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Protecting Your Mobile Devices from Thieves

iphone-app-store2Ten years ago, nobody knew what a smartphone was. There were no angry birds of which to speak, and Siri was nothing more than a gleam in some developer’s eye. Fast forward to 2014, and mobile devices are ubiquitous. It seems that everyone is walking around with an iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle or other handheld computing mechanism, and not surprisingly, these technological marvels have become supreme targets for thieves. If you want to protect your property and your personal information, you’ll need to take a proactive approach.

Keep Your Phone at Your Side  

Approximately 1.6 million mobile phones were stolen in the U.S. in 2012, according to Consumer Reports. That number increased in 2013. It’s imperative that you keep your smartphone close at hand at all times, and never leave it out in the open. Mobile devices are very popular targets for burglars, so if you charge your phone at night, keep it near your bedside, and don’t leave it another room or downstairs. If you find yourself in a busy social setting, don’t set your phone on a table or counter and assume that no one will take it.

Install GPS Apps

Androids, iPhones and popular tablets can all be equipped with apps that enable you to locate, lock and even wipe your phone in the event of theft. Take a few moments to download some security apps onto your phone, and prepare yourself for any eventuality – no matter how unlikely. If a theft does occur, you won’t have your personal information compromised, and you may even be able to locate the device.

Password Protect Your Phone

Did you know that you can input a custom password or passcode that prevents other people from accessing your Home screen? Yeah, it can get a bit annoying when you have to constantly punch in that four-digit code every time you wake up your phone, but if your device is ever stolen, you’ll be glad you opted for the inconvenience. You can create and update your password using your Settings application, and you can even customize it so that the password is only required after 1 minutes, 5 minutes or even an hour of inactivity. For security reasons, try setting it for 5 minutes or less.

visonicappDon’t Share Personal Information Over Public Wi-Fi

It’s not just the phone itself that thieves are after. You may have your personal information compromised and stolen without the phone or tablet ever leaving your hand. Passwords, credit card numbers, banking information – savvy criminals can intercept this information by monitoring your activity over a public Wi-Fi network. So next time you’re at Starbucks or the local library to surf the Web, don’t enter any personal information. You never know who’s watching.

Don’t Jailbreak or Unlock your Device

We all want to break free from the shackles of “the man,” but there are serious security risks associated with jailbreaking a phone or tablet. Without the general system restrictions in place, you leave yourself vulnerable to malfunctions, viruses and even spyware. Cyber-thieves will use any vulnerabilities to their advantage, so don’t give them the opportunity.

After a Theft

So what if the unthinkable happens? You turn around to find out that your phone has already been stolen, and the perpetrator is nowhere in sight. First, you need to stop what you’re doing and contact your carrier, be it AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or anyone else. Let them know of the theft so that no additional charges may incur on your account. If you have any remote tracking or locking apps installed on your phone, make use of them right away. By 2015, all mobile devices will be equipped with an optional “kill switch,” which allows users to automatically lock and erase their device in the event of theft, but until then, we all need to be diligent about making these preparations ourselves.

If you want to customize your smartphone, check out the selection of accessories at Home Security Store. We offer a wide selection iPhone pepper spray cases, smartphone-compatible security cameras and even iPhone-driven home security systems. Put your mobile device to work for you. 

Securing Your Home? There’s an App for That

mobile home securitySmartphones have enriched our lives in ways not seen since the invention of the wheel…okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s hard to deny that these handheld digital wonders have afforded us myriad conveniences previously unimagined. For instance, we can now reply to emails while waiting in line at the smoothie stand, scan barcodes for price comparison at the local supermarket, and explore the flight habits of ornery feathered vertebrates from the comfort of our toilets (assuming that Angry Birds is still a popular pastime). But did you know that you can even use your smartphone to make your home safer?

Smartphone Alarm Control

Home Security Systems like the iSmartAlarm and the GE Interlogix Simon XTi are designed to be controlled and managed from your smartphone. In other words, you can arm and disarm your system whether you’re sitting on your couch at home or vacationing in the Bahamas. You can even activate a panic signal in an emergency, and some of the more sophisticated models (like the Simon XTi) enable you to control your thermostat and other home automation functions. Who would have guessed that someday you would be able to access your home security system from the same handheld device used to simulate digital fart sounds (there really is an app for everything)?

Smartphone Alarm Monitoring

It’s one thing to remotely control your system, but with the right setup, you can even monitor your home while you’re away, all from the comfort and convenience of your mobile device. For instance, the iSmartAlarm Premium comes equipped with an iCamera, which takes high-resolution photographs and transmits them straight to your phone. You can opt to receive push notifications whenever your home security is breached, or you can monitor your home at will, using your iPhone to pan and tilt the lens in any direction. It might freak out the cat, but it will make you feel much more secure.

Smartphone Hidden Cameras

Let’s shift gears for a moment and discuss an entirely different technology. When is a smartphone not a smartphone? When it’s a smartphone hidden camera. Bear with me for a moment. A smartphone hidden camera, like the DVR257, features a discreet, microscopic lens within the power port or headphone jack, so if you leave it lying indiscriminately on a kitchen counter, your thieves won’t even know that their crime is being documented with high-resolution video.

smartphone home securityAlways Keep Your Smartphone at Your Side

Getting back to the topic of real smartphones, It’s important to note how the technology itself represents a step forward in home security. You don’t need any apps, alarms or accessories. You just need a few percentage points remaining on your battery. In the event of a real emergency, such as a break-in, you can phone for help from any hiding place. While the same can surely be said of cordless phones, most cordless phones spend the majority of their time connected to a charger somewhere else in the home, and what’s more, they can sometimes be difficult to dial in the dark (depending on whether the model has an illuminative keypad). But your smartphone is always easy to navigate, and it’s almost always nearby. Or if it isn’t, it should be. Don’t just think of your phone as a selfie machine. Think of it as a lifeline.

Ode to a Smartphone

If you haven’t already incorporated your smartphone into your home security game plan, it’s time to close out the Candy Crush and consider how you might put your personal safety into the palm of your hand. Just to recap, there are a number of home security systems that may be installed or expanded for mobile control and monitoring, and the phone itself should always remain at your side. This is the 21st century, so let’s use those emerging technologies to their full effect.

The Top 5 Uses for 2-Way Video Intercoms

intercom-usesI recently happened upon an old I Love Lucy rerun, in which the lovable crank Fred Mertz had set up an intercom system linking his guest house to the Ricardos’ main house. The episode originally aired in April of 1957, and it serves as a fascinating reminder of how the most practical technologies never fall out of fashion. In fact, Americans have been using intercommunicating telephone systems since the 1890s, and today, the technology is leaps and bounds beyond anything imagined by previous generations. With long-distance range, high-resolution video capability and even LED illumination, the modern video intercom is an innovative reinvention of one of our most classic communication technologies. Just consider some of the major uses.

Doorbell Replacement

A two-way video intercom system makes for an excellent 21st century doorbell. Communicate with visitors from anywhere in your home, and spare yourself the potential danger of stepping outside to greet total strangers. The home security applications are enormous, and these devices are especially useful for homes with children. If your mobility is limited, you’ll also benefit tremendously from the ability to answer the door without leaving the comfort of your chair.

Baby Monitoring

Homes have been using intercoms as baby monitors for decades, but video monitoring really takes it to the next level. You can easily keep your eye on your little ones from anywhere in the home as you go about your daily tasks, watch television or eat lunch. And since we’re talking about seamless two-way communication, your soothing voice and smiling face are always within reach. When we were children ourselves, we would see this kind of technology on The Jetsons. Now all we’re missing are the flying cars.

Office Communication

When you work in an office environment, it’s important to stay connected. Two-way intercoms provide an invaluable link between colleagues who require constant communication but can’t always be in the same room. They provide a useful visual element that you just don’t get from telephone and conference calls, and unlike Skype, they provide crystal clear audio and video without exhausting your company’s bandwidth. And best of all, if your boss starts to annoy you, you can just turn him off (okay, maybe that’s not such a great idea).

iStock_000011119404SmallCaring for the Sick and Elderly

If you care for the sick or elderly, it can be extremely difficult to keep a close watch at all times, and to meet all of the person’s needs. In fact, it’s easy to turn into a total a basket case when you have to constantly check in and ensure that everything is okay. A two-way monitor can be a real breath of fresh air, as it gives you the freedom to go about your day while still observing and caring for those who depend on you.

Watching Pets

Do you have a mischievous cat who loves to attack the Christmas tree? A stubborn puppy that you’re trying in vain to housetrain? A St. Bernard who constantly digs holes right beneath your favorite azaleas? When you can keep an eye on those trouble areas, you can train your pets with much greater ease and effectiveness. Pets have no understanding of technology; they will just assume that you’re some sort of omnipresent godlike presence who probably shouldn’t be messed with. Or maybe Fido will just forget about the whole thing and go back to licking himself.

Additional Uses

Two-way video intercoms are also great for opening up convenient lines of communication between specific rooms (like the kitchen and garage), and for monitoring your business entrance from inside your office. Can you think of other ways in which you’ve found two-way video intercoms to be useful? If so, please let us know in the comments section. These versatile devices have myriad uses, and they’re extremely popular because they essentially enable you to be in two places at once. Home Security Store offers a variety of expandable two-way video intercom systems to satisfy every conceivable need, and the possibilities are virtually limitless.

GPS Vehicle Tracking – The Driving Force on Breaking Bad

gps vehicle trackingAlmost 6 months have passed since the spellbinding finale of Breaking Bad. Have your withdrawal symptoms finally subsided? Then again, in this Netflix/DVR/VOD generation, maybe you’re still making your way through season 3 and trying to figure out if Gustavo Fring is really all that he seems. But we’re not here to talk about blue meth or Bryan Cranston’s shaved head or Walt Jr.’s apparent obsession with breakfast foods. We’re here to talk about those unsung heroes (or villains), the GPS vehicle tracking devices, without which the unfolding events of Breaking Bad would not have been possible.

Spoiler Alert

If you’re still telling your friends, “I’ll start watching Breaking Bad as soon as I finish House of Cards,” you should stop reading right here. We’re going to delve into some pretty serious, game-changing plot points, in order to illustrate how emerging technologies are changing the ways we tell stories…and the ways we do business. GPS vehicle tracking was once limited to the imaginations of sci-fi authors, but now it’s available to everyone at an incredibly affordable price…for better or worse.

Vehicle Tracking in the 21st Century

GPS vehicle tracking was more than just a passive plot device on Breaking Bad. It was the driving force behind many of the series’ most pivotal events. Remember the fateful moment when DEA agent Hank Schrader demanded that Walt (the show’s Shakespearean antihero) place a GPS device on the vehicle of drug lord Gus Fring? And no one can forget when Hank and Jesse lured Walt to the location of his hidden fortune by deceiving him into believing that they had already located the money with the GPS record of the truck used to transport it (of course, that particular truck was not even equipped with GPS tracking, but Walt certainly didn’t know that). If it weren’t for that ruse, there would have been no heart-stopping shootout in the desert, and the series would likely have concluded quite differently.

The Landscape is Changing

Fifteen years ago, none of this would have been possible on a program like Breaking Bad. It may have worked on Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica, but certainly not on a serious, real-world melodrama.  Technology has evolved so rapidly that the line between science fiction and reality has become increasingly thin. While GPS tracking has existed since the 1960s (and other tracking systems have been around even longer), only recently have we had enjoyed such wide-reaching and affordable access to the technology.

Long Live Heisenberg

vehicle tracking deviceWhat made Breaking Bad so captivating? Was it the multidimensional characters? The jaw-dropping plot twists? The protagonist’s epic fall from grace? There is certainly something to be said for all of these things, but perhaps most of all, the series presented us with a reality that was frighteningly believable, thereby enabling us to become a part of that world and connect with the characters on a profound level. Walt’s motivations for entering the drug trade were not only understandable, but fully relatable, and the writers (led by the incomparable Vince Gilligan) were absolutely meticulous in getting the science right. From the chemistry to the technology, everything was as cautiously outlined as Heisenberg’s meth formula. Which brings us back to the subject of vehicle tracking.

Oh, the Possibilities

Why was GPS tracking such an effective plot device? Because it works. A GPS tracker is small, discreet, and accurate to within less than 8 meters. That’s why it’s so popular for freight tracking and for monitoring young teenagers who are just stepping behind the wheel. Home Security Store carries some of the most accurate and affordable micro GPS trackers on the market, so if you’re looking to secure your treasured loved ones or your valuable property with cutting-edge technology, pick up one of your very own. We’re not in any way advising that you use this device for spying (in fact, that will get you into serious trouble in many states), but it can make for an excellent theft recovery system on a budget. Most car thieves don’t even think to look for discreet GPS devices. So take a page from Breaking Bad, and use the most advanced gadgets to secure what’s yours. 

5 Reasons to Install a Keyless Entry System

Biometric-Door-LocksA keyless entry system is an excellent way of increasing home security. With the advent of new technology in home security and automation, it is just a matter of time before we begin to see these access control devices everywhere. From reducing the risk of a break-in to cutting-edge home automation, the following are a few of the best reasons to install a keyless entry system.

No More Lost Keys

Whether you install a biometric fingerprint locking system or a keyless entry deadbolt, you will never again have to worry about stolen or lost keys.

Never Have to Have New Keys Made

Have you ever lost a house key or had to rid yourself of a bad housemate? If so, then you know the inconvenience of having to trudge down to the nearest hardware store to have a new one made. With a keyless entry system, however, you’ll never have to call a locksmith or waste time having a new key made again.

Never Have to Change Locks Again

Losing your house key is an unfortunate inconvenience. Having your keys stolen, however, can send you into a panic. Knowing that a thief has the key to the front door, the most secure next step is to have all door locks changed. With a keyless entry system, not only is there zero chance of having house keys stolen, but there’s also never a need to have locks changed.

No Lock Picking or Lock Bumping

A common tactic thieves use to burglarize homes is via lock picking or lock bumping. While there are locks that are less susceptible to these methods, a keyless entry system provides a foolproof barrier against both.

Cool Factor

Most of us have seen keyless entry systems at commercial businesses, hotels and private offices, but how many have encountered them at someone’s home? The bragging rights of being the first to own a cool gadget is one thing, but being the first to own a cool device like a keyless entry system, which also increases home security, takes one’s tech rep to a whole other level.

Ralph Winn

2014 Is the Year Of the Smarthome

SmarthomeHappy New Year, Everyone!

This morning, I stumbled upon an article predicting a large growth spurt for smarthomes in 2014. According to the author, it was just a few short years ago when appliance experts were adamant that this sort of growth was still a long ways off. Their low expectations were due to the fact that a language which devices need to communicate with one another was not used commonly enough and experts didn’t suppose that such a language would reach mainstream use for a long time. And then there were issues with other barriers like user interfaces (UIs) on automation devices, which average consumers have sometimes found to be too complicated. However, by now using WiFi to communicate between devices and by UIs, such as iOS and Android, now being common in most households, home automation is here and in a big way.

Currently Trending Smarthome Features

Right now, some of the most popular smarthome features appear to be environmental controls like the features offered with the Freeze Alarm Deluxe, which can be found in our main store. With the ability to remotely preheat or cool your home with a single phone call, as well as check a home’s temperature from anywhere in the world, it’s no wonder devices like these are trendsetters among home automation devices. Of course, this particular gadget also notifies a homeowner as soon as temperatures rise too high or fall too low, or if an unfortunate water leak should occur.

Other smarthome features gaining traction in the marketplace include lighting controls, which can be remotely operated through a smartphone app. Of course there are remote devices and applications for other electronics such as stereo equipment, televisions and computers, too.

Can Your House Become a Smarthome?

On any given DIY weekend, an average home can be transformed into a smarthome. This is made possible thanks to new technologies like the Nexia Home Bridge & Schlage Home Appliance Starter Kit found in our main store. This single unit enables homeowners to control a home’s locks, lighting, temperature and security equipment from a remote location.

How Will a Smarthome Increase Your Security?

With the ability to control a home’s alarm system, security lighting, indoor lighting and environmental controls from any remote location, one begins to see the security value that home automation affords. Keyless entry systems which can also be operated remotely is not only convenient (no more lost keys!), but also eliminates concerns about picked locks or lock bumping. Add to all of this the ability to use a smartphone or a tablet to peer inside of a home while away and we can think of a variety of security and practical purposes for this sort of technology.

Affordable and Accessible Automation and Security Solutions

Years ago, I recall being introduced to the idea of a smarthome through an illustrated article about Bill Gates’ house. Back then this sort of technology came with complicated wiring and programming and was built into a home’s architecture. Needless to say, it was only made available to the ultra wealthy. Like the appliance experts mentioned earlier, I believed that this sort of innovation was a long ways away for the average homeowner.

All of that has changed in recent years, however. No longer is it necessary to build a new home in order to access smarthome technology. In most cases, special wiring isn’t even needed to achieve these features. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make home automation devices easy to use, easy to install and easy on one’s wallet.

DIYers from newbies to hardcore enthusiasts have found that they can save even more by self-installing the home automation devices offered in our main store. Many of the devices found there can be installed in under an hour and are not too complicated to use. This means that everyone in the family can control just about every appliance, every security device, thermostats, cooling devices, lighting and more from the palm of a hand.

Where Should You Begin?

Your family’s safety and your home’s security being of primary concern, we suggest that your house’s transformation to a smarthome begin with your security system. At the very least, shop for an alarm which you can arm and disarm from a remote location either by dialing into your system or via a smartphone app. Ditto for your surveillance equipment and security lighting.

For more advice on how to turn your home into a smarthome, see our earlier post: Baby Steps to Home Automation.

What Will Your Home Do This Year?

Analysts have declared it and we believe every word to be true– 2014 is the year of the smarthome. With both feet firmly planted in the new year, it’s time to get busy and join in on the fun. Should you need ideas or help, our technical support team is always on hand to answer your questions and help you troubleshoot your way to smarthome success.

Ralph Winn

Home Security and Automation Trends We Look Forward to In 2014

home-automationIn the past year, we’ve noticed some pretty interesting trends in the home security arena. Seems that people are finally embracing the very important need of having a burglar alarm. Many are also realizing needs for heightened security through devices like surveillance cameras and security lighting, which can help expand an existing system for broader protection. It seems like these items are also being introduced to the market at a faster pace than in the past and that people are really tuning into their usefulness.

Another trend that appears to be climbing involves home automation. In recent years, we’ve even seen a bit of buzz about behemoth entertainment companies like Comcast and Time Warner working to introduce home automation devices to their respective customer bases. Combined with stories about people gravitating more toward streaming their programming in lieu of cable television, it’s no wonder these companies are leaning towards the emerging home automation industry. Of course, we’ve been several steps ahead of that curve (as is evidenced by all of the home automation devices offered on our main page), but we’re still glad that the interest is growing and that the market is providing the people with what they want.

Here are a few more home security and automation trends we look forward to seeing more of in 2014:

DIY Home Security

No surprise there, huh? Well for you, our long time readers, this is common sense. However, the general public– blinded by a lack of knowledge and the large advertising budgets controlled by certain home security brands– had been missing out on this opportunity in previous years. Things are changing, though.

Why, just this past week I watched a video by a major tech review site as they gave high marks to a certain DIY home security alarm. I won’t mention that device here, not because it’s not worthy of mention, but because it also came with a high monthly price tag whereas our DIY home security alarms can be monitored by the professionals at Alarm Relay for a mere $8.95 per month.

Still, we’re pleased to see that the public-at-large is finally catching onto the fact that DIY home security is a safe and affordable option and we hope to see that trend continue in 2014 and beyond.

Security and Automation Gadgets For Techies

Have you noticed the plethora of security gadgets (like the iSmartAlarm) that can be operated via a smartphone? Or what about environmental devices that can be remotely controlled from the palm of your hand like the Trane Home Management Thermostat? These things are a techie’s dream while being simple enough for non-techies to get full use of, too. We applaud home security and automation manufacturers for giving us such innovative and cool gadgets and it is our pleasure to introduce even more of these to you in the year ahead.

Child Safety Devices

While we wish items like the SecuraTrac SecuraPAL GPS Child Tracking Device were not necessary, we are nonetheless happy to see equipment like this on the market. Nothing in life is more important than keeping children safe and, unfortunately, our eyes can’t be on them at all times. What next better way to keep tabs on their whereabouts, however, than a full GPS tracking device? These gadgets allow us to immediately pinpoint a child’s location at any given time, which is a sigh of relief for parents and other caretakers. The best in this class even empower children with panic buttons that will immediately alert an adult anytime a child senses danger.

As much as we hate to think about children and the many threats of danger that they face, we hate even more the idea of them being in that state with little hope of anyone coming to their rescue. Child tracking devices can also be used to track adults with cognitive impairments or any loved one who may need a little extra personal security (such as people who work night shifts or those who frequent remote locations). It is for this reason that we hope to see these devices, and the safety features they offer, spread in popularity.

We Want To Hear From You

So, what do you think of our roundup? What sorts of home security and automation trends are you looking forward to in 2014? Do you have specific home security and home automation needs or desires that you can’t currently find a device to match? How about one you’ve heard about, but that seems too expensive and out of your reach? We’ve shared our list of hopeful trends for 2014, now it is time for you to share yours.

And speaking of sharing, all of your comments about home security have been deeply appreciated. Some of your experiences and concerns have even inspired a blog post or two. We hope that you’ll keep the comments coming in 2014 and beyond…and on that note, the floor is now officially yours. Tell us, what’s on your mind in the realm of home security and automation trends?

Ralph Winn


Top Tech Gifts In Home Security


iStock_000004856960XSmallSome of the best tech gifts of this holiday season also offer better personal and home security to your loved ones. Items like these have a particular ‘wow’ factor, but also serve very useful purposes. Such devices are perfect considerations for anyone on your gift list who loves technology, but who may not yet be aware of the many DIY home security options that are available to them.

Why Give Tech Gifts?

Simply put, people are fascinated with technology. From grandparents to toddlers, most people are intrigued by gadgets that they can use to do everyday things like turning lights on and off or engaging in a video call with someone on the other side of the globe. While many of these gadgets are used for entertainment and convenience, several of them can also be used to increase one’s personal safety and even protect the home. With this in mind, there’s no good reason to not give someone a home security tech gift this holiday season.

The Best Security Tech Gifts For Mobile Users

Smartphone Surveillance

Did you know that it’s possible to remotely view what is going on in and around your home from wherever you may be? Did you know that you can do all of this from a smartphone or a tablet computer? Heavy mobile users are sure to appreciate home security devices like the Schlage Wireless Indoor Network IP Camera. A system like this allows homeowners to strategically place one or more cameras in key locations around the home in order to enjoy remote viewing on a smartphone, tablet or computer while away.

Tech gifts like this one are perfect for the parents of children old enough to stay at home alone, as well as those who rely on a caretaker to take care of other family members. Others, like devoted pet owners or people who employ a household staff, will love having the ability to glimpse into the home while working or traveling. Owners of a monitored home alarm system are also prime candidates for such a tech gift since it offers them the ability to see inside of the home anytime they are contacted about an alarm being triggered at their household. Within seconds, users can access a live visual feed to help them in assessing whether an alarm is false or whether someone has actually broken into the home.

A Full Alarm System

Fans of the iPhone will love the iSmartAlarm system, which combines the full protection of a burglar alarm system with the convenience of the iPhone. This neat little gadget is also completely wireless, which most techies will especially appreciate. As a completely DIY alarm system, the iSmartAlarm comes standard with an iCamera for video surveillance, as well as motion, door and window sensors which will immediately alert a user’s iPhone anytime their home’s security has been breached. Remotely, an owner is able to view inside the home (and even pan and tilt the iCamera for best visibility, if needed), turn the device on and off, and take still pictures in addition to watching a live streaming feed.

Personal Security

What parent will not love a GPS system enabling them to track a young child’s movements at all times? Sadly, in today’s world such is not only a nice gadget to have, but one that is desperately needed to protect young ones as they walk to and from school or even play in familiar neighborhoods. While we offer several GPS devices on our main page, we’d like you to take a good look at the SecuraTrac SecuraPAL GPS Child Tracking Device. Tracking can be done from a parent’s computer, as well as their smartphone whether it’s an iPhone, an Android or even the BlackBerry smartphone.

In addition to tracking technology, the SecuraTrac SecuraPAL GPS Child Tracking Device also features a panic button. With this feature, anytime that a child feels threatened she or he can depress the panic button which will immediately text an alert to a parent or caretaker along with the child’s location and a link that contains precise directions to wherever the child is. While this sort of technology is marketed directly to parents of young children, it is actually an excellent device to give to anyone who may be concerned enough to track a senior relative’s movements or any number of other loved ones as they move throughout the day.

The Top Tech Gifts In Home Security Are All DIY

Perhaps the best thing about security tech gifts that also make use of mobile and GPS technology is that they are completely DIY in their installation and operation. Hassle-free installations and ease of operation mean that gift recipients can begin using and appreciating these unique security devices right away. With the popularity of tech gifts all over the country, why not invest in a few that are as functional as they are fun and easy to use?

Ralph Winn

Aaron Hernandez and GPS Devices

American football player Aaron Hernandez was recently arrested on suspicion of murder. Since his arrest, details of this crime have been public news. Without rehashing the entire story here, I do want to explore one aspect, which caught my eye and even stirred a bit of public debate over tracking technology and its place in our daily lives.

Tracking Technology Provides Evidence Against Aaron Hernandez Of the NFL

Hernandez is accused of murdering an acquaintance by the name of Odin Lloyd who was a semi-professional football player for a Boston team. Through records recovered since his death, it’s been discovered that Odin actually sent a text message to his sister to verify that she was aware that he’d left a location with Hernandez who picked him up in a car just after 2:30a. The message, itself, seemed to suggest that the victim sensed danger on the horizon with Hernandez.

In addition to the text message, GPS tracking on Hernandez’s phone places him in the vicinity of where the victim’s body was discovered at the same time that investigators believe he was killed. GPS data from the phone does not make this an open and shut case, but officials did believe the evidence to be enough to add to the suspicion of Hernandez’s involvement in the victim’s death. Since the suspected timeline of events, more information has been released to the public and a number of conversations on social media sites have revolved around the possibilities of GPS technology present in most late generation mobile devices.

What Is GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Originally developed by the U.S. Military for tracking operations, GPS has been available for consumer use for just over a decade. With 28 space satellites currently in orbit, the system can pinpoint the exact location of a person or an object in possession of a receiver that communicates with these strategically placed satellites.

Why Would Anyone Need a Separate GPS Device?

In addition to GPS receivers being installed in cars or purchased as peripheral devices to assist drivers with navigation, this technology is also common in mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. This leads some to question why they would need to purchase an additional device to be used for tracking and personal security. Well, the answer to that is simple, GPS devices created specifically for security can be more effective primarily because of how they are used.

For example, someone using a SecuraTrac SecuraPAL GPS Child Tracking Device for personal security is likely to place the receiver somewhere where it will not be easily detected by a criminal or lost. Doing so, of course, takes into consideration the possibility of abduction or being involved in an event where a cellphone might be lost, stolen or damaged. A SecuraTrac SecuraPAL device is much smaller and may be safely concealed in a pocket or backpack…or even worn on the wrist, and may go undetected by a criminal long enough for a victim to be located. And don’t let the word ‘child’ fool you; this tracking device provides protection to adults and pets, too.

Personal GPS devices also have other safety features, such as:

  • The ability to pinpoint a location on demand
  • A faster response time in terms of communicating a location via text message or email (no need to go through a mobile carrier in order to have access to such highly time-sensitive and important data)
  • Devices like SecuraTrac can even offer directions to a location, which is particularly helpful if someone wearing the receiver is in an unfamiliar area or country
  • A panic button to can be depressed at any time a person wearing the device senses that they are in danger (a message detailing their location is then immediately sent by text and by email)

So, while cars and cellphones may be equipped with GPS technology, devices created specifically for personal security are best recommended for those interested in such. More information and a variety of GPS tracking devices can be found on our main page under Child Safety as well as under GPS & Tracking.

Aren’t These Devices Too Intrusive?

A common concern about GPS tracking often relates to privacy concerns. When information about GPS and its use in the Hernandez arrest first broke, several members of Twitter shared that they prefer to keep the GPS on their phones turned off in order to prevent their movements from being traced on a daily basis. Journalist Roland S. Martin, however, offered a different take. Not only does he purposely leave his GPS devices on at all times, but he shared on his Twitter feed that he even goes a step further by using plastic to pay for his purchases at all times just to provide another trail of evidence should his steps ever need to be retraced. According to him, in his line of work, one can never be too cautious.

Join the Conversation

How do you feel about GPS tracking, in general? Has this technology ever been useful to you? Do you have concerns about tracking devices, in general?

Smart Home, Smart Phone

What do your home and your mobile phone have in common? Both can be modified for your daily comfort and convenience. And both can be programmed to increase your safety. In fact, these two can often work together in delivering all of these benefits to you. What I’m talking about, of course, are the ways in which your home’s security and automation devices can be used to interact with your smartphone and vice versa.


A New Frontier In Home Automation

In previous blog posts, we’ve introduced you to some of the best DIY gadgets and devices that can assist you in creating a smart home. A few such examples include keyless entry systems, remote controlled lighting kits and video intercoms. Each of these help to automate the home environment in an effort to save you time and create a most comfortable ambient experience that you’ll never want to leave.


A New Frontier in Home Security

We’ve also introduced you to some pretty new and very smart security devices that can also be controlled via your smartphone. Devices like Lorex Vantage Stream Wireless Network Camera offer you peace of mind and safety whether you are at home or away. While plenty of smart devices are available in our main store, we wanted to take a moment to update you on even more ways in which a simple do-it-yourself installation can increase your use of modern home technology, while working to keep your property and family safe at the same time. And, of course, all of this can be accomplished right from the palm of your hand!


From One Touchscreen to Another

Honeywell makes a very smart touchscreen device, which allows users to operate an alarm system, surveillance cameras, lighting and more. Whether touching icons on-screen or remotely accessing the unit from a smartphone’s screen, the Honeywell Tuxedo Touch-Screen Keypad with built-in WiFi offers end users a wide range of automation and home security functions. The device can even be used as a digital picture frame for photos stored on an SD card. From setting a thermostat to arming and disarming an alarm system, devices like this one offer home owners simplicity and the convenience of installing a single device in order to centralize security and home automation controls, while also allowing the same unit to communicate with smartphone technology. Literally, this device turns your smartphone into a virtual keypad for your home security system as well as your home automation devices.


Smartphone Apps for Better Home Security

If the whole idea of remotely controlling your home via smartphone sounds complicated to you, we assure you that it isn’t. Along with security manufacturers and mobile phone developers, app developers are also working very hard to create smooth, hassle-free remote interaction with smart homes. In fact, you can visit your app store right now and find a variety of applications created for this purpose. For example, SuperLivePro and other apps by developer Peng Antai allow users to remotely view surveillance footage from devices like the LTS All-In-One 8 Channel DVR with built in 10-inch LCD monitor. We are not in any way affiliated with this app, but merely highlight it as one example of many that are available for smart home and smart phone automation.


What Might the Future Hold?

So, as you can see, home security and automation technologies are able to communicate with mobile technologies in ways that were only a part of our collective imaginations just a few decades ago. Most of us cannot even begin to imagine the things that we’ll be able to do with smart home and smart phone technology in the future, but one thing’s for sure…Home Security Store will keep a close eye on this emerging market and we will continue to bring you the best devices and technology made available to the DIY sector. And, of course, we’ll always provide you with the best technical support to assure that you get the most out of your installations at all times.

As these technologies continue to merge, we can also expect public interest to grow. For some home security vendors, this interest prompts a rise in price– both for equipment and labor. Be assured, however, that Home Security Store will always present you with reasonable DIY options so that you can enjoy the best in home automation and security without breaking the bank.


What’s On Your Mind?

What types of gadgets, applications and devices do you use for home automation and security? Which ones would you most recommend to our readers? What is your level of satisfaction with these items? Are there products or applications that you’d like to have access to which you currently do not?


Tell us what you think about the marriage of smart homes, smartphones and home security, in general. Your comments are the lifeblood of this blog and we hope that you’ll take this opportunity to share your thoughts with us in the special section reserved just for you below.

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