Kevin: A Speaker That Could Prevent Break-InsBy - 04/12/2018
Most home security systems are designed to detect intrusions and generate alerts so you, or the professionals you hired to monitor your home, can take action. Rarely do we see security products that aim to prevent break-ins from happening. One example is Kevin, a smart speaker introduced at CES 2018 that is currently being funded on Kickstarter. How can a smart speaker prevent break-ins?
The Idea Behind Kevin
The concept of Kevin is based on the fact that burglars prefer breaking into empty homes to avoid confrontation. What Kevin does is that it makes it seem like your home is occupied while you’re away.
To do that, Kevin plays music randomly during the day, makes TV noises, or even imitates the sound of a person doing different things like cooking, vacuuming, or working out. Of course, you can do the same with any speaker—Just load random sounds to your computer and play them throughout the day. What makes Kevin different is that it adds visual effects to make the scene more believable. Kevin is outfitted with multiple RGB LEDs facing different directions. The LEDs project light and shadows on walls, imitate TV glares, and more. The visual effects correspond to the audio Kevin is playing. For example, while making TV noises, Kevin projects a TV glare. If the TV scene being emulated is an action scene, Kevin will flash red and blue lights (emulating police strobe lights). If it’s a sports channel, Kevin will project green lights (emulating a soccer field).
Setting Up & Using Kevin
Kevin is a plug-and-play device. For best results, Mitipi, the company behind Kevin, recommends that you place it near entrances or where the lights can be seen through exposed windows. Kevin requires power, but connecting it to Wi-Fi is optional.
Using Kevin Offline
To use Kevin offline, simply plug it in and turn it on. According to Mitipi, it will ship pre-loaded with a week’s worth of audio and visual effects. You can control Kevin’s core functions using the three physical buttons on top of the device. You can start or stop an emulation or choose which scenario to emulate. The problem with using it offline out-of-the-box is that the pre-loaded content might not be suitable for your lifestyle. If you want to personalize Kevin, you’ll need to connect it to the internet and set it up using Kevin’s companion app (iOS & Android).
Using Kevin Online
If connected to the internet, Kevin will download additional content specifically tailored to your lifestyle. Once set up, you can disconnect Kevin and use it offline, or you can continue using it with the app. If the words “tailored to your lifestyle” creep you out, no worries, Kevin only knows what you teach it.
During setup, the app will ask you to provide information about your home, living arrangements, and lifestyle. First, it will ask what your gender is and whether you live alone, with a partner, or with your family. Second, it will ask whether you live in an apartment building, in the suburbs, or somewhere rural. Third, you assign Kevin a room. Fourth, it will ask what accessories, appliances, or pets you have at home.
Once Kevin has all the info, it will be able to choose which scenarios are best suited for you. For example, it will only play barking sounds if you have a pet. If you live in the suburbs or somewhere rural, it will use a reduced volume.
Mitipi recommends that you use Kevin online with the mobile app as the app adds more functionality. For one, the app lets you turn on Kevin remotely, assuming your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G. Also, you’ll be able to use geofencing. With geofencing turned on, Kevin will automatically start when you leave. Finally, as already discussed, the app lets you add downloadable content.
Final Thoughts On Kevin
Kevin is a unique device built on a concept we firmly believe in. In fact, if you own smart lights, we recommend that you schedule them to turn on at random times while you’re away. You can also do the same if you have appliances (e.g., televisions, radios, etc.) plugged into smart outlets or other smart home devices.
But should you buy Kevin? Right now, I see Kevin as more of a luxury rather than a necessity, especially if you’ve already invested in a smart home system. With the right setup, you can achieve what Kevin does using your existing devices. Besides, Kevin does one thing and one thing only, and it works alone. Though Mitipi is looking into the possibility of integrating Kevin with other smart home devices, that hasn’t happened yet.
Still, I can see Kevin being useful in certain situations. For example, for aging loved ones or for those who are technologically challenged. It’s an easy-to-use and straightforward device. But a word to the wise: In theory, Kevin can deter would-be intruders, but it’s still best to have a full-fledged security system protecting your home.
If you’re interested in Kevin, you can pre-order it now. It’s expected to ship in late 2018. You can pre-order it on Mitipi’s website for $279.
Photo Courtesy of Mitipi