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HomeNew ProductsAlarm Monitoring: The Customer Is Always Right

Alarm Monitoring: The Customer Is Always Right

When it comes to alarm monitoring and home automation listen to your customer – they’ll often want something much simpler than you think.

Home automation and alarm solutions are increasingly connected, with hub-based systems offering all the functions of a capable alarm panel, along with the ability to manage loads more besides. They have backup battery power, a suite of wireless communications options, intuitive operation at the touchscreen and via app, useful management and reporting functions, and a diverse range of sensors and devices.

Key to giving a customer what they need is being sure your solution covers key functions – these will include video intercom/doorbell, smart entry locks, smoke sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, intrusion detectors capable of handling internal and external spaces, door and gate sensors, CCTV cameras that can deal with living outside and panic/medical buttons.

Something that’s whacky in the market right now is that there are loads of big players each approaching home automation and security from oblique angles – each frontline device being a hook designed to pull the user into an ecosystem with a data – gathering ISP crouched behind it. There are smart speakers, smart doorbells, smart mesh routers, smart plugs, smart displays, smart lightbulbs, smart thermostats, smart locks, floodlights, cameras and more.

Some of these devices also function as smart hubs, allowing users to start out small, then use the management app and the simple DIY process of login to expand their solution as they go. Of course, it’s never as easy as all that – most the devices mentioned are proprietary, driven by their own apps and bringing them together coherently is not going to be plug and play for typical users.

From the point of view of security installers, the nature and capability of the best-selling smart home devices offers useful information when it comes to planning and building your own solutions. They also allow you to get a sense of the sorts of preferences users are likely to have, which means you can make sure your chosen solution covers key bases well in advance.

When it comes to the most popular smart devices in 2021, the one most people own is the smart phone – that means your system needs a capable, clever, secure and intuitive app interface. It’s going to be worth your team having a recommended smart phone security profile they can give to users to reduce vulnerability. The best and simplest authentication technology for personal use is face recognition, in our opinion.

The next most popular smart devices – with nearly 40 per cent penetration – are smart speakers. Speakers aren’t something that’s commonly integrated with security and home automation systems we see on the pro side of the industry, so it’s something to consider. Further, smart watches are more popular than tablets – you may want your interface to go small, not large. Sticking with general domestic products, smart TVs come next, followed by workstations and laptops.

Interestingly, most people still use at least one of these clunkers, many use both, and they use them a lot. Their integration of local storage capacity, multiple big screens, full size mouse/keyboard, multiplicity of ports, stable connectivity, powerful processors and user specific software applications, mean ensuring your smart home system has a capable browser interface is very important. Other smart ancillaries around the house include scales (ouch), fridges, washing machines and dryers, but these are small fry with only 5 per cent penetration. The people have spoken when it comes to brainy whitegoods and their answer was ‘meh’.

With smart security and safety solutions, people love video doorbells. They also buy a lot of external CCTV cameras, allowing them to check their place is ok without worrying hackers are watching them binge on The Last Kingdom while eating ice cream and gingernuts. Other things people like inside the home are smart light bulbs (growing fast), smart thermostats and smart plugs, but the numbers are comparatively modest. Back outside, homeowners favour garage door openers and gate openers, with smart sprinklers next most popular. Smart smoke sensors and security sensors are less popular than these other automation solutions. The people want their smart devices to help get tedious stuff done.

Something the numbers also highlight is the fact the majority of homeowners have many clever devices – between 7 and 10 – but in most cases they are integrated by the homeowner’s brain app-bouncing the home screen of their smart phone. It’s an interesting finding that argues for direct connection of devices with next-gen batteries wrangled by clever and reliable software. The issue with this in professional applications would be comms and backup power. This is still an issue in the home but it’s much more serious in SME applications, where hardwired solutions are more reliable and easier to manage over the long term.

What should your home security and automation include? Your smart solution needs to cover off the basics – intrusion sensors, life safety sensors, door state sensors. If you can find a way to meaningfully support the huge love of music these numbers reveal, you should do so. The system needs to support CCTV, not too much, mostly outside, and the higher the image quality, the better. If the system integrates a video doorbell, that’s excellent. Support for gate locks and garage door opening and/or monitoring is attractive if done cheaply and well. There’s growth in areas like smart bulbs, smart switchers and smart thermostats which you might tap into, but it will be a smaller number of users doing the asking.

Most important, your clever security solution needs to work well via a smart phone – you need a brilliant interface that’s easy to navigate and lightweight. It needs to be secure without being intrusive and you should work hard to find an app that’s fast and easy to access while laden with groceries when screaming at the kids. The fundamental truth users value automation could make cool things like geolocation and the integration of smart locks your killer hook of the future.

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