Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Changing faces

Laura James has left AlertMe. Laura's contributed a huge amount to AlertMe, and we all wish her luck in her new job.

You'll now find QA engineer Charles and the Customer Services team manning the forums, and various of us updating the blog. For AlertMe technology issues, including ZigBee and connected homes, please contact :

Dr Amyas Phillips
email :
direct line +44 (0) 1223 222 157

For non-AlertMe things, Laura can be reached at lbjames /at/

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Crowdsourcing - for security?

AlertMe is always keen to spot other home security projects, even "hobbyist" ones that we know most of our customers wouldn't be able to do for themselves, because sometimes they embody interesting ideas.

The BUGLabs team, who produce an open source consumer electronics development platform, blogged this week about their home (well, office) security system. They've connected motion sensors and cameras, via a BUG system, to twitter and twitxr, so that friends of the company who follow these data feeds can spot people coming in to their office. You can keep an eye on their office with the rest of the crowd here; this is an example of crowdsourcing (what's crowd-sourcing?).

I think AlertMe disproves the statement "the static/automatic nature of an off-the-shelf consumer electronics device [means that it is] designed to do its task very specifically" - we show that consumer electronics can be a platform and can have new services deployed on it. But the general idea of crowd-sourcing security raises some interesting issues. Would you trust your twitter, or facebook, friends to monitor your home, or assess whether a picture was of an intruder or not? Does having information about your home's security online - either for anyone to read, or just for your online friends - is a security risk? Do you think they are more able to take action to help you and your home than other friends, family and neighbours? Or is AlertMe in fact already crowd-sourcing security, by keeping you and your nominated contacts in the loop via text and email? (Feel free to discuss this on our forum)

Nonetheless, the idea of a "Social Gadget Network" discussed in the post is an interesting one, and with AlertMe already producing text and email notifications from the home, we're part of it (along with Andy's house, the botanicalls potplants, and more).

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

European ZigBee developers conference

For all the ZigBee fans out there, AlertMe has had two talks accepted for the EuroZDC next month.

Amyas will be talking about the elephant in the room: commissioning, which is how you set up a ZigBee network from a bunch of disparate devices each with a ZigBee radio, and how you make it secure and functional for a range of applications. My talk is about AlertMe's experiences with ZigBee, how we choose it and tested its suitability for our application, and the challenges of going from prototype to product.

Hope to meet some of our readers in Munich! We're looking forward to getting more involved in the ZigBee community.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Gadget Show success!

AlertMe is enjoying the holiday weekend here in the UK, after a great week following our appearance on Channel 5's Gadget Show.

You can read what the show said about us here - we detected the burglars and informed the householder in seconds - just the way we intended :)