The Scout alarm sensors (with walnut finish).
Home security systems are often complicated, expensive, and pretty outdated. Sandbox Industries is hoping to take on this entrenched, out-of-touch industry with a cool, modular, Internet-connected set of devices that can do the same thing for far less money.
The system is called Scout, and it consists of a few hardware sensors and an app for your smartphone. Like ordinary security systems, it can monitor doors, windows and rooms for activity. But unlike ordinary security systems, it doesn't require a landline, monthly fee, or costly installation.
You order sensors à la carte (they're tastefully designed, another benefit) and put them where you think they should be: The front door, a first-story window, the foyer, and so on. They network together and connect to a base station, which itself can be connected both to the Internet and to a 3G network in case the power or connectivity cuts out.
If someone opens a window in your house, you get a notification on your phone, and can choose what to do within the app — call the police if you want, or if you have other wirelessly enabled appliances (Scout works with the Zigbee standard), you can turn on the lights or stereo.
Custom responses cut down on false alarms.
You activate and disarm the system via a panel that doubles as a door sensor — but it doesn't have a keypad. Instead, it uses RFID and little wireless key fobs. And of course you can disarm it from your phone if someone else needs to get in to borrow a cup of sugar, or customize certain responses. For instance, if the motion sensor lights up but no doors have been opened, it's probably the cat — no reason to call the cops.
Prices start at $120, which gets you a base station and door panel. You can buy additional panels for $40, open/close sensors for $20, and motion sensors for $40. If you want, you can also pay $10 per month for the 3G connection.
It might be too lightweight a system for owners of large houses with gates and a dozen points of entry, but for renters and smaller homes it could be a great solution. Scout won't be shipping until August, but you can pre-order now on their website.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.
First published February 14 2013, 4:57 PM