If you're afraid some nasty person might come into your house and walk away with all your gadgets, a company called AlertMe thinks it has the answer with a monitoring service that connects into your wireless network. We take a closer look.
The concept is simple. Plug in a box to your current wireless hub that then connects to a number of sensors in your home so you can monitor what's going on when you're away.
In the box you get the master box that plugs straight into your broadband router, a status pebble lamp from Mathos, two motion sensors, two alarm sensors, three door/window sensors, three keyfobs and a button that you can use as a doorbell, all of which have temperature sensors.
Once connected following a well organised unpacking system and the on-screen instructions via the company's website and you are ready to leave knowing your house is not necessarily safe, but at least monitored.
Rather than require you to install software on a PC or Mac the whole system is run via a website. This is good for two reasons. The first is that it allows AlertMe to get involved if you need help. The second is that you can access the system from any computer with an internet connection so you can see what is going on.
Although the phrase "Setup will take around one and half hours" sounds daunting, it won't take that long in reality and at each step your hand is well and truly held, if not by the on-screen instructions, by the various numbered boxes in the box.
At the end of the process you'll even get a phone call from the customer services team asking how it all went and if you've got a questions - scary, but comforting at the same time.
The web interface is a tiny bit confusing, trying to be too graphical at times but overall it's simple enough so you won't get too confused.
The alerting comes in the form of emails or SMS messages to your mobile when certain things happen and you can set this up to ping you or other family members.
There are currently three detector types in the box plus the lamp which can be set to give you a coloured status of what's happening (although you won't be able to see it when your out of course). The most interesting of the detectors is the alarm detector. It will listen for other alarms in your house like smoke, carbon monoxide or freezer alarms and then let you know something is going on.
Either way when anything goes off you can get the service to email or SMS (1000 text alerts a month) you when a motion is detected.
Beyond the detectors you get three keyfobs that work like your car keys. At the press of a button you can set the system to say you are away or home, as well as alerts for when one of the keyfobs leaves or comes back, great for tracking the kids or your partner.
Finally there is a button which currently works as a doorbell. Disappointingly at the moment all it does it ring the master box which you've probably got stashed out of the way in a cupboard in the office, but AlertMe say it is hoping to launch a sound repeater so you can carry it around the house with you as well as on option so it can text or email you when pressed. Of course, you won't know who the caller is, but at least you'll know someone called.
Overall setup was incredibly easy (it’s probably the first networking device that has worked first time out of the box for a long time) and if you do have trouble the customer service desk was incredibly helpful and friendly.
So would you actually need the system? If you are paranoid about someone breaking in to your house then this will allow you to monitor it to your heart’s content with graphs, reports and other data being collated whenever something happens.
The problem is, however, that it only tells you what's happening rather than actually doing something about it.
At the moment the system is very basic in its offering although it does do what it promises to do. What's more interesting though is the promise of new features being added in August that will allow you to customise to a greater extent what the sensors do and how they react.