
In the very near future as you walk through your home, a small device worn around the wrist will authenticate your identity by pairing itself to your specific heartbeat, allowing your home to automatically adjust the lighting, room temperature and play custom music based on personalized preferences and pre-configured profiles.
While this may sound like some futuristic mash-up of daily life straight out of Oblivion, Iron Man or even The Jetsons, it’s really not so far off and indeed, several companies are already pouring millions of dollars into developing technologies that seamlessly integrate our digital and physical worlds within our cars and homes.
Sitting alongside Foreman, director of product vision at the digital experience firm Vectorform headquartered in the nation’s automotive capital of Detroit, is an intellectual dialogue in both abstraction and technical innovation. His precise and metered speech comes off warm, yet controlled, and his eyes light up as he demonstrates his new Moto 360 smartwatch that according to him, “takes the conventions of a watch and embraces them with fashion and the perception of technology.”
The industry’s advancements in wearable technologies like the Moto watch, powered by Android, and the yet-to-be-released Apple Watch, are breaking down the screens that contain our daily lives, and will allow us to live in the real world without distraction while still being connected. He points to Google Glass as a step in the right direction.
“The more you can remove the UI, the better the user experience. We want to reinvent the smart home experience and make it almost invisible,” Foreman said. “Wearables allow us to remove the distractions of traditional mobile devices, and give us new input streams that enable improved contextual information gathering and sharing. As our mobile devices become larger and more unwieldy, wearables are becoming smaller and more invisible. Expect new wearables to look more like fashion accessories, rather than pieces of technology.”
SMART HOMES ARE IN NEED OF A KILLER APP
Indeed, one of the barriers preventing the smart home industry from taking off is that the average consumer hasn’t yet adopted these connected lifestyle experiences because the value to them is not yet clearly defined.
“To date, the smart home lacks a killer app to drive these experiences but once this is made available, consumer adoption will skyrocket,” he said in our interview. “Providing real-time feedback is the best way to get consumers interested in adopting smart home technologies.”
In order to address these problems, Foreman’s team identified the one thing that homeowners want to manage more efficiently — real-time energy consumption — and conducted research on market entry points to determine the best way to introduce their idea to the masses. What the team at Vectorform found was that consumers don’t like to place trust in third-party vendors in their homes but would rather receive new energy-saving technologies from their established utility companies.
Then his team went to work developing a prototype device and app called PowerScan that allows people to measure the energy consumption of individual household appliances by just holding the app up to a power cord. Much like those bulky, yellow multi-meters used in high school physics classes (but way more complex), the app measures electromagnetic fields generated by appliances to calculate wattage usage and power consumption metrics.
Vectorform approached DTE Energy, a local power company based in Detroit, who worked in partnership over the past two years to bring DTE Insight, a complete home energy management solution, to their customers. Within three months, the platform has received over 25,000 users and is expected to achieve between a 9-12 percent reduction in energy savings.
HOW WEARABLES WILL UNIFY SMART HOME EXPERIENCES
“The rise of the smart home comes in integrating wearable devices like Glass and the ability to chain multiple verbal or touch-based commands together and having devices communicate with beacon-based technologies that use occupancy rather than motion.” As Foreman mentioned in a playful tone, motion powered lights in a bathroom sometimes turn off before you are finished in there and we’ve all had an experience sitting in the darkness trying to wave vigorously to trigger the sensor back on, but micro-location beacons run on BLE are based on proximity rather than motion.
Now, with the right devices, proximity as well as personal preferences can be automated through wearable technologies like Nymi, a device worn on the wrist that authenticates an individual’s identity through his distinct heartbeat variability.
Foreman’s colleague Taylor Hanson is the director of accounts at Vectorform’s Seattle office and helped the company discover Nymi by participating in a developer contest aimed to find the best use cases for the product and believes it’s the missing piece for the connected home.