Honeywell has made security systems for decades now, but this year, it’s starting to branch out into the upstart DIY home security market. It’s introducing a line called the Honeywell Smart Home Security System, which revolves around a base station that sort of looks like an Amazon Echo with a giant camera on the top. The camera syncs with a bunch of different sensors to monitor your home and sends you notifications about whatever it sees happening.
While the pitch here is security — it’s in the name, after all — Honeywell says it’s really focused on building out features around keeping you informed of “what’s going on at home.” That means knowing who’s coming and going, whether you left a window open, and so on.
For now, those features are on the pretty even footing with the basic security features, which I suspect are what most people will initially buy this (and similar) systems for. But in the long term, I think Honeywell is looking in the right direction here. Burglaries are relatively rare, so if Honeywell can provide features that are tangibly useful on a daily basis, people will get more out of this system and have a bigger reason to invest.
Honeywell’s DIY security system is pretty basic to start. There are only two sensors — infrared motion detectors ($50) and window/door opening detectors ($40) — as well as a key fob ($30) for setting and disarming the alarm. Then there’s the main hub ($400): it has a camera on the top, which can be used to detect motion and identify people; it has lights on the bottom, to cue you into what’s going on; and then it has a speaker, which is apparently capable of emitting a 90 dB alarm. The speaker hooks into Alexa, so you can ask it questions and use it to command other smart home products, too.
The security features are also pretty simple. Using the camera, Honeywell’s system offers motion and sound detection, and it can mask out areas — say, a window facing a busy street — that you don’t want to monitor. Eventually, the company plans to add facial recognition so that the system can send out push notifications when someone arrives home. That kind of feature typically costs money, and it’s not clear yet if Honeywell will eventually charge for it.
You can only have one hub as part of the entire system, which seems like a weird limitation to me. You can add on more cameras though, by hooking up Honeywell’s existing C1 and C2 security cameras. Both are indoor cameras, and Honeywell says that it’s working on an outdoor one to complement them. It’s also planning a hybrid motion sensor/video camera that only turns on after the motion is detected ($99 for an indoor model, $199 for an outdoor model).
And while many companies offering similar products are happy to sell customers a professional monitoring service on top — so that if the alarm goes off, someone will give them a call to make sure everything’s okay — Honeywell isn’t going to do that, at least not at first. At launch, it’s totally DIY. You’ll get a notification if your alarm goes off, and that’s it. That might be good enough for some uses, but I suspect it’ll be a non-starter for many.
The whole system sounds really similar to the stuff that Netgear, Ring, Nest, and much more are all starting to build out right now. Honeywell may have a much longer history than those companies, but those companies largely have a head start when it comes to device and service offerings. It’ll be important for Honeywell to expand its portfolio so that it offers the same kind of flexibility.
In an odd twist, Honeywell is going to be launching this system through Indiegogo. It says the purpose of that is to get feedback from the community so that it can improve the product (though crowdfunding is also just a good way to juice sales). When it actually goes on sale sometime next year, a starter kit — with the camera base station, two window/door sensors, and a key fob — will sell for $499.99. That’s a really high starting price, and it seems like it’ll initially be a tough sell over the many systems that are already available.