The tech world has been talking about the truly smart home for years, anticipating a time when we could control almost everything in the home with a single interface, even when we weren't there. And we've actually moved a long way in that direction. But this profusion in smart home technology brings multiple problems to consider, and consumers are increasingly aware of them. Two of the biggest problems are lack of security and lack of integration.
What Can We Control?
The list of things we can control remotely (or at least communicate with) is getting longer all the time. And I’m not just talking about using a remote control device in the home: this is about "real" control from far away, using an app. Here are some examples of items in your home that you might want to access remotely.
- Your alarm system
The good news is that you can already connect with every devices on the list above today – and with certain providers, you can do it all from a single, integrated app. As the technology evolves, we'll be able to access even more items.
Who Is Doing What?
We know that many manufacturers and service providers are racing to stake out a position in the smart home arena. And we know that you can find a lot more companies providing these services now than ever before – the list of cool connected devices seems to grow daily. Some of the start-up companies are even crowd-funded!
After all, the technology to connect remotely is not that difficult - especially if you're not worried about a connection that is relatively easy to hack. Unfortunately, when it comes to camera images or footage (just to name one example), hacking is not something to take lightly.
Security Comes First
Multiple consumer surveys have confirmed the notion that homeowners are looking for security first, and then convenience follows. In other words: make sure your home and your family are protected, and then you can play with how you are connected.
A hallmark of the current smart home arena is that companies who have no background in home security are starting with the smart home, and then expanding their offering to include home security functionality. For those of us who are home security professionals, this can be disturbing for the following reasons:
- Most of these systems are "Monitor" It Yourself (MIY), meaning it's up to you to call the police or fire department if your system sends you an alarm: that is, if you receive that alarm signal in the first place! The fact is, true peace of mind only comes from professional monitoring.
- The majority of these systems communicate over a vulnerable Internet connection vs. a more robust (and reliable) cellular connection. Real alarm companies don’t rely on the Internet for protecting your home and family.
- Even the way the sensors communicate on almost all these "security light" systems is a problem: Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth, with limited or no data encryption. And as for cameras, there is ample evidence that most of the "security" cameras being sold today are remarkably easy to hack.
How Many Apps Can You Put Up With?
That brings us back to integration, the other big challenge. You really want one app to control everything, or certainly as much as possible. In a perfect world, one single program would you allow to connect to and control your home from anywhere, using a single app. Sadly, very few platforms offer that level of seamless integration.
What you want is a single interface, from which you can look at your cameras, arms and disarm your alarm system, control your lights, reset your thermostat, and unlock (or lock) your doors. And when you layer that level of smart home interactive service over a solid alarm system that is professionally monitored and equipped with a cellular radio (instead of a vulnerable phone line or internet connection), then you have it all.
Find YOUR Solution
It's simple, really: a real alarm system, and a single app. The companies that offer this best solution are out there – you just have to search for them. And while you’re at it, make sure you ask the right questions. Often, it’s what these companies don’t tell you that is important!