Home Security Goes High-Tech

Jan. 2, 2013
Many homes already have the infrastructure for new keyless locks, home security and home automation products. It is up to the security industry to explain how they work and then convince homeowners that they need this new technology.

The sales growth curve of the residential security market has flat lined for the last year or so and market researchers, security dealers and technical writers have several theories to explain the disappointing bottom line for what was is usually regarded as a cash cow / golden goose for alarm manufacturers, installers and monitoring services.

New home sales are an important profit center, but the weak economy has crippled new home construction. Also impacted are home resales owing to a limited availability of funding for re-sale and refinanced home mortgages by banks nervous about lending in uncertain times of unemployment and foreclosures, in these days of declining home values.

Market saturation may also account for some of the stagnation, with many homeowners having already either had an alarm installed, deadbolts installed, or have just decided to wait before updating. Some homeowners wish to wait for a new innovation to be introduced so incredible it will compel them to take the plunge.

It is estimated that about 17 percent of homes have alarms, 77 percent have computers; 68 percent have broadband; and about 5 percent know how to use it. There is no statistic on how many homes have locks on the doors, but most probably do.

Market research further indicates that buying decisions start with an understanding by the homeowner of the benefits and features of a product. It is not a matter of availability; it is a matter of perceived need. A significant number of homes have the infrastructure already for these new products, and it is up to the security industry to explain to them how they work then convince them they need it.

Another possible explanation may be all the deadbolts, cameras and alarm systems are actually deterring criminal activity, especially criminal activity which involves the elements of risk of being arrested, shot by a homeowner or gored by a pit bull.

Another trend in the residential market which is cutting into the bottom line are the DIYers (do it yourselfers). Some homeowners hope the usage of Internet technologies and smartphones will reduce or eliminate those annoying monthly monitoring fees (the RMR which has been and continues to be a major revenue stream and major element in the electronic security business model).

The home centers are entering the security market too, selling locks and integrated appliances, and offering monitoring agreements for them.

Many homeowners have started to question the value of central station monitoring owing to the Slow/No  response by police, and the vulnerability of landlines to attack and service interruptions.

I still remember the call from a client for whom I had just installed an alarm system costing him several thousand dollars. The home was huge and located on the North Shore of Long Island. The system had every feature except a live in bodyguard. It was state of the art. (This was years ago before non-response policies and false alarm ordinances.) He called and sarcastically asked why he spent all this money. He had set off the alarm to test it and it took the police over a half an hour to respond. What good is that?

The major alarm companies performed a major transformation of the residential alarm market decades ago with mass marketing techniques, and the low/no money down alarm system which was tied to a multi-year commitment from the homeowner.  

Consequently many people looking for an alarm system have been programmed by media ads to expect the alarm system to be free. Well not exactly free, but no big payment up front.

Wireless alarm system technologies first, and now Internet, Z-Wave and Zigbee continue to distance the customer from the professional security provider and promise to threaten the classic recurring monthly revenue (RMR) revenue stream for the dealer.

The industry has also responding to the slumping market by retooling with a fresh set of new products and services which are aimed at broad consumer demographics.

The biggest buzz involves these products:

  • Standalone wireless controls which utilize attractive touchscreens and similar user-interfaces and do not require ‘landlines’ to report alarms or which provide convenient remote controlling.
  • Wireless cameras which can be installed without wires, and which can be viewed real time from anywhere.
  • Electronic door locks which eliminate the dependence on keys, and again permit off-site monitoring and control of doors.
  • HVAC thermostat, and door and window sensors which communicate and may be monitored and controlled in a similar fashion as locks and cameras, extending the functionality of the system beyond security and into energy management and home automation, both of which are positive sells in a culture seeking to reduce energy consumption, and desiring luxury features which do not carry luxury price tags.

Each of these technologies are hoped to open new markets, and when combined into a security-safety and convenience oriented bundle are extremely compelling to a large group of customers; homeowners as well as renters, since the bulk of the expense is in the hardware rather than the labor to install it, so the customer can take the products with them if and when they relocate.

Following is information on some of the new products in the residential marketplace.


The Kwikset Smartcode Deadbolt with Home Connect Technology enables the door lock to wirelessly communicate with other devices. Through a web-enabled device, the homeowner can remotely check the lock status, lock or unlock the door remotely and receive text or email messages. The motor-driven deadbolt allows for true remote locking and unlocking.

The Kwikset Smartcode Deadbolt with Home Connect Technology is available with either Z-Wave or Zigbee wireless mesh technologies. Both are interoperable wireless mesh networking technologies that allows a wide array of devices in and around the home to communicate, including lighting, appliances, HVAC and security systems.

Smartkey cylinders feature a stainless steel side locking bar, racks and pins for increased strength and security. Patented side locking bar technology offers improved security by protecting against lock bumping. Lock bumping is an attack technique used to defeat conventional pin and tumbler locks.

SmartCode features include:

  • Lock or unlock the with mobile device or secure Internet connection
  • Remotely check lock status
  • Receive notification and or video of who enter the home.
  • Remove or enroll access codes into the lock, remotely.
  • Lock the door when the alarm system is armed
  • Unlock the door when the security system is disarmed
  • Communicate door lock status

The Smartcode is also interoperable with home controls permitting control of doors and lighting with handheld remote or touchscreen and it can automatically unlock doors in an emergency.

Virtually any door is a candidate for the installation which requires a standard cylindrical deadbolt or lockset prep. The deadbolt is intended for dual bore prep, and to be used in conjunction with a key actuated entry function or passage function lockset installed below the deadbolt. The deadbolt is field configurable for 1-1/2” or 2-1/8” face hole, and requires a 1” latch bore. No additional holes in the door are required.

These locks are supplied with the SmartKey lock cylinder. This feature enables the cylinder to be rekeyed without removing the cylinder from the door by using only a simple tool provided with the product.

Kwikset is interoperable with several manufacturers including: Honeywell; 2-GIG; GE-Security; Digital Monitoring Products (DMP) MyAccess or the Virtual Keypad App Version 2.0.

For more information on Kwikset products, visit www.kwikset.com.


Providing convenience through technology, SimpliciKey™ Remote Control Electronic Deadbolt’s provides three different ways to lock/unlock your door while still maintaining maximum security: key keyfob or keypad. SimpliciKey replaces your existing deadbolt without any additional holes or drilling and is available in three finishes Satin Nickel, Polished Brass and Aged Bronze

Overall Features include:

  • Heavy-duty, all metal construction with bump-resistant keyway
  • Full 1” bolt extension for maximum security
  • Reversible lock system to fit both right-and left-hand doors
  • Nor hard-wiring needed, only requires four (4) AA batteries
  • Meets ANSI Grade 2 Certification

For more information on Simplicikey, visit www.simplicikey.com.

Schlage’s Nexia™ 

Schlage’s Nexia™ Home Intelligence is a new way for homeowners to control and protect theirs home by integrating the best home automation technology with a simple way to manage it from a distance.

Nexia smart home technology uses Z-Wave technology to control locks, lights, thermostats, cameras and more from anywhere with Internet connectivity.

Nexia Home can be implemented all at once or in phases, and the products are bundled in different packages.

The homeowner decides which products are to be deployed. The Nexia system is scalable so it can be easily enhanced or reconfigured at any time.

Some features possible for the home or rental property include:

  • Unlocking a door for a guest when you’re at the office or running an errand.
  • Assigning housekeepers or babysitters scheduled lock codes for one-time or limited recurring access.
  • Sending text or email alerts when situations at home need your attention, such as a sudden temperature change or other unexpected events.
  • Using wireless cameras to view what’s going on when you’re away.
  • Triggering the lights to turn on when a door is unlocked.
  • Easily setting schedules to activate lights and manage temperatures for maximum energy efficiency. Scheduling lighting or thermostat scenes like “After work” or “Renters just left” is like putting your home on automatic reset.

The new NexiaHome account setup process enables the end-user to customize the entire experience based on their needs. The online setup process is enhanced with how-to and set-up instructions, step-by-step videos, FAQs, helpful tips and detailed troubleshooting assistance. Homeowners can now perform various video monitoring functions from their mobile devices, including recording home video, downloading recorded video or watching recorded video.  

New features currently available to subscribers include:

  • Video storage capability allows homeowners to record live video in their home, trigger recording based on specified parameters and works with their existing Schlage camera.
  • Sensor scheduling for windows and doors can be activated during nighttime hours for extra security, and can eliminate unnecessary daytime alerts. Sensors identify whether a door or window is opened or closed.
  • New user interface design now features an easily accessible dashboard and omni-present device navigation.
  • Dedicated Android App for Android tablets.
  • Enhanced subscriber community provides an immediate resource to network expertise.
  • Whole-home energy monitoring that allows homeowners to control their energy output and resulting costs through a relationship with Powerhouse Dynamics
  • Astronomical clock that enables homeowners to adjust lighting and shades based on sunrise and sunset times, and helps homeowners meet energy management needs.

The Nexia Home Intelligence System brings the smart home to life through strategic industry relationships with other consumer product leaders such as Lennar Homes; Powerhouse Dynamics eMonitor™: Pella: Verizon’s Home Monitoring and Control Service; Lowe’s smart home system, Iris™, and Trane ComfortLinkTM II Control thermostat controls.

Related products include:

Schlage® Home Motion Sensor: The new Schlage Home Motion Sensor can send a text alert when motion is detected to alert the customer that there are situations at home need attention. It can be synced with other products through Nexia to turn on a light or trigger a recording through a camera when motion is detected.

Schlage® Home Door/Window Sensor: Schlage Wireless Home Door/Window Sensors into their Nexia System to monitor activities while they are away. Adding a Schlage Home Door/Window Sensor will enable them to confirm if doors and windows are opened or closed and receive text alerts when opened.

For more information on Schlage Nexia products, visit www.schlage.com.

To read additional Locksmith Ledger articles about home automation and standalone keypad locks for residential applications, visit http://tinyurl.com/securehome1-13.