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Smart Home Security

If you have a home security system in your house, you're already dabbling in the world of home automation. Today’s home security systems incorporate a variety of motion sensors, proximity sensors, and door/window sensors, all connected to a main control unit. When the system is switched on and one of the sensors is breached, a signal is sent to the control unit. This may sound an alarm, turn on some lights, or send another signal to the system’s monitoring company. The company will then place a 911 call to local police and then things really start jumping.

More intelligent home security systems enable you to activate the system on a room-by-room or zone-by-zone basis. Some systems also integrate with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide sensors, to alert the monitoring company when there’s a fire or deadly gas in the house.

Things get more interesting when you connect your home security system with other home automation systems. For example, pressing a single button might lock all outside doors, arm the alarm system, close the motorized curtains, turn on selective lighting, and turn down the furnace.

Of course, for a smart security system to be able to lock your doors, you need some sort of smart lock. These exist. The smart lock (sometimes called a connected lock) installs in place of your existing door lock, and connects to your home network via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You can then operate the lock with a smartphone app, which means you no longer need your keys to open the front door. Smartphone operation also means you can lock or unlock your doors while you’re away from home; future smart locks will also be connected to your whole-house smart security system. Smart locks are currently available from August, Goji, Kwikset, Lockitron, and Schlage.

Figure 5 The Goji Smart Lock.

Home security systems help protect you from unwanted visitors. But there are more potential dangers lurking in your home. What if a water line breaks? What if there’s carbon monoxide gas in the house? What if there’s a fire?

To protect against all these dangers[md]and more[md]a variety of smart monitors are being introduced to the market. These devices monitor for specific dangers, and alert you, typically via a smartphone app, when something bad is detected.

Other smart monitors operate more directly when activated. Just as today’s dumb smoke alarms beep when smoke is detected, the next generation of smart alarms still beep but also alert you via smartphone app, as well as dial your local fire department with the alert.

This type of smart smoke detector exists today, in the form of the Nest Protect. The Nest Protect is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Like the Nest Learning Thermostat, it’s a smart monitor that connects to the accompanying smartphone app via Wi-Fi. At the first indication of any problem, you get a friendly heads-up on your smartphone. If things get worse, the Nest Protect flashes red, sounds an alarm, and tells your household what to do, using recorded words instead of the normal beeps. So you might hear the alarm say “There’s smoke in the living room,” if that’s what the problem is.

Figure 6 The Nest Protect smart smoke detector.

In addition, Nest Protect also works in conjunction with the Nest thermostat. If Nest Protect detects high carbon monoxide levels, it notifies the Nest thermostat, which then turns off your gas furnace. Pretty nifty.

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