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Home Security Market Goes Hi-tech

Jun 19, 2006 8:00 AM


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With security system providers on the prowl for new ways to expand business and home control companies seeking non-traditional channels of distribution, the two seem headed for a collision course that could be a win-win for each.

According to a report by tech market research firm Parks Associates, the home security market in the United States is nearing maturation, leaving its 18,000 security dealers scrambling for new business opportunities. Parks projects that the security industry will experience only incremental growth through the end of the decade with both monitored and unmonitored systems, flattening out to between 28 to 30 percent household penetration by 2010.

A joint marketing agreement between www.alarm.com and nascent home technology company Lagotek points to future synergies between the two industries. Alarm.com provides Web-enabled wireless security and activity monitoring, while Lagotek has developed a wireless home automation package combining climate, lighting and irrigation control along with distributed audio. The two companies will market an integrated product to builders for residential electrical and security system controls.

Lagotek officially launched its home automation product this month after previewing the system at the 2005 CEDIA Expo and the 2006 International Builder Show (IBS) in Orlando, Fla. in January. The company has been testing the system in installations throughout the Seattle area.

Called the Lagotek Home Intelligence Platform, the system incorporates the HIP Intelligent Controller, a wall-mountable touchscreen with two built-in processors (one for backup) and a HIP 200 Wireless Interface Hub. The system is compatible with Z-Wave and WiFi wireless protocols. The former is used to control lighting, climate, security, and irrigation control, and the latter—currently 802.11g—handles wireless networking for Internet distribution, audio streaming, and video monitoring throughout the house. WiFi also provides a redundant command structure.

Using Microsoft as a model, Lagotek hopes to generate third-party support for home control using its open-source software as a common platform. Partner company H2I0, for instance, provides irrigation control software, enabling homeowners to automate sprinkler systems from a keypad, PC, or personal digital assistant.

Lagotek’s audio partner is Roku Labs, whose SoundBridge networked media player streams music stored on a networked server to other audio systems located throughout the house. On the climate side, Lagotek demoed at IBS an HVAC damper that converted a forced-air or radiant heating system into a zoned climate system. The motorized dampers, from Residential Control Systems, direct or stop airflow for each zone.

Lagotek is targeting middle-class homeowners with the HIP system. Company president Ron Risdon says a typical $400,000 home can buy into Lagotek control for $8,000, or 2 percent of the home’s value. An $8,000 system includes two controllers for two HVAC zones, an audio server, one Roku SoundBridge, a Panasonic WiFi camera, a wireless router, and a combination of 20 Z-Wave lighting dimmers, relays, or receptacles.

The key to the Lagotek message is the concepts of Modes and Profiles, which provide system-level changes to feature templates, allowing installers to customize the HIP system to meet the needs and lifestyles of homeowners. The objective is to minimize human interaction wherever possible. A “good night” mode, for instance, can be set to adjust occupied and unoccupied settings for temperature, security, and entertainment. A Profile, such as Vacation, controls multiple subsystems over a period of time. The Profile remembers activities for a two-week schedule, and automatically mimics those routines to make the home appear occupied when homeowners are away.

Lagotek is working with Z-Wave developer Zensys on control systems utilizing Microsoft’s Win CE 5.0 software. Through its open platform software program, the company hopes to add support for a wide range of third-party applications including security systems and more specific options such as Bluetooth-enabled heart monitors.

The company is targeting both new construction and aftermarket remodeling with the wireless system. Installers will include CEDIA members, electrical contractors, and security dealers.



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