Why DIY Home Security Makes Sense

Installing a security system is often portrayed as a daunting and expensive task, but the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing that. Smart home technology enables individuals to establish a network of security devices that are controllable and affordable. Installing security systems usually require hired professionals to install them, which is often costly and intimidating. DIY security installation provides home owners with the power to customize security systems easily to fit their respective needs.

The most beneficial aspect of DIY installation is that it is extremely cheap in comparison to hiring professionals. Smart home security devices allow users to purchase devices as they see fit. This means that a security system can start with only a few devices and be built up overtime, allowing individuals to build a secure home on a budget. With a professional installation, the user is required to purchase an expensive and complex system, which they might not even need. In addition to this, professional systems usually have very expensive installation fees. IoT devices are very inexpensive; they can be purchased and installed easily at without complicated procedures.

With internet-enabled security devices, the user has complete control over their security system while they are at home as well as when they are away, which is a feature that professional systems don’t offer. Another DIY benefit is the ability to completely customize and alter security networks at the user’s convenience. Devices can be added or removed from a security system with ease. Home owners also have the ability to reinstall any security device in an alternative location within their home environment. Professionally installed systems simply do not offer this luxury. Once a system is installed in this fashion, there are essentially no customization options. This is especially inconvenient if someone decides to move into a new house or wants to move their security system to a new area in their home. DIY security systems can be transported to various environments and can be installed with minimum difficulty.

When it comes to personally installing a security system, there are some extremely powerful tools to assist in building an integrated network of IoT devices. The ConnectSense Wireless Security System and Wireless Motion Sensor are very effective in keeping a home secure. The Security Sensor can monitor doors, windows, cabinets, and more in any home. The Motion Sensor is able to track any motion that occurs within a given environment. Each of these sensors is able to notify home owners if there are any changes in their environment before it becomes a problem. These ConnectSense sensors are some of the many robust smart devices that can be utilized to monitor a home.

Establishing a smart home ecosystem can also be done with ease using Apple HomeKit, which is a very reliable and efficient DIY smart home security software. HomeKit equips homeowners with the ability to create a dynamic and affordable network of security-based devices. There are many industry leading products that are compatible with Apple’s innovative software. HomeKit assists home owners in creating a secure environment in a way that is both convenient and accessible.

It is often said that if one wants something done right, they should do it themselves. This is precisely the case regarding the creation of in-home security systems. DIY home security is significantly cheaper than professional installations and the ability to fully optimize a network of devices to fit a specific home environment gives DIY installation a major advantage. The accessibility and customization of security networks created with software such as Apple HomeKit makes IoT security systems much more powerful and reliable than professional installations.

What Interoperability Means for the Internet of Things

By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

The Internet of Things (IoT) is reliant upon connection, making communication one of the most rudimentary functions of internet-enabled technology. Interoperability opens up endless opportunities for IoT devices as it ensures that devices will be able to communicate with each other and store data in a central location. The IoT will be able to fulfil its promises of convenience and functionality if multiple devices can be controlled simultaneously while being able to communicate and transfer data with each other.

A majority of the companies that are manufacturing IoT technology are trying to create platforms and devices that will be accepted as the “industry leading solution.” However, this culture within the IoT industry has led to a large assortment of devices that have to be controlled as separate entities and from different apps. The fact of the matter is that consumers simply don’t want to have 50 different devices, each with their own app, that operate independently of each other. The growth of the industry will be limited until manufacturers begin to collaborate in developing devices that will work together within the same network.

Manufacturers clearly understand that interoperability is a necessity for the IoT to continue to grow. So why hasn’t a standardized control system been created? The answer is simple: money and brand recognition. Each company wants to be the one that develops the ultimate “hub” for controlling IoT technology as it will come with a major payout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means it will take more time to reach seamless interoperability than it would if there were more collaborative efforts. That being said, there are still some open-source initiatives to create interoperability that have shown signs of promise such as Qualcomm’s AllSeen Alliance.

When it comes to the individual corporations that are trying to create hubs for controlling smart technology, it appears that Apple is on the verge of creating total interoperability for HomeKit products. The upgraded Apple operating system, iOS10, has transformed the way HomeKit is used with its addition of the Home app. This app allows for any HomeKit device to be controlled from a central location. This means that instead of going to an app for each manufacturer, all devices can be controlled in the hub Apple has integrated within their new operating system. Companies like Google and Microsoft have also created similar smart home platforms, but they don’t quite offer this level of interoperability and don’t seem to have as much traction in the consumer world. These developments in HomeKit are great strides in achieving interoperability within the IoT.

Even though HomeKit has achieved a previously unseen level of interoperability, it still isn’t quite what consumers want in terms of creating a smart home that is completely connected. This is because HomeKit products are the only products that can communicate and operate within this network, thus limiting the device integration to Apple approved devices. This isn’t a bad thing for Apple because many other tech giants are trying to create this same level of interoperability for their respective smart home platforms. At this point in time, this segregated version of interoperability is the best consumers will get until these large corporations put their differences aside.

The current trends within the IoT industry are unlikely to change anytime soon due to the fact that smart home technology is still in the late stages of its infancy. As technology becomes more advanced and more efficient, consumers will begin to demand networks that are more connected, with devices that are able to communicate and operate in harmony. The interoperability provided in Apple HomeKit is a significant advancement from previous systems and is an innovative solution at this point in time. It will be interesting to see if large IoT businesses will be willing to work together in an effort to create a centralized hub that can control and communicate with any type of smart device.

Meet the Smart Home: What the Jetsons got wrong…

The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference is place where visionaries of the technology industry share their insight on a wide range of perplexing ideas. The topics that will be discussed during this intellectually inspiring conference are being selected now through a panel of voters in order to prepare for SXSW, which will be taking place in the spring of 2017. Vice President of Grid Connect, Adam Justice, has submitted a proposal to speak at this conference with the assistance of Richard Gunther, the Director of Client Experience at Universal Mind.

The proposed topic is geared around the infrastructure of the smart home industry; where it is today, where it will be in the coming years, and what technology will enhance the market itself. Justice and Gunther plan to explore the way the smart home has been portrayed by the entertainment industry throughout history, and then compare that to what the smart home actually looks like today. The inaccurate preconceptions of the smart home’s capabilities will finally be brought to light, allowing for a more precise prediction of how the Internet of Things (IoT) will propel the industry and turn this visionary’s dream into a consumer’s reality. This will be a very intriguing presentation as the complex state of the industry will be dissected by a couple of the smart home industry’s thought-leaders.

In order to show support for Grid Connect and vote for this exciting topic to be presented at SXSW, simply click on the link below. Once on the website, it takes a matter of seconds to register an account, then a vote can be casted by clicking the thumbs-up button. We appreciate the support!

VOTE HERE: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66706

A Smart House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

At the WindyCityThings conference this year, the Vice President of Grid Connect, Adam Justice, spoke on the current standards in the Internet of Things (IoT) world. The amount IoT devices are estimated to increase to 25 billion by the year 2020. In the smart home space, there really needs to be some sort of established standard in order for that growth to happen and to have integration between devices. There has been rapid growth and expansion for these types of standards within the past couple of years. This isn’t only an issue at the consumer level, it is an issue for the industrial IoT as well.

In terms of IoT standards, the IoT is moving extremely quickly. So things that are discussion now will be totally different than the things in discussion a couple months from now. The issue is that every manufacturer is doing their own thing and moving along too quickly. Initially the solution for the smart home seemed to be through proprietary companies. This is essentially one company trying to do it all, such as Nest or SmartThings, but in reality it is very difficult for one company to do everything and have a hub at the center of the IoT.

Standards are extremely important for the IoT because it really allows us to have interoperability, and with interoperability comes adoption and increased functionality of the smart home. In addition to this, there would be an improved experience for consumers. At this point in time, the IoT operates with an app for every different product, so consumers need to have a folder or page on their phone with an assortment of apps that all do different things. Having a system like this isn’t really a better solution to the standard devices we have today. People often wonder “how is this any easier than just turning on the lights myself?” This is because sorting through pages of apps and finding individual devices can be a cumbersome task. In order for there to be widespread adoption, there needs to be better standards in place to help improve the user experience.

Another important thing to consider is that no individual company knows how to do everything well. The companies with hub solutions often fail because they are trying to do too many things at once. So even though they have a lot of the features people are looking for, each individual aspect isn’t up to par, thus reducing the overall user experience. Instead of using this method, there needs to be different companies that have expertise in their field, contributing something to a broader system. A great example of this would be a company like Chamberlain that knows garages. There is no reason that another smart home company should go out and try to make a new and better garage door opener because Chamberlain already knows how to do that well. So they can contribute with their MyQ system to the broader smart home ecosystem.

As far as standards go, there seems to be new organizations and standards created regularly. Standards are being adopted through all different layers of technology. There is an application layer, a networking layer, and plenty of other layers along these lines. With these layers, come standards such as security layer standards and cloud standards; there are plenty of opportunities for different standards in different areas. However, the one we will primarily focus on are the application layer standards.

One of the standards that has been around for a while now is one that is called Alljoyn, which was established by the AllSeen Alliance. AllJoyn is an application layer protocol dedicated to enabling the interoperability of IoT devices. It is supposed to make it easier for devices to communicate, getting deeper into the networking layer, focusing on applications. This standard is primarily supported by Qualcomm, the Linux Foundation, Cisco, Microsoft, LG, and HTC. Some of the big pros for this is that its open source and internet access is not necessarily needed. It was created by Qualcomm and they seem to be heavily “driving the ship” and not really letting a lot of others contribute to it. This has been a standard that has been out for a while, but when examining the market, there aren’t really a lot of consumer products adopting it. So even if this is the best standard out there, if it doesn’t get adopted, it doesn’t do too much to help the industry.

Another popular standard is the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), which was recently rebranded to the Open Connectivity Foundation. This is also an application layer protocol with the goal of interoperability. Major supporters of this are Intel, GE, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Dell, Samsung, and Cisco. A lot of these companies are the same companies that supported the AllJoyn standard. These companies are supporting different standards, hoping that they can be a part of which ever one wins out. This standard is open-source, so there is collaboration between all of its supporters. It’s still very early in development, they released the framework early in 2015. They seem to still be in the process of figuring out their purpose as well as their identity, that’s why there was a name change.

The next big standard can be found in Apple HomeKit; which Grid Connect is very familiar with as we have a product that supports HomeKit. This is a common network protocol that features end-to-end encryption. Similar to devices operating on iOS, security and privacy are at the center of this protocol as it is something that is very important to Apple. A couple key aspects of HomeKit are that it is very easy to set up, Siri voice control is built in, and there is one common app for controlling any and all devices. At Apple’s developer conference, WWDC 2016, they announced the Home app for iOS10 that will be used to control smart devices. They are still leaving it open for third party developers to develop common apps to control devices. This seems to be a great step forwards in terms of interoperability. It will be really important as we head more towards automation of the home. This means going beyond opening an app and just telling the voice assistant to turn on the lights or do something along those lines. Users have the ability to set up “if this then that” functions or even create scenes so that when they leave their home, automation can do something like turn off the lights, adjust the thermostat, and close the garage door. Joining Apples NFI program will provide anyone interested with more details.

Apple’s standard is being developed extremely quickly because they are the only ones working on developing this standard, unlike the previously discussed standards. That being said, this is only a great standard for iOS users. Those using Android and other platforms are essentially cut off from this standard. That being said, it does seem to have the most traction in comparison to other major smart home platforms. There have been a lot of HomeKit products introduced to the market thus far and there are a lot more coming soon.

The next thing to examine is the “Works with Nest” program, which has been around for a long time.  This is essentially reliant upon Nest as the center of home automation. Unlike HomeKit and some of these other standards, which are network layer communication. This is an API level, device to device integration, going towards the cloud. This doesn’t allow for connection between edge devices, internet is required to do anything. It seems to be pretty simple and easy to set up, which is why a lot of people integrate with it. However, those integrations don’t seem to be entirely useful as it’s more of a checkbox people want to checkoff to be in the smart home space. Since the Google acquisition of Nest, things seem to be a bit troublesome. There are some issues with the new CEO and things of that nature. It will be very interesting to see where this platform goes over time.

Another major platform on the Google side is called Brillo and Weave. Weave is Google’s answer to HomeKit. Brillo is essentially a stripped down version of Android, so it is a high horse power, computing intense platform. It doesn’t really belong on end devices as it is more for things like routers or something with a lot of computing power. Weave is a device to device protocol, so it includes cloud services and is very similar to HomeKit. It has one app, easy setup, and device to device integration. It looks as if it will be a really solid solution for Android, but it does appear to be a couple years behind HomeKit. Everyone at Google’s conference this year was waiting to hear more on Brillo/Weave, but the conference passed and there was no mention of it. So it appears to be in somewhat of a building mode, but they should not be counted out. One of the major ways people are going to choose their smart home ecosystem is going to based off of what they have in their pocket and what will work with that. Android has a huge market share and that is something that needs to be addressed, especially in comparison to what Apple is doing.

Smart Doesn’t Always Mean an Easy Home

When the possibility of creating smart homes first became a feasible task, it turned out to be more complicated than originally anticipated. Since then, the technology has improved with more accurate sensors and voice control abilities, making it much easier to create and operate a smart home. We haven’t quite reached perfection in terms of interoperability, but smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are on pace to become universally accepted home solutions.

Smart technology is invading many households in the form of various appliances and devices, all connected to the internet. The purpose of this is to provide home owners with the ability to control devices from the comfort of their phones. Adam Justice, Vice President of Grid Connect, talks about how smart tech can ease the pain of household problems, “It solves the problem of my wife and I both being in bed and arguing over who is going to get up to turn out the lights. So you could say it solves marital problems.” Even though this is a very simple example of how IoT devices can help with home control, there are much larger and more powerful automations that can be accessed.

The rewarding feeling of being able to control a device with the touch of a button, or with voice control, does not stop at single device automation. The ability to create “scenes” allows users to command multiple devices with the use of a single voice command. Establishing scenes will make home automation so much more simple, while simultaneously improving the convenience of the installed tech.  

The ability to control both individual devices and networks of devices with a single voice command is just one of the many great features of smart technology. That being said, things can get a bit complicated when it comes to getting devices from different manufacturers to operate in a system together. There are various companies such as trying to solve the issue of interoperability, but Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon’s Echo are at the forefront of the innovation. HomeKit is the distinguished frontrunner because it is extremely easy to setup and allows users to control an assortment of devices from a single app.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/realestate/smart-doesnt-always-mean-an-easy-home.html?_r=1