?Smart Security? Gives Homeowners High-Tech Peace of Mind

Smart Key for home security systemsIn an era dominated by smart mobile devices, security systems also are becoming more intelligent.

They enable customers to use phones, tablets and computers to turn alarms off and on from remote locations, as well as to receive text or other alerts if something is awry in the residence. People can also use their devices to control lights, heating and cooling systems, doors and small appliances.

?The idea is a system that lets you control your entire home environment,? said Eric Taylor, a vice president with Bay Alarm, a Pacheco, Calif., alarm company.

David Hood, president of Aptos, Calif.-based First Alarm, adds that the new systems give consumers ?real peace of mind that they are connected to their system from anywhere.?

For example, a homeowner might forget to set the alarm before leaving the house. Or maybe the alarm is set, but Grandma and Grandpa are coming over and don?t know the password to turn it off.

Now that person can pull out a smartphone or tablet, connect to the alarm system through a secure digital portal, and operate the security network as if at home punching numbers on the alarm box. The systems work with Android- or Apple-based mobile devices, alarm companies say.

Customers of advanced systems also can lock and unlock doors in their homes, as well as perform numerous other tasks.

?Advanced alarm systems let you control lights, thermostats, small appliances,? said Sarah Cohn, a spokeswoman for Florida-based ADT. ?We continue to add capabilities to our platform. You can look in on your home at any time. You can get text and email notifications.?

Security companies also are using the ?cloud? and the world?s interwoven networks to provide customers with streaming videos of entry points and other key areas of their homes. Once they view the video, they can determine whether the situation warrants action by the police.

Michael Tchong, founder of San Francisco-based Social Revolution, which tracks technology trends, has an advanced alarm system in his residence and describes it as ?fantastic.?

?You know if you leave the house and you forget to arm the security system, you can use your phone or tablet to click ?arm? or ?disarm,? ? he said. ?It will tell you if you left a door open or a window open.?

But Tom Foremski, a San Francisco-based technology analyst, cautions that the desire of people to control more aspects of their lives also means living with less privacy.

?There will be more and more cameras around, more surveillance in general,? he said. ?You could have video phones in your home. More and more devices are recording our activities.?

These new systems typically cost more than a vanilla burglar system that alerts the alarm company and local police about a possible break-in.

ADT says its monthly fees for a standard system range from $30 to $40. The enhanced systems usually cost from $47 to $60.

The alarm companies say they?ve gone to great lengths to ensure that systems remain secure and hacker-free. That?s a significant concern, since accessibility through mobile devices raises the possibility of more points of entry for digital intruders. People don?t want their computers hacked, and they also don?t want hackers to invade and control their alarm systems.

That worry is likely to grow as more capabilities are added to home security systems.

?You are seeing the rise of the connected home,? Cohn said. ?Appliances are talking to each other. This rises to the level of what people want from their mobile, connected lifestyles.?

But that?s not deterring consumers for now; alarm companies say sales of the advanced systems are hot.

?These technologies are the ultimate convenience,? Tchong said. ?They are going to become prevalent.?

Source: MCT Information Services