Of all the security disciplines, intruder alarm systems are the technology most often claimed to represent a grudge purchase, especially when looking at residential applications. With many consumers looking towards smart home systems which include security elements, many intruder system manufacturers are looking to offer an alternative. Benchmark visited Texecom to see what options it could deliver.
The ‘smart home’ revolution is not something of the future. It’s not a concept that a few early adopters are sniffing around. It’s not the cutting edge of innovation for nerds. Smart home technology is real, it’s happening now and people are buying into it.
You don’t need to search out specialist technology vendors to find smart home technology or connected systems. The devices are available through the big retailers on-line, via department stores on the High Street, and even through the catalogue-based outlets and the DIY sheds.
At Benchmark, we have always considered the security market to be well equipped to enter the smart buildings marketplace. Whatever you want to call the technology – integrated systems, connected solutions, smart homes, intelligent buildings, the Internet of Things – matters not. A quick look at what these systems offer highlights video and audio management, data collection and use, interaction between systems, switching and triggering, cause-and-effect programming,. etc.. These are all things that many advanced security systems can already do.
The difference between security systems and the new generation of smart systems is that security solutions do things … well, securely. Redundancy, resilience, device polling, secure data transmission and in-depth control are all specialities of our market. It’s what differentiates our systems.
Research has shown that end users will invest in smarter solutions, and see value in the benefits on offer. Ironically, one of the more desired elements of smart home systems is security. It therefore makes sense for intruder alarm manufacturers to meet this need.
The Texecom option
Texecom Connect is based on the Premier Elite range of control panels. This also enables the use of Ricochet mesh-based wireless connectivity, which is an integral part of the panel series. The technology has also lifted a Benchmark Innovation Award and represents a very secure wireless platform.
The Connect option allows end users to take control of their alarm systems, controlling their home security as well as other devices such as video surveillance, lighting, heating, power management and even control of household appliances. While the Connect platform enhances security in a similar way to VMS rules, it also adds ‘lifestyle’ options around the home, such as automation.
This means that end users don’t just interact with their alarm system when an intrusion occurs (or a fault condition exists). They can use the system for benefical reasons, every day. This obviously enhances the perceived value of an intruder alarm system.
Texecom Connect uses an App and Cloud service, although a standalone Hub will be available in the very near future. The Hub will allow the Cloud service to be dispensed with, if required, and allows a standalone system to be created which uses existing wifi for smart home connectivity.
There will also be a range of Ricochet-enabled accessories which will enable security installers to up-sell to customers. These will include power plugs, back boxes, radiator valves, environmental sensors are a range of other devices.
A logical interface
The Texecom Connect App starts off with a circular timeline covering a 24 hour period. Any system activity is indicated by an icon, and a single touch drills down into more detail. The icons can represent alarm activations, camera detections, system mode changes or other events.
An archive of timeline displays can be viewed via the calendar pages. This enables users to view both historical and scheduled activity. Effectively, control of the system, including future changes, is placed into the hands of the customer.
The App is designed to simple to understand, and makes use of colour coding to indicate the system status. This includes periods when the system is armed or disarmed, as well as part-arm states. If a system is using partitions, each will have a dedicated screen.
System status settings are designated as Modes. Armed, disarmed and part-armed are standard Modes, but customised modes can be created by the user to allow for additional criteria and functions.
A basic armed mode would set the system to be active. However, a custom workday Mode might not only arm the system, but also set the heating to a low level, turning it up again at 4pm. In winter months, the Mode could also be adapted to switch on household lights at 5pm. If a user is away from the property, they can create a mode to arm the system, manage heating and switch lighting randomly to simulate activity. Other household devices such as radios, television or automated blinds could also be included. The creation of Modes is done simply and quickly from the App.
Modes can also include Recipes: effectively cause and effect programming that allows triggers and actions to be established. Installers and integrators familiar with VMS rules or Boolean logic will understand this immediately.
Recipes not only enable the creation of bespoke security applications, but also allow smart control of automation and general household functionality.
For example, a Recipe might switch on a camera if someone walks up a driveway when the system is set, or switch on a radio when someone enters a room.
What makes Recipes more flexible is the inclusion of AND/OR operators. Taking the above example, if an external detector is triggered by someone walking up the drive, and they don’t ring the doorbell, then the camera can be activated and the intruder alarm system might chime. Up to eight triggers can be included in a Recipe (plus any AND/OR operators), combined with up to ten actions.
To further enhance flexibility, specific Recipes can be included in Modes. This allows specific actions and responses to be tied to differing system states.
The Texecom Connect Hub adds functionality. It is a dedicated hardware unit that enables direct local communication between a device running the App and the Premier Elite control panel.
Users will then have an option to use Texecom Connect as a standalone local system, or to retain the Cloud services, or to use a combination of both options. It will also support the connection of Z-Wave devices and local video archiving.
Texecom Connect can deliver added value benefits that end users are demanding, and security installers and integrators can benefit by offering systems that do not feel like a grudge purchase. It’s a win-win, and they don’t come along too often.