How to Use iPads for Security-Only Applications
Security clients without home automation are drawn to iPads to view in-home surveillance cameras.
Ever since the introduction of Apple’s iPad, the custom electronics industry has touted it as a versatile touchscreen interface for whole-house automation.
But what about the millions of homes in the U.S. that do not have home automation systems and do not intend on ever getting one? Is the iPad still a potential solution for stand-alone systems like security?
Absolutely says one successful dealer.
Perry Atha, president of Atronic Alarms in Lenexa, Kan., is installing about two dozen security systems per month using the Honeywell Total Connect system, and about 60 percent of those use the iPad as the interface. Atronic, which has been in business since 1982 and has 3,800 monitored accounts, has been installing the Honeywell system for about a year-and-a-half, but sales have jumped since the iPad introduction.
“It was very scary out there a year ago, but we’ve come through it very powerfully,” says Todd Harrison, vice president of operations. “New technology has helped differentiate us. We are not just seen as an alarm company that offers door contacts and motion detectors.”
Video Check-in is Killer App
The Total Connect system allows homeowners to activate/deactivate and monitor their alarm system remotely using a mobile device, including an iPod Touch, iPhone or Blackberry. The system’s newest feature is video “check-in” capability that allows homeowners or business owners to view IP cameras in their home. The system provides pan and tilt capability for up to six cameras.
Atha says the video check-in capability is a primary reason he is selling more iPads as the mobile interface device. Among the common applications he has sold are homeowners who want to view their teenagers’ activities or an elderly parent. The iPad interface has both the video image and the keypad on the same screen.
“The installation is several hours faster than a conventional system,” says Atha, adding that they routinely install wireless cameras, which give the homeowners the flexibility of moving the cameras if they want. Also, the system does not require a security DVR at the home.
“Right now, the only drawback to the system is that it does not include outdoor cameras. The Web cameras are suited for indoor use only,” he says. “Commercial clients love it because they can see activity in real-time and not have to wait for a month-end opening/closing report. They just log on to the Internet. It’s very cost-effective for us and them.”
Atha and his team do their sales presentations to customers using iPads. “I show them the app and the virtual keypad. They see it and feel it in their hands, and see how easy it is to control,” he says.
Atronic’s clients typically already have an iPad. Atronic has not had to go buy one for a client yet. “I won’t say that dedicated touchscreens are a thing of the past, but you can absolutely do more with an iPad,” he adds.
In addition to the iPad, the other big selling point for the Total Connect system is that it uses GSM monitoring that does not require a traditional phone line, aka plain old telephone service (POTS). Many homeowners already do not have hardwired phones while others rarely use them. Atronic, like many other alarm companies, is able to transfer the monthly cost of POTS to security monitoring. He charges $45 per month for monitoring.
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]
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