This post is sponsored by Alarm.com, tales of sister’s losing my children though are completely true.
Smart home devices are great. Easily control everything in your house from the comfort of your phone. Does that REALLY make it smart though? Sure, it’s fun to turn on and off my lights with my phone, especially when I’m not there! But isn’t it usually easier or at least quicker to do it manually? You have to grab your phone, open the app, then turn on and off whatever device you are controlling. A truly smart home does the thinking and acting FOR you though, right? That’s when fun internet controlled devices really become smart.
Alarm.com really wants to help your smart home become proactive, to give you greater security for the most valuable things in your home (your family). They recently announced Unexpected Activity notifications, powered by their Insights Engine. This is a game changer for parents!
Most parents fear the day that their kids finally learn how to use the door knob and locks! Suddenly, nothing is safe. Kiss showers goodbye, again. I know most parents can relate to this story…
You are busy making dinner, feeding the baby, taking a shower, or doing just about everything else that a parent does that causes you to be focused on things other than your child. You have just given your child something to do to keep them busy for a brief few minutes like a coloring book with crayons, Play-Doh, Legos, or even … dare I say… an electronic device. You figure, that SHOULD keep them entertained for at least a few minutes to put dinner together. Suddenly, your phone notifies you that there is unusual activity on your front door. You run over to the door to check out the situation, and your toddler is already half way down the street. AHH!! That was close!
With the Unusual Activity notifications from Alarm.com, you will be notified that there is activity at the door that isn’t your typical pattern. The Insights Engine learns your routine, and will proactively notify you when things appear out of the ordinary. After you use your home for a period of time, it learns that you take your kids to school at 7:45 (so the doors open, the garage opens, etc). It also knows that you will be heading out to get them at 2:15. So when the door opens at noon, it will send you an alert to let you know that something happened that doesn’t usually happen, and maybe you should check it out.
Let me throw my sister under the bus for just a minute here. I was at work, and my 2 year old was at my sister’s house being babysat. She had a few women come over for a meeting, and they all brought their children as well. The house was full of kids playing, while they had their meeting. She didn’t notice my daughter slip out the door, and head down the street. I got a phone call from a friend of mine who lived down the street from both my sister and I, asking if my daughter was supposed to be at my sister’s house. I said yes, I was at work, and she said that her husband had just found her in the middle of the street (at least 2 blocks away). My sister, of course, felt terrible. She didn’t even notice my daughter was gone until she got the phone call from my friend. If she had the Unusual Activity notification from Alarm.com, she would have been able to catch my daughter, before she almost got hit by my friends husband in the middle of the street. To be fair to my sister, she loves telling this story as a reason that she should not be entrusted to watch other people’s kids, ever. It gets her out of a lot of babysitting jobs.
The Insight Engine also becomes more sensitive during different times of day. Something slightly out of the ordinary during the day, can be VERY out of the ordinary in the middle of the night. The notification will come through a lot quicker if your window is opened at 2 AM, as opposed to your window opening at Noon.
As the system is learning your activities it will ask if the particular notification was helpful or not. This will allow you to really get the notifications that you are going to care about, and that will be really helpful to you. You can also pause notifications for 24 hours if your schedule is going to be vastly different from a regular day… perfect for days when school is out!
It’s definitely time to get some pro-activity in our smart home devices, and this is a great start!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com