There's no point in a smarthome device unless it makes your life easier. If it can't manage that first and foremost, then all the bells and whistles in the world won't matter.

It will be too much trouble to use. That was one of tenets upon which the Canary home security system was designed, and it's why this neat little bundle takes a matter of minutes to set up but still has as rich a feature set as you'll find in any connected device. Here's how it all works.

The raison d'être of Canary is sensing movement in your home. If it can do that properly, then it knows when it needs to send out an alert. The trouble is, of course, that there might be all sorts of small ambient motion disturbances throughout the day and night which have nothing to do with intruders and might be as innocuous as the light from a TV screen or reflections in the window from events outside. Fortunately, Canary has some clever tricks up its sleeve to make sure it doesn't end up crying wolf by sending you false positive notifications every time you're not home.

One of the best additions since launch is the sensitivity slider. It's a great way of establishing a base level of how busy your home gets in terms of motion disturbances. If you find you're getting too many irrelevant alerts, you simply go into the app on your phone and dial the sensitivity down. Perhaps the best thought-out part of all this, though, is that Canary still records all the same motion-detected clips onto your timeline just in case, but it will only notify you about the ones where it really believes that there might be a problem.

Much like biological sensory systems, Canary is also designed to detect change first and foremost. So, if a continuous TV flicker or ceiling fan begins to trigger the motion circuits, it knows not to pester you with non-stop alerts. It will send a notification when they first happen but not again until there's a different kind of movement within its field of view.

Finally, of course, the whole system is set to learn. You can tag any clip on your timeline with a number of descriptions for whatever motion it was that set it off. The more you tag, the more precise Canary can be about what it tells you in the future.

Canary is more than just a video camera. It's about providing protection and security for your whole home and that means more than just looking out for burglars. It has sensors for monitoring humidity, temperature and air quality, the last of which has measures for a host of different pollutant particles. On the surface, it looks more like future-proofing and, perhaps, also the space to move into thermostat territory, but that's not why the company fitted it with all this tech.

Rapid changes in temperature are worth knowing about because they are rather good indicators that there's a fire. Canary can then send you a message and you can contact the fire brigade to come and put it out before any serious damage is done. Even if there's no imminent danger, keeping an eye on the heat levels at home is important because temperature can have profound effects on mood, productivity, the quality of your sleep, and even your weight. Plus there are also more subtle ways that HomeHealth can save you trouble.

Your indoor environment should have a humidity level between 30-50 per cent. Any more than that and it's an invitation to pests and damage from mould, along with the associated respiratory issues and whatever else it might do to your furniture. Again, Canary will give you a nudge if it thinks you should take action. And, if it detects dangerous levels of any air contaminants, it gives you the chance to think about opening windows or even getting more indoor plants.

The final fundamental feature which looks simple enough on the outside is how and when Canary knows to communicate what it detects. Central to that is the knowledge around when a user is home and when they're not. It's through that that Canary can tell whether to be armed or disarmed and so whether to send an alert.

Canary can't just rely on Wi-Fi detection either because your phone might not be Wi-Fi-enabled when you walk in or out of the door. In that case, it would never detect your mobile on the home network, presume you're still out and remain armed while sending you endless annoying alerts as you move about your home.

The other option, of course, is GPS to figure out your location but it's not always totally reliable given that, while home, you're going to be indoors and therefore not seen by the GPS satellites. It's a decent guide to your general movements but won't work alone. So, there's cellular data to throw into the mix from all the pings back and forth between mobile network towers and your device.

If the app made your mobile call home constantly using one of these methods alone, it would tear through your battery life while it waited to get location detection in return that might not be available for quite some time. Fortunately, Canary uses all three and, between them, makes the whole operation instantaneous at your end and utterly seamless.

Last of all, what about the situation where Canary is trying to alert you but cannot get in touch because you're out of network and Wi-Fi range? You, and those you live with, might be on a 10-hour flight and could miss the moment a burglar strikes. Backup Contacts has got you covered. You give the Canary app a list of a few key people that you trust and, should it not be able to alert you and yours, then it sends a message to a Backup along with a link to the video of what's going on at home. If it's serious, then your buddy can call the police into action. Let's hope it never comes to that though.


Canary is the all-in-one home security system that you control from your phone. It has HD video and audio, a built-in siren, and sensors for temperature, humidity and air quality. Canary lets you see what's happening at home and take action.

A new approach to security, Canary combines innovative hardware, elegant software and meaningful services to meet modern-day home security needs. Canary launched in the UK in September, following a hugely successful Indiegogo campaign in the United States, and is available on Amazon.co.uk, Apple stores, Curry's PC World, John Lewis, and Maplin. For more information, please visit canary.is.