Scout, a company that was officially founded last year to build connected security products, has a crowdfunding campaign for three new products that is worth a look for anyone interested in converting an old home alarm system into a cheaper, more open option. Scout is letting its customers choose among the three crowdfunding campaigns and the one with the most backers will ship first.
The three options are a connected Wi-Fi camera, a connected light socket and a box that converts your existing alarm system to one that’s IP enabled and could eventually tie into your other connected home products. It’s the last product I find the most intriguing, because I am unaware of similar options on the market that offer alarm takeovers that also plan to integrate with other DIY smart home efforts.
Dan Roberts, co-founder and president of Scout, explained that most existing alarm systems tied to wired telephone lines relay information using a series of tones to indicate what has happened. So if a window opens in a particular zone, it sets off a fixed series of tones over the phone line that is interpreted by the alarm company. Scout’s takeover system, — and other takeover systems — translate those tones over a different medium. In Scout’s case it goes to the Scout monitors over IP or a cellular connection.
Roberts said about 90 percent of home alarm systems in North America would work with Scout’s takeover system. The plan is to charge $19.99 a month for the monitoring, plus $199 for the takeover box, and customers would then be able to use their existing alarm sensors but could also link them with Scout’s sensors. What’s even cooler is Scout has applied to be a part of Nest’s ecosystem and Apple’s HomeKit. If that happens Scout’s products could tie to others, turning your alarm keypad into a trigger for all kinds of cool recipes. Scout has also discussed sharing integrations with If This Then That and SmartThings.
“Long story short, we want to be compatible with as many of these platforms as possible – we just haven’t announced a lot of it just yet,” Roberts wrote in an email. However, the takeover box isn’t setting the world on fire just yet in the crowdsourcing competition. So far customers are more keen to get their hands on the Wi-Fi camera.
But other than Alarm.com, which works with many existing alarm distributors out there and has a smart home effort, I don’t know of a lot of great smart home options that are both DIY and let you use your existing wired alarm system. I bet the subscription for the month-to-month monitoring is probably scaring off some backers, but I’d love to see this product in stores. The box itself has a cellular connection and a battery in case the power goes out.
Scout has already launched and shipped a line of sensors and a hub as part of a crowdfunding campaign that has so far sold $430,000 of Scout’s well-designed, wireless security sensors. And Roberts has compelling plans for taking security out of merely monitoring for break-in, and instead controlling who can get into your home via smarter sensors built into doorknobs or other innovative access controls.
Scout is based in Chicago and has raised a $850,000 seed round in addition to its pre-orders. It competes with existing companies like ADT, Vivint, Alarm.com and also startups such as Canary, Piper and even Dropcam.