There is no denying that home automation has evolved from just a simple, luxury status trend into an all-out battle to create the most simple, affordable system available. The desire for homeowners to fully connect their devices, appliances and security through one system has led to an amazing amount of products, ranging from the recently available Staples Connect to the incredibly high tech, Piper, which made a big splash at CES earlier this month. It seems that everything, from your lights to your garage door, has been altered for connectability, and the products guaranteeing seamless integration are only getting better.
Since ADT Home Security debuted one of the first home automation systems, Pulse, at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, companies far and wide have realized the value in systems that monitor not only home security, but also temperature, lighting, and even locking up your home in its most energy-efficient state—usually all with a simple phone app. Even Google jumped on the bandwagon by purchasing Nest and partnering with Audi and other vehicles to create a smarter car, using their ever growing Android system.
Piper is one of a few to elegantly combine both security and automation in a DIY system. What is, perhaps, Piper’s greatest feature is its utter lack of rewiring needs. Many advanced systems, such as Pulse or iControl, involve heavy wiring and significant planning, but Piper is not much larger than a small speaker and can be placed anywhere in the home that best takes advantage of the fisheye camera. Also a Z-Wave enabled hub, Piper can do additional tasks with the right accessories, such as alerting users when a door opens and adjusting room temperature by turning heat and air on or off.
What really ensures Piper’s success, however, is the compatible app (available for both iPhone and Android). The app will make you feel as if you’re running your own spy operation: users can easily check on hub status, control their devices, view recent events, and change rules for alerts and home monitoring.
Each camera and speaker device also acts as a two-way communication system—if the kids are at home, you can remind them to do their homework, or you can inform your nosy landlord that you’re more than aware of his presence in your home.
The camera is also much better than the grainy, stationary cameras of previous security systems. The app allows you to zoom in, view the entire panorama, or see multiple camera feeds at once. You can even control lighting from video mode, so in the case of it being too dark, you can simply turn the lights on.
What makes Piper stand out from its two immediate competitors, Canary and iSmart—which are also non-professionally surveyed, DIY home automation systems—besides its panoramic camera, is its neat addition of the trust circle feature. Basically, if your security is triggered, and you are currently unreachable, the Piper will reach out to those in your trusted circle, perhaps a close neighbor, family member, or friend. Its Z-Wave products are also instantly compatible with other Z-wave additions outside of Piper, so that your DIY home automation doesn’t need to be stopped after purchasing all of Piper’s tech.
Right now the Piper base package rounds out at approximately $239 for the entire unit, with other packages available including Z-Wave accessories or additional units. Buyers can also add on door and window sensors for around $50 per sensor, all of which can be ordered online.