Your family’s safety goes hand in hand with your home’s security. New developments are now offering high-tech ways to safeguard assets and ensure families’ peace of mind via wireless, internet-connected systems or artificially intelligent devices controlled through a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Here are six security features you may not have considered to protect your home the smart way.
Internet Protocol (IP) cameras provide access to view live or recorded video from anywhere with an internet connection. The footage is saved onto a built-in memory card, hard drive, or stored to the cloud. Extra features to look for include HD video resolution, sharp infra-red night vision, and all-weather casing.
One of the most advanced developments in smart surveillance is facial recognition technology. "This kind of smart camera can send you an SMS with an image, when your kids are home safe from school," explains Brad Arthur, tech blogger and creator of smarthome.com.au.
Smart alarms work with other smart devices to sound the alert when a threat is detected. "Most alarm systems include motion sensors. These are usually tucked away up high in the corner of a room," Brad says. "Traditionally, these sensors only trigger the alarm when motion is detected. Now, however, they can also receive information from cameras and locks, or use a thermostat to register a fire. Most smart alarm systems can also be remotely switched on and off."
DIY alarm kits are often required to contact the police or emergency services after a siren is activated, while others give the option of paying a subscription to a professional company to monitor a system at all hours.
Motion sensors play a crucial role in stopping criminals in their tracks, by flooding a home’s perimeter with light. But they can also turn on room lights and TVs, to give the impression occupants are at home when they’re not. High-tech smart sensors now do more and can follow rules created by the system owner. For instance, when a presence is detected, a light is turned on, but only during the night between certain hours. The most developed options also have built-in multi-sensors. "These may include additional sensors for reading temperature, air quality, humidity, lux (light-level), UV (Ultra-Violet) and vibration," says Brad.
Smart sensors can also recognise doors and windows opening, detect movement in a room during a period when no one should be there, and safely light the way through a property from one area to another.
Digital or keyless locks and smart garage doors are now growing in popularity, especially by those involved in the sharing economy. Keypads can be programmed with PIN numbers to be used by different people, over a specific time period - features that provide convenient security for homes rented out on home sharing services, for example.
It’s possible to choose a voice-activated device that can send an alert if an unauthorised person attempts to enter, or notifies who’s coming and going, and how often. Other products allow for locking and unlocking entry points through a smart device remotely.
"The one tip I would give when looking at smart locks is to make sure it has a manual key override. You do not want to be locked out of your home if the door lock battery is flat, or your home experiences a blackout," Brad advises.
5. Artificial Intelligence is here
The most sophisticated smart home security involves the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI). IoT refers to home appliances and devices connected to the internet, as well as each other with the ability to communicate and work together. Not every device can integrate so be mindful of choosing compatible products, brands and technologies.
AI devices will go a step further. "Autonomous, intelligent decision-making means our homes will be able to ‘think’ for themselves and tailor our home’s security and living spaces to suit our moods and individual requirements," Brad explains.
If electrical cables need to be hard-wired when setting up a new security system then a qualified electrician should handle installation.
But that’s not the case for many inexpensive kits, which are often simple plug-in-and-program appliances. Many current home security systems and devices on the market are DIY and designed to be installed by anyone, without professional experience.
Best of all, says Brad, DIY products can be customised as your security needs change. "If you want to expand or change how your system works, you don’t need a technician to come out and re-program it or run new cabling. You simply add new wireless security devices."