Honeywell’s Latest Security System Is An Echo With A CameraBy - 01/13/2018
Move over Nest Secure, the Honeywell Smart Home Security System is coming. With over a century in home security expertise, can Honeywell’s DIY home security solution hang with the younger companies such as Nest, Ring, and SmartThings.
What Makes it Different?
Honeywell’s concept is not just a security system but a product that you can use every day. For starters, it will be voice assistant agnostic. It uses its own voice assistant as well as Amazon’s Alexa, and it will soon have access to Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri via HomeKit. The system also offers unique features such as a camera base with facial recognition and voice detection that can distinguish a dog bark from the sound of a smoke alarm.
In many ways, the system reminds me of the now defunct Piper nv or the coming soon abode iota in that it’s a security camera/hub that branches out into home security and smart home control. If you wanted, you could use the Honeywell Base Station as a camera. And it compares well to other home security cameras like Canary and Angee. However, it’s expensive. And the added expense only makes sense if you plan to use it as a hub.
|Google Play Rating||3.4 Stars||3.4 Stars||4 Stars||TBD||3.3 Stars|
|iTunes Rating||2.5 Stars||2 Stars||2 Stars||TBD||2.1 Stars|
|Home Automation||Works with Wink & IFTTT via Wink, Google Home, Homekit Coming Soon||Z-Wave, AllJoyn Certified, and IFTTT||Works with Nest, IFTTT, Stringify, and Echo Show||Plans to Work with IFTTT, LIFX, Ring, Nest, Sonos, and August||Plans to Work With Z-Wave Plus, IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Lyric Ecosystem|
|Resolution||1080p||1080p||1080p (Nest IQ Also Has a 4K Image Sensor)||1080p||1080p|
|Viewing Angle||147-degree (Flex is 116°)||180-degree||130-degree||350-degree, Mechanically Tracks Motion||147-degree|
|Night Vision||Piper nv Only|
|Two-Way Audio||Members Only|
|Door / Window Sensors|
|Battery Backup||Flex Only|
|Text or Phone Call Alerts||Unknown|
|Internal Siren||Manual (Flex No Siren)||Automatic|
|Supports Motion Zones||Original Canary Only||With Nest Aware Plan|
|Face Detection||Coming Soon||Nest IQ Includes Detection for Free or Facial Recognition with Nest Aware; Nest Cam Includes Detection with Nest Aware||Includes Facial Recognition (Coming Soon)|
|Auto Arm/Disarm||Rule Based Only|
|Indoor / Outdoor||Canary Indoor, Flex Indoor/Outdoor||Indoor Only||Nest Cam Outdoor and Outdoor IQ Sold Separately||Indoor Only||Indoor Only, MotionViewer Has Outdoor Version|
|Local Storage||Download Clips, Video Sharing Members Only||Download Clips||Download Clips With Nest Aware Plan||1.5GB Local Storage||8GB Flash Drive|
|Cloud Storage Cost||$0 – $19.99 Per Month||$0||$0 – $30.00 Per Month||$0||$0.00 – TBD|
|Cloud Storage Amount||24 Hours – 30 Days||QTY 1000, 25 second clips||3 Hours, Snapshots Only – 30 Days||1GB||24 Hours – TBD|
|Where to Buy||Amazon||Amazon||Visit Site||Visit Site|
It All Starts With The Camera Base Station
Like most DIY security systems, the Honeywell Smart Home Security System is built around a hub. The Camera Base Station is a cylindrical hub that looks similar to the 2nd Generation Amazon Echo but with a puck-shaped camera on top.
The Camera Base Station is equipped with a 2 GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor, Z-Wave Plus connectivity, 30-minute battery backup, and local storage. It’s also equipped with a 90 dB siren to warn you of intrusion or to scare away intruders.
The Base is a Camera With Smart Features
However, the Camera Base Station is more than just a hub; it’s a security camera. Equipped with a 2MP camera with up to a 1080p resolution, 147° field of view, and night vision, you can use the base station to monitor your home visually. You can also use it to secure your home using its motion and sound detection features. Both features are backed by added intelligence including area masking, facial recognition, and sound recognition.
Area masking lets you virtually cover areas you don’t want the camera to monitor. To avoid false alarms, the camera won’t detect motion in areas that are masked. The second feature, facial recognition, goes beyond simple detection. While it can tell a human face from a giant tree, it can also get to know your family members, assuming you take the time to train it. Once trained, it will let you know if it sees a familiar face (e.g., your kids) or an unfamiliar face (e.g., an intruder). Honeywell would like to add intelligence to this feature and tie it into the camera’s geofencing ability. For example, you come home, the camera recognizes you, and it swaps to Home Mode.
Finally, sound recognition is the camera’s ability to distinguish what it hears. It can recognize dogs barking, smoke alarms blaring, and the cry of a baby. Unfortunately, facial recognition and sound recognition won’t be available at launch. Both features will be added to the Camera Base Station later this year via firmware updates. Also, facial recognition won’t work in the state of Illinois or other locations where such technology is prohibited.
All videos are recorded and stored automatically. The camera includes 24 hours of free cloud storage, and it offers internal storage via an 8GB flash drive. Honeywell will also launch an optional extended cloud service plan called StoragePlus later this year.
A Voice Agnostic Voice Assistant
The Camera Base Station also functions as a voice assistant. Using three far-field microphones and an omnidirectional speaker, you can use its proprietary voice assistant. The assistant is activated using the wake word, “Ok Security.” Using Honeywell’s own assistant, you will have limited control over the security system using specific and straightforward commands. As a bonus, the assistant runs locally so that it can accept your commands with or without an internet connection.
If you don’t want to use Honeywell’s assistant, you can use Amazon Alexa. The base station will function just like your Amazon Echo, minus a few features. For example, you won’t be able to access Alexa Calling, a feature limited to Amazon-made Alexa-enabled devices. At CES 2018, we received a complete demonstration of the camera. The speaker had a nice deep sound and was noticeably better than my Echo and Echo Dot. According to Ted Booth, Honeywell User Experience Design Director, the speaker built into the Camera Base Station is more akin to the speaker used in Google Home: Perhaps not a speaker you would want to stream music from, but still pleasing enough for everyday tasks.
Adding Honeywell Sensors and Compatible Devices
The Honeywell Smart Home Security System isn’t a one-person show. Along with the base station, Honeywell has launched several sensors and devices.
The first is the Access Sensor, a door/window sensor. Its primary job is to alert you if a door or window is opened while the system is armed, a possible indication of an intrusion. However, it can also alert you if a door or window has been left open.
The second accessory is the Motion Sensor. The Motion Sensor is a traditional wall-mounted motion sensor that can alert you if it senses motion.
The third accessory is called the MotionViewer, a PIR motion sensor equipped with a camera. If the MotionViewer detects a heat signature, it will record a 7-10 second clip of the event and send a notification. Keep in mind that the MotionViewer is not an Image Sensor; it’s better. A traditional Image Sensor will take a snapshot while the MotionViewer records an actual video clip and then transmits the clip to your smartphone. The resolution of the camera is QVGA (320 x 240), which is pretty low, but it’s battery operated, has night vision, and comes in both an indoor and outdoor version. According to Booth, the MotionViewers were the most popular accessory during their Indiegogo campaign. In fact, the kit that included MotionViewers sold out during the first 24 hours of their campaign.
Finally, Honeywell offers a remote key fob so that you can easily control your system as you come and go. It lets you swap between modes (Home, Away, and Night) and it features a panic button that you can activate by long-pressing the button.
Adding Compatible Third Party Devices
In addition to working with Honeywell’s own products, the Camera Base Station can support third-party devices using its Z-Wave radio. It can connect to third-party lights, locks, garage door openers, and more.
At CES we received a demonstration of one of the camera’s integrations. At launch, the app experience will be optimized around Leviton lights. Using the Lyric app, Booth demonstrated a couple of features including dimming and on/off functionality.
Works With the Lyric App, Cameras, Thermostats, and IFTTT
The Camera Base Station also works with some of Honeywell’s existing products, specifically, the Honeywell Lyric lineup. If you want to add additional cameras to your system, for example, you can add Honeywell Lyric C1 or Lyric C2, two of Honeywell’s security cameras. And the option to add additional cameras to the system should come as refreshing news to those who have larger homes as the system is currently limited to one Camera Base Station per location.
The Camera Base Station also works with Lyric smart thermostats and flood/freeze sensors.
The final component of the Honeywell Smart Home Security System is the Lyric smartphone app available for both Android and iOS devices. Everything you need to manage and monitor the system is found within the app. You can use it to customize your system, add devices, review previous events, adjust your thermostat, watch live video feeds, and more.
The Lyric app also features geofencing with family access. Each family member can create a Honeywell Lyric account and connect to the system. By sensing the location of your smartphones, the app will know if everyone has left or if someone has arrived. The app will then set the system to the appropriate mode. If you want complete reassurance that your camera has stopped recording, you can use the privacy shield.
Unfortunately, the privacy shield is fully analog. You will need to manually turn the privacy shield to cover the camera’s lens and remember to uncover the lens when you leave.
Finally, like other Lyric products, the Smart Home Security System will work with IFTTT. Using IFTTT, you will be able to integrate the system with hundreds of devices using rule-based automation.
Though the original campaign has ended (with an impressive 248% achievement toward their funding goal), Honeywell is still pre-selling the system on Indiegogo. Of course, the campaign was never about funds. Honeywell has funds. Instead, it was about engaging a new audience and getting feedback. According to Booth, they expect to start shipping the Camera Base Station later this year. Features such as motion detection with area masking, sound detection, the Alexa integration, and IFTTT compatibility will all be available at launch. Other features such as facial recognition, sound recognition, Google Assistant, the Siri integration, compatibility with the Lyric C1 and C2 cameras, and support for the MotionViewer will be ready post launch.
If you want to be one of the first to use the Honeywell Smart Home Security System, you can pre-order the base station and sensors at a discounted price. The base station will retail at $399, but you can order it now for as low as $375 (includes a key fob and a door sensor). A sensor pack that includes two Access Sensors, a motion sensor, and a key fob is also available for pre-order for $140, $20 less than the retail price. To learn more about Smart Home Security System, visit Honeywell’s Indiegogo campaign page.
That said, though Honeywell is in a better position than most who launch on Indiegogo, we always suggest using caution before backing any project. There are several features that will not be available at launch, and pushing those belated features out to end users may take longer than Honeywell is projecting.