Olmose – Self-Monitored Home Security Using Old SmartphonesBy - 01/28/2016
UPDATE: Olmose’s Kickstarter campaign ended without reaching its funding goal.
Did you know that approximately 200 old smartphones are thrown into landfills every hour? Okay, I just made that up. But seriously, you shouldn’t be chunking your old but working smartphone into the trash. Not only is electronic waste hazardous, but you can reuse old phones for home security. All you need is software. I happen to know a few apps that allow you to reuse your phone and I’ve reviewed and tested plenty, including Camio, ManyThing, and Presence Pro. But the latest is Olmose. What makes Olmose different, and probably better, is that it combines software and hardware.
Olmose Software: Android friendly; iOS, not so much.
You’ll need to run two apps to create an Olmose system out of smartphones. One, the Olmose Guardian app, must be installed onto your old smartphone. Then, the Olmose Remote app, is to be installed onto your current smartphone.
The Guardian app taps into your old smartphone’s camera, microphone, and accelerometer, then combines it with an algorithm that will help detect potential security breaches. The camera is used to detect motion, the microphone for loud sounds, and the accelerometer for shock. If an event is detected, the camera is used to record video evidence, while the app simultaneously saves the video to the cloud (subscription required). The Guardian app can only be installed on smartphones running Android 4.0 or later, which means your old iPhone or Windows phone cannot be used as Guardians. But you can use your iPhone or Windows phone to monitor and control your Guardian using the Remote app.
The Remote app, installed on your current phone, turns your phone into a controller. Using the app, you can arm your Guardian smartphone manually to detect motion, sound, shock, or all of the three. Customizing your preferences is also done using the Remote app. Any time you want to check in on your house, you can use the app’s live streaming feature to watch video straight from your phone. Finally, the Remote app receives push notifications when an alarm event is detected. You can have as many remote apps as your heart desires installed on multiple devices.
Hardware: A Stand, Charger, Motion Sensor, and Mucho Más
A software solution that turns your phone into a security camera is far from unique. Where Olmose wants to differentiate their solution is with hardware, known as the Dog Station.
The Dog Station is a docking/charging station and a phone stand for your Guardian smartphone. Its body slightly tilts on its base, allowing you to set the right angle for capturing footage using your old phone. You can use Olmose with or without the Dog Station, but having one for your Guardian smartphone enhances your security.
First, the Dog Station has its own Pyroelectric Infrared sensor (better known as Passive Infrared sensor or PIR sensor) that improves alert accuracy. By adding a sensor to your system, you are both decreasing false alarms and increasing your chances of catching whatever or whomever it is you are trying to catch.
Second, the Infrared sensor solves for one of the greatest issues of apps like Olmose—smartphones without LED flash can’t see in complete darkness. LED flash automatically turns on in the dark, but the downside is that a bright light isn’t discreet. The added sensor, which can see up to 20 feet (or 6 meters), is the same kind of sensor used in high-quality surveillance cameras like Nest and Piper NV.
Olmose Enhances Security… But Is It Worth It?
Beyond the Dog Station, there are other features that set Olmose apart from similar solutions that already exists and cost little to nothing. The greatest feature is that it offers three levels of protection.
Do you want to watch over your aging parents? In that case, Olmose can notify you when there is no motion during a preset amount of time. Do you want to monitor your baby? It alerts you of loud sounds, like your little one’s cry. Do you want to spy on your pet’s adorable antics? You can do that by watching live video feed from your Guardian smartphone. You can also place it in your car’s glove compartment to serve as a shock sensor (notifies you if your loved one’s car crashes) and GPS locator. Do you want basic protection that you can use alongside your security system? You can set up your Guardian smartphone to watch for motion, loud sound, or shock. Do you want advanced protection? Get a Dog Station and use it with your Guardian smartphone for 24/7 motion detection.
With all that said, you should not completely rely on Olmose for security. Security cameras like Nest, Piper, or Canary are the real deal, not smartphones in disguise. For example, Piper has a 180-degree field of view. What about your smartphone? Also, smartphones weren’t really made to run 24/7 like a home security camera. They can potentially overheat or worse. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use Olmose. Any additional boost to your security is fine by me, but it’s vital for you to know potential risks.
Speaking of risks, there’s one more additional risk. Olmose is still being crowdfunded through Kickstarter. Crowdfunding campaigns are risky. You have no assurance that you’ll get what you ordered on time, or that you’ll ever get it at all. Though most crowdfunded projects are successful, it’s important to be aware of what’s involved.
If you are ready to take the leap, here’s what it will cost you.
- Access and use of the Guardian app on one smartphone, plus 1 year cloud subscription- $26
- Cloud subscription per year (Optional)- $26
- Dog Station (including taxes and shipping)- $26
- Dog Station + Guardian app for 1 smartphone + 1 year cloud subscription- $99
- Remote app- Free
These are retail prices, but all prices are discounted through Kickstarter. If the campaign is successful, the Olmose app is expected to launch and Dog Stations are expected to start shipping in April of this year.