It is an unfortunate fact that break-ins occur. It is therefore unsurprising that intruder alarms account for just over half of spending on domestic security in the UK. But today people don’t have to fill their houses with wires and fittings to get the home monitoring they seek. The advances in ‘smart homes’ are driving innovation in the home including in home security. The so-called smart homes allow the ever-connected consumer to constantly engage with their property, through smartphone integration and greater communication between devices.

Piper: A new home security gadget

This is where Piper, a home security gadget that enables people to monitor their homes remotely, comes in. Piper is a compact video monitor that can detect movement, sound and temperature, all at the affordable price of £120. It is connected via wifi and communicates using an app directly to a tablet or smartphone. So people can watch their homes remotely, automatically recording footage when activity is detected and sending an alert when movement or sound is detected. Within the home Piper has a siren on board, plus a two-way audio which can be used to speak to someone at home, or to warn an intruder.

Piper has three modes – stay, away and vacation. The user can programme rules for each individual mode and can define the action they want Piper to take, for example recording video. People can also choose how Piper communicates with them, for example by phone, email or text. It can also be set up to notify a circle of users, such as a husband and wife or trusted neighbours. Plus, it comes with the option to watch live video using the app. This could prove useful for checking on children at home with a nanny, or on elderly relatives home alone or even to keep an eye on the family pets.

The device is highly customisable and flexible, allowing people to easily build a security system that suits their needs. Up to five Pipers can be networked so they can spread out around the home and sensors can be added to doors and windows, alerting people if they are tampered with. On top of this the device has accessories that will allow users to automatically and remotely turn on lights, heaters and other appliances when they are not at home. These can be linked to Piper’s security settings, so for example, a lamp can be turned on if motion is detected.

The home security market

The overall market for home security slumped in 2009 as the number of people moving house fell sharply. Subsequent years have seen little change, although the upturn in sales of houses in 2013 has been positive for home security sales. As the number of homeowners increases and consumer confidence picks up, we expect spending on home security to grow and by 2018 the market is expected to have grown nearly 12% from 2008.

When it comes to consumers and home security, people in the wealthiest households (£50,000+) are the most inclined to think that a visible burglar alarm acts as a good deterrent. However, 16% of Brits say that ‘no-one takes any notice’ of them, so for some a burglar alarm is actually more of a nuisance than a help. There is significant scope to sell detectors like Piper, as only 4% of respondents say they have a webcam that alerts them to any movements in their home.

The high tech individual

As the Mintel trend The Suite Life has identified, people have more gadgetry on hand and there is a rising need for devices and services to work in tandem to help consumers achieve more and with greater simplicity. The days of separate products are numbered as sensors are turning ‘dumb’ everyday objects into perceptive machines. Collectively, they are to become a portfolio of smart helpers with the potential to better serve our needs. The new world is a compelling synchronized platform that works across devices.

As well as this, ownership of smartphones has boomed. By October 2014, nearly three quarters of adults said they owned a smartphone. A similar percentage owned a laptop and two fifths owned a tablet. Access to the internet via smartphones and other portable devices is now commonplace, making devices such as Piper which connect to the home, highly relevant to a large audience.

Will Piper be successful with consumers?

Due to the portability of the monitoring system, the price tag, the fact it needs no wiring up in the home and the customisability of Piper, it is very likely to be popular with householders. On the downside however, if the home wifi is switched off, then Piper will not work – a disadvantage compared to a dedicated alarm system.

As devices like this are very affordable, compared to a fixed security alarm, this will expand the potential audience prepared to buy into the idea of monitoring their homes.

Piper also has the added plus of being a hub for all kinds of other home controls, such as switching on lights from remote locations, or turning on the heating before people get home. This innovative device takes us a step closer to making the smart home an affordable and realistic possibility for a wide audience.

Jane Westgarth is Senior Retail Analyst at Mintel. Her career in retail and consumer markets has included roles as both analyst and consultant to a wide variety of large and small organisations.

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