break-in.jpgHome Safety and Security is one of those things that we all appreciate but often take for granted. Though Stats Can has been collecting data that suggests home break-ins have decreased in last decade, even a single break-in is one too many. Unfortunately, thanks to a handful of shady people out of there, this is something that every person has to be wary of. However, in this installment of the Internet of Things at Plug In, we’ll take a look at how safety around the home has improved thanks to our Internet connections and what we can look forward to in the near future.

The Recent Evolution of Home Security

When I was a child, the fact that we were getting an alarm in our house was a big deal to me. My little imaginative mind couldn’t fathom how amazing it was that we were getting this thing installed in our home. I imagined how great it would be to catch bad guys in the act and have the police show up, beat them senseless and take them to jail. Of course, not only is that not the way things work, but my judgment might have been clouded by the fact that I was watching a lot of WWF and The Big Boss Man was one of my favourite wrestlers at the time.

HoneyWellAlarm.jpgTwenty years later, my slightly less imaginative adult mind realizes that a localized alarm system is effective to create a commotion but without somebody to alert authorities to that commotion, what good is it?

I suspect a lot of others came to that realization too as time went on. As sure as Windows 95 changed the way we navigate our home PCs, the game of home security changed as we surged toward the millennium. A mixture of fly-by-night and legitimate monitored alarm system companies sprouted up and by the time the ball dropped on the 21st century, I was visiting friends and family members showing off their multi-thousand dollar security systems complete with localized surveillance cameras.

Fifteen years, and huge jump in both Internet speeds and technology later, we’re at a point where “thousands of dollars” have become “hundreds” and you can realistically set everything up yourself if you needed to.

How IoT plays into Safety Around Home

Thanks in part to both advances in technology and your internet connection, Home Security and maintaining safety around your home has never been easier. You see, with the fact that your internet connection allows you to stay continuously “connected” to the world around you, it means that you can stay connected to your home too. Here are a few ways that you can accomplish this:

Surveillance Cameras and Monitoring Cameras

Surveillance Systems are a lot different than they were 10, or even 5 years ago. With the advent of digital recording technology, you can store weeks, months and even years of your home surveillance. While DVR and cloud space recording technology are pretty prevalent, something that gives you immediate access to your home (while away from home) is your home network broadcasting a live signal to your smartphone or tablet. You have your choice of actual multi-camera surveillance systems for the outside or your pick of indoor cameras keeping an eye on things in your living room. Dropcam Pro was one of the first to offer this, but there are a lot of other choices now, some of which also offer monthly cloud storage like Dropcam did. Nest is one of the latest to get involved in this with its Nest Cam. If I could offer one quick tip if you’re interested in this type of indoor monitoring, I would really pay attention to the layout of your living room and how wide of an angle some of these record in one shot. Many of these cameras record at wider constant angles than others, so you may see one camera that benefits a square shaped room may not benefit a rectangular one and vice versa.

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Security Systems

Smarthome and smartphone enabled security systems are a fairly new concept that connect you immediately to your home in times of distress. The helpful thing about this new technology is that it’s very portable and do-it-yourself, requiring no holes in the wall or messy wiring. As a result, anybody can install this in any home, even renters or boarders. These security systems in a box often come with noisy alarm systems that hook up directly to your network at home. They are run by a centralized access point that acts as a hub for the rest of the hardware. That hardware can range from motion sensor devices, magnetic window sensors and more. Take the iSmartAlarm for example. This is one of the earliest examples of this technology and it was all originally made possible by crowdfunding. It comes with a small starter cube and a few accompanying pieces which can be expandable to dozens more (including a monitoring camera which hasn’t yet been made available in Canada.) Systems like iSmartAlarm can be accessed with the push of a button and made to send you notifications when it feels anything is out of the ordinary (for example, a notification of an opened window when nobody’s home.) Expect this to be a field of smarthome where you can expect lots of growth in the future. It basically allows anybody to have an affordable home security system no matter their living accommodations.

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Other useful ways of keeping your home and those who live in it safe.

So often when we think of “safety” around the home, we think about actual security or physical devices (like baby gates) when in reality, there is much more that we can keep better tabs on now due to the benefits of IoT. For example, within the Withings camera, you can find air quality sensors that monitor and keep constant data of the air quality (or lack thereof) in your home. Do you live in Northern Saskatchewan or Central British Columbia where you’ve been caught up in the wildfires in your region this summer?

A device like the Withings Home HD cam could have helped you sense poor air quality in your home and ask you to react right away (for example, if you left the windows open due to the warm air and the breeze brought polluted air into your area while you were at work.)

Insteon’s product line includes water sensors (currently sold out) that alert you when it is submersed and something is happening that shouldn’t be. In Canada, water escape has become the most costly loss for insurance companies in Canada, be it internal or external entry. Devices like Insteon’s water sensors alert you at the first sign of danger so that you can take action to minimize your incident right away.

Examples like this are other ways that safety around the home can be managed with help from the concept of Internet of Things.

What does the Future Hold?

Unfortunately, unlike my last Internet of Things blog, I don’t have much to say here. The ideas that have been put forth are revolutionary already in my mind. You already have gateways to realtime security feeds, knowledge of whom enters (or exits) any access point in your house and even being told remotely when your house is on fire or the air quality indicates something shady is going on. Perhaps the main suggestion I can offer here is that nothing is 100% accurate and there can be some improvement done there. You’re bound to have the odd software or hardware failure here and there. Your phone can be pushed inaccurate updates, even with the best quality assurance done. Chamberlain had an intermittent service glitch a few months back, for example, where their MyQ app was pushing false open/close reports to their users. I went home from work to make sure that my home wasn’t being broken into right around the time that they tweeted that their users were being affected.

There are only a finite number of safety precautions you do need to take with your home and we’re definitely on the path to discovering all of them as we speak. However, these methods are greatly furthered through our Internet Connections, and the concept of the Internet of Things which binds everything together for us.

Take a look at some of the smarthome home safety products available now at Best Buy and online at BestBuy.ca

Previous Internet of Things blogs include:

The Internet of Things and Gaming

The Internet of Things and Wearables

The Internet of Things and Your Television

The Internet of Things and Computing