Add brains to home se­cu­rity

Cloud func­tion­al­ity and in­tel­li­gent mon­i­tor­ing add a new di­men­sion to off-the-peg sys­tems

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Tested -

A Cape Town se­cu­rity tech­nol­ogy startup based in has spent nearly four years de­vel­op­ing Sen­tian 3i, a sys­tem de­signed to make off-the-shelf se­cu­rity smarter – while at the same time sim­pler to op­er­ate.

Sen­tian 3i con­nects your alarm, CCTV and home au­toma­tion to the Cloud and to your phone, al­low­ing th­ese sys­tems to do things they can­not do in­di­vid­u­ally:

Iden­ti­fy­ing what has trig­gered an alarm by send­ing the user a 12-se­cond video clip.

The abil­ity to re­spond to an alarm event, even re­motely, by car­ry­ing out ac­tions such as press­ing a panic but­ton, open­ing gates, turn­ing on se­cu­rity lights or view­ing CCTV.

Sub­sti­tut­ing mul­ti­ple, out­dated and of­ten counter-in­tu­itive key­pads and sys­tems to ac­cess and con­trol your alarm, CCTV or home au­toma­tion with a sin­gle, in­tu­itive in­ter­face, avail­able on mul­ti­ple plat­forms.

“We live in a world with the iphone, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and drones,” says Teague Lit­tle, who de­vel­oped Sen­tian 3i with fel­low en­gi­neer Trevor Lewis. “We have ac­cess to vast amounts of in­for­ma­tion at our fin­ger­tips. Now go take a look at your alarm sys­tem. Your alarm sys­tem is ana­logue when the rest of the world is dig­i­tal and, over 98 per cent of the time, it falls short at the one thing it is de­signed to do, to let you and your armed re­sponse com­pany know when there is an in­truder on your prop­erty.”

Lit­tle and Lewis built the Sen­tian Cloud ser­vices, the API, the firmware, the fron­tend app, the back­end in­staller app and the hard­ware right here in SA. A Rasp­berry Pi forms part of the sys­tem, which in addi- tion to han­dling stan­dard RF home au­toma­tion is also Z-wave ca­pa­ble. It’s suit­able for con­trol­ling lights, plugs and heavy cur­rent de­vices such as gey­sers or pool pumps and flood sen­sors.

Their cre­ation can be viewed as a re­al­time, cu­rated, in­for­ma­tion sys­tem, which through home au­toma­tion and links to armed re­sponse, al­lows you to re­spond to what you see at your prop­erty. “There is some­thing amaz­ing about be­ing able to look in through the live feed and open your gate and watch it all hap­pen, from the other side of the world, ” Lit­tle says.

Two par­tic­u­larly in­trigu­ing fea­tures are user-spe­cific no­ti­fi­ca­tions and share ac­cess. “I can set up no­ti­fi­ca­tions for my prop­erty that only I am in­ter­ested in (ie, I don’t bug my wife with them),” says Lit­tle. “Share ac­cess is per­fect for Airbnb, hous­esit­ters or staff: you can very sim­ply hand out ac­cess to your prop­erty through our app, and spec­ify the time frame they are to have ac­cess for.”

A typ­i­cal stand­alone four-bed­room house alarm sys­tem, with in­door and out­door sen­sors, will cost you any­where be­tween R20 000 and R40 000 in­stalled. Add at least R10 000 if you want CCTV.

Sen­tian costs R 19 995 once-off for the hard­ware, with an on­go­ing R159 monthly ser­vice fee to cover the 2 GB of Cloud stor­age, un­lim­ited email and SMS com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ac­cess to on­go­ing sys­tem and app soft­ware up­grades. In­stal­la­tion takes two to three days.

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