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Smarter Security

From door locks to security cameras, all of the devices that keep our families and possessions safe are rapidly evolving to become as smart as the things that entertain us.

The technology industry–at least our part of it–thrives on dreaming up the next big thing to satisfy peoples’ wants: better access to entertainment, music everywhere, and lighting control from anywhere. But what if we could apply the same degree of innovation to something that people truly need: security? Many companies are, and have been, for quite some time.

Mobotix’s MxMessageSystem provides users with real-time alerts when an event occurs, such as a child’s arrival home from school.

From door locks to security cameras, all of the devices that keep our families and possessions safe are rapidly evolving to become as smart as the things that entertain us. As the trend grows, nontraditional companies, such as telecommunications providers, have joined in to reap the rewards, raising awareness of the technology in the process. Further, the proliferation of robust home networks and the nascent IoT revolution are setting the table very neatly for home security systems that are not only very safe, but also informative.

“Technology as a whole, and not just traditional security providers, is migrating towards improving people’s experiences in their homes,” said Mike Bomas, business development manager at Mobotix Corp. “We see great innovations in connecting traditional security devices, and the Internet of Things presents a huge opportunity for residential buildings.” One of these opportunities is communication, and Mobotix’s MxMessageSystem looks to deliver on that by providing real-time notifications to users when an event occurs, as well as enhancing response times from law enforcement and emergency services.

SnapAV’s Luma platform provides users with an easy-to-use interface that can be accessed from anywhere.

Similarly, SnapAV has been working to provide a platform that keeps everyone informed, no matter where they are. “I have seen an increasing consumer desire to keep tabs on their family and property through technology, and surveillance is a key part of this,” said Alex Patrao, senior category manager for surveillance at SnapAV. “Consumers want an easy-to-use system that they can use from anywhere, which can be seen by the growth of DIY products. But, they want that solution professionally installed and maintained for them over time. System integrators want to provide a professional, high-quality solution that can be integrated into a custom, automated home and managed remotely, ideally through the cloud.”

SnapAV’s Luma line of surveillance products offers integration into home control systems, and provides users with an interface that’s familiar–a “DVR-like experience that can be accessed through a PC or mobile device,” as Patrao put it.

Kwikset’s smart locks can send out text alerts when someone enters the home, and users can assign temporary access codes to visitors.

But all of the bells and whistles of today’s security systems are worth nothing if the home’s doors themselves are not secure. Unsurprisingly, lock manufacturers were some of the first companies to begin offering advanced systems to ensure the security of a home’s entrances.

“Locks, at their core, will always be about security; but the ways in which they can accomplish that objective in a connected-home scenario–while making life better and easier for the homeowner and his or her family–are limitless,” said Keith Brandon, vice president, residential access solutions sales and marketing at Kwikset. “The safety factor cannot be overstated. Many of today’s smart locks will send text alerts when someone enters the home, allowing the homeowner to know, for example, that their child got home safely. And temporary codes can be given out to ensure that caregivers and service providers are allowed entrance when necessary, but deleted when their services are no longer needed.”

Yale’s Linus smart lock attaches easily in place of a traditional deadbolt and features easy integration with Nest home products.

Like Kwikset, Yale has also been providing smart solutions to homeowners to enhance their peace of mind. The company is rolling out a new line of smart locks that implement proven technology into fresh designs. “Yale Real Living’s offerings for the connected home give end users convenience, versatility and, most importantly, security,” said Jason Williams, general manger of Yale Residential. “The new Assure Lock with Bluetooth and the companion Digital Keys app make accessing and controlling home security easy, while ASSA ABLOY’s reliable Seos technology, already used in hotels, universities, and hospitals, provides peace of mind. Additionally, the new Look Door Viewer replaces the traditional peephole with a 4.3-inch LCD monitor and Wi-Fi connectivity that allows two-way live video communication via smartphone.” The company’s newest products are compatible with most major control systems, as well as Nest home products.

Indeed, home control systems provide the best platform for next-generation security systems, not only for ease of connection and operation, but also for providing dealers with extra sources of revenue. “The latest developments we are seeing center on hardware integration with various controllers, similar to Honeywell’s new Lyric Security Controller, where Wi-Fi and Z-Wave capabilities are no longer just options but are integrated into every product,” said Rob Puric, director of product management, Connected Home at Honeywell. “The attach rates for both Wi-Fi and Z-Wave are in the double digits: this is mainly due to the fact that more security providers are now offering more than just life safety to customers. The connected home has become very important for these dealers, as they can get additional RMR from these various add-on devices.”

IC Realtime’s newest security cameras capture 360-by-360-degree 4K video, which can be monitored like virtual reality content.

One device that will always be central to home security is the surveillance camera. Today’s enhanced networks have made these devices far more capable than in years past, supporting higher resolution video and greater frame rates. But some manufacturers have been taking steps to revolutionize the way these cameras work, as well as the way we access their recordings. IC Realtime’s dual-sensor, 24-megapixel 4K Virtual PTZ camera monitors 360 degrees horizontally, by 360 degrees vertically, so there’s no way to evade its ever-watchful eye.

“This is groundbreaking, because one camera is capable of capturing fields of view that until now required several cameras to achieve,” said Paul Muto, public relations agent for IC Realtime. “This opens the doors for a completely different approach for integrators to present to their clients with regard to how users view, monitor, and interact with their security/surveillance system, as well as how integrators approach system design.” According to Muto, the video can be accessed through the company’s IC720 app, via iPads or other mobile devices. Users can navigate around the 360-degree video by panning or tilting their device in the desired directions, as if they’re looking through a lens. Additionally, a virtual reality headset can be used to the same effect, providing a futuristic means of surveying the state of a home.

Honeywell’s new Lyric Smart Controller features built-in Wi-Fi and Z-Wave connectivity in every device for easy control system integration.

Of course, the convenience of being able to monitor and control all of a home’s security systems remotely comes with a major concern: the susceptibility of the system to hacking. “As homes become smarter, so should the intelligence of their security,” said Amy Strickland, marketing design manager at ELK. “Recent news reports raised concerns about conventional wireless being susceptible to hacking and jamming attacks. ELK’s Two-Way Wireless technology helps users avoid these vulnerabilities for a truly secure and reliable wireless solution. ELK’s cutting-edge techniques such as frequency hopping and UL-approved jamming detection defend against interference, hacking, and jamming. ELK also incorporates advanced features to ensure reliability, extend battery life, and provide innovative security enhancements.”

A product area that has been increasing in popularity among consumers, albeit to the chagrin of integrators, is the DIY market. Nortek is one company that is offering end users the ability to expand upon the existing systems in their homes. “GoControl is the new smart home brand from Nortek Security & Control that brings added safety, security and convenience to every room of the house with a full line of practical and affordable wireless smart home control products,” said Rob Halligan, group vice president of marketing at Nortek.

ELK’s security devices feature Two-Way Wireless technology to provide users with a security system that is extremely resistant to hacking or jamming.

“GoControl devices work with any Z-Wave-certified hub including Nortek Security & Control’s own 2GIG security control platform and with many of the most popular professionally installed and DIY control platforms in the market today. The GoControl Smart Security Starter Kits, which come in two trim levels, combine smart home products into today’s smart security systems and include door and window sensors, motion sensors, and intruder sirens. These kits make it easier for security providers to add additional layers of security to their customers’ home and grow their businesses simultaneously.”

As technology around the connected home continues to evolve and mature, it’s certain that our places of living will in turn become more secure and intelligent each step of the way. And who knows, it could even be entertaining, as well: imagine watching from your smartphone as a bungling burglar gets apprehended by authorities at your gate before he even knows anyone is watching him.

Matt Pruznick is associate editor for Residential Systems and Systems Contractor News. Follow him on Twitter @Pruznick.