DIY Entrant Konnected Converts Existing Alarm Panels Into Smart Home Systems
The startup Konnected Alarm Panel is billed as the first-of-its kind solution to convert a wired alarm system for app-based smart home controls.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Does it feel like the DIY smart home market is becoming something of a hornet’s nest with new entrants joining the fray on a near daily basis? This week comes word of a San Francisco software engineer who tinkered with his home’s hardwired alarm and … voila! … converted it into an app-based system.
Nate Clark got entrepreneurial about his home automation invention — coined, The Konnected Alarm Panel — and went on to sell more than 500 DIY kits with “zero marketing,” according to a press release. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the project and met his goal of raising $25,000 in the first two hours — “the first step in his quest to bring smart home security to the some 20 million American households, and millions more around the world, that are pre-wired for alarm systems,” the press release vows.
As of Friday (Nov. 17), the crowdfunding campaign eclipsed $70,000 with pledges from more than 775 backers.
Here’s a description of how the Konnected system works: the panel “seamlessly connects” a home’s existing wired alarm system sensors and siren to Samsung’s SmartThings Hub via a wireless connection. SmartThings users can then use the built-in Smart Home Monitor app and other SmartThings apps to monitor and automate their home, sans monthly fees or subscriptions.
The open source panel is said to replace any brand of wired alarm system panel and works with hundreds of brands and models of wired alarm system sensors, including door and window sensors, motion sensors, glass-break sensors, flood/leak detectors, smoke/heat detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
Those who buy in via Kickstarter — pledging $59-$129, depending on the size of their residence — receive the device and step-by-step instructions to install it into their alarm system wiring and connect it to their smart home hub. The initial version requires users to have a SmartThings Hub, but support for other hubs such as Wink and HomeAssistant are “expected to be available soon,” the press release states.
While this can be a straight-up DIY play, consumers can opt for professional monitoring by Scout Alarm, which is offered to SmartThings customers via the Smart Home Monitor app. The system is available in configurations of six-, 12-, 18- and 24-zone setups, and is expected to ship in January 2018.
Here is more of the backstory from the press release:
Clark, until recently an engineering director at a successful San Francisco startup, created a beta version of the Konnected Alarm Panel in early 2017 after a rash of burglaries hit his neighborhood. He figured it was time to put his rental home’s old-school wired alarm system into action and went in search of a product that would enable him to adapt it to the cloud so he could monitor it easily and remotely with his smartphone.
To his surprise, Nate discovered no such product existed. So he went to work. A big fan of open source, he shared instructions for making the DIY system he came up with on GitHub and in smart home community forums, where enthusiastic forum members tried it out, gave rave reviews and valuable feedback, and encouraged him to sell it as a pre-packaged kit. He threw together a website and within two months had shipped kits to more than 500 customers around the world.
“I’m not surprised there’s an appetite for an affordable and painless way to convert a wired alarm system to the cloud, but I’m floored that no one had come up with a solution before,” Clark states in the announcement. “There are millions of inactive traditional alarm systems out there, and millions more being used by people who would prefer an app-based system if given an affordable choice.”
The possibility for disruption to professionally installed and monitored alarms would seem obvious, but to what degree? Curious, we reached out to SSI “Legal Briefing” columnist Ken Kirschenbaum to inquire about potential liability issues taking over legacy systems, as well as legal ramifications associated with the original system providers.
Following is Kirschenbaum’s take:
“It’s an interesting concern because the company is encouraging the subscriber to replace the existing panel by DIY. That process is going to be well beyond the capability of all but the most mechanical subscribers. Also the ‘outdated’ devices are not being replaced, only the panel.
“Seems to me that this product is going to cause lots of confusion and probably result in many alarm systems being disabled. It probably will create some service work for [professional installers]. Subscribers under monitoring contacts will also find that they are in breach if they stop paying the monthly charge.”
After SSI brought the product to the attention of Kirschenbaum, he in turn reached out to alarm industry veteran Wayne M. Wahrsager to get his thoughts on it and the likelihood for disruption. Wahrsager replied:
“This is nothing more than a substitute alarm panel. I don’t think this will catch on as it requires the end user to remove the old panel and move the wiring over to the new panel properly, which is way beyond the ability of the average end user. Also it does not take into account the various end of line resistors that are located out in the field of the job site, nor does it address the requirements to deliver power to devices, such as motion detectors, audio sensors, shock sensors etc. It’s a good attempt but won’t catch on.”
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Did you reach out to the product’s inventor, Nate, (Konnected.io’s founder and CEO) for comment? It is a journalistic typical practice to reach out to the best possible root source of further information, so they can possibly rebutt or confirm the claims and/or concerns you planned to express in your article. (Of course, many stories write “the company declined to comment” or “did not respond in time for publication” … but given that this is an active Kickstarter campaign, I’d bet he would have offered something quotable very promptly…)
Hi, I’m Nate (the founder of Konnected and the guy in all the videos on the Kickstarter). I just wanted to correct one of your quotes: “nor does it address the requirements to deliver power to devices, such as motion detectors, audio sensors, shock sensors etc”. This is not true, the Konnected Alarm Panel does indeed provide power to all standard alarm system sensors including those mentioned here.
Anyway thanks for the article!
Nate thank you for putting together a much needed product. I am confused as to why the alarm companies are not jumping to produce this product. They can and offer a professional monitoring add on to meet insurance carrier requirements. Just making the product more integrated with what every person on the planet is moving to. Instead the only option is a clunky add on IP board that sends out to a basic phone interface. If the Alarm Industry feels that these new solutions will have little to no effect they need to take a hard look at what happened in the Consumer electronics field. Almost every part of that industry was devastated by IPhone / Smart Phones. Manufactures that did nothing are now gone or a shadow of their former size. If ADT or DSC had any future thinking leadership they would buy up this company or create the same product as fast as possible. How about making a full house package that takes the current wired pieces and adds on some extra new pieces like the smart deadbolt. Now when I leave the house with my phone the doors lock and the alarm arms or tells me I have left open windows or doors. Consumers will pay for this option and installers that want to grow in the future will get their head out of the sand and put these types of packages together. Look at all the mistakes companies like Sony have made trying to have an exclusive product/ tech. The winners have always been the integrators of tech. Please, please Konnect get this product fully to market and turn this industry around. Installers waiting for their $5 per month monitor fee should look at expanding their skill sets to be fully home automation experts. Charge an annual service maintenance fee to change the batteries and ensure all the components work together.
This article makes it sound like every one with a wired alarm system is a retired accountant that wouldn’t be able to follow simple, well documented instructions on moving wires over to the new board. More and more younger homeowners are moving into homes with pre-existing wiring and want a modern, mobile/cloud enabled home security solution without the high initial/recurring costs that the legacy vendors charge. This product will meet that demand.
Newcomers to the industry, especially manufacturers like this product will have to learn the hard way what goes into a quality control panel. It’s a lot more than simple logic circuits to cause a siren to sound based on sensors. There’s lots of RFI shielding and static discharge elements in a professional panel.
Why? because the protective circuit that has long wire runs to each sensor is basically a long antenna. All kinds of signals are picked up. especially when there’s a nearby electrical storm. There’s also a reason why there circuit boards are as large as they are. And it isn’t because they use larger components. All modern controls use microprocessors and SMD devices. But this new company will eventually learn that also.
In the 30 years plus I’ve been in this industry I’ve seen lots of products come and go. even large manufacturers make mistakes but they at least have an alternative to fall back on. The countless other startups have come and gone. Even AT&T tried their hands at selling their own panels about 15 or 20 years ago. Lasted about 2 years and now defunct.
Sounds like the same thing blockbuster said about Redbox…..and Atari about Nintendo…and so on an so forth. Take all competition seriously.
Sign of the things to come. With so much information on the internet it won’t take long for anyone to be able to replace their panel. With YouTube and forums anyone can remove an EOL resister. And even if they want for a small fee I’m sure they can arrange someone in the neighbourhood to wire it up for them.
About time someone developed a truly connected security system and I’m sure the next ones will be better. The traditional systems are so overpriced they do more to protect the industry and installers. Subscriptions models, over-servicing keeping installer code with the installer while not delivering a truly internet (and open) solution.
For the home user, these new generation guys are going to eat your lunch!
But don’t believe me, I’m just a random on the internet.