The IoT home is a castle

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The recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event in Las Vegas showcased all things new in technology – and this year’s show unveiled some particularly interesting digitally-enabled home security solutions.

Pundits have suggested that home security could actually turn out to be the Internet of Things’ (IoT) killer app. Smart devices already exist throughout the home, from connected fridges to central heating control systems, but home security could be the area that really takes off in 2017. The possibilities are huge: Window and door trips, wireless motion sensors, remote cameras, connected license plate readers that can recognize unfamiliar cars in the vicinity. And thanks to your home Wi-Fi, none of these devices need any unsightly and inconvenient cabling to connect them up.

CES featured numerous home security solutions and tools this year. Below are some of the standout ones.

Routers with built-in defenses

With hacking such an omnipresent threat to IoT devices, it was perhaps no surprise to see companies introducing new routers at CES that are designed to prevent home IoT devices being attacked. With 2016’s botnet cyberattack on Dyn still fresh in the memory, there was a great deal of interest in Symantec, BitDefender and Intel launching new routers that contain built-in defenses. These routers monitor your home devices for suspicious activity – for example your smart TV might transfer data in an unusual way or communicating with unfamiliar IP addresses – and it then sends you an alert.

Security drones

Drones are another technology that has taken off in the IoT era. Alarm.com introduced its new camera-equipped home security drones that can automatically investigate unexpected noises and activity. The drones provide a high resolution video feed to the property owner and also monitor for suspicious activity; if for example you typically lock your door at 7pm but then one day do not, the drone will investigate and alert you. Plans are in place for the drones to go to market at some point in 2017.

Voice-controlled home alarm

Amazon’s Echo wireless speaker has been a recent digital success story and has already sold in excess of 5 million units. At CES 2017, home security company ADT announced that its customers will soon be able to control their home security systems using the Echo’s Alexa voice service. The user simply has to speak a four-digit PIN to the speech-recognition engine, which then prompts the home security system to arm or disarm itself. ADT also said the service will extend to Amazon’s Echo Dot speaker.

Video surveillance

One interesting IoT home security device launched at CES was Honeywell’s smart Lyric C1 and C2 home security cameras. They are Wi-Fi enabled and also ‘do it yourself’, meaning the homeowner can deploy and operate them themselves, without the need for any engineering. The cameras form part of Honeywell’s Lyric home security suite, which can be voice controlled and monitor the home with both motion and noise detection.

Concealed cameras

Another clever security product launched at CES was a lightbulb from Bell & Wyson that comes equipped with a concealed camera embedded in it. It is a low-energy 11W bulb with a Micro SD cart slot and a two-way microphone, and once activated can stream footage from the camera direct to the homeowner’s tablet or smartphone.

Security now an industry priority

Perhaps the overriding security trend to come out of this year’s CES is the feeling that the IoT industry is now genuinely aware of the threats to connected devices and is very focused on taking cyber vulnerabilities seriously. In an interview with CNBC at CES, Sophos global head of security research James Lyne said, “The sharks have smelled the blood in the water and they’re now circling to use your IoT device for further attacks”.

So with that in mind, it was interesting to see many companies introducing security-focused products and solutions at CES 2017 – launches like the aforementioned Symantec secure home router could be the start of a trend for home routers that counter cybercriminals and hackers being so easily able to get holds of end-user passwords. The router inspects every packet of data for known malware and automatically quarantines any device running firmware identified as a security risk. In a similar vein, Securifi launched a mobile app that highlights vulnerabilities such as easy-to-guess passwords or open ports and helps users learn how to resolve them.

So if the products introduced at this year’s CES were anything to go by, it does look the industry is now putting security front of mind as it continues to come up with more and more innovative IoT solutions.

To read about Orange’s successful engagement with Chuango, a security provider that specializes in wireless smart home technologies, click here.

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.