Startup: Smoke Detector As a Security System

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 28, 2014

Fresh off a successful fundraising campaign, Novi Security is making some bold claims: Its security system has "no contracts, no monthly fees, needs no hardwiring, and sends no false alarms", all costing a fraction of a normal panel based system.

The core of the system is a multipurpose sensor that combines a smoke detector, motion sensor, and security camera in a single unit:

Novi claims everything can be installed by DIYers with no tools, and even taken down if moving. Is Novi poised to revolutionize residential intrusion alarms? Or is it just another imaginary product claiming more than it really is designed to deliver? We look at Novi in this note.

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 Vote - *** *** **********?

Comments (5)

Best case for everyone is if this crashes and burns quickly. Smoke detector placement should be based on effective smoke detection, not driven by motion detection or, for God's sake, trying to eke an extra 6 inches of useful image out of a fixed camera. IMO no self-respecting manufacturer (startup or otherwise) who knows a damn thing about smoke detection would develop and sell a smoke detector they KNOW right out of the gate is going to encourage people to jam the devices into corners and against walls (to get a little extra useful picture), thereby greatly reducing the odds it will actually do its most important job, which is detecting smoke. At best, doing so will dramatically slow the response time of the smoke detector. In some cases it will keep the detector from ever going off at all.

And taping your smoke detectors to the ceiling? This reads like an article from theonion.com.

I will grant that some electricians still place smoke detectors badly when wiring houses, and most building inspectors either miss it, or do nothing about it. Also true that many battery operated smoke detectors are poorly placed. But there is a world of difference between people doing so out of simple ignorance (meant literally, not derogatorily) and a product that actively encourages incorrect placement of the device. And no, printing a caution in the instructions is not going to keep it from happening - especially with a lick-and-stick device. I hope that, at the least, this startup also offers a smoke-only detector that works with the hub, so the price tag of the multi-device won't keep people from having decent smoke detector coverage, if they want to settle for a "self-monitored" approach.

Andrew, thanks! I voted this informative and funny :)

Free advice to all startups: AVOID LIFE SAFETY entirely. If your app crashes and a lamp fails to come on or the wrong channel appears on the plasma TV, no one's life is endangered.

If a cat walks under your connected smoke and swats its tail just so, your family could be at risk: perhaps this is one more reason to fear cats as well as startup life safety manufacturers.

I might agree that life/safety is not a good venture for the maiden voyage of a startup.

Even Nest (who has made the Smoke Alarm techie-centric) started with thermostats and has plenty of headaches making smoke alarm designs reliable.

With that said, the entire segment is so conservative it is stale. The incumbents are very resistant to change underlying tech that jeopardizes the profitability of mass produced volumes.

I like the fact startups are thinking about new designs. Anything that shakes the bushes a bit might drive incremental improvements forward, faster.

I admittedly did not go to the website and read. This is a product for DYI and not what we would normally represent. I would ask that if anyone has, is the product UL listed for anything?? If it is not, it is not and should not be installed in the US, and certainly not as a life safety device. It could render the insurance coverage null and void if someone were to file a claim. The general public should be better informed than this. This, if not listed, is unprofessional IMO.

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