Tyco Investment in Qolsys Pays Off: DSC Security, Home Automation Panel Revealed
After a major investment by Tyco, Qolsys develops Android-based security, home automation panel for Tyco’s DSC brand. Also at ISC 2015: clever new doorbell, robust remote updates, hardwire bridge.
Julie Jacobson · April 15, 2015
Qolsys, the two-year-old developer of Android-based security and home automation systems, enjoyed what we assume was a major investment by Tyco Security Products last December. Tyco, which spun off ADT in 2012, is engaged in the residential security and automation business via its subsidiary DSC, but DSC has been slower than competitors to develop its own self-contained multi-purpose, cloud-enabled home controller.
Enter Qolsys and its IQ control system, featuring built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (BLE), Z-Wave, cellular and 319 MHz radios.
Now DSC reps have a good reason to revisit the vast network of DSC distributors to introduce them to Qolsys, which they have done with abandon—so Qolsys says, but so too do distributors and dealers, who have seen an aggressive push for Qolsys products by the DSC crew.
At ISC West 2015 this week in Las Vegas, Qolsys is showing yet another layer in its relationship with Tyco – a new DSC-branded Qolsys panel, called DSCTouch, with a few features that make it slightly different from Qolsys’s own.
Qolsys CEO Dave Pulling tells CE Pro that the DSC version incorporates a 433 MHz radio to support DSC’s security sensors, compared to the 319 MHz radio employed by Qolsys.
A DSC dealer could upgrade a legacy DSC wireless system simply by swapping out the panel.
Also, on the back end, the DSC panel is configured slightly differently than Qolsys, maintaining the lexicon and the tools that current DSC dealers are accustomed to.
New Smart Devices for Qolsys
Also at ISC, Qolsys is launching a new Doorbell Adapter that integrates with its smart home system. Rather than replacing an existing doorbell – which many homeowners object to – the new sensor device installs at the door chime unit itself with a couple of wires connected to the contacts.
In fact, since most doorbell chime units support two doorbells, dealers can install a couple of the doorbell sensors in the chime unit, allowing the user to assign different tones and events to different doorbells, and monitor activity from the respective doorbells via the Qolsys panel.
Also new from Qolsys at ISC 2015 is a hardwire bridge, the 16-zone IQ Hardwire 16, that enables existing or new wired security zones to participate in a whole-house Qolsys control system.
Although most major wireless security manufacturers offer modules for hardwired devices, Pulling tells us that the IQ Hardwire 16 was re-invented with features that the others don’t have: back-up battery charging, onboard siren relay, and end-of-line (EOL) resister learning, “making rewiring different resistor values a thing of the past,” according to the company.
The module supports magnetic contacts and powered zones such as motion sensors and glass breaks.
There are other new niceties from Qolsys at ISC, for example the itty bitty DW Mini door/window sensors with a powerful magnet that operates even with a one-inch gap, and a power management scheme that gives the sensors a 10-year battery life.
Qolsys also is unveiling the new IQ2 Secondary Tablet ($109 retail) for the IQ system. It’s a sizable Wi-Fi-enabled Android touchscreen that will launch initially with basic alarm functionality (arm/disarm and status) but will take advantage of more IQ features in the future.
And the future upgrades won’t involve a truck roll, thanks to Qolsys’s ability to push complete system updates and programming over the Internet to the home, and over WiFi to the panels.
Qolsys Remote Management
Qolsys backs up all user programming to the cloud. Dealers can edit the programs and push them back to the customers’ panels.
But that’s not all. Qolsys can remotely push through new firmware, new OSs, new device drivers, pretty much new anythings while preserving all system and device attributes and settings.
The service is made possible via the AirFX Toolkit from Alarm.com, the SHaaS (smart home as a service) provider for Qolsys and other leading security/automation systems.
Introduced in 2008, the AirFX service enables dealers to remotely:
- Add or delete sensors
- Change sensor programming
- Change sensor names
- Change entry/exit delay settings
- Turn on/off panel beeps and chimes
- Adjust beep/speaker volume
- Turn on/off secure arming option
- Change central station reporting settings
- Diagnose and remotely troubleshoot other customer-reported problems
What makes Qolsys unique in its implementation (according to Pulling) is, first, that it has Wi-Fi built into its hardware, which not all control panels have. Many utilize only cellular communications, which makes it virtually impossible to push through MBs of data.
Second is Qolsys’s system software, according to Pulling.
“It’s really, really complicated,” he says, challenging competitors to suggest they can accomplish the same online feats.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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