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GET SMART

The Future is Now With These High Tech Gadgets That Protect and Serve
By Natalie de la Garza

It’s one thing to upcycle old shutters into a stylish headboard or repurpose a creaky ladder into a bookshelf, but do-it-yourself home security?

Why yes, says Thad White, vice president of product management for Ooma, known to almost a million customers in North America for their essentially free internet-based phone service. The company launched Ooma Home Security last year, utilizing the secure internet connection and wireless capabilities of their Ooma Telo base station to make it a hub for other smart devices, like sensors that allow you to monitor your home remotely and, if necessary, take action.

Simply put, the days of punching a code into a keypad to arm and disarm a security system before either rushing in or out of your house are on the way out, and not a minute too soon, according to White. Where traditional security providers are not only expensive, potentially several hundred dollars for installation and $40 to $50 each month for professional monitoring, White says those systems are becoming outdated.

“Everyone has a smart phone now that’s connected to the internet,” says White. “Why not check the status of your security system yourself or have it call you directly instead of going through this middle-man monitoring service?”

Ooma Home Security offers door and window sensors that monitor openings and closings; motion sensors that can detect motion day or night up to 30 feet away; water sensors that can be placed under a hot water heater or kitchen sink; and a smart camera that offers live video streaming, smart motion detection and facial recognition.

“You, your spouse, children, cleaning person, dog walker — you can train this camera to recognize the people in your home [and] only alert you when a stranger is recognized,” says White.

If you’re out of the city and detect something in your home, Ooma also is the only provider currently offering remote 911 capabilities, meaning the base station initiates the emergency call from your home, ensuring that local authorities are called to your home to investigate. And even more sensors, including a smoke alarm and a siren, will be launched later this year.

Here in Houston, Digital Delights promotes similar home security solutions, like Logitech’s Circle 2, a home security camera that allows you to peek in on multiple rooms from one app, anywhere in real time, and boasts crystal-clear HD video day and night, two-way audio and the ability to replay a full day’s worth of video in only 30 seconds. It is both rechargeable and portable, so you can pick it up and take it from room to room. You could also take it outside, but that’s really the domain of a weatherproof security camera, like the Nest Cam Outdoor.

The Nest Cam Outdoor provides a video feed and also sends alerts when motion is detected or it hears a loud noise. Its built-in speaker and microphone can distinguish a person from a thing and it also securely stores 30 days of video to the cloud.

Other notable products include the video doorbell from Ring, a product that streams HD video and audio to your smartphone or tablet. It allows you to speak to anyone at your door from anywhere, can be installed without any professional help and can run on a battery or be hardwired to your existing doorbell. Ring also offers a 140-degree, flood light camera, again with two-way talk capabilities, and a siren alarm. Kevo, from Kwikset, is a touch-to-open, Bluetooth smart lock that makes your smartphone your key, allowing control of door access and feedback, as well as the ability to send others e-keys.

Jerry Shanar, of Missouri City-based Sixth Sense Solutions, says while he’s evolving with the times, he still encourages every customer to consider redundancy and have a plan in place in case power is lost or the wireless signal is dropped. “I always encourage every one of my customers to get a back-up radio just in case,” says Shanar.

Ultimately, if you are interested in smart home integration, White recommends choosing a home security solution curated by a provider. Some hubs can connect to hundreds of different third-party devices and it can quickly become overwhelming. It’s also important to ask about coverage, range and battery life, as well as repair plans and warranties. Shanar cautions consumers to be wary of contracts, as many larger companies look to lock customers into multi-year obligations.

Regardless of what provider or constellation of devices you use to monitor your home, White believes it’s worth it, saying, “It really gives me peace of mind to know what’s going on in my house.”

RESOURCES

Digital Delight
713-283-8100
10101 Harwin, Suite 150
www.digitaldelight.com

Ooma
877-621-0515
www.ooma.com

Ring
800-656-1918
www.ring.com

Sixth Sense Solutions
832-930-2040
www.sixthsensesolutions.com

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