Rapid technological advances have revolutionised the intruder alarm industry recently, and the pace appears to be quickening daily.
Most modern developments in burglar alarm systems have been brought about by faster communications, more powerful computers and the rise in mobile phone use.
Advanced technologies are now quickly embraced by consumers, and the early adoption of new devices in this market is now the norm.
And smart technology has advanced to the point that consumers have a much more extensive range of options in the intruder alarm sector.
Ordinary people are now much more aware of the potential of smartphones and the ability to control home systems, from turning on lights remotely to voice-activated TVs.
More people than ever see the advantages of monitoring all aspects of home security from their mobile phones or tablets.
New intruder alarm systems coming onto the market now can enable home and business owners to monitor CCTV cameras in both video and audio. Homeowners can also receive real-time alerts for motion sensors, fire alarms, or other electrical devices around the home. As well as offering security coverage, home alarm systems can manage electrical appliances, turn them on or off, and even provide voice communication. Home burglar alarm systems can warn homeowners if a visitor enters the driveway, if there is smoke in the kitchen or alert them to a flooded shower room. The latest alarm systems can send alert signals to a mobile phone, offering early warning of any danger with gateways to a central wi-fi hub that can link to other devices, activation cameras, for example, or alert neighbours, police or others of unusual activity.
Smart home technology is the hottest topic in consumer technology today. It will inevitably have a significant impact on the home security market. Blending systems makes lots of sense, but many technical problems of hybrid systems still have to be overcome. The linking of home automation to home security is a natural way forward, along with energy management systems and automatic sensors for a range of lifestyle efficiencies, from switching on a TV to heating a swimming pool. The integration of home security and home automation device has clear benefits, with the control of heating, lighting, and so on, combined with home security sensors, CCTV cameras and alarm systems.
However, these systems currently work off different wi-fi protocols and optimising for both is tricky. It is possible to build two separate systems that 'talk' to each other or combine them into a single network. The market is currently divided into open and proprietary wireless protocols. Open protocols, and there are several, will need to be adopted by everyone if devices are going to 'talk' to each other. But open protocols have the advantages of low price and scalability. Still, they have drawbacks, too, such as poor reliability, limited support for advanced features, and they tend not to have built-in privacy protection. The protocols that favour home automation will not necessarily have a place in a home security system where reliability and privacy are significant concerns.
Proprietary wireless protocols built by a single company for a specific purpose are much better suited to security systems.
As integrated platforms are developed, consumers may soon be able to buy wireless gateway hubs that support multiple protocols and allow both open and proprietary protocols to operate in the same environment. Home security and automation networks will then be able to deliver versatile and cost-effective systems that can manage electrical devices throughout the home and offer a fully protected security system. The benefits to the consumer are manifest. It should be possible to allow entry to your home while away on holiday, and systems can be programmed to send an alert when anyone has entered or left your home, which way they went and at what time. This is not only a massive advantage for home security, but it can also be a great benefit for parents who want to know if a child has reached home safely from school or an elderly relative is unwell. Homeowners will be pleased to be able to integrate different electronic systems, and the rise in the use of smartphones serves to increase awareness of the lifestyle benefits of using technology to make lives more comfortable and safer and our homes more secure and more energy-efficient.