An ADT exec went rogue and created Abode, a contract-free security system

Within the next five years, 60 percent of U.S. homes will have a smart security system, according to a recent survey. That’s second to only connected thermostats, which will be found in 70 percent of homes. Lots of companies want to carve themselves a slice of that smart-home pie, and surveillance seems like a safe bet.

Until the rise of the DIY home security kit, cameras and motion sensors were generally within the purview of large companies that wanted to sell you the components and then charge you a monthly fee to monitor your home — and they want to keep charging you. Companies such as ADT sign up users for a three-year contract, and this is a recipe for unhappy customers, Chris Carney tells Digital Trends. As a former director of finance at ADT, he grew frustrated during his 15 years there with the way the company addressed, or failed to address, customer needs. There would be talk but little action. “I realized toward the end of my career there the industry and the company as a whole really didn’t innovate off of what they were selling, both product and solution, to people,” he says.

For the past 18 months, Carney has been working with a team to develop his own security system, Abode. “I basically started Abode to eliminate all those pain points for people and really give a customer control of their system and their solution and really make something simple and seamless,” he says.

The starter kit comes with the Gateway hub, two door or window contact sensors, a key fob, and a motion-sensing camera. There’s an optional streaming camera, as well. Built with infrared technology, the motion-detector camera is calibrated to ignore pets (and presumably children) under 60 pounds. Your cat won’t set it off, but neither will your Dennis-the-Menace-esque neighbor. The hub is equipped with a battery and 3G cellular backup, in case your power goes out or Internet fails. Much like similar DIY systems, users can monitor everything themselves with the included app (iOS, Android, Web). Should something activate the sensor or camera, you’ll receive an alert on your phone, and you can check whether it’s just your spouse getting home early or an actual emergency. But if something’s going down, you’ll have to be the one to alert the police.

Abode System
Abode System

For those who want someone to dial 911 for them, Abode will offer a $30-per-month professional monitoring option. A third-party company will keep an eye on things for you, but if you get an alert from the camera and notice the robot vacuum just knocked over a houseplant, you should be able to call in the false alarm. The monitors won’t have access to your streaming camera, unless you grant them permission while you’re on vacation, for example. “It’s truly kind of a an on-demand service,” says Brent Franks, Abode’s co-founder. If you want to pick up the professional monitoring for a month during your trip then let it drop again, you can do so.

In addition to that optional service, what separates Abode from similar systems is its security and its openness, claim its creators. “Every component of the system is fully encrypted,” says Carney. Yet the Gateway will still serve as a hub for your smart home, as it works with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. While the Abode is already ready to integrate with your Nest, the team is still making sure everything else will play as nicely. “What we’re going to be very careful about is that it’s easy to add these things and integrate with some of these things,” says Carney, “but the key is to really get the control right on those devices. So it may act a certain way on its own, but we want to make sure to test and certify these things ourselves to make sure they work.”

Despite all the planned integration, don’t expect to see Abode locks or lights on the market soon. “For us, we want to be the first smart security platform,” Carney says.

In order to do that, Abode has turned to Kickstarter. The starter kit is going for $199. That’s $200 off its retail price, which the team thinks is more accessible than traditional systems, with the added benefit of automation.

“The things that we’re working on really allow the customer to not only experience real security out of the gate but define the things that make their life simpler,” says Franks.

Smart Home

Military-grade baby monitor called Miku was a hit with parents at CES 2019

Who knew the world needed a smarter baby monitor? Apparently it's the startup Miku, which brought a new high-tech baby monitor to CES 2019 that uses A.I., machine learning, and high quality cameras to keep an eye on kids.
Gaming

Among hundreds of choices, these are the best 25 SNES games of all time

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games.
Smart Home

Here’s everything Amazon and its partners announced for Alexa at CES

Amazon Alexa is rocking CES 2019. After selling millions of Echo and Dot smart speakers during the 2018 holiday season, extending its reach everywhere, Amazon has announced a ton of new partnerships with device manufacturers.
Smart Home

Array by Hampton brought locks and security lighting to CES 2019

Lock and lighting company Hampton is at CES 2019 with a new line of smart home products. Called Array by Hampton, the lineup includes internet-connected locks, lights, and an app to control them.
Smart Home

IKEA’s new blinds for the smart home arrive April 1 in the U.S.

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is adding a new product called FYRTUR, which turns out to be a new set of blackout blinds for the smart home that can be controlled by remote or programmed through the company's app.
Smart Home

Haier’s shoe washer cleans sneakers without all the clanging and banging

At CES 2019, Haier brought a bunch of shoe-centric appliances, including its sneaker washer. The appliance douses shoes with water and detergent and scrubs them, and then you can put them in the accompanying dryer.
Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

A.I.’s humorous side: Here are the funniest things to ask Alexa

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant has a wide repertoire of funny responses, jokes, and hidden replies that you can have fun with. Here are the best funny things to ask Alexa and examples of what her responses are.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

The best multicookers of 2019 for everything from sauteing to slow cooking

Find the best multicookers for your cooking ambitions. Whether you are just getting started in the kitchen or you've been cooking for years and want a device to make it easier, these are the best smart pots for you to choose from.
Smart Home

This Silicon Valley studio rents for $1,500 per month — to 2 cats

A man in San Jose, California, rents a studio apartment for $1,500 per month for a very important reason: So his daughter's two cats have a place to call their own. It may be the swankiest cat pad on the West Coast.
Deals

Amazon drops prices on Roomba robot vacuums by up to $150

Amazon is offering discounts on iRobot Roombas and other robot vacuums to help you get a leg-up on those chores. We've rounded up the best deals available now and put them all in one place.
Smart Home

Speed up cooking with one of the best pressure cookers on the market

Not all pressure cookers are created equally. You have to choose between stovetop cookers, multicookers, canners, and even microwave cookers. Our pressure cooking buyer's guide includes our picks for the best in each category.