Smart Security in Gigaset’s Smart Home21. January 2022 Published by Jana Greyling
“When Nate Roman arrived home from work, he noticed immediately that something was wrong. Someone had clearly entered his house in Marlborough, Massachusetts (about a 40-minute drive west of Boston) while he’d been away. But this person hadn’t stripped his house, they’d cleaned it! The 44-year-old wasn’t confronted with the home owner’s nightmare – ransacked rooms littered with debris – he found the situation every parent dreams of – a child’s bedroom in immaculate condition. The bed had been made, the cuddly toys arranged in perfect order, the playthings stowed away in cupboards and boxes. And the rest of house had clearly been cleaned as well. All the carpets were freshly vacuumed and the bathroom neat and tidy. The “intruder” had even folded roses out of toilet paper to add a decorative touch to the bathroom. Roman called the police. The came and searched the house to make sure the person involved was no longer on the premises. Police officers also questioned the neighbors, but nobody had seen anything suspicious. This is a true story that the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) picked up on. The case was never solved, so the phantom cleaner still remains unmasked. On the day in question, Roman had forgotten to switch on his alarm system. So there were no images of the origami rose maker to aid the police in their inquiries. What do we learn from that? If the Smart Security alarm system had been active, the mysterious cleaning fanatic might have simply made a rapid exit.
In the first part of our blog post entitled “Winter is peak season for burglaries”, we told you how burglars tick, how they operate and how you may be able to keep them away from your home. The list of the things that burglars don’t like includes: a) occupants at home, b) vigilant neighbors and barking dogs, c) break-ins that take too long and d) loud noises. In this second part of the blog post, we focus on Smart Security products that can make like difficult for potential intruders. After all, most criminals engaged in domestic burglaries are not targeting jackpot prizes, they are looking to steal whatever they can and make their escape as quickly as possible. They consequently prefer poorly protected houses and apartments where there is little chance of detection. A positive development over the last few years is the decrease in the number of domestic burglaries, coupled with the fact that, in 45% of the cases, the would-be intruders abandoned their attempts because they couldn’t actually manage to gain access. These failures are due to occupants recognizing the risks and using smart home products to enhance their security. Experts tell us that 39,477 of the attempted burglaries in 2019 had to be abandoned because of technical safeguards. At 44,261, the figure for 2018 was even higher. The Smart Security products from Gigaset are the preferred choice for many users and able to show their superiority in a number of important areas. They bring greatly enhanced security that doesn’t put too much strain on your bank balance and can be expanded to meet any additional needs in the future.
Anyone at home?
Smart home security technology with Alexa, clever video cameras for indoors, motion and contact sensors and a smart alarm system can help ensure potential thieves give up before gaining access.
When do burglars believe occupants are at home? When the TV is on, lights are turned on and off, and music is playing? Maybe. But, because burglars are nobody’s fool, they have known for years that all this can be controlled using a simple timer switch. Hundreds of thousands of vacationers have been doing it that way for decades. A much more intelligent solution is one that is unpredictable for burglars and only reacts when they don’t expect it, in a loud and surprising way. This requires the use of smart sensors in outdoor and indoor areas. These include motion, temperature, floor, contact and vibration sensors that can be quickly and easily integrated with other IoT devices to activate lights, loudspeakers, TVs, thermostats and similar. In sensory physiology, stimuli are perceived through peripheral sensors and then passed on to the central nervous system. We differentiate between different sensory modalities depending on the sensor. The most important sensory modalities include vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Modern smart home sensors cannot taste or touch yet, but they can do the rest in a pretty intelligent fashion. They are able to detect movements, vibrations or pressure – when someone is tampering with windows or doors, for example.
The Gigaset motion sensor is a prime example of this type of device, and an ideal supplement to an alarm system. Measuring infrared radiation, this sensor detects movements of people in the room. Small pets weighing up to 25 kg are ignored. The company also offers the Gigaset Window Sensor and the Gigaset Door Sensor, which can both be ideally combined with the Gigaset Siren. A loud alarm is triggered as a deterrent if a break-in is suspected.
Sensors keep a watchful eye on doors and windows
The Gigaset elements Universal Sensor can be used to monitor any type of door or window, whether it’s a sliding door, roof window or cat flap. It can tell the difference between open and tilted windows. Window or door sensors immediately send a notification to your smartphone when the respective window or door has been opened. You can even see on your smartphone whether your cat has found its way home through the cat flap. The Gigaset Universal Sensor can be easily mounted to a wall without needing screws or a drill and has a range of 50 meters indoors. Simulating your presence at home is child’s play with Gigaset Plug. You can use this smart plug to activate and deactivate every electrical device, from lamps to the TV, via the app while you’re away. For observers, it looks like you’re actually at home. You can also use the rules manager to specify that all lamps should automatically go on as soon as someone moves in the room.
But before you simply go out and purchase lots of different sensors, it’s much better to adopt a strategic approach by first analyzing the weaknesses and vulnerabilities your house or apartment has. And this is best done by looking at things through a burglar’s eyes – in an objective, pragmatic and unemotional way. You will soon realize which devices would be a sensible idea and which would not, and gain a good impression of what you need to invest to enhance the security of your home.
Digital intruder deterrents
The Gigaset Smart Home alarm systems are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This enables background light and sound to be used to simulate your presence at home in order to deter intruders.
The Gigaset alarm systems can also be connected to Philips Hue smart lighting system to provide ideal anti-intruder protection. When a break-in is suspected, an alarm is triggered by the door/window sensor and all the Philips Hue lamps are switched on automatically. The system also activates Alexa to start a preprogrammed room sequence in which room monitoring is triggered, the TV or stereo is switched on and a tape of grandma’s voice is played. Room monitoring can be activated in addition to lighting systems and apps. What’s more, with the voice command “Alexa, start intruder deterrent”, you can also play everyday sounds to give the impression that someone is at home. Amazon Echo will then emit sounds associated with normal household activities such as cleaning, talking, home office work, laughing and preparing meals. You can choose between five sound scenarios: living room, kitchen, bathroom and office, plus dogs. Anybody listening at the door or window will be convinced someone is at home.
And when someone actually does arrive home, they can reset the Gigaset alarm system to “At Home” mode again simply by using the smartphone app. Alternatively, you can simply say: “Alexa, tell Gigaset: my mode”, and Alexa will then switch to a customized mode you have previously defined. Defining this mode of your choice is a one-off task. You simply specify, for example, which door and window sensors are to be switched on and which video cameras you want to activate indoors and outdoors. Then you can switch to this customized mode at any time by simply using a voice command or the Gigaset app.
Sound detection with Alexa
Amazon has added a further feature to Alexa that enables the voice assistant to play an even more intelligent role in its environment. This sound detection capability is already familiar to us from other products such as Google Recorder or Android’s live caption function. All these features are based on the software’s ability to recognize and correctly interpret a range of everyday sounds, such as a baby crying, a dog barking or a cat meowing.
As well as recognizing these sounds, Alexa’s Sound Detection feature is also able to react to them in a specific way, by triggering a routine specified by the user, for example. Recently launched, the feature only currently detects a crying baby, barking, snoring and coughing, but more sounds are certain to be added over the coming months. It could prove a great way of coupling dumb components (such as fire alarms) to smart ones (such as lamps).
Optimus Prime – your vigilant neighbor
If you can’t find a “vigilant neighbor” in your vicinity, you may soon be able to assign the role to Optimus Prime. Transformer fans will immediately recognize that the name has been borrowed from the leader of the “good” robots in the Transformer movie franchise. Although Tesla’s new robot isn’t actually able to change shape, he’s said to have a whole range of other qualities. According to company boss Elon Musk, Optimus is designed to carry out small everyday tasks such as courier and delivery services. Enhanced with appropriate security software and updates, you can imagine what Optimus Prime might be able to do in the area of home security in the future. Musk unveiled his futuristic “Optimus” project at the company’s AI Day on August 19. He expects a working prototype of the humanoid robot will be ready next year. Optimus will be 172 centimeters tall, weigh 57 kilograms and be a “friendly” robot. Until he’s ready for action, you might want to build up a good relationship with your neighbors.
Astro – your faithful watchdog
If you don’t like the idea of a humanoid robot, you can opt for this faithful watchdog from Amazon. Astor is designed to patrol around your house when nobody is at home. The robot dog is able to transmit live video images to its owners and, using the additional Alexa Guard service”, is capable of detecting the sound of splintering glass and smoke detectors. Maintaining contact with elderly relatives is a further area in which the company sees potential for Astro. Astro’s camera is a particularly interesting feature. Located above and behind the display, it can be extended like a periscope to see over any obstacles in its field of vision. Another function it fulfills, of course, is giving accessibility to Amazon’s Alexa services anywhere in the home. As with the Echo loudspeakers and displays, the robot’s microphones, cameras and motors can be deactivated at the touch of a button. In combination with Ring Protect, Astro is even able to automatically record video images. A further option might be to give Astro to other family members and then be able to converse with them at any time using Alexa’s “drop in” feature. Astro can also manage memories.
Users can now contact Amazon to express their interest in the robot watchdog. The company will notify you when it becomes available. To begin with, Astro will only be available in the USA. The price will be 999 US dollars (approximately 855 euros).
A picture is worth a thousand words
In the first part of our blog post, we wrote that outdoor video cameras can act as more of an invitation to potential burglars than as a deterrent. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Casual thieves, in particular, avoid taking risks, and may make a quick getaway when they notice a clearly visible camera. A more important advantage such cameras bring, in combination with app and smartphone, is the ability to keep a watchful eye on one’s home at all times. When a suspicious person approaches the house, the surveillance camera is able to detect his movements and send an alert to the owner, who can then use the smartphone to check that everything is OK.
Die Gigaset Camera 2.0 has been specially designed for indoor use. You can rely on this WiFi surveillance camera to monitor every room in the house and send images straight to your smartphone. If an alarm is triggered, it starts automatically and even rewinds its recordings by three seconds for the sake of security, so you are guaranteed not to miss anything. The real-time video in full HD is encrypted to prevent the recordings from falling into the wrong hands. You can even enjoy peace of mind at night as the indoor camera has infrared night vision with a range of up to six meters.
The camera can be used on its own or in combination with a Gigaset alarm system. If Gigaset Smart Home sensors are fitted on doors, on windows or in the room, the camera sets up an active connection to these sensors. Integration with other Gigaset Smart Home products is just as easy, and the free Gigaset elements app does all the work for you.
When it’s loud and the neighbor is a little too vigilant
The burglar definitely won’t drop by in this situation, but the police might, as Home&Smart reported in one of its articles. “What happened to Nico Hartmann on the morning of February 3 may sound quite funny at first, but he certainly wasn’t able to laugh about it. When the 39-year-old returned to his apartment in Othmarschen, a suburb of Hamburg, he discovered a large hole in his front door. During the night, his Alexa loudspeaker from Sonos had been playing music so loudly that the neighbors had called the police. They were worried that something had happened to the occupant. The police first used a ladder to look into one of the apartment windows, but then decided they had no time to waste. Because the occupant was nowhere to be seen, and they weren’t able to pick the lock on the front door, they called in the fire department. Thinking it could be a real emergency, the fire fighters decided to saw a large section out of the door. After gaining entry, the police were finally able to disconnect the new Alexa loudspeaker that had been playing hip-hop music at high volume.” It cost Nico Hartmann 3,500 euros to repair the damage the fire fighters had caused – a pretty expensive “party”. But at least Nico now knows that Alexa is capable of creating a lot of noise, and he can be certain that he has really vigilant neighbors. The only thing that remains is to inform any potential burglars about his security arrangements.