The purpose of this blog is to point out technologies and solutions that solve real world problems. One problem in today’s society is affordable home security monitoring. Unfortunately those who can’t afford home security monitoring solutions are those who need it the most. They may live in crime ridden neighborhoods or have small children to protect, but don’t have the means to pay the up front installation and ongoing monthly fees for monitoring services.
While researching options for video monitoring (a different problem) I came across a solution that solves affordable security monitoring. Korner offers a security monitoring product that appears to be innovative. They are seeking crowdfunding through Indiegogo and anticipating product distribution December, 2014. So let’s put it through the test to determine if it’s truly innovative – relevant, simple, and accessible – and worth the investment.
Is it relevant? Does it solve a real problem or address pent up demand?
Affordable security monitoring is a real problem in today’s society. As previously stated those who need it the most don’t have viable options. Think about residents living in modest income apartment buildings. They don’t have affordable solutions to detect and alert on security incidents. Their trust is in the landlord to provide reasonable security monitoring of main entry points.
Korner’s security monitoring solution detects intrusions, alarms those in the residence, and notifies selected individuals.This represents the basic functionality needed to provide residents reasonable assurance that intrusions will be quickly detected and the proper authorities will be notified in a timely manner. I’m sure Korner will continue to build on the product and include additional features after initial product launch.
Korner promotes use of its product in women’s shelters to protect them from their abuser. This is a great use case! Other use cases include college students living on/off campus and business travel. All of these use cases are relevant and provide value.
I do question the business travel use case because of hotel legal implications. Will hotels allow their patrons to monitor activity? What about the rights of the housekeeping and other hotel staff? Sure, the hotel monitors activity throughout the property so big brother is watching. I don’t know if this is an issue or not but private citizens monitoring activity in hotels raises privacy concerns.
Is it simple? Minimal (less is more), natural to use, and easy to maintain.
As with a lot of innovative solutions they use off the shelf technologies and combine them to solve a problem – no new technologies. The Korner solution consists of a sensor, FOB (controller), and mobile application. Sensors can be easily installed on doors and windows using an adhesive, no special tools are required. The FOB is connected to a port on the wireless router and communicate with the sensor using the Zigbee protocol.
[Reference: Zigbee is a standard protocol for wireless communication. It’s intended for low cost, low power devices and operates over a 2.4GHz channel (240kbps max throughput) – other channels are available but I believe Korner operates over 2.4GHz. The protocol is used in many Internet of Things solutions to support M2M (Machine to Machine) communication.]
The last piece of the solution puzzle is the mobile application. The application supports iOS and Android devices and enables discovery of sensors, provides a view into the status of the system, and enables alert configuration (list not all inclusive). On the surface the interface appears to be simple and easy to navigate. I haven’t used the application and can’t comment on bugs or performance challenges.
The one gap appears to be supporting multi-tenant dwellings where the landlord provides Internet services and there is no router in the residence. Where is the FOB connected in this scenario? I’ve posed that question to Korner.
Is it accessible? Can the audience that will benefit the most afford the solution?
If a solution is relevant and simple but too expensive for a large segment of the population, is it innovative? My opinion (I stress opinion) is no! Innovation doesn’t sit on the shelf, it’s in the hands of people who need it the most. As previously mentioned the Korner solution is affordable and therefore within the reach of those who can benefit from it.
A $79 kit is available for women in shelters. This is a great price point for the value it brings in this situation. There are no contracts to sign, installations to schedule, or recurring cost which makes it even more attractive. The only maintenance cost involved is changing of the battery every three years.
An equivalent solution from a major security monitoring provider requires a $300 upfront cost (equipment and installation) along with a 40$/mth monitoring fee. Keep in mind this requires a three year contract. The numbers speak for themselves.
In summary, Korner is without question an innovative solution that enhances the lives of those who use it. These entrepreneurs should be congratulated on a job well done! Keep up the good work.