The Canary: A self-contained security device controlled by smartphone
By David Szondy
July 26, 2013
According to the US Justice Department, people who live in rented homes are more likely to be burgled. In part, this is may be because flat dwellers aren't generally allowed to install security systems. As an alternative to teaching the hamster to bark, the Canary aims to put a complete security system into a self-contained, plug-and-play container that can be controlled by a smartphone app.
Currently in the prototype stage, Canary is a deceptively decorative cylinder about six inches (15.2 cm) tall. According to the developers, setting up the device is simply a matter of plugging it into the wall and waiting about 30 seconds. The cylinder contains a raft of sensors, such a microphone and an HD video camera with night vision and a wide-angle lens that allows it to take in an entire room without the need for a mechanical panning mount. What keeps this from being just a stylish baby monitor is that it also has a three-axis accelerometer that can detect if the unit is moved or smashed, a passive infrared motion detection system, a temperature sensor, a humidity sensor, and even an air quality sensor. In addition, there’s a speaker and even a siren.
Control of the Canary is through a smartphone app that connects to a cloud-based system. The unit sends alerts when it detects something unusual, such as a temperature rise that could mean fire, or sound and motion that might be a break in, and it provides options of calling a neighbor or the police or setting off a siren.
The phone also acts as an ID for Canary’s geofence feature. When the linked phone is in the area of Canary, the system recognizes it and disarms itself. When when the phone leaves, the unit arms. The Canary can be connected to multiple phones, so not only can other family members use it, but the device can identify them and send alerts when they’re home or leave.
According to the developers, the Canary has a learning capability, so it adjusts to your habits. There’s an automated mode or a manual mode to disable specified sensors for privacy. The idea is not just to make it self contained, but also to produce a smart system that reduces the chances of false alarms. Meanwhile, “bank level” AES-256 bit encryption ensures privacy, which is important because the Canary maintains a video and audio archive of what it sees, so it can track data and trends. It does not have a battery back up, but the online part of the system will send an alert if contact is lost.
Though the primary purpose of the Canary is home security, the makers say that it can also be used to keep an eye on pets, children, or elderly relatives. With this in mind, there is software under development to recognize and take into account dogs and cats moving about, so they don’t trigger alerts.
The venture is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo. Basic service with the Canary will be free, though there will also be subscription premium services, such as data options and call center support. The estimated price is US$199 with shipping goal of May 2014. The campaign continues until August 26
The video below introduces the Canary.