Two more ecosystems: Scout and Lively


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #1

Wow… is it just me, or is there suddenly a torrential tsunami of “smarter home and/or home security” systems entering the market?

Competition is generally a good thing; unless it causes fragmentation and consumer confusion…, or if it threatens the viability of the product you love most.

This certainly, however, is good reason to make sure the various ecosystems can talk to one another (regardless of which one is your primary hub-system…).

Scout Alarm: At first glance, the system seems to focus on aesthetics… “Modern and Sleek Design”…
http://www.scoutalarm.com/


Lively: Focus is on remote elder care… (help, I’ve fallen…).


Thoughts?
What “niche” do you think is not yet being addressed?

…CP.


(Andrew Urman) #2
Competition is generally a good thing; unless it causes fragmentation and consumer confusion…, or if it threatens the viability of the product you love most.

SO true


(Chrisb) #3

RE: Scout - It appears that the system is designed primarily as Home Security vs. Home Automation. It might be possible to do some level of home automation, but I get the feeling this would be a hack job vs. designed from the get go to do this. If you just want security then fine, but if you’re looking for more home automation I think I’d stay away from this product.

There are some positives vs. SmartThings:

First, the base station has a 3G cellular backup, though of course you’d have to pay a monthly fee for this.

Second, the look of the devices is nice. That’s not to say that SmartThings are ugly, not at all. But these do look nicer.

Third, price! $20 for an open/close sensor? I’m liking that! Obviously it doesn’t have all the features that the SmartThings Multi does (temp, accel, etc.) but if I just want to monitor a window $20 is a nice price.

Looks like they are using Zigbee for their communication protocol.


(Smart Things) #4

We should look into getting those Zigbee sensors to work with SmartThings, for sure.


(Solardave1) #5

It would seem they are going after SimpliSafe that did a Microsoft (stopped innovating and is several generations old in their technology). If these guys offer central station monitoring, they will have a continuous recurring revenue stream and the average homeowner would recoup the investment and the monthly charge for monitoring through the insurance discount they receive for having a monitored system. If they and Smartthings can play nice together it would make for a nice complimentary setup. Add Canary and you’ve got video and some environmental smarts as well. And $20 bucks for a door/window sensor is an ideal price point. I don’t see it as a competitor, its a security system that talks ZigBee.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

As for it being only a “security system”, their demo video explicitly shows the ability to remotely turn on lights and open garage doors as a reaction to an “alarm” notification.
Extending this to full HA control from smartphone is trivial. Adding rules, scenes, macros, etc., is a bigger leap, but that all depends on their long term strategy.

But, @solardave1, I continue to be perplexed by your mention of subscription fee central station monitoring.

ALL of these similar systems (Scout, Lively, Canary, Piper…) have a KEY element promoted in their marketing strategies: “No recurring monitoring fees, unlike those expensive alarm companies…” (or a quote that is essentially equivalent to that).

I’m not saying that reselling wholesale monitoring would not be lucrative; I’m saying that it is fundamental to their current marketing campaigns that central monitoring is considered prehistoric, obsolete, extinct … like a “caveman” (watch the video).

Even “Lively”, which does have a monthly fee ($19.95), only charges that fee to pay for the cellular internet connectivity, cloud service, and bi-weekly postal mailer of your Facebook photos to grandma.

Is this a bait-and-switch conspiracy?


(Solardave1) #7

@CP - its right there on their website: Home Monitoring Plans

Optional monitoring plans will be available to choose from when the product ships. Plans start at $10 per month.

Look under pre-order : http://www.scoutalarm.com/preorder/details

And there’s the issue I mentioned above regarding controlling devices - which controller to you want to enroll your devices ST’s or Scout’s? Can’t do both unless you find a gateway or a bridge somewhere.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #8

Ah… the fine print.

Sorry… and thanks.

(Though the trend primary marketing still seems to be towards self-monitoring … SmartThings included).


(Solardave1) #9

Its always the fine print that het ya! (like ST’s TOS) :slight_smile:
Head over to “General”. I’ve been answering someone who wanted to hack the SimpliSafe system and we started getting into the technical side of Scout which if it ever becomes a real product is superior in so many ways. I went on their blog and subsequently the company who’s cellular radio they are implementing and subsequently the data sheets, application guides and white papers on the radio.
And remember - I get a big discount on my homeowners insurance that more than covers the monitoring cost and still have the option of SMS alerts.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #10

Wow… Just checked out the ScoutAlarm blog due to your suggestion… thanks!

Just noticed that they have a GPS chip in the picture (I’ve been toying around with a GPS chip and Arduino for a prototype project…).
It’s nice that they reveal those innards.

I have to look into that home insurance discount for myself!

The Alarm services market is craziness. Lots of ADT, Bay Alarm, and a few others around the neighborhood, and Groupons, and discount deals in the back of newspaper inserts, etc… All with teaser installation rates (but rather minimal amount of coverage sensors), and rather high fees for what must be mostly unused “monitoring”.

Yup … definitely opportunities for folks that have new angles to market; yet there are folks that must be fed up with the subscription fees and are really happy that they can do away with them by relying on their smart phones to ring!


(Solardave1) #11

Big ass ceramic antenna there as well.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #12

The antenna is for the GPS … and if it similar to the GTPA013 chip that I have, it is about 1/2" square.


(Solardave1) #13

I’m talking about the PA-25 GSM antenna on the end. Makes swapping out and adding a high gain pretty tricky depending on their final implementation. (I had to hack out my simplisafe cell antenna (rubber sucky/4inches) and wire it to an amp and a mast mounted high gain antenna on my roof to get Tmobile coverage (which s the only carrier you can use with SS) and that was (relatively) painless. This puppy would need to be de soldered and a connector put on the board.


(Solardave1) #14

The resolution isn’t good enough on the pictures so I can be sure but it looks like there’s an antenna connector on the board at pins 47&48 and the trace hits a few resistors before going to the PA25. If that’s the case, adding an external antenna would be easy (assuming the final version has the same trace pattern as the proto board).


(Rick Bullotta) #15

One (semi) related comment/observation: paying an additional fee for centralized monitoring is WAAAAY different than paying a fee for monthly connectivity for your “things”.

If you are planning to use your own “things” for critical system monitoring (fire/smoke, water, power fail, intrusion detection), you need to plan for the scenarios when you (not your things) are not connected. Imagine you’re backpacking, and the fire alarm kicks off. Wonderful that it sends you an SMS, sucks that you don’t get it because you’re out of a mobile coverage zone. So your house burns down.

Centralized monitoring is, to me, a very useful value added service on top of even a homebrew monitoring system. I would welcome the peace of mind knowing that even if I’m out of contact, someone received the notification and contact the emergency responders on my behalf.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

@rickbullota: Agreed…

But monitoring is as little as $8.00 per month through consolidators … looks like a high margin business (which @solardave1 pointed out to me…)?

http://www.geoarm.com/alarm-monitoring-services.html


(Rick Bullotta) #17

@tgauchat - all I was really suggesting is that it would valuable for the SmartThings team to form a relationship with and provide out-of-the-box integration to some of those monitoring services.


(Solardave1) #18

Yes it would. Could you imagine the possibilities of ST forming a relationship with Scout? Imagine the possibilities.
(Cough, Andrew).


(Chrisb) #19

Yet another eco-system…

Dymotics

This one seems to claim that is can or will be able to control many other existing products and systems. They don’t come right out and say it, but they strongly imply control of: X10, hue, Zwave, Lifx, and… SmartThings.

There is a monthly subscription fee… 5 euros for the first three devices, then 1 euro per device after that.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #20

@chrisb:

Well Dymotics’s monthly fee is ludicrously expensive!

I can easily fill my house with 33 switches/monitors/sensors. That leads to a fee of e5 + e30 = e35,00 … $48.00/month, $576/year.

Let’s hope that SmartThings’s fee doesn’t approach anything that high…

…CP.