Notion: A One Sensor Security SystemBy - 07/16/2017
Most home alarm companies pride themselves on having an extensive list of security and safety sensors, but Notion is taking a different approach. They pride themselves on offering a single sensor that can do the job of multiple sensors. Is having one sensor enough for home security?
How Does Notion’s Security System Work?
Notion is a DIY, self-monitored security system that revolves around three components: the Notion Bridge, the Notion Sensor, and the Notion App.
The Notion Bridge
To get started, you’ll need a Notion Bridge to act as the middleman for your Notion Sensors and Wi-Fi network. First, it connects to your Sensors via a radio signal similar to Zigbee (specifically, IEEE 802.15.4 @2.4GHz) and then it connects to the internet.
Connecting to Wi-Fi is vital as the Sensors rely heavily on the cloud for sending alerts. One Bridge can accommodate up to 250 sensors, but the sensors need to be placed within 75 feet of the Bridge. That’s a whole lot of sensors in a small space. The good news is that you can add more Bridges to act as signal repeaters and still manage everything under one account.
The current version of the Bridge requires power and Wi-Fi to work. It will notify you if it loses either, but that’s it. If you’re looking for a better Bridge, a second version is underway that will include battery backup and cellular backup.
The Notion Sensors
The highlight of the Notion system is the Notion Sensor, the little sensor that could. They are small, puck-shaped devices that can stick to almost any surface using adhesive tape. They are wireless and run on replaceable CR2477N coin cell batteries. They are also water and UV resistant and can work in temperatures ranging from 0℉ to 175℉.
The Sensors can detect multiple events, such as opening and closing, temperatures that are too high or too low, as well as water leaks, and loud sounds like the sound made by a smoke detector. The Sensors can also send alerts when they are moved. This comes in handy if you stick a Sensor to an object you don’t want messed with like a safe or your computer. The catch is that you can’t assign one Sensor too many tasks. For example, you can set a Sensor to listen for smoke alarms and monitor the indoor temperature, but that’s it. There are also tasks that can’t be combined, such as monitoring a door while listening for a smoke alarm.
When the Open/Close feature is selected, the Sensor will tell you if a door is open by measuring the acceleration (accelerometer) and the angular rate of motion (gyroscope).
When the Motion Sensor feature is selected, the Sensor will tell you if the object it is attached to is moved (accelerometer).
Water Leak Detector
When the Water Leak Detector is selected, the Sensor will tell you if the device comes in contact with water.
When Temperature Monitoring is selected, the Sensor will monitor a room’s ambient temperature and tell you if it goes too high or too low. You can also use this function to regulate the temperature in occupied rooms and optimize your HVAC use to save energy.
When the Sound Sensor is selected, the Sensor will listen for the sound of smoke alarms and CO sensors. If a sound is detected, even if you’re not home, Notion will let you know.
The Notion App
The final component, and the one you’ll interact with the most, is the Notion App. It plays an important role as it offers a means to control how your system works. Using the app, you can assign a name and tasks to each Sensor. You can also use the app to setup notifications. You can choose to receive notifications when you’re home, away, asleep, or all three. You can even let the app determine whether you’re home or away automatically using geofencing.
Unfortunately, while one system can connect to multiple smartphones, it requires that you use the same login credentials across all devices. There’s no real family sharing feature at this time. And that said, geofencing might not work if you’re logged into multiple devices. This might seem like a minor issue, but in a real world scenario, it can cause false alarms (e.g. detecting events when a family member is home).
The Notion App is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
Connecting with Others
Notion markets their system as an extra layer of protection to supplement your existing security system and home automation devices. For example, it lets you “hear” your existing smoke alarms while you’re away from home.
Unfortunately, Notion doesn’t integrate directly with other security and smart home brands… yet. When asked for their plans, Notion shared,
Down the line Notion will be part of ‘Works with Nest’ program and have a dedicated IFTTT (If This Then That) channel. We’re planning on future integrations as time goes on to complement other smart home products like thermostats, outlets, voice enabled speakers and more.
The Works with Nest integration is what intrigues me the most. Notion has been talking about deeply integrating their sensors with thermostats. Could they be talking about Nest Thermostat? Does this mean Notion Sensors will eventually provide the same functionality as Ecobee’s Remote Sensors?
Since the beginning, Notion has also shown great interest in integrating with HomeKit. They’ve taken steps to comply with HomeKit’s standards but Notion’s cloud-dependent nature is not the right fit for Apple. Despite not being HomeKit-enabled, Apple recognizes Notion as a home automation accessory that works well with iPhones.
Back to the original question: Is one sensor enough? Unfortunately, I wouldn’t put my money on Notion to protect my home on its own. I think it would make a good extra layer of security, but it simply doesn’t provide all the features I (and most of us) need from a home security system. Its inability to provide family access is also a turn off. Still, the technology seems promising. A few adjustments to the app and adding smart home integrations would make their system more useful.
Notion offers two starter kits. The 3 Sensor + 1 Bridge kit for $219, and the 5 Sensor + 1 Bridge kit for $299. An extra Bridge is also offered for $80, a Sensor for $49 each, and a set of three sensors for $139.