Home Alarm & Security Systems

What matters most?

Cost
SecurityFor many people, the price of a home security system is one of the most important factors in deciding which alarm system to purchase. There are three basic elements to consider: upfront (installation) costs, ongoing (monthly) subscription costs, and equipment costs. Be aware that many home insurance providers offer discounts (up to 20%) for homes with monitored alarm systems.

  • Upfront cost: Installation is either professional or do-it-yourself (DIY): some companies let you choose an installation method, while others offer only one option. Professional installation costs can run $100-$500+, while DIY is free but requires time investment.
  • Subscription cost: Subscription security systems – home alarms monitored 24/7 by outside companies – carry a monthly fee, usually in the $20-$60 range.
  • Equipment cost: You’ll catch a price break on monitored systems, which often offer equipment at reduced cost in exchange for signing a contract. If you purchase a system outright, expect to pay $100+ for a basic system and $500+ for top-of-the-line equipment.

Contract
Many home security companies offer discounted equipment in exchange for a signed contract, similar to how your cell phone company offers low-cost phones. Some contracts are more flexible than others, so read through the contract terms (and online reviews) before signing on the dotted line.

  • Length: Most contracts are for 2-3 year terms. Many allow for cancellation within the first 2-4 weeks of the contract’s term.
  • Terms: Pay special attention to a contract’s fine print: equipment warranties, cancellation clauses, etc.
  • Portability: Many companies make it easy to port your equipment to a new home, so if there’s a chance you’ll move during your contract, check first to confirm relocation possibilities.

Installation
There are two basic installation possibilities: professional installation and DIY options.

  • Professional installation: Many complex alarm systems, usually those that are hardwired into a home, require professional installation. This usually carries a hefty cost ($200-$500+), although some companies offer discount installation.
  • DIY: Do-it-yourself security systems are generally easy to install, often requiring just a few hours to read through the manual and place your sensors.
  • Third-party professional installation: If you purchase a DIY system but aren’t a DIYer, you can hire a local handy person to do your installation at an hourly rate.

Monitoring
Home alarm companies offer monthly monitoring via three types of connection: Internet (broadband/VOIP), phone line, or cellular service. Usually, Internet monitoring is the least expensive option, while cellular monitoring is the most expensive.

  • Internet: Monitoring via Internet is inexpensive, but be aware that if you have an Internet outage (or a power outage that disables your modem), you will be cut off from monitoring.
  • Phone line: Use your home phone line (landline) to connect with your monitoring company. Be aware that if a burglar cuts your phone line, your system will not work.
  • Cellular: Monitoring via cell phone connection is the most expensive option, but also the most secure.

Add-on features
Basic systems are just that: basic. You’ll most likely want to expand your system to meet your home’s specifications – number of windows and doors, outdoor lighting requirements, etc. – so look for a company with the add-on equipment and features that suit your needs.

  • Equipment: Equipment offerings vary greatly by company, so choose wisely before signing a contract.
  • Monthly plans: Monthly plans can range from bargain-basement monitoring via Internet connection to all the bells and whistles, including smoke detection, medical monitoring and home automation.
  • Service upgrades & downgrades: Lifestyle changes may require variations in your security needs; check with your company about the ease of adding services or switching monthly plans mid-contract.

Home automation
Home automation is a very popular feature of today’s home security systems – but one you’ll pay extra to access. Automation affords peace of mind and also keeps your house running efficiently (and inexpensively).

  • Security automation: Easily check that your alarm system is armed, your security cameras are functioning, your doors are locked, and other security features are engaged.
  • Energy savings: Adjust your thermostat while you’re out, double-check that your lights are off, conserve energy by pulling your shades down, and more.
  • Monitor the kids: Unlock the door for your children (or pet-sitter), check that the kids got home safely from school, and even ensure that they’re doing their homework instead of watching TV.

Remote access
Many security companies today offer remote access to the system via web-based dashboards and mobile apps. You can use the app to monitor your alarm or manage an array of home automation functions.

  • Internet dashboard: Log into your company’s website, e.g. mysecuritycompany.com, to have one-click access to your system.
  • Smartphone apps: Monitor your home via a free smartphone app.
  • Tablet apps: Many companies also offer comprehensive tablet-optimized apps to access remote security settings.
Article Provided by: ConsumerAffairs

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Canary Flex is a small, weatherproof security camera

Canary Flex

Canary Flex

Security cameras are slowly making their way out of your house and onto your porches and yards. Canary Flex is following the footsteps of rival Nest by launching a new, smaller weatherproof camera called the Flex that can be plugged into an outlet or powered by batteries. It’s available for pre-order today for $199 and will be in stores by the holidays. Canary is also introducing a new pricing model that is pretty different from what’s on the market, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Rated IP65, the Canary Flex can withstand splashes of water, and thanks to the included weatherproof cord, it can remain plugged in even when it’s wet. If you’d like to go wireless, you can use the bundled rechargeable battery, which should last two to three months of average use, the company said. When it’s running on batteries, the Flex runs on a low power WiFi state to stay connected to the servers without sucking up juice, and also uses a passive infrared (PIR) sensor to detect incidents before triggering the rest of the system. Otherwise, the Flex uses the camera (or “computer vision,” as Canary called it) to monitor activity when plugged in. When triggered, the Canary Flex will record HD video to the cloud.

Unlike its predecessor, the Canary Flex is compact, and fits comfortably in your hand so you can easily move it around should you need to. It also has a magnetic base that lets it swivel 360 degrees in its companion mount. However, you’ll lack the siren that the original camera had, as well as what Canary called the home health sensors. The latter relay feedback on your house’s temperature, humidity and air quality. Those who already own the older Canary camera can use the same app with the new device, and no hub is required.

To make it easier to place the Flex around your house, Canary is also launching a series of accessories, such as a secure mount, a stake mount to stick your camera in your flower pot, and a fun twist mount to wrap your Flex around almost anything.

For those who want complete peace of mind, Canary  is also launching a 4G LTE mount with Verizon that will let your Flex switch to cellular data in the event that your WiFi network drops out. The 4G mount can be plugged in, but also has enough onboard battery to last as long as the Flex’s power pack will. This would be great for those who want to prepare for power outages. It’ll be available shortly after the Flex hits store shelves.

One of the coolest things about this launch is Canary Flex ‘s new pricing model that does away with the industry’s conventional tiers system altogether. Instead of making you pay more to store more of your footage like competitors do, Canary is letting you access the last 24 hours of your timeline for free. That’s twice the 12 hours it previously let nonpaying customers have.

The company is also removing its previous limits on features such as saving and downloading clips, as well as sending them to other contacts. Those who want more support can pay $9.99 a month for one device ($15 for two to three cameras), and that membership will come with up to $1,000 in homeowners deductible reimbursement (for qualifying incidents), as well as dedicated agents who will follow you through your your incident report process. Members also get extended warranties and access to footage from the prior 30 days.

That’s quite a big bump from the free version, and could give Canary Flex a serious edge over its competitors. Both Nest and Canary’s devices cost $199, but the latter says it is working on a more personable approach to security that could make its outgoing alerts more meaningful. Some of these upcoming improvements include refined object, people and animal recognition, as well as better understanding of new versus repetitive motions. These changes will soon roll out to the Canary app as well. In the meantime, you may want to finetune your security camera settings so you’re not getting buzzed for every time your neighbor’s dog jumps, or for random tree branches smacking against your window.

Article Provided By: engadget

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Aging at Home: Home May Be Where the Technology Is

Aging at Home

 

New Technologies Help Aging Baby Boomers with Health and Safety Monitoring

Medicare started off the year putting into action a program to encourage more doctors to discuss end-of-life and advance care plans with patients. While the details tend to focus on the hard choices on the far side of those arrangements, new and near-future technologies could preserve life’s simple pleasures on their front end.

End-of-life conversations are meant to cover more than the final days or weeks when many, or even all, of an individual’s needs, have to be fulfilled by others, often in an institutional setting.

There’s a growing movement to include in those discussions options for the elderly and infirm to “age in place.” For those looking to spend as much time as possible in their familiar home surroundings, technology has been playing an increasingly important role.

Daily Monitoring

While companies like Bask work out front with elderly on hardware and software, there are massive investments being poured into technology in the field of home health and the healthcare industry at large, noted Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“We can pretty much monitor people in real time these days, which is great,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It helps not only understand what going on with them — but provides a lot of early warning analysis.”

If there are irregularities with heart rate or worrying drops in blood sugar, for example, monitoring systems can notify the individual as well as family members and healthcare professionals.

“The biggest challenge, though, is overcoming the daily activities — the food preparation, the house maintenance,” McGregor said. “It’s all of that. Sometimes the manual stuff is really the most difficult part of it.”

Big Data

However, a lot of traditional developers of medical systems, such as GE, have been putting boatloads into other approaches to using technology to transform healthcare, McGregor noted.

“One, it offsets a lot of health costs,” he said. “And two, this is a huge growth industry, especially as populations age in the U.S., and in Japan and other industrialized nations. There’s a tremendous amount of money being put into this.”

Efforts to improve home healthcare with technology and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence will transform society, according to McGregor.

“When you think about it — if you could take every PET scan, every X-Ray, every MRI, and the diagnosis of whether they were correct or incorrect — you can create platforms that can actually do analysis of all these scans better than any radiologist on the planet — and they’re working on this.”

Portal Presence

Many adult children feel that “their parents were there for them,” and are willing to step up when the tables are turned and mom or dad are in need of resources to maintain a high quality of life, noted Jeff Kruger, CEO Safe Homecare.

“Technology is making it possible for more seniors to remain in their homes longer, and for their children who worry about them to take comfort in knowing that their family members are being cared for and watched over,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Safe Homecare’s Family Room portal is one entrant in a field of digital eldercare solutions that has been growing as quickly as the aging populations in industrialized countries such as the U.S.

“In our Family Room, our clients and their loved ones are able to access a secure online portal where they can view caregiver notes of the day’s activities, caregiver daily schedules, add appointments caregivers need to be made aware of, update and review medications, and add task reminders,” Krueger said. “This feature enables the family to stay informed regardless of where they may live.”

Meanwhile, the folks over at AthenaGTX have been iterating on a platform they call “Wi-Med.”

Its focus is on enabling caregivers to customize patient monitoring as the need arises, according to Lyn Darrah, vice president of business development.

 

WiMed

 

The platform stores vital patient data on secure servers that caregivers can access from anywhere, Darrah noted.

“This is beneficial in that it allows doctors to view patient data and assess treatment and medication success and adjust accordingly,” she told TechNewsWorld.

The feedback has been more than encouraging. Wi-Med was credited with completely eradicating hospital readmissions in a study of one nursing home.

The company currently is conducting beta testing of home monitoring for the elderly and infirm.

“With our current trials, we hope to prove that patients will be able to stay in their homes and reduce the need for emergency care or hospitalization, and delay or remove the need for a care facility,” Darrah said. “Thus far we are seeing some very encouraging results.”

Personal Emergency Response Systems

Along with patient portals for family and physicians, health monitoring and alerting systems have been mainstays in homes refitted to keep elderly family members in place, observed Rob Enderle, a principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

PERS, or personal emergency response systems, such as GreatCall’s collection of mobile devices and the company’s 5Star Urgent Response Service, are expected to enjoy compounded annual growth of 40 percent from 2015 to 2021 — in a market that’s projected to grow from about 450,000 devices to one that ships 3.4 million each year, according to Berg Insight.

 

greatcall devices

 

“One of the big problems with folks as they age is that their life partners die or have to be moved to a hospital, leaving them alone,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “They are still very likely to have an accident, and even a small fall could become deadly.”

On top of the risk of physical accidents, the elderly may forget to take their medication or take the wrong dosage, he noted. In the absence of monitoring, such mistakes could result in serious health issues.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because many of the current aging-in-place solutions reflect old ideas, suggested Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. Most people, for example, are familiar with the marketing catchphrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

“That company is now called ‘LifeAlert,’ and it continues to offer a variety of medical and home monitoring services for the elderly,” King told TechNewsWorld.

 

AC Nielsen Life Alert

 

However, “the development of increasingly powerful solutions leveraging mobile and WiFi networks has crowded the market with similar offerings,” King pointed out.

PERS, which have begun to shapeshift from pendants to more discreet form factors, like wristbands and watches, increasingly are complemented by remote-monitoring systems.

A View From Afar

Remote monitoring systems that incorporate wearables and sensors have a growing presence in home healthcare, noted Revation Systems CEO Perry Price.

“This type of monitoring, combined with the ability to do virtual consultations on a wide variety of platforms, will further enhance our aging population’s ability to stay with in their homes,” he told TechNewsWorld. “These technologies can even be deployed by entertainment or gaming platforms within the home.”

BeClose’s suite of sensors and software tools, for example, can relay to remote caregivers an individual’s daily routine and any disruptions to it.

Another example is GrandCare Systems, with its house-wide sensors and bedside kiosk at the center of it all.

The number of remotely monitored patients last year doubled to 4.9 million, and the market reached $6.7 billion. That figure is projected to hit $27 billion by 2020.

“Even security cameras placed inside their home can help their loved ones or remote health monitoring to check in if they aren’t answering their phones,” Remote monitoring — even security cameras placed inside the home — can help family members check on their loved ones if they aren’t answering their phone, noted Enderle.

“Telemedicine continues to advance, and now it isn’t unusual for someone that might have needed to be hospitalized before to be monitored effectively from their home,” he said, “though generally, they’ll still need someone staying with them.”

As artificial intelligence continues to improve, the cost of home monitoring will fall, and its efficacy will climb, Enderle predicted. “Simply watching someone move around the house can tell an AI if there is a problem, and increasingly advanced sensors can catch health problems far sooner.”

Article Provided By: TECHNEWSWORLD

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