CES Recap: Home (and Pet) Monitoring!

This should be the year of home automation, as Apple's HomeKit specification starts to take root, and CES had a number of products in that arena. The Ring Video Doorbell is a novel product that can replace a doorbell, using the existing wiring. It lets you see who is at the door and communicate with them thanks to a microphone and speaker, all via the free companion app running on an iOS device. This means you can be thousands of miles away and see when a visitor, delivery person, or intruder approaches your door. It's a great idea and at $199, it's reasonably priced. The Ring can also be operated by battery, so you can add a video doorbell to a gate or just about anywhere, as long as it's within range of your home's Wi-Fi.


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Inside the home, Piper doubled the resolution and added night vision to their Piper nv monitor. I've reviewed the older Piper and found it to be a great value, also at $199. The night vision capability adds $70 to that price, but could be worth it for added security. Speaking of security, in addition to the 180 degrees of coverage the built-in camera offers, the Piper can communicate with door, window, and motion sensors, thanks to the industry-standard Z-wave built-in. Piper's parent company, iControl, offers numerous add ons to secure an entire home.

For comparison, Piper nv has a faster ARM processor, night vision, and a 3.4 megapixel camera sensor. All Piper models work with a free companion iOS or Android app and offer three security modes (home, away, and vacation), a motion detector, a piercing, 105-decibel siren, integration with Z-Wave accessories, and a panoramic camera. The Pipers also offer customized alerts, environmental sensors (home temperature, humidity, ambient light, and sound.) You can have up to five different Pipers within a home so you always have visibility and control over your different spaces.


Netatmo took the big brother approach and added facial recognition to their home monitoring camera. This is an interesting, and perhaps creepy, sign of things to come. You can have your own little NSA tracking family members, guests, and of course, intruders, as they mill about your home. It is a nice way to "see" when your kids got home from school or the cleaners or contractors arrived.


If you want to keep tabs on your pets, the PetCube not only offers a video camera and two-way audio, but it has a remote control laser that lets you interact with your pets! I was able to try this at CES and entertain some dogs hundreds of miles away! It was cool, and 'm told it's safe, but I like that it only stays lit while you press down on the button in the app.


Schlage is known for their doorlocks and more recently, their high-tech touchpad and app-controlled locks. They have gone a step further with the Schlage Sense and enabled control via Siri. You will finally be able to say "Siri, open the pod bay doors" and have it do so!

Schlage Sense

Another keyless entry system at CES was from OKIDOKEYS. The whimsically named firm offers a wide variety of mechanisms to unlock a door, including their free app, special keyfobs, wristbands, and walletcards that could be distributed to neighbors, contractors, and of course, kids who don't yet have a phone!




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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.