This is the shape of things to come. Imagine living in a world where you need not worry about leaving your house unlocked. Just push that keyboard button sitting in your office miles away and your home becomes intruder-proof. Or, imagine living in a world where you get an SMS alerting you about a possible intruder lurking around your house at night or a small gas leak in the kitchen.
For many people, this world is now a reality, thanks to advanced home security systems. All over the world, these have become more sophisticated than ever before, and the technology is showing no signs of hitting a plateau any time soon. From the ubiquitous intruder alarms to remote-controlled Internet-based systems, it is almost as if companies manufacturing these are fighting a battle of wits on your behalf with the bad guys.
In India, however, the concept is yet to gain the importance it deserves, and the result is that most of us depend on hope more than anything else to secure our premises.
But things are changing. Over the last few years, burglar alarms and many other hi-tech safety methods, available at affordable prices, have enabled us to make our homes safer. With the entry of companies such as Zicom Electronic Security Systems Ltd, Honeywell and ADT, there are now solutions that suit every pocket.
Their products range from the simple door phones to more complex building security systems that let you monitor and control access to your living and working spaces.
Some products available in the Indian market, include:
Burglar alarm system: Rs7,990
Zicom’s burglar alarm system includes intrusion detection and gas leak systems, and can be controlled with a remote key. It comes with a one-year warranty and free insurance.
Video door phone: Rs7,990 (B&W), Rs17,495 (colour)
The two video door phone models, with colour and black and white screens, claim to provide crystal-clear visibility up to 25ft and two-way communication. Both units, in cast iron exteriors, come with a one-year warranty.
Electronic gas leak sensor: Rs1,250
The sensor, with an in-built hooter, gets activated in case of a leak. With two hours of battery backup, the sensor is fireproof and resistant to high temperature.
Zicom’s Central Monitoring Station (CMS) is wirelessly connected to other devices in the house. Whenever there is a breach in security, it gets alerted and, in turn, identifies the nature of violation and informs the police, hospital or fire brigade. Says M.A. Devaiah, a Bangalore-based businessman: “I have installed a Zicom solution at home and it makes me feel secure. In a city such as Bangalore, you do need such a system. I live in a gated colony but still, it is better to install a security system.”
Adds Santonu Choudhury, chief executive officer, consumer service group, Zicom: “It is the ‘feel-safe factor’ that prompts most families to buy our solutions. This is especially true with the growing number of nuclear families and working couples leaving behind their children with caretakers.” Choudhury claims a growth rate of over 40% for his company, but still feels that the market is at a “very nascent stage and will take time to evolve and mature”.
A global player in manufacturing and distributing security systems and solutions, Honeywell has a complete range of solutions for intrusion detection, video surveillance and access control.
Honeywell home net system: Rs2.5-15 lakh
It provides users the flexibility to control temperature, lighting, gas, home appliances, electric-powered curtains and digital door locks. Enabled via the Internet, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), a personal computer and a phone, the system centralizes all operations and can be remote-controlled from anywhere outside the home. You can switch on any gadget inside your house with the help of the Internet. Based on structured wiring, all security sensors such as magnetic contacts, gas leak detector and motion sensors are connected to a wide touch-screen panel.
For instance, if there is a burglar intrusion, the panel sends instant messages and alarm signals to predefined contact numbers of homeowners and security personnel.
The company also has innovative products such as a kitchen television phone and bathroom phone.
Honeywell home bus system: Rs15,000-1 lakh
An integrated technology platform for regular multi-apartment complexes, it provides each house with integrated security features such as a burglar alarm, fire alarm, gas leakage detection, event history with audio intercom and visitor recognition through a hands-free door phone.
Video door phones: Rs12,000 -18,000 (B&W) and Rs22,000-40,000 (colour)
The company has launched more than 10 models of video door phones in the India. All the systems, with 10-zone detection facility, come with a touch screen.
Says Anant Maheshwari, director, South Asia, Honeywell: “We believe that the intelligent home market in India has great potential. Our systems enable homeowners to enjoy a higher standard of secure, comfortable and informed living with complete electronic security solutions, including hi-tech integrated systems for burglary and fire prevention, entry control and much more.”
One of the pioneers of home security systems in India, ADT (a subsidiary of the US-based Tyco Industries) has been providing electronic security solutions to a large number of industries, institutions and homes. ADT’s alarm and recording systems come with a 24x7 central monitoring for a monthly fee of Rs900.
Wireless intruder/fire alarm kit: Rs25,313
The panel is capable of connecting 32 wireless zones, two hard-wired zones and 16 wireless keys. It has a plug-in transformer, lead acid battery and wireless door/window contacts. Additional door/window contacts cost Rs2,588 each and a four-button wireless key costs Rs3,375.
Wireless glass break detector: Rs6,188
With a very good microphone frequency, the device covers up to seven metres around the glass surface.
Wireless multi-criteria smoke detector: Rs6,075
It has a strong built-in dual heat sensor and an 85-decibel horn and is not sensitive to touch.
ADT, which claims to be the pioneer of CMS in the world, provides five hierarchical options to its customers who are contacted if there is an intrusion or an accident. If the houseowners cannot reach the spot, CMS alerts the public services concerned. Says Devaiah, who has installed an ADT alarm system at his showroom in Bangalore: “ADT’s CMS is good, but it requires a BSNL phone. No other phone connection works with this system.” He has even faced problems with false alarms. “The main problem is with the motion sensors. There was a rat in our showroom and it triggered off the alarm a couple of times,” he says.
There are never-ending possibilities in the area of home security systems. In many developed countries, there are systems that help you keep an eye on your house while holidaying thousands of miles away. Thanks to the Internet, you can have your home wired up and the information sent to you regularly on the cellphone.
Add to these more hi-tech means of identification for gaining access to your home: including devices that identify fingerprints, recognize voice or scan the retina.
Most of these have a very high accuracy rate. There are some devices that are sensitive to subtle changes in temperature when someone unauthorized enters the house. If you think these gadgets are straight out of a spy movie, don’t worry. Most of these are now available in the market.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org