Olarm: A Single-Sensor Security SystemBy - 06/13/2018
Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have helped launch many original products, and now, Olarm is hoping to join the list. Olarm is a security system that, according to its creators, can be installed in under five minutes. Unlike most security systems, Olarm offers only one sensor which simplifies the installation process, but is one sensor enough?
What Exactly Is Olarm?
Olarm aims to protect you from security threats and other threats. But unlike traditional security systems, it doesn’t require professional monitoring service. Instead, Olarm takes a page from systems like abode and Nest Secure. You can use it for free without worrying about monthly fees, or you can add professional monitoring. We’ll get to that later on, but first, let’s talk about equipment.
If you’ve shopped for a security system before, you know that security companies offer a dizzying array of devices. They offer sensors, control keypads, key fobs, and a boatload of accessories. Olarm is different; it functions using two devices: the Brain and the O-Ring sensor.
The Brain is quite literally the brain of the Olarm system. It’s a hub of sorts that connects to the internet and your O-Ring sensors so you can remotely monitor the system using the Olarm companion app. It also acts as a siren and can act as a chime thanks to a built-in speaker.
The Brain requires two things to work: a power outlet and Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. While you will ideally keep the Brain plugged in, it is equipped with battery backup that can keep it running for up to 48 hours. However, there is a catch, where most systems use a rechargeable battery, the Brain uses four AA replaceable batteries.
If you lose internet, the system will function thanks to an embedded cellular chip. However, you must pay a $5 monthly fee to activate it. Though Olarm has not shared which service provider will provide cellular service, they have confirmed that the card is a global SIM card that will work in over 120 countries.
The O-Ring Sensor
The second device Olarm offers is the O-Ring multi-sensor which allows one sensor to replace many.
The O-Ring sensor is a sensor that can do the job of multiple devices including door/window sensor, motion sensor, noise detector, water leak sensor, and temperature and humidity sensor. It’s a small, round device with an adhesive back that you simply peel and stick to any surface. It’s battery-powered, so there are no wires to worry about, and it has an estimated battery life of up to 2 years.
While O-Ring can perform many jobs, you can configure what you want each of your O-Rings to do using the Olarm app. For example, you can have one O-Ring monitor for motion, sound, and watch over your door and another acting as a water sensor and temperature/humidity sensor. What’s great about it is that if you move or if your security needs change, you can easily reconfigure your O-Rings without buying additional devices.
Take note that the door/window sensor, motion sensor, and noise detector features only work when the system is armed. However, the water leak sensor and temperature/humidity sensor features are active all the time.
O-Ring as a Door/Window Sensor
As a door/window sensor, O-Ring utilizes its built-in accelerometer and vibration sensor. First, the vibration sensor detects if the door or window O-Ring’s attached to moves. Second, the accelerometer measures the angle of the movement and analyzes if it constitutes as an “opening” motion.
O-Ring as a Motion Sensor
To detect motion, O-Ring uses a PIR motion sensor. The sensor uses passive Infrared to detect body heat and motion. If the two are detected simultaneously, the sensor triggers. Although PIR motion sensors are less prone to false positives because they detect body heat, they are not completely immune. In O-Ring’s case, pets over 65 pounds might still trigger false alarms.
O-Ring as a Noise Detection
O-Ring uses a simple device to detect unusual noise: a microphone. But don’t worry, it doesn’t record anything. It simply sets a maximum noise threshold, which when reached, triggers an alarm. It detects unusual sounds such as smoke alarms going off, loud bangs that might indicate a possible break-in, and even breaking glass.
O-Ring as a Water Leak Sensor
If used as a water leak sensor, O-Ring must be placed low, preferably on the floor. For optimum results, place it under sinks, on the basement floor, and under pipes. O-Ring’s water leak sensor triggers if the two lead terminals on the underside of O-Ring come in contact with water.
O-Ring as a Temperature & Humidity Sensor
Finally, as a temperature and humidity sensor, O-Ring can help you monitor the air quality inside your home in real-time using the Olarm app. It can also alert you if the temperature or humidity reaches a maximum or minimum threshold.
Self-Monitoring, Cellular Backup, and Professional Monitoring
Once you have the Brain and your O-Rings installed, Olarm is ready to protect your home. All you need to do is arm the system using the Olarm app, or you can automate the arming/disarming process using geofencing. Of course, you will also need to decide if you want to self-monitor or pay for professional monitoring.
The basic self-monitoring option is free. It allows Olarm to send you smartphone notifications when an alarm is detected. However, that’s it. It’s up to you to respond to the alert and call the proper authorities if necessary. Also, the basic self-monitoring option relies on your internet connection to send alerts. If your internet goes down, so will your alarm system.
If you want to upgrade Olarm, you can pay $5 per month for self-monitoring with cellular backup. This option is similar to the basic self-monitoring option, but with cellular backup, Olarm will be able to send you alerts even if your internet is down.
The final and best option is professional monitoring. For $10 per month, your Olarm system will gain cellular backup and will be linked to a central station. Aside from sending you smartphone alerts, Olarm will forward all alerts to the central station. In turn, the central station will contact you to verify your identity. If you fail to answer the call or give the correct password, the central station will dispatch the local police or fire station to your address.
Right now, professional monitoring is only an option for U.S. customers, but Olarm is working on opening this up to those who live in Canada as well.
|Basic Self-Monitoring||Self-Monitoring w/ Cellular Backup||Professional Monitoring|
Working With Others
Unfortunately, Olarm lacks one vital security component: security cameras. On their campaign’s FAQ page, Olarm states:
“Why no camera?” It’s all about protecting your privacy. Through existing camera-based security systems, your devices’ IP address can be hacked, and strangers can have access to your camera(s) at home. With an increased number of cyber-attacks, the new cool camera you just invested in can be used to invade your privacy. It is for this reason that we have chosen to leave out a camera feature in our system.
But they added:
However, if you have chosen to include cameras in your home (such as with Nest, Ring or Arlo), Olarm™ will integrate with them giving you the all-encompassing security experience you are looking for.
That’s right. Although Olarm is an independent security system, it will integrate with third-party smart home devices. On their campaign page, they’ve mentioned plans to integrate Olarm with Nest, Ring, Arlo, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and more. We’re still waiting to find out how these integrations will work, but I’m glad third-party integrations are simply being considered.
Pricing & Availability
For now, we’re waiting for Olarm to become a reality. So far, their campaign has reached its target funding goal and even unlocked two stretch goals. One, O-Rings will be available in multiple colors. Two, smart home integrations. They have one more stretch goal to reach which will be unlocked if they reach $500,000 in funding. If reached, Olarm will launch O-Mini sensors that can do everything the O-Rings can do but are the size of a quarter.
Olarm is expected to start shipping to Kickstarter backers this December, but since the campaign is on-going, you still have a chance to back Olarm.
To back Olarm, you must pledge at least $130. If you do, you will receive an Olarm system with three O-Ring sensors, the Brain, and six months of professional monitoring (U.S. only). You can pledge your support on Kickstarter or learn more about Olarm by visiting their website. However, a word to the wise: not all crowdfunding campaigns succeed. Before you back Olarm, or any crowdfunding campaign for that matter, be sure to have a deep understanding of the product, the risks and challenges, and the company’s goal. Olarm seems to be doing a lot of things right, but they don’t yet have a way for people to contact them outside of their Kickstarter page (website, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.)
Photo Credit: Olarm