Smart Home

Presence home security system keeps the sensors, skips the fees

Everyone wants to keep their home safe. Not everyone wants to pay the sometimes steep monitoring fees associated with doing so. The result? Houses everywhere essentially are left unprotected.

The Presence home security system gives both renters and homeowners peace of mind without taking a piece of their wallet with it.  It uses the cameras and Wi-Fi connectivity of the spare smartphones and tablets most people already have, and puts them to use alongside a variety of sensors, like motion and temperature, to keep any household safe from intruders, flooding, and a variety of other problems.

Smart Home

iSensor HD Patio outdoor security camera senses trouble in rain or shine

While there are many outdoor security cameras on the market, many are not specifically designed for outdoor use. What’s more, many of them provide mediocre images at best, in part because they are stationary and lack the ability to pan.

The iSensor HD Patio outdoor security camera stands out in this regard. The product was specifically designed for use outside the home and is housed in a clear, weather resistant casing. It can be controlled remotely by users via both Android and iOS apps. The camera comes standard with 4 GB of onboard memory and can remotely pan 170 degrees via a user’s mobile device. Further, the camera has a motion sensor and a 240 degree range of view without distortion, according to its Indiegogo campaign. If suspicious activity is detected, the camera will instantly inform users via notifications, snapshots, and HD-quality video that is automatically uploaded to the user’s Google Drive; all for no extra charge. It comes in a choice of black or white at $199 and will ship in May. Its maker is looking to raise $1,000 by April 5.

ISensor HD Patio holds great promise, offering clear advantages over many rival products.


GUARDOOR security system easy to set up, keeps intruders at bay

The main issue preventing many consumers from buying a home security system is the cost. Some consumers are also reluctant to set up a system because it’s too complicated to do it themselves.

GUARDOOR from San Francisco-based company, KIKTEC, offers a simple and relatively inexpensive way to keep home and office doors and windows secure, and it’s simple to set up. Each GUARDOOR is a small, triangular-shaped sensor that the user just has to stick to the corner of a door or window.

When the device senses movement, an instant alert is sent to the user’s Android or iOS mobile device. Backers who provide $59 in financing to the device’s Indiegogo campaign will get one GUARDOOR in April as part of an early bird special. That’s $20 less than its planned retail price and one month earlier than those who provide $79 in backing. KIKTEC is hoping to raise $10,000 to help with the cost of further development, manufacturing and production of the first prototype.

GUARDOOR is similar to Korner, another promising security device featuring small triangular tags that stick to the corner of a door or window. But GUARDOOR does away with the Fob device that is used with the Korner devices and must be plugged into a router. GUARDOOR, however, costs more money if the user is looking to use it with more than one door or window. A Korner starter pack including three tags for three doors or windows costs only $99.

Smart Home

iCamPRO robot tracks intruders, keeps eyes on them everywhere

The home security camera market is crowded with devices, but consumers tend to get what they pay for. For example, low-cost models tend to be stationary, lacking the ability to track moving objects.

Amsterdam company Amaryllo calls its iCamPRO FHD (full high definition) the first affordable, robotic camera that can see, hear, sense and automatically track moving objects. Algorithms were designed to make sure that the camera always keeps objects in the middle of the viewing area.  When an object starts to move away from the pixels in the middle of the viewing area, the camera tracks the object until it’s in the middle again. If two people are in the tracking area, the algorithm is designed to follow the first object detected until it stops moving.

The HD camera stands just over 3 inches tall and is powered by a high-speed central processing unit with a multi-sensor network. The iCamPRO features multiple motion sensors that always remain on, and it can see objects even in a dimly-lit environment.

Real-time object tracking like this is costly and has tended to only be available in military or professional surveillance systems in the past. The company already passed its goal of raising $1,000. Indiegogo backers can get either a white or black iCamPRO for $149 in May if they order now. That’s half the price that Amaryllo plans to charge at retail.

The camera offers a lot of promise and seems like an especially good deal at $149. But whether many consumers who are content with a cheaper Dropcam or Butterfleye will pay considerably more for an iCamPRO remains to be seen.

Smart Home Technology

Habitat smart home protects, smoke detects, and opens your garage door

Home automation is enticing because it provides the ability to turn your electronic devices on and off from anywhere. But it needs to be easy to use and secure, and the Ottawa, Canada-based newcomer Habitat’s new automation system of the same name is both those things.

Like similar automation systems, including Linkio, Habitat is made up of several devices that can be connected to existing electronic devices in the home to control them. First is Habitat Hub, a mostly white desktop unit that takes up little room and serves as the brains of the system.

One key component separating Habitat from some other rival systems is that it includes a device, Habitat Park, specifically designed to automate garage door functionality. The third device is Habitat Protect, which integrates existing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into the Habitat automation system, and informs users if there is an alarm or the battery in one of the detectors needs to be replaced.  It magnetically installs on a wall within range of a detector, and can easily be set up using the Habitat App on an iOS or Android smartphone.

The fourth device, Habitat Learn, comes with temperature, audio, motion and light sensors, and can monitor and react to events in the home, such as notifying the user when the refrigerator door is left open. Kickstarter pledges that include at least one of the devices start at $29, which includes one Protect. But there’s a catch: Pledgers must also back a pledge level that includes the Hub. For $89, pledgers can get one Protect and a Hub, and for $99, pledgers can get one Learn and a Hub. Shipment is expected in June and the company is looking to raise $80,000.

Habitat’s magnetic-locking system is appealing, and the Park device may be attractive to many consumers who own a garage door. But the $100 starting price tag is pretty similar to rival systems and the product will likely only find mass-market success if it can obtain major retail distribution. A lower entry-level price for each unit would help.


IllumiBowl lights up your toilet for targeted tinkling

The bathroom can be an obstacle course for some in that middle of the night run with blinded eyes, fallen in women, and manly messes made and left. The inventor of the Illumibowl wants to light the way to relief with his LED-based toilet bowl light.

The product can be discretely attached to the underside of the bowl and set to a single color or on a color-changing pattern, with everything activated by a motion sensor. The LED is rated to last 100,000 hours of constant use, so you won’t have to worry about dark and scary trips to the bathroom for a long time. With the Illumibowl only costing $15, this can easily be filed under an impulse buy even if the solution is exactly the most elegant or aesthetically pleasing. Still, the campaign has already achieved its goal of $20,000; backers will receive the light by January 2015.


MotionSeat automatic toilet seat is happy to show you what’s up

Going to the restroom is a pretty crappy experience for most people. If you think about, there are a ton of germs pretty much everywhere and the ways in which we interact with toilet elements don’t necessarily lend themselves to hygiene. With women constantly in danger of sitting on wet sets and men forced to handle the seat to avoid that from happening, both genders are always under fire from unsavory particles that linger there.

MotionSeat is an automatic toilet seat that instantly opens up when it senses your squirming presence. It takes only five minutes to install and contains a battery that lasts at least two months with the capability of being charged either in the seat or separately. By being so straightforward, the product manages to address an issue that’s often considered but that hasn’t really been addressed in an simple manner —  and that’s where it gets all of its appeal. Backers who pledge €65 or more can get grab their very own MotionSeat and help Affinis VOF reach their funding goal of €12,500.

Home Video

ISense offers a live look into your home on demand

The Premise. Nobody can be home all the time to protect their belongings and house from potential burglars or other threats, but the new wave of smart home monitors can record video and keep an eye out for intruders, alerting owners of any break-ins through their smartphones.

The Product. ISense is one such system that offers this level of home protection in a way that offers peace of mind so long as a smartphone is kept handy. The cable-free system equipped with high definition camera can be set up anywhere and can offer a live feed at any time through the app or start recording video and send a notification any time that motion is detected. Each unit has over a year’s worth of battery life and communicate over Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G. Each system also includes a Sync Module that allows the cameras to communicate with connected phones, as well as including onboard storage for recorded video in addition to cloud storage.

The Pitch. kaan tas put together a simple pitch for ISense highlighting the ease of setting up or customizing an ISense system and the level of monitoring the devices can provide on-demand from any location. For ISense to become a viable product, kaan tas wants to raise $40,000 AUD to fund production and fulfillment.

The Perks. Getting an ISense takes a pledge of $59 AUD, which includes the system with Sync Module and 16GB of video storage. The onboard storage can be doubled at the $66 AUD level, but both include cloud storage as well. Those that want to be among the first to use the product can get into the Beta program for $139 AUD, and getting multiple rooms set up with ISense is possible with plenty of tiers offering multiple cameras. All perks are shipping out in February 2015.

The Potential. The wireless setup, long battery life, and notification of any detected motion make ISense a great choice for any consumer looking to add a simple, effective home monitoring system. What ISense offers in simplicity, it lacks in subtlety. The bright LED on the front that is used when the camera is on makes it so that if set up in a place that can be stepped around or crawled under, the system could be moved by any intruders, still detecting motion as it’s set down, but not offering any identifying information. Take that big light off of the front, and there could be something that belongs in any home here. At the same time, the feature set is pretty much identical to existing options like Blink, albeit with a larger focus on video quality. The combination of the glaring light and the lack of distinction might make ISense a forgettable chapter in home security video.

Sensors/IoT Smart Home

Dropcam Tabs keeps tabs on your home

dropcamtabsThe downside to acquiring expensive, cutting-edge technology is that it creates a need for increased security. A burglar in the home can be an extremely costly and emotionally damaging experience. Dropcam Tabs aims to fix this by recording any situation that may be related to unauthorized entry. These small sensors can be attached to any object and if any motion is detected, it can send an alert to a smartphone and begin recording whatever the networked Dropcam Pro can see. The fact that these devices are roughly standalone is a great sell, but only to those willing to invest in a Dropcam Pro. Dropcam Tabs will launch this summer and can be preordered for $29 each.

Smart Home

When preventing break-ins Korner’s in your corner

Premise. They say “home is where the heart is” but in most cases it’s usually where all of your stuff is. And while that gooey mixture of chili cheese fries proves you’re not interested in preserving your heart, maybe you’re more interested in safeguarding your stuff. But all that alarm and security talk gets real expensive real quick.

Product. Korner is a way to add a layer of security to your home, and was specifically engineered to be cheap and easy – a product combination we all need in our home security, our car insurance, and many many other outlets. Korner consists of a fob which plugs into your wireless router, stick-on door/window sensor(s), and an Android/iOS app. A combination of sensors in the “Tag” allow for the industry’s first one-piece door/window sensor. Up to 15 Tags can communicate via wireless protocol with the Fob and you can control the entire system using your computer or the app. Once an intrusion is detected, Korner sends you a message via the app so you know exactly which area of your home is being accessed; simultaneously a loud alarm emits from the Fob, to ward off potential intruders.

Pitch. Korner’s campaign video features CEO Steve Hollis speaking about creating an inexpensive home security system that everyone can easily use. He explains that Korner differs from similar products because the sensor is one piece, cutting down on complication, and is also better at honing in on the difference between vibrations and actual entry. Reading the campaign website you will find that the founders have a partnership with DAWN – Domestic Abuse Women’s Network – and encourage potential backers to support the organization by funding a donation of Korner to help provide security for those most in need. Other information provided on the campaign’s site includes projected schedule with production slated for November and distribution in December of this year.

Perks. For $79 you can purchase Korner for a women’s shelter. For $99 you can purchase a Korner starter pack which consists of three Tags and one Fob. Depending on whether you have a medium, large, or “very large home” there are additional levels of perks to secure, stopping at a $5,000 contribution which also names you a “Korner Supporter.” Paradoxically, for the deepest level of commitment, perks are vague – assumingly you would receive at least the starter Korner kit, but as a supporter you would have “influence” over future design details, add-on products, and can meet the team in Seattle (it’s unclear who funds the travel-to-Seattle part, though).

Potential. There is large potential for a product like Korner to become successful in the market. Citing the campaign video, adoption of home security systems in middle-income and low-income homes is much lower, while reported intrusions are more prevalent than in high-income homes. LILA is a similar concept sensor which features two pieces that needs to be aligned – going against Korner’s vow of simplicity. Other products like WataSensor or the Canary seem to rival Korner’s simplicity but do not match its clear advantage in affordability. While both systems offer a few more features than standard with Korner, consumers will need to decide whether the tradeoff is favorable.