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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