The greater affordability of technology means that we are now able to purchase smart home automation systems that can operate home lighting, audio-visual equipment, and curtains and blinds – and widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets has made connectivity and controllability much simpler.
Security is another area of home automation in which smart technology is increasingly playing a role – and there are a number of advantages to protecting a home using an automated system.
What can a smart security system do for me?
● Motion sensors, magnetic contact sensors for windows and doors, glass break sensors, and pressure sensors can help to detect when someone has intruded into your home. If motion is detected, you will immediately be sent an email or a text message – and the detectors can also alert you to a door, window, or even medicine cabinet that’s been accidentally left open.
● All perimeter window and door locks can be centrally operated, allowing you to lock down your house at the touch of a button.
● Motion detection systems can also be used to let you know when your children have arrived safely home from school.
● Interior and exterior lights can be remotely controlled, allowing their activation at night time to deter potential intruders. Key interior lights can also be programmed to come on when you approach your house, and even to switch on and off as your move around your property. Blinds too can be remotely activated.
● Security cameras within the home can be remotely monitored live on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, giving you constant visual oversight of your property. Motion and camera systems can be quickly and easily activated, both when you’re at home and when you’re away from it.
Who uses smart security systems?
Yasmin Hashmi, editor of Hidden Wires magazine explains that remote monitoring is “traditionally seen as an option for people who are away from home a lot, or for second homes, where cleaning and maintenance personnel need to be admitted to the property. There are, for example, keyless entry systems that recognise faces or fingerprints, and these can be set up to provide admittance to approved personnel during given times.”
“The ability to monitor your home remotely, using IP cameras, has been around for some time, and has famously helped to catch burglars in the act by alerting the homeowner or security firm with live video that can be displayed on a computer or smartphone and recorded to off-site storage. Smart security systems can also be linked to other home subsystems such as lighting, TV and audio, to help and encourage occupants to seek shelter in safe areas.”
Will smart security systems become the norm?
Home automation experts believe that the use of smart security systems will continue to grow, as Ivor Atkins, director at UK Automation, explains: “We tend to follow the US in trends and technology and these systems have been widely available there for many years. With the advent of smart phones, consumers have become more aware of what can be achieved with technology and expect more from it. This awareness has translated to smart home systems with more players coming into the European market, which has translated to more systems and devices being available.”
Can I afford a smart home security system?
Whilst you may think that an automated security system will be beyond your financial means, a basic security system with some smart home capability starts at around the £200 mark, whilst a more advanced system will set you back around £900.
As well as being affordable, smart systems are not necessarily complicated to set up. Whilst more complex systems demand a certain level of technical ability to install, Ivor Atkins says that many are suitable for self-installation by those competent at DIY. “For devices that require hardwiring to the mains, we would always recommend employing a qualified electrician. Having said that, the security elements of the systems we sell tend to be battery powered so this isn’t always a consideration,” explains Ivor.
Are there any security risks?
Some have expressed concern that smart systems may be susceptible to hacking. An eye-opening account recently appeared in Forbes magazine, in which a technology journalist explains how she was able to remotely switch a complete stranger’s bedroom lights on and off – whilst he and his wife were in bed!
The man had allowed his system to be accessible via the internet, which meant it was crawlable by search engines and so locatable via a simple Google search. As the system’s manufacturers had not set a default user name and password to protect the network, and the man hadn’t set new ones, his system was wide open to being remotely controlled by a hacker!
As Ivor Atkins points out, “smart security systems are no more vulnerable to being hacked than other internet-connected systems”. If adequate security precautions are taken, such as ensuring a strong password is in place and the system is not visible on the internet, then the risk of rogue hackers gaining access is minimal.
It’s clear that automated home security systems are here to stay. They are affordable (and will only become more so in future), relatively straightforward to install, easily operated via smartphones, and offer a wide range of security features to help you protect your home and loved ones.
Are you interested in installing a smart security system, or are you happy to stick with more conventional devices such as a burglar alarm? Let us know in the comments below!