I hate to make sweeping statements, but technology is pretty bloody awesome. With the amount of tech we use these days, you have to wonder how people used to cope – let alone live – without all the gadgets and gizmos we own these days. Remember when you had to physically arrange a place and time to meet up with someone rather than now when you just ring, text, tweet, Snapchat, Facebook or Whatsapp them when you’re near?
Something I’m noticing more and more is how tech is transforming the home. I don’t just mean things like quicker broadband, more efficient washing machines or millions of TV channels to watch. I’m talking about the proper smart technology designed to make home life easier.
For instance, as I write this, a robotic vacuum cleaner is hoovering the living room for me and I’m streaming music through a Bluetooth speaker in a ceiling light bulb from an app on my phone. If I wanted to, I could turn the kettle on in the kitchen through another smartphone app and turn certain lights on in our house through another. I don’t think anyone would have imagined stuff like this 20 years ago. Now I just need a machine to look after Toddler L!
A particular area of intrigue for me surrounds using smart technology for home security purposes. I’ve dabbled with this slightly before, but it’s been more for novelty value than something I’d consider to be safe, secure and reliable. Whether it’s sensible or not, we don’t have a physical alarm on our house – I bought one when we moved in six years ago, but never got around to fitting it so just eBayed it instead!
Luckily, we’ve never been broken into – even when I accidentally left the back door wide open all day – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about it. This often kicks in when we’ve been away for a few days and have no way of knowing if things are going to be as we left them when we return. It’s not a great thought opening your door to find your stuff has been stolen.
Nothing beats the sense of relief experienced from when you come back from holiday to find that no-one has broken into the house.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) August 24, 2016
Something that particularly shit me up recently was when we were on holiday in Copenhagen. On looking through my blog search terms whilst away, I discovered that someone had searched for my home address. Having realised that I’d tweeted that we were away for a few days, I was 99% convinced that we’d return to an empty house. Relieved was an understatement when it hadn’t. As a result, it’s made me think more about home security.
As luck would have it, I was asked if I wanted to try out a brand new smart home service from O2 Home. Launched at the beginning of September, O2 Home provides smart technology solutions for greater control of the home within one easy app. There are three customisable packages available, so we chose O2 Home View which can be used as a security system. This includes the O2 Smart Hub, then a Samsung camera, a wide view camera, one open and close sensor and one presence sensor.
The kit was fitted for us a few weeks ago by an O2 Home Installer who came around to the house. Here, he made sure everything was installed properly and walked me through both the smartphone app and online dashboard which allow you to control and monitor the home. A very friendly chap – I want to call him Mike (?) – who knew his stuff, took the time to socialise with Toddler L and was with us for probably 1.5 hours. And yes, I did take a sneaky photo of him when he wasn’t looking…
I’ll be writing a more detailed review of this smart home kit in the near future as I’ve only been using it for two weeks, but I’m impressed so far. I’ve found it to be intuitive to use, the camera quality is great, the customer service team have been helpful and there are some clever things you can do with the kit to protect your home.
It’s this latter point I want to touch on for now. Remember how I said that I was worried someone might break in when we were in Denmark. Well, if I had the O2 Home system during August, then I wouldn’t have had to worry and don’t need to worry now. Using the ‘Programs’ feature, you can basically set up the different equipment to do what you want. I’m still playing around with these at the moment, but let me give you a few examples of what I have set up:
- If someone opens the back door, the open and close sensor would recognise this and would instantly send me an alert via text message. Not only this, but the downstairs wide view camera would be prompted to take a photo which is stored remotely.
- If the downstairs motion sensor detects movement, then I am sent a text message alert and both the downstairs and upstairs camera take a 10 second video which is stored remotely.
- If Toddler L and I are out and I want to check on the dog at home, then I’m able to remotely log into the camera from the app and see a live feed. I’ve been able to set up the motion area on the camera so that it’s raised off the floor, meaning that Dax can’t trigger anything with his movement.
All pretty clever stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree! It feels like this is the tip of the iceberg though and I imagine I’ll find a number of other things to do with the system as I test it further. Having the option to check in on the house or be alerted if anything was to happen though has given me peace of mind.
I’m under no illusions. If someone really wants to break in, then there’s not much to stop them unless you turn your house into Fort Knox. However, this smart technology does make me feel happier and more relaxed when we’re away. You can check out my full review of the system here.
Do you worry about home security? Have you considered or bought smart technology for the home? Let me know below!
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with O2 Home as part of a trial of their new service. For more information about the smart technology, you can visit the website or see the tech at one of four specialist O2 Home retail destinations including Westfield White City, Tottenham Court Road, Kingston and Watford.