Your Home, Your Castle


It’s all well and good filling your designer digs with the most stylish, connected and futureproof of technology to enrich and upgrade your life, but if your first line of defence against someone breaking in and swiping it all doesn’t stretch beyond bedside light timers and having a friend pop round to turn the telly on and off, it could all be in vain.

So it’s handy that the connected home is quickly becoming 2014’s most burgeoning technological trend, with household security reaping the ensuing development benefits, as plenty of clever app minds are turned to the subject of safety. We’ve talked about the now Google-owned Nest before, fine purveyor of phone-controlled thermostats and smoke alarms, but there are many similar iSecurity options, small and large, that make the most of the ubiquity of Apple and Android smartphones.

The August Smart Lock (above) is one of the most impressively focused ideas, replacing the interior portion of your doors’ deadbolts with tiny Wi-Fi-connected computers that unlock them automatically when your pocketed phone approaches and then shut up shop thoroughly when you leave.

For the more analytical of household, August key profiles can be assigned to individual family members to keep a daily log of comings and goings; for the more spontaneous, they can be sent temporarily via encrypted messaging to a phone of your choice like a Dropbox link, allowing instant access from afar if you need to, say, have a friend come round and turn your telly on and off.

But of course, there’s no need to do that anymore. A raft of complexly designed but easy to understand home management systems have the speedy servers and intuitive interfaces to do that all for you, letting you control, and protect, all aspects of your homestead when absent.

Some, such as Iris, championed by US retail bigshot Lowe, are more old-school, almost industrial sensor and camera networks that offer compatibility with a huge variety of security hardware, but charge a monthly fee for the privilege. Others, such as cloud-security chick Canary, are riffing on the theme while modernising the marketing, making it easy on both the brain and the eye.

With nearly $2m of crowd funds in its beak, Canary (above) is set to send its web-connected watchmen out into the wild at last this July. Working much like multi-room audio systems such as Sonos, and resembling a Mac Pro reborn as a router, its self-contained security hubs are sold individually but can talk to each other and synchronise if you want to widen your coverage. Each contains a HD video camera and a smorgasbord of sensors and accelerometers tracking sound, motion, temperature and even air quality, updating Canary’s servers and your app-endowed phone in real time. Alarms can be raised and lowered depending on your findings.

Connected clever-clogs SmartThings (above) takes this on even further, building a partner network of interconnected lifestyle-boosting devices on top of its own, inviting the likes of automated Philips Hue light bulbs, Withings sleep monitors and our good musical friend Sonos to the connected party. Every connected home, after all, needs a hub.

Amidst the coffee machines that brew your Americano the second you get up and internet radio speakers blasting bespoke playlists in every room, SmartThings is still a serious security player, throwing a dizzying array of options at your app.

If you can name it, you can probably automate or track it, a small, bespoke slab of white plastic assigned to as many tasks as your wallet can bear. Lights will be programmed, locks will be automated, disturbances will be filmed, your home will be a connected fortress of total security. Just remember not to lose your phone.

Matt Hill
Editor T3 Mag