Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Set your recording devices!

AlertMe will be on the Gadget Show, Monday 28th April, Channel 5, 8pm.

All the staff will be poised with popcorn to see our kit starring on the small screen. We've not seen the footage yet, so we're waiting with baited breath...

Friday, 18 April 2008

Fighting crime, Web2.0 style

Greater Manchester Police now have a Facebook application, to alert users to local crime! Users get crime news items in their Facebook feed, and can post items of their own too.

There are even videos to raise awareness of crime issues.

Chief Constable Rob Taylor says “Facebook has 59 million users, seven million of which live in the UK, so we realised that this was an excellent way of spreading our messages to people on a more personal basis.”

(Thanks to Techcrunch UK for the link!)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

PIR-based Marauders Map

When we tell technically-minded people about Alertme, often their first question is "where are the cameras?" Well, there aren't any! For most situations, we think motion sensors do a better job.

There's a great illustration of the ways motion sensors are actually better than CCTV in this article on New Scientist's website. Its about how engineers at Mitsubishi's research labs in Cambridge, MA, used a network of simple Zigbee motion sensors to make a Marauder's Map, letting them monitor how people use and move around their building.

In the video, you can see how the PIRs let a single researcher monitor the whole building, with no need to intrude on everyone's privacy by blanketing the whole place with CCTV. In the locations where there is a CCTV record, the PIR data lets them search it much more effectively than they could otherwise.

CCTV often seems like the obvious choice for this sort of thing, but the problem with video is that machines find it difficult to understand and search, and it needs lots of costly equipment. PIRs on the other hand give an easy to understand 'someone's here' / 'nobody's here' message, are able to monitor a wider area, are very small and far more cost effective.

Of course, there are times when a picture is worth a thousand words, and being able to see whats going on in your home is exactly what you want. If you participated in our video survey, you'll already know we've been thinking about this. The consensus so far seems to be that you want a camera that works at night, doesn't have any wires, is easy to use, and is nice to look at. That's a tough specification, but we'll see what we can do!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

feeling secure?

Bruce Schneier often has something worth reading about security. Today he blogs about how people confuse feeling secure, and being secure. I quote: "If someone tries to convince us to spend money on a new type of home burglar alarm, we as society will know pretty quickly if he's got a clever security device or if he's a charlatan; we can monitor crime rates. But if that same person advocates a new national antiterrorism system, and there weren't any terrorist attacks before it was implemented, and there weren't any after it was implemented, how do we know if his system was effective?"

Well, a company may not be able to change crime rates overnight, but one thing we know is that with AlertMe, if you haven't heard from us, your home is safe and secure. So that's one less thing to worry about :)

Monday, 7 April 2008

I've got something new

Chill out with the girls on AlertMe's new video:

Now, where's that cocktail...