Canary, a reassuringly intelligent home security system, launched this week on Indiegogo.

The hardware-and-app system consists of a wide-angle lens camera that stays rooted in the home and software that lets you keep in touch while you’re out.

Simplicity is Canary’s priority: In sharp contrast to traditional security systems, this one calls for practically no installation. Users just have to open the app to track activity happening at home.

“Ninety-nine percent of alarms are false alarms. That becomes such an annoyance that people turn their security off," says Canary CEO Adam Sager. "To us that’s absolutely crazy.”

Besides unusual activity, Canary can also track temperature, humidity, and air quality for full control over the environment at home.

The technology gradually adapts to the user. After a learning curve of a week or two, Canary can predict what movements a user might dismiss (say, pets) and what events are cause for alarm.

Canary will cost $200. See more over at the Indiegogo campaign.

Co.Design

This Intelligent Housesitter May Render Old Security Systems Homeless

The spy cam-like Canary keeps a watchful eye—texting, live-streaming—on your place while you’re out.

Canary may be the self-described “first smart home security device,” but the gadget-and-app duo actually behaves more like an efficient and reassuring house sitter. Unusual movement in your living room? Canary shoots you a text: “Expecting anyone?” Feeling paranoid? “All is calm at home,” Canary can soothe.

With a launch on Indiegogo this week, Canary is a somewhat inevitable addition to the home automation market. Like the Nest Thermostat, and some even more recent revisions of lock-and-key hardware, it’s designed to replace the outdated user experience of the traditional home security setup.

“Installed systems cost a few thousand dollars, they’re complicated to install, and they’re complicated for users,” says Canary CEO Adam Sager. “Ninety-nine percent of alarms are false alarms. That becomes such an annoyance that people turn their security off. To us that’s absolutely crazy.”

Bad security systems mean homeowners simply opt out of protecting the house. With that in mind, the Canary team is intent on perfecting the gadget’s sensors for finely tuned pattern recognition. After a week or two of use, the Canary familiarizes itself with the nuances of its home’s sounds and activities. Each cylindrical piece of hardware (The shape calls to mind the Apple’s new Mac Pro—do we smell a trend? ) has a wide-angle lens, and syncs to an app that sends push notifications. It can also live-stream video and audio from the home. When events occur, the user can decide to sound the alarm, call the police, or dismiss the fuss. Each reaction is a learning cue for Canary.

The onslaught of the Internet of Things may bring with it some automated-home fatigue. But if Canary’s campaign succeeds, it brings a crucial feature to market: A renter-friendly way to protect apartments. The mobile system needs zero installation (keeping landlords at bay), and its rather narrow range of vision can still cover the average urban apartment.

Over time, neighborhoods and streets will develop security profiles. "Once we detect patterns, we hope to inform people about how to stay safe in their surroundings," Sager tells Co.Design. "Then we’re able to empower individuals to control their whole home environment."

Canary will cost $200. See more over at the Indiegogo campaign.

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4 Comments

  • ToddHuge

    I like the design.  Finally, someone has created a simple home monitoring system.  If only the cameras were remote controlled.

  • iamnoskcaj

    Unfortunately you can only chain up to 4 devices together per location (i.e., four canaries - or four "cameras/sensors"). 

    For at least the last 2-3 years I've had clients, friends and family asking me if inexpensive smartphone enabled standalone camera systems are decent enough to replace traditional DVR's or IP Camera / NVR systems.  While this isn't my primary business, and I don't benefit one way or the other, often my answer is no.  The features of this new breed of devices is quite impressive, but many/most of the systems can't chain more than 1-4 devices.  That few units are simply unable to provide adequate coverage in even a modest home. 

    Apartments may be another story entirely though, but apartments are far less likely to begin with to camera and sensor security  Nevertheless, hopefully the Canary will expand the total number of devices it permits.  I really think this is a huge drawback, and will make it very tough.  I can think of 10 people I know off the top of my head that would love this, but only a couple of them could get away with using merely 4 devices.

  • iamnoskcaj

    In other words, I should clap my hands or shut up? No offense, but that's a silly position to take on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter.  I was hardly being idealistic and overly critical. I mentioned ONE issue I saw with the product.  Regarding your call to action for celebrating the product's existance and innovation:  LOL.  I truly appreciate great design and interesting products all the time... I've backed a bunch of hardware startups and art projects on Kickstarter, and pursue my own ideas as well.  But to suggest that there's no room for even the most rudimentary critical analysis or discussion is ridiculous.

    Personally I think I wrote a nice, honest opinion about a really cool product that I'm personally very interested in.  I will probably buy this for my own apartment.  But the vast majority of people I know who are already using home security products would need more than 4 devices.  In fact, I know a few people who will probably ask me about this very soon, but it simply can't replace their 12-16 camera NVR's. 

    Maybe they're not targeting those people?  It's probably too early to say, considering they're just getting started.  Or maybe they will release a product with a higher max # of devices, like a "pro" series or something down the line?  Who knows.   Regardless, I think it's an issue.  That's just one man's opinion:  you have the right to your own as well. 

  • Colin

    Isn't that a bit idealistic and overly-critical though?

    These guys have a great product that's going to fit well for a LOT of consumers. Myself being one of them - just one of these is a ton better than what I have now, which is no security at all. 

    Let's celebrate a well-made and well-thought-out product and the innovation that brought it here rather than spending too much time being overly critical.