Smart Homes & Safety
With technology becoming more and more of a feature in our homes, it’s no surprise that there are now ways and means of controlling everything from the central heating to lighting, security alarms and even kitchen appliances remotely from a smartphone. These so-called ‘smart homes’ are a tech-lover’s dream, allowing for complete, on-the-go monitoring of energy usage, security, temperature and more.
It makes sense, given that the technology is available, that fire safety systems should also be controllable at all times. So what are some of the fire protection options available to the smart home owner?
Smart Fire Safety
As they are often the primary means of alerting you to a fire, smoke detectors form a vital part of your home’s fire safety. There are a number of high-tech smart options on the market, such as the Nest Protect, which links to your smartphone to send push notifications regarding everything from false alarms to low batteries (and, of course, if a genuine fire has been detected!)
Some devices, such as the Birdi Smart Air Monitor, offer an all-round option, providing more than remote smoke alarm and carbon monoxide information. The Birdi offers users information regarding everything from air quality to temperature, even alerting you to a fire somewhere else nearby to your home. The accompanying app even allows the user to silence the alarm remotely.
A cheaper alternative for those not keen on shelling out on the Nest Protect or its contemporaries comes in the form of clever little devices that listen out for your regular smoke alarm and notify you on the go. Models such as the Kidde Monitor or Leeo Smart Alert can be plugged into standard electrical sockets and are tuned to detect the frequencies emitted by a sounding smoke alarm, notifying you via smartphone if triggered. This is a useful budget option, alerting you to an alarm when you are out of the home, but can’t distinguish between false and real alarms and will not allow you to turn off a ringing detector remotely.
While providing convenience and improved safety in many cases, there is always the risk with technology that faults can occur – particularly with technology that relies on centralised servers and smartphones at the mercy of battery power and signal.
There is also the risk of outside intervention into the apps. For example, concern was recently expressed regarding the security of Samsung’s SmartThings platform, which demonstrated a vulnerability exposing it to hackers. Not only could these infiltrators access security controls, unlocking doors and windows, they could also trigger fire alarms in the middle of the night or at other inconvenient moments.