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Summary:

The internet of things connects locks, thermostats and pedometers, but a new wave are trying to create home security systems out of a collection of sensors and devices. Or in the case of Canary, one device.

Canary-Device-and-App
photo: Canary

One of the most popular reasons for connecting your home has been to monitor it. People have been placing Dropcams in their houses as well as downloading apps such as the People Power Presence app that turns an old iPad  or iPhone into a camera. As far back as 2003 I was visiting startups that tried to use a house’s broadband access as a window into the home when the owner was away.

So of course, the latest crop of connected gizmos would target the home security market. Canary, a 6-inch by 3-inch device is just the latest of these to launch. The company behind the product is based in New York City and put the Canary on Indiegogo Monday hoping to score customers and some money. The $199 device (early birds get it for $149) sits inside a room and has sensors that track motion, acceleration and sound. It also has an HD camera with night vision and a wide-angle lens.

It’s portable, requiring only the sensor-laden device and a hub that plugs into your wireless router, so renters can partake of this particular connected experience, unlike the Nest or some of the locks that require homeowners to possibly modify their domiciles and break their leases.

Canary-App-AlertexpectingThe idea is that people plop the Canary in a main room and the devices detects anomalies. When something happens that isn’t accounted for under its algorithms, it notifies you. Here’s where CEO and Co-founder Adam Sager throws out all the stats about the high cost and low usage rate of home security systems like those from big home security firms such as ADT. However, in viewing this product it’s less about security as a way to prevent harm, and more about security in the sense that you know what’s going on in your house.

For example, this is a nifty product for those wanting to know if someone entered their house while they were on vacation, but less aimed at those who view a security system as something to scare away an intruder or protect people inside a home. Sager says that ability is coming, with an ability to hook in the system to a call center, but that’s not the priority today.

It will compete with plenty of other options on the market, from hacked-together Dropcam systems to security-focused projects such as Scout,  Alertly and others that are sure to launch in the coming months. I know it is early days, but I feel like so far the internet of things has given us a variety of connected devices that are logging lots of data and giving us many alerts, but aren’t taking the next steps to prompt or generate action.

I’m eager for the next phase when we start using this data to drive people to take action, whether it’s my Jawbone Up trying to change my behavior through suggestions, or my home security systems detecting trouble and notifying someone — even if the notification is just to all of my other connected devices to defend my home like the furniture in Disney’s Beauty in the Beast fended off the invaders.

And now, with the image of a Sphero rolling under a robber’s feet and my Ecobee thermostat suddenly blasting him with hot air fresh in my mind, I’m off to find a connected killer robot.

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  1. middleagecrazy Monday, August 26, 2013

    Canary got the early jump in the press, but Blacksumac’s Piper (also on Indiegogo) DOES have the ability to take action based on its integrated Z-Wave controller. Piper is also not in the prototype stage, as is Canary, but is a real product in the manufacturing stage of it’s lifecycle. Also, it appears that Blacksumac is embracing the hacker community by opening their API. This opens a world of opportunities and is the way of the future as far as I’m concerned. Cool that we have so many options for powerful home security and automation!

    Harpboy, Toronto, Ontario

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