Smartphone Security Systems

Smartphone Controlled Security Systems: Home Security in the Palm of Your Hand

[A Guest Post by Jay Harris – Home Depot]

Our homes are everything, aren’t they? Aside from the money, time and energy we invest in them, they’re where our children lay their heads at night. There are few things in this world that are more important.

When we leave our homes, we give up our control over protecting it and making it safe. Until recently, even the best security systems placed the care of your home in a faceless monitoring system that would contact you and the authorities if there was a break-in. Such monitoring systems are wonderful for the peace of mind they provide when you’re away, but have you ever wanted just a bit more?

Break-ins aren’t the only worry we have when we’re away. We’d also like to be able to keep an eye on the new babysitter or see which neighborhood kids snuck into the pool. We’d like to be able to turn off lights we forgot, or turn down the thermostat to save money.

We’d like to be in two places at once which is, of course, impossible. Still, you may be amazed at how close we can come.

You’ve heard of smartphones but how about smart homes? Add the term to your lexicon, because the line between security systems and home automation (controlling multiple home elements from one remote or smartphone) is blurring.

If Security is the Main Focus consider Defender Surveillance Systems. As the name implies, the folks at Defender are bullish about home security, offering excellent product that is also easy to use and understand, and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to higher end systems.

Available at your local hardware store, systems like the Defender 8 Ch. 500GB HDD Surveillance System offer DVD quality surveillance, even at night. Recording is set to your preference (such as constant or motion activated), and you receive alerts when a camera is activated or a video feed is lost. You can also view footage from the cameras anywhere in the world on your smartphone. Defender offers lifetime customer support, and best of all, their cheapest system is only a couple hundred dollars.

Another great option is found in Lorex surveillance systems. What’s handy with Lorex is how many options there are for expanding your equipment. If you need more coverage, you can buy extra cameras. If you need to upgrade altogether, there are many hard drive options with up to a terabyte of storage so you never have to worry about running out of recording room.

The quality of the equipment is also exciting. Many Lorex cameras have wash-out prevention features for making sure that any facial images captured by the camera are clean and thus identifiable. Lorex also makes cameras that work equally well indoors and out, even in extreme temperatures.

While not all Lorex systems can be smartphone controlled, many of them are. Just make sure to look for this information in the product’s description.

Alternatively, you may not be ready to fly solo just yet. Fortunately, you don’t have to: there are blended options which combine the flexibility and control of your own smartphone security system with the added support of an external monitoring company.

Home surveillance companies like Lifeshield offer unparalleled monitoring and customer support, as well as the widest range of services. Like the options listed above, you can view live feeds, record video and take snapshots from installed cameras, allowing you to check on the kids after school and even look in on pets while on vacation. There are also ample motion and contact sensors.

However, where remote security companies like Lifeshield set themselves apart – in performance and price – is monitoring. Your home is monitored for intrusion of course, but you also have options for fire, carbon monoxide, life safety and environmental (flood, freezing, etc.) protection.

For those with young children, or for the elderly, you may opt for medical monitoring. In case of accidents like slips and falls, Lifeshield’s medical monitoring kit gives users access to a “panic” button via a remote, key fob, or smartphone app.

The largest downside to systems like those on this tier is that you’re potentially overwhelmed with options. There are different packages that all come with different prices and contracts and these can be pretty confusing. However, in terms of scope, options like Lifeshield are worth a look, but just make sure to do your research so that you know exactly what you’re signing up for.

Smart Security

The security of your home is paramount to the safety of your family and your peace of mind. Luckily, there are home monitoring solutions that literally fit in the palm of your hand which that allow you to keep an eye on your house.

Just don’t forget that these systems can do a lot more than keep your home secure. They can also make your life easier and more efficient, and it’s really not that much more expensive.

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and is a contributor to Home Depot’s blog. Jay’s interests in the home improvement arena include home security systems and home automation.

CES Wrapup – more CES press than you can shake a memory stick at….

Here from the official CES site, CESWeb.org, are several links to articles before and during the show.   I’ll follow this up with a list of some of my favorite articles about the themes at CES I found most interesting, to wit:

Rise of the Ultrabook / Thin Notebook / Hybrid Tablet

Slow but powerful ongoing convergence of internet with electronic devices of all types, especially mobile ones.

Does anybody really care about 3D TV?  Really?

Green tech skepticism is not a crime.

Internet TVs and YouTube keynote packed at the conference that hardly even talked about the social media and the internet 5 years ago.

—————-   More press about CES —————

From ZDNet, January 12, 2012

“CES 2012: 10 Facebook Platform integrations”

From PC Magazine, January 12, 2012
“Great Audio Gear at CES 2012″

From Tulsa World, January 12, 2012
“Thin ultrabooks trend at 2012 Consumer Electronics Show”

From Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2012
“At CES, TV makers show off lighter, sharper sets”

From San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 2012
“CES’ Eureka Park shows cutting-edge products”

From USA Today, January 12, 2012
“‘Smart’ TVs and other products proliferate at CES”

From The Irish Times, January 12, 2012
“Show time for electronics as record numbers exhibit at CES”

From Forbes, January 12, 2012
“CES 2012: Camera Makers Fight Back With Smart Devices”

From CNET, January 12, 2012
“Post-show report: Big OLEDs dominate TV news at CES 2012″

From Huffington Post, January 12, 2012
“Carmakers Count On Tech To Transform Autos Into Companions “

From BBC, January 11, 2012
“CES 2012: Environmentally sound technology on display”

From The Washington Post, January 11, 2012
“CES 2012: New smartphones, ultrabooks unveiled”

From The Mercury News, January 11, 2012
” inShare Magid on Tech: At CES, a new golden age for cars is beginning”

From The Seattle Times, January 11, 2012
“CES 2012: Gallery of new TVs — big, thin and bright”

From The New York Times, January 10, 2012
“CES Gets Started”

From NY Daily News, January 10, 2012
“CES 2012: Tech companies go ‘All in’ for Las Vegas convention”

From Daily Tech, January 9, 2012
“CES 2012: Samsung’s Series 5, Series 9 Ultrabooks Bow in Las Vegas “

From Las Vegas Sun, January 8, 2012
“2012 CES: Celebrity list includes Bieber, Snooki, 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Overeem”

From USA Today, January 8, 2012
“Yahoo and Tom Hanks to announce Net video project at CES”

From The Huffington Post, January 8, 2012
“5 Big Gizmo Trends for CES 2012 “

From CNET, January 8, 2012
“Leak Week makes CES better (opinion)”

From EE Times, January 7, 2012
“Hot parties at CES 2012″

From TechRadar, January 6, 2012
“Why we’re crazy about CES 2012″

From The Denver Post, January 6, 2012
“CES 2012 preview – robotic blocks and the show’s new spotlight on startups”

From The Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2012
“Big Gadget Show Expecting a Blowout”

From The Huffington Post, January 5, 2012
“Eureka Park And Green Innovation Coming To CES 201″

From Variety, January 2, 2012
“Kudos cornucopia set for CES”

From CNET, December 30, 2011
“Eight things I’m looking forward to seeing at CES”

From PR Newswire, December 28, 2011
“Finalists Announced for Mobile Apps Showdown; Winners to be Announced at 2012 International CES, January 12″

From PR Newswire, December 28, 2011
“Finalists Announced for Last Gadget Standing; Winners To Be Announced at 2012 International CES, January 12″

From Engadget, December 21, 2011
“CES 2012 to feature 94 startup companies in ‘Eureka Park TechZone'”

From CNET, December 20, 2011
“CES setting up its own startup alley”

From TechRadar, December 20, 2011
“CES 2012: what to expect Updated: Phones, cameras, computing, TV, gaming and more”

From CNET, December 19, 2011
“Faster phones and more Ice Cream Sandwich at CES 2012 “

From CNET, December 19, 2011
“CES 2012: The unlikeliest car show”

From CNET, December 19, 2011
“Clouds everywhere, voice control, home integration, and health: How software will bring it all together at CES 2012″

From Twice, December 19, 2011
“Home Audio: What’s Coming At CES 2012″

From CNET, December 19, 2011
“Predictions for CES 2012″

From Spike TV, December 16, 2011
“This Year’s CES Could Be the Year of the Tablet”

From CNET, December 16, 2011
“Better 3D, voice control, more apps: How CES 2012 will advance the TV”

From Spike TV, December 14, 2011
“The Greatest Celebrity Moments in CES History”

From EE Times, December 14, 2011
“CES: USB wall outlets power up consumer devices”

From Spike TV, December 13, 2011
“The Things We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing at CES 2012″

From EE Times, December 9, 2011
“Top 10 CE innovation gadgets at CES”

From TechRadar, November 29, 2011
“CES 2012: Gary Shapiro talks tech”

From TechRadar, November 22, 2011
“CES 2012: what to expect”

From Mashable, November 18, 2011
“Ultrabooks Get Ready for Their Close-Up at CES 2012″

From PCWorld, November 16, 2011
“CES 2012 Gadget Preview”

CES 2012 Press Releases

CES 2012 Press Releases

Wordlens – a free iPhone text translator

Update:  After seeing the demo of Wordlens and hearing that reviewers were “disappointed” due to speed and effectiveness I think this application needs a lot of work.

Remains, however, a great idea

Kudos to the folks at Quest Visual:  Questvisual.com.   Their free  iPhone application “Wordlens” allows real time translation by simply pointing your iPhone at a sign or other text.

As any traveler knows it’s very helpful to be able to interpret signs, menus, and  other text.   This is naturally very difficult in countries where you don’t speak the language.    Wordlens is only available in spanish now but other languages are on the way, and this is clearly a great step in the direction of our phones and handheld devices becoming “universal translators”

Via Singularity Hub

more at Quest Visual:  Questvisual.com

HTC Evo 4G Announced by Sprint, Available June 4th

In a move Sprint hopes is not too late to the game, they’ve announced their latest and greatest addition to the Sprint line, the HTC Evo 4G.    We’ve seen how powerfully the Apple  iPhone has managed to maintain it’s solid position as the Smartphone of choice, so it will be a surprise to many if the Sprint HTC Evo makes more than a minor dent in the iPhone market.    However, the capabilities are impressive:

From Sprint:

HTC EVO™ Fact Sheet

The ultimate multimedia experience at Sprint 3G and 4G speeds

The world’s first 3G/4G Android handset, exclusively from Sprint, HTC EVO™ 4G, offers a rich mobile Internet experience with a fully integrated suite of services built on the AndroidTM 2.1 platform. HTC EVO 4G includes a blazing-fast 1GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, the award-winning HTC SenseTM user experience, an 8.0 megapixel auto-focus camera with HD-capable video camcorder and a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera. HTC EVO supports industry leading features including Simultaneous Voice and Data while in 4G coverage and new Mobile Video Chat, the two-way voice and video service from Qik. The large vibrant 4.3 inch display, built-in kickstand, 3.5 mm headset jack and HDMI output make HTC EVO 4G an unparalleled platform for wireless entertainment. Download music, pictures, files, or videos in seconds – not minutes – and watch streaming video on the go on a network with download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than 3G speeds.1 With built-in mobile hotspot functionality, HTC EVO 4G also allows up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including laptop, camera, music player, video player and any other Wi-Fi-enabled device, to enjoy the benefits of 3G/4G speeds on the go.

PRODUCTIVITY

  • 3G/4G capability
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor
  • 4.3” capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom and tactile feedback
  • World-class HTML browser – bandwidth and quality that rival that of netbooks
  • Android 2.1, with access to more than 35,000 apps on Android Market
  • Simultaneous voice and data capability in 4G and Wi-Fi coverage areas, enabling Web surfing and more while talking
  • GoogleTM mobile services including Google SearchTM, Google MapsTM, Google TalkTM, GmailTM, YouTubeTM , and syncs with Google CalendarTM
  • Access to Google Goggles™ to search with pictures instead of words
  • Sprint Navigation, with turn-by-turn driving directions and 3D maps
  • Updated HTC Sense, award-winning user experience, which includes Friend Stream to integrate Facebook, Twitter and more into a single flow of updates
  • Visual voicemail
  • Messaging – personal and business email, IM and text messaging
  • 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps.
  • 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) – peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps.


ENTERTAINMENT

  • Video chat service available as an upgrade to the pre-loaded Qik app to enable conversational, interactive, real-time sharing between mobile devices or from mobile-to-desktop
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Output pictures, slides and videos in HD quality (720p) via HDMI cable (sold separately)
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
  • Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store
  • Sprint applications including Sprint TV® and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile(SM)
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
  • Built-in WiFi®: 802.11 b/g
  • Digital compass, G-Sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT) 
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors
  • Battery life: 6 hours of talk time. Time may vary depending on 3G/4G coverage and usage.
  • Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
  • Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM

1 “Up to 10x faster” based on download speed comparison of 3G’s 600 kbps vs. 4G’s 6 Mbps. Industry published 3G avg. speeds (600 kbps-1.7 Mbps); 4G avg. speeds (3-6 Mbps). Actual speeds may vary. Sprint 4G is currently available in 32 markets and counting, and on select devices. See www.sprint.com/4G for details. Not all services available on 4G and coverage may default to 3G/separate network where 4G unavailable.Note: Device features, specifications, services and applications are subject to change.

Apple v. Gizmodo a key online law case

Today police seized computers at the home of one of the web’s most prominent online technology editors – Jason Chen of Gizmodo.    The action was in response to Gizmodo’s aquisition of an new Apple iPhone prototype that was left in a bar by an Apple employee.   It appears that the employee left the phone at a table where it was picked up by another patron who then *sold the phone* to Gizmodo.

The impact of this case may extend far beyond a simple stolen property issue.    Gizmodo is likely to claim press protections under free speech laws in another test of  how the courts will treat new media journalism.

Although I think we’ll hear a lot of rationalizations of the purchase of the  phone by Gizmodo, I’d guess the case will hinge on whether Chen understood he was “buying stolen property” and whether Gizmodo’s publication of information about the phone was for profit or “the public good”.     Frankly, I don’t see how Gizmodo can make a strong case for either of these conditions.   Even if the seller insisted he had legally obtained the phone, Chen’s position as editor of one of the most watched iPhone watching websites in the world means Chen would have known that Apple had not released this yet.     In fact the Gizmodo articles about the phone are likely to be some of the most incriminating evidence against them.

It’s very early to speculate but I’m guessing that arrogance,  hubris, or the lack of good legal counsel led Gizmodo to think they were dealing with a Google rather than Apple.      Google’s mostly transparent and open sensibilities and public persona would probably have led them to effectively slap Gizmodo around a few times, extract an apology, and go on with the business of the web.

Apple, however, is a very different company and Steve Jobs is likely to view this as something of a personal and corporate affront.      If Gizmodo was in competition with Apple or had deeper pockets I think Apple would probably be more aggressive, so it is hard to know how this will shake out.     It’s not even clear this type of publicity harms Apple in any way – if anything it is probably favorable in terms of future revenue from the new phone.

However in any case the legal case against Gizmodo promises to be a major online law case unless settlements are reached out of court .

More on Gizmodo / Apple  from TechMeme

Amazon Kindle DX

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos unveiled the new large format Kindle today, the Kindle DX.   The DX appears to be a very impressive device that brings the elegant reading capabilities of the smaller kindle to a much larger screen that will be more friendly to newspapers and textbooks – the two reading items that appear to be Amazon’s target market for this brand new entry into the electronic reader fray:

As a past skeptic of how the smaller Kindle could find the market needed to be a big success I’m certainly impressed, but also wondering about the economic viability.   At $489 for the new Kindle with at best only modest discounts for newspaper subscriptions I have to remain somewhat skeptical this can take off, although one can see a potentialy large library market since devices like this may make it easier for libraries and schools to manage subscriptions, textbooks, updates, etc.

Gizmodo’s got more on the specs and the launch.

Amazon Kindle 2 to debut Monday

Update:  Here is the Kindle info from Amazon – Amazon Press Release on Kindle 2

Engadget is reporting that the the Amazon Kindle 2 will be announced on Monday with a release date of about February 24th. (Picture from Engadget website but I think it’s an Amazon press photo).

The new Kindle looks a lot better than the first edition, but at a reported price of $359 I’ll be surprised if this takes off to the extent many have predicted. However I certainly would say that based on the very weak Kindle imitations we saw at CES last month Amazon certainly appears poised to have the best in class book reader.

Amazon remains conspicuously silent on sales information for the Kindle leading to what I’m still inclined to think are extraordinary claims by some analysts, but if they really can corner the book reading market maybe the Kindle 2 really will become the new “must have” gadget.

Freeplay’s Humanitarian devices – remote technologies for great causes

One of my *favorite* companies at CES was Freeplay with several innovative humanitarian technology solutions as well as their innovative line of self-powered lanterns, radios, and more.

As part of their Foundation Work, Freeplay is building cheap, self powered devices for remote medicine in developing world and another device to charge One Laptop Project computers.   Below are three such devices – all self powered.    Emergency Radio, One Laptop Per Child Power crank (I’m not clear if this is better than the one built into those devices but I think it’s to be used for OLPC plus other devices), and one of the best innovations at CES 2009 which is an inexpensive fetal heart monitor to be used by nurses and doctors in the field to help lower infant mortality.    Freeplay’s work in this field will help save thousands of lives very cheaply because the lack of such medical data in the field is a key reason for the high mortality rates in the developing world.

CES 2009 Technology Sessions

CES is best known as the world’s most prestigious showcase for consumer technologies and keynotes by tech luminaries, but CES also hosts hundreds of conference sessions where panelists discuss everything from the video game economy to developing world technology. Last year I found the session about technology innovations in the developing world both fascinating and inspiring.

Here’s a list of the session categories and the links will take you to CES summaries of each of sessions: