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CES Home Security/Management Round-Up Part 3: Eaton and Archerfish

Now that we covered a few of the leaders in home security hardware, let's take a look at a couple of the players building software systems that link to the various monitoring devices in the home.
First up is Eaton Corporation (www.eaton.com). Eaton Corporation is a huge diversified power management company with approximately 80,000 employees, 2007 sales of $13 billion, and presence in more than 150 countries. They are a global technology leader in electrical systems, distribution and control, hydraulics components, aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems and a host of other solutions for commercial and military use. So what does that have to do with you? Well, one of Eaton's offerings in the consumer market is its new Home Heartbeat system.

The Home Heartbeat System is an innovative way to increase home awareness by monitoring what’s going on inside the home and sending notifications to the user via cell phone text message or email. Home Heartbeat also offers an optional capability to monitor your home’s status through the Internet, using a remote website.

Alert messages can include detection and reporting of open doors or windows, notification of appliances that are left on (TV, iron, coffee pot…etc.) and even reminders of routine maintenance schedules (HVAC filter replacement, smoke alarm battery replacement, etc.). I found the water leak sensor particularly useful. It can work in conjunction with an electronic water valve device from Eaton to completely shut off water to the entire house or a single device it is detects a leak. I know of several homeowners where this system would have saved them $10K+ worth of damage, when either their hot-water heater tank broke open or their pipes froze and then subsequently burst.

Like other systems, Home HeartBeat provides a variety of ways to report on events in the home, giving peace of mind to home owners asleep, traveling, or away from their vacation pads. The system uses wireless sensors in the home and can send emails or text messages to report a fault. Eaton claims the system can be up and running in 20 minutes and requires no computer or software installation. Home Heartbeat is now available at select Best Buy stores nationwide, BestBuy.com and www.homeheartbeat.com. Price for the Start Kit is $225 and goes up from there.

The other system that caught my eye at CES, similar to the HomeHeartBeat in some ways but better in other ways, is Archerfish from Cernium, which bills itself as “the first and only mobile video intelligence (MVI) solution”. Using a combination of video cameras, intelligent software and a custom web portal, Archerfish watches businesses and homes for events users define as important, such as kids coming home from school, a package being delivered, or an unwelcome intruder. If and only when a defined event occurs, Archerfish notifies users with event text and also video to their mobile device, email, or custom web portal.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical of these claims until I was treated to a working demo of the system by Cernium President & CEO Craig Chambers (check out the videos below).

The cool thing that I saw was that Archerfish does an awesome job of capturing and reporting on video events, unlike traditional video systems which often rely on a complex system of wired and wireless sensors to report “faults”. I know from my own security system, that many times my sensors are off because batteries are dead, or the “state” of the sensor is reporting false breaches and therefore can get ignored. When I first installed my security system, my neighbors, nearby relatives, and yes the police enjoyed several trips to my home to investigate false alarms while I was out of town. And the nerves of my dear wife were stretched to the breaking point, her poking around the basement with a flashlight and a broom (as if that would protect her).

No, there has to be a better way, and video event recognition is the answer. Here’s what Archerfish does: it allows you to use video cameras at your home or business and in real-time recognize things you want to report on. You can even select a portion of a panned image for reporting, thereby blocking out high-traffic areas like hallways (for example, if your camera is pointing to a porch, you would want to know if someone walked up on the porch, not the sidewalk in the background). As a result, Archerfish doesn’t require you to watch video all day or rely on primitive motion alarms to know what’s going on. You can go about your daily routine with confidence, knowing you will be notified in real time when events occur – and with the video context to make a quick judgment whether action is required. I really believe this level of intelligence has been lacking in security systems to date and Archerfish may well usher in a new wave of systems that fit in much better with our cluttered lives.

The Archerfish start kit includes the Archerfish SmartBox™, two cameras, cables, and a custom Archerfish Portal™. There is a monthly service fee. For more information, go to www.myarcherfish.com.

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