Smart sensors make safer homes

By on October 28, 2015

The Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us, widely described as Machine-to-Machine, or M2M – devices talking to devices. The smart bit of the ‘Things’ in the IoT isn’t the machine, however - it’s the sensor. There are millions of connected sensors out there, gathering data so the ‘machines’, which in many cases are apps, can do their work. We have smart cities, smart cars and, increasingly, smart homes, all enabled by smart sensors. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so now is the time to learn the ways in which a smart home can be a safer home.

As defined by Safe Horizon, the largest non-profit victim services agency in the US: ‘Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence… Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors… One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime... Men are victims of nearly three million physical assaults in the USA’.

More than 60 percent of domestic violence incidents happen at home. It’s likely that many of these incidents could have been prevented by more effective control of who is allowed into a home, especially if a perpetrator has been ordered by the courts not to go near the premises or harass the victim.

Wireless communications enable many solutions that have the ability to make a home a safer place. One of which, Angee, bills itself as the first truly autonomous home security system, not only watching the room in which its set up but monitoring all perimeter entrance points, using sensors to identify people. Angee has a two-step authentication method – ‘at the door’ identification and voice recognition, with a key back-up available if the user’s smartphone, tablet or smartwatch battery runs flat (read our tips for extending battery life here). Angee also has 10 hours of streaming battery, so it will keep a home protected even if there’s a power outage, as well as let the user know the electronics are down.

With Canary, the unit is simply set up somewhere central in the home and then connected to Wi-Fi (make sure Wi-Fi is secured with a password). Through its algorithm-based motion detection system, Canary ‘learns’ and becomes more effective the longer it is used. If the sensors detect something out of the ordinary, Canary will notify the user via smartphone, send a video recording and allow for the viewing of a live feed. Canary was featured in the news in September, as the system alerted a New York resident to burglars in his apartment.

Another valuable solution is Netatmo’s Welcome,which works via facial recognition. It sends the names of people that it ‘knows’ who enter a home directly to the user’s smartphone, allowing the user to see that friends and relatives are safely inside. It also alerts users when it detects a stranger – a further level of security to keep a home protected. 

Since the Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, the rate of domestic violence has declined by 63 percent. The leading voice for survivors of domestic violence and their allies is the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), and they have declared October 19-23 a week of action. You can learn more by checking out the group’s pages on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram. Each day, NNEDV will be sharing a different survivor's story, all of which are true. Follow discussions using #31n31 and show your support by wearing purple, the color for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.