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Posted by: In: Blog 28 Nov 2013 0 comments

Apple’s iBeacons explained

Apple subtly introduced iBeacon as part of the mobile operating system iOS 7. When iOS7 was first shown in the summer at Apple’s developer conference the iBeacons feature was hardly mentioned.  Since then there is a growing understanding of what this new technology can do. A number of firms are producing iBeacon based solutions and products. We look at how this may impact communications and security. 

iBeacons essentially makes way for new range of apps and functions. With it, stores can pipe coupons to your phone, mapping apps can offer indoor navigation and more. Here’s the real clincher: iBeacon might just be that nail in the coffin for NFC.

So, what is iBeacons, and why does it matter? Read on to find out. 

1. What is iBeacons?

iBeacons is a brand name created by Apple for a specific technology. That technology allows mobile apps to recognise when an iPhone is near a small wireless sensor called a beacon (or iBeacons, as well). The beacon can transmit data to an iPhone – and visa versa – using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). iBeacon is a feature in iOS 7, thus Apple’s new iPhones will have iBeacon.

Let’s put this into a scenario: Say you own an iPhone 5S and you’re walking by a Starbucks that has a beacon. When you enter that beacon’s zone, the beacon will transmit special promotions, coupons, recommendations, etc, to your iPhone 5S via the Starbucks app. Beacons will also accept payments, so you can pay for a Starbucks coffee without having to bump or tap your phone against anything.

2. Who will make the beacons?

One company making headlines is Estimote. It manufactures BLE-enabled beacons that transmit data to any BLE-enabled device within range. PayPal is another company jumping on the iBeacon board. It recently announced Beacon (of course), which will allow people to make purchases via the PayPal app without having to interact directly with their phone. 

See PayPal’s promo videos below that shows how the beacons work.

3. What is Bluetooth Low Energy?

BLE is a technology meant for transferring data. It consumes minuscule amounts of energy and allows device batteries to last longer. However, BLE only supports low data rates; you can’t stream audio or send large files with it. BLE is ideal for transmitting smaller amounts of data though, such as fitness data to fitness trackers or payment data to beacons.

BLE is a feature in iOS 7 and Android 4.3.

4. Is iBeacons only good for shopping and coupons?

No. iBeacons also features micro-location geofencing. This is ideal for indoor mapping. For instance, GPS signals have trouble penetrating the steel and glass of buildings. This prevents many mapping apps from offering indoor navigation, but iBeacon’s micro-location feature hopes to solve the problem. 

An iPhone with iBeacon can connect to a nearby beacon to determine a GPS location. You could then navigate through an airport, casino or museum just by using a mapping app. And that’s only the beginning; the possibilities are endless. 

5. Why does iBeacons matter?

We know that Apple has yet to adopt NFC. It’s instead worked on improving the uses of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. When Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice-president of software engineering, introduced AirDrop in iOS 7 at WWDC 2013, he said: “There’s no need to wander around the room, bumping your phone.”

His words were a direct jab at NFC – as the technology requires a close proxmity to transfer data. Our guess is that NFC will never be a reality in iOS devices, and the technology itself might go belly up. You could say iBeacon is the future. Apple still hasn’t published all the details of iBeacons, but it’s probably capable of so much more.

iBeacon seems like it was created with Apple Retail in mind,  but the technology could be used in other indoor locations including non-Apple retail stores in the future. Major League Baseball has already  begun testing iBeacons, aiming to personalized stadium experiences to iPhone users. Apple is apparently also testing a program for developers to easily integrate iBeacons support in their apps.

We see security and identification as key opportunities for iBeacon in access control systems. As smart phones and especially iPhones continue to expand their presence, security systems need to reflect these changes. The potential for iBeacons to monitor rooms and building with people tracking is immense.

6. More Accurate Ticketing And Access Control

Apple owns some very important foundational patents that allow for radio frequency to be the basis of not only ticketing and event passes, they also have patents for door locking and access control.  The iBeacon technology will form a backbone for these use cases.   Your Major League Baseball ticket will already be in Passbook and certain iBeacon events will interact with the Passbook ticket and grand turnstile iBeacon users only access and ticketing verification.

Stay tuned for more news.

Posted by: In: Blog 19 Aug 2013 0 comments

In our search for better security products we are constantly monitoring what is available and how these products and service can benefit our clients, friends and family.

The Canary is a new and very interesting product currently seeking crown soured funding. The funding has been wildly over subscribed with close to $1.5M raised against a goal of $100,000. This puts the Canary in Pebble smart watch class.

It also looks exquisite. We can’t wait to receive ours for our office.

So what is canary?

canary-features

Canary: The first smart home security device for everyone

Canary is a simple device packed with smart sensors that empowers you to keep your home safe and secure — controlled through your mobile device.

Controlled entirely from your iPhone or Android device, Canary alerts you when it senses anything out of the ordinary — from sudden temperature changes that can indicate a fire, to the sound and movement that could mean an intrusion. Instantly receive, view and act on the alerts wherever you are. Over time, Canary learns your home’s rhythms to send you smarter alerts. Canary is the smartest way to stay secure.

You can find out more at the funding site:

Posted by: In: Blog 07 Aug 2013 0 comments

Rogue Traders: Landmark Home Security (Landmark Security Ltd)

From the BBC Watchdog series. While we don’t usually report on industry news this item caught out attention as it is close to home. Just beware out there in Kent and Surrey.

BBC Rogue Traders is looking at a burglar alarm company called Landmark Security Ltd – trading as Landmark Home Security – based in Maidstone Kent (not to be confused with any similar sounding companies). The Rogue Traders team have received complaints that Landmark Home Security were putting the squeeze on customers by offering them ‘free’ alarm systems that ended up costing a great deal of money…

77 year old Nesta Hollis from Esher Surrey received one such phone call from Landmark Home Security and was told she was entitled to a free alarm system. The company sent a representative to her home to discuss the product – it was however a long discussion as the salesman was at Nesta’s house for three hours.

Nesta has suffered two strokes which means she can get very tired and a bit confused. She does remember the rep saying the alarm was free and that it would come with servicing and monitoring charges. She signed a contract for £7098 which was for a fifteen year servicing and monitoring contract.

Rogue is alarmed…

The Rogue Traders team wanted to find out whether Landmark Home Security were still offering these ‘free alarms’.

In usual Rogue Traders fashion we set up a house in Esher Surrey – rigged it with hidden cameras and to add the predictable icing on the cake – got an actress called June who was pretending to be terrified of the local hood-rats.

June called Landmark Home Security about their free alarm system offer and they sent out a salesman called Sam to tell us more. Sam explained that he was offering a promotion and the company does not always give away free alarms.

Sam explained to our actress – “We go from area to area offering these free alarms and then once we’ve given away between 5 to 8 normally, we move on to the next area. Giving away these free systems creates a huge impact and awareness of us as a company… Maintenance, the monitoring and response is what you pay for..”.

So we learnt – it’s only free when you pay a fee. But Sam is a little over the top when describing the monitoring service that comes with this ‘free’ alarm.

“Monitoring means there is someone sitting at a computer screen watching your home all the time… The second part is fire. Now ours is linked to the system, so if you have a fire that flags up as well – so potentially we’re putting out a fire in your home you didn’t even know anything about. Now that third part of the system is a remote panic button. June it might even be the difference between life and death”.

This is all very scary stuff for June particularly when after completing his risk assessment of her home, Sam told her that she is coming out as a high risk.

“Well we have been told this area is fairly high…a fairly high crime rate… Because of burglaries that have happened in the local area, some of them are only a stone’s throw. We are told the burglaries are not every single night but fairly frequent. So it is quite high”.

This is not true at all. In fact at the time of Sam’s visit within one mile of the stooge home there were in fact just three burglaries.

After all of that June did what any terrified home-aloner would do….and asked about the cost. Sam told us it was £6999.00 which he considered was a very good price. That’s nearly £7000 even with a free alarm! Frightening stuff!

When June was reluctant to sign up that night Sam put her on to the head office who again asked her why she was not interested.

Like any wise elderly actress, June asked Sam if she can sleep on it and decide another day – but Sam had some bad news for us.

 “Well obviously you won’t be able to get the system for free unfortunately”.

Unless June signed on the dotted line right there and then, she would be charged for the alarm that was originally free. This would increase the price by £3000.

Thanks but no thanks, Sam.

Wasting Time…

landmark securitySo was this just a one-off incident from an over excited salesman? We wanted to find out so we rigged another house, this time a bit closer to Landmark Home Security HQ in Kent.

With us was Security Alarm industry expert Graeme Dow who was ready to spot a scaremonger or seven. He had already watched how Sam sold the alarm system.

We also had new actress Beryl who was ready and waiting to play our femme fatale. Landmark Home Security had already told Beryl that she had been selected for a free alarm system as well – and now they were sending over salesman Joe to give her more details. New salesman, same old patter!

Joe began by explaining the great value of this free alarm.

“The alarm system is free – the monitoring and maintenance is what you’d have to pay for. Hopefully Landmark will help reduce crime in your area. And that’s like you correctly said, basically that’s what we’re doing. You can’t put a price on peace of mind”.

This is all very nice – but how much is this ‘free alarm’ worth? Joe told us the system was valued at £2619.

Graeme Dow disagreed with this valuation of the alarm.

“This is not a £3000 system, he’s just given a price. He’s just pulled that out of the air…Which? [Magazine] did a survey 3 years ago and said the average price of a system in south east of England was under £600.

But Joe was adamant that it was a bargain for Beryl.

“You’re getting the system for free bearing in mind we’re giving you a system worth the best part of £3000”.

Graeme was not impressed and stated that by making out something was free when there were additional charges would mean Joe was breaking the law – The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to be precise. Sam did the same thing.

So lies and law-breaking – Joe deserves to join Sam in detention. Still, he’s delivered his pitch to Beryl and said it’s up to her and her alone to decide whether she wanted to go ahead.

Beryl decided to decline at that time as it was quite a lot of information and figures to take in. Joe had been selling to her for hours.

Considering Joe only wanted a simple ‘yes or no’ you would think he would have left her to think about it some more.

But no – Joe kept asking Beryl why she wouldn’t join up. When Joe realised that Beryl may not sign that night he phoned through to Landmark Home Security’s head office. He wanted to see if he could get his boss to persuade her to sign up to the alarm system there and then.

Beryl told the head office that she was not interested and didn’t wish to talk about it anymore. The man from the office was straight to the point and continued to pile on the pressure.

“I don’t think you’re being truthful now Beryl to be honest… you’re not giving me a reason”.

Beryl told Landmark Home Security ‘no’ twenty-five times. Finally realising he was not going to get a sale, Joe made his feelings to our actress clear – crystal clear to be precise.

“It’s unfair what you’ve done… do you understand what you’ve done? Is this what you normally do, invite someone round to your house? …You won’t accept that I’ve been through everything with you. … it’s crystal clear what you’re gonna get for your money, okay? It’s been made crystal. Blimmin’ clear, to you”

Security Alarm industry expert Graeme Dow was unimpressed with the behaviour of Joe. Graeme explained that he couldn’t understand why Joe was finding it so hard to take no for an answer. He explained further, 

“You don’t have to give a reason. If you don’t want it you don’t want it”.

As Joe left, he told our actress how much she had wasted his time.

“Well ya know, I think it’s been a complete waste of my time don’t you think so? … Ok well once again thanks for wasting my time…”.

As Joe left our stooge house, he decided to wheel spin in his car off our driveway. He obviously wasn’t used to people saying no to him.

Phone (and Alarm Bells) Ringing…

Even after this extraordinarily rude exit the company’s persistence wasn’t over. They called our actress a remarkable 12 times to try and get her to change her mind. So it got the Rogue team thinking -he clearly didn’t like having his time wasted, so who better to remind him of that than 80s chart topper Owen Paul – famous for his number three UK hit “My Favourite Waste of Time”.

So we arranged another booking with Joe but this time we had Graham our expert, cameras, monitors all set up and we also had singing legend Owen Paul to play. We wanted to know exactly why Joe thought it was acceptable to bully old ladies into buying an alarm system they did not want.

As soon as Joe turned up we noticed his tone was a lot different because Owen was in the room – he was a lot more factual for a start. Unfortunately for Joe Owen wasn’t really interested in talking alarms – he wanted to sing an old classic to him. We don’t think Joe remembered the song from 1986 as he probably wasn’t even born.

Owen started playing “My Favourite Waste of Time” – Joe unaware that Matt Allwright was ready to join in at the chorus – as soon as he saw the cameras however he left the house refusing to answer any of Matt’s questions.

Posted by: In: Blog 03 Jun 2013 0 comments

August introduce Smart Lock – another iPhone managed door lock

Welcome to August Smart Lock.

august door lockThe August Smart Lock is the secure, simple, and social way to manage your home’s lock. Now you can control who can enter and who can’t—without the need for keys or codes. And you can do it all from your smart phone or computer.

This a keyless device using encrypted locking technology. It look beautiful from a design and user perspective.

On sale in the US soon. We have our order placed. Learn more at August website.

Features:

Design

Enjoy beautiful, discreet design with an intuitive interface. Durable anodized aluminum, a clever use of LEDs and your choice of color and finish make August both elegant and discreet.

Bluetooth

August works independent of your wireless or phone networks. Reliable Bluetooth technology syncs your phone directly with your August lock.

No wiring

There’s no need to wire or connect August – it uses standard batteries. That means your lock stays on even if electricity goes down. Sensors will let you know, with indicators, and via email, when the batteries need replacing.

Universal

Package includes deadbolt adapters and faceplates to accommodate 90% of locks on the market.

A new level of safe.

Keyless


real-time[1]August’s encrypted locking technology is safer than keys that can get lost and codes that can be copied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Control

log[1]You control when people have access to your home. For example you can issue a key that works 24/7 for a family member, or one that works a couple of hours a week only for your cleaning person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Log Records

keychain[1]You can see a Log of who’s entered and exited—and exactly when they did—remotely from your phone or computer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always On

people[1]It doesn’t matter if your power, cable or Wi-Fi goes down. August has standard batteries that keep it running in any circumstance. When the batteries get low we’ll even send you reminders.

Posted by: In: Blog 09 May 2013 0 comments

Kwikset’s new Kevo door lock turns your iPhone into the simplest of digital keys. Just have your phone in your pocket or purse, tap the Kevo lock, and you’re in.

kevolock

This lock is super cool. The Kevo looks like an ordinary lock, but the halo of light surrounding the keyhole gives it a vaguely futuristic look. An app links your iPhone to the lock using Bluetooth and the miracle of location services, eliminating the need to fumble through your pockets or purse for your keys. Just tap the lock with your finger and the halo flashes green, letting you know the door is unlocked. You don’t even need to take your iPhone out of your pocket.

Those of you with families or roommates will, of course, need more than one iPhone key, so the Kevo app lets you create electronic keys for other people. (Just remember they’ll need iPhones too.) It’s also a handy feature for giving, say, dog sitters or contractors access. As soon as they’re done with their work, just delete their key.

The Kevo knows when you’re inside, too. That way, some random punk walking down the street can’t simply tap the lock and wander in while you’re in the shower. This being 2013, the lock has various levels of encryption, making it difficult (though not impossible) to hack.

The Kevo lock runs on two AA batteries good for about a year. You can still use the Kevo lock with the Kevo Fob. It does basically the same thing as the iPhone and app, but you only get one fob per lock. If you live with multiple people, you’ll need to shell out extra cash for more fobs. The lock is expected to come out this summer. You can sign up for release details at the Kwikset website;

And if all else fails, Kevo can still work like a traditional door lock. But what’s the fun in inserting and turning a physical key on lock like this?

Posted by: In: Blog 15 Feb 2013 0 comments

Security is often based on knowledge

One interesting new device from Italian company called I’m who make a neat smart watch are about to launch a GPS tracker called the I’m Here.

imhere-gps-tracker

 

The device looks very interesting indeed if you are searching for a personal tracking device.

The product will ship in May 2013 and in the UK will retail for just £110.

It includes a SIM card and comes pre-loaded with 200 activations and you can buy more for 00.05 Euros each.

We have one on order and look forward to its arrival on these shores.

From the i’m website

i’m Here’s technology is simple and efficient: from your smartphone you connect to i’m Cloud, which asks the device to find its position. Once identified, it shows you its location on Google Maps.

Using latest generation technology, i’m Here is able to transmit its location anywhere in the world. Its secret? i’m Here uses its integrated SIM to access the global GSM mobile network to transmit its position. It does this upon demand, if you ask it via the i’m Cloud service, or automatically at pre-set intervals. This is useful, for example, when sailing or hiking alone, when you want to let others know your position or when you’ve finished and want to analyze your route. And in the pocket or on the wrist of your child, it becomes an invaluable safety device.

In sports, i’m Here tracks the routes you take, whether you’re jogging, hiking, car racing or whatever. But it can also track down a lost suitcase or a stolen car. And in emergency situations, if you ever get lost, have an accident in an isolated area or simply want to notify others of your position or discover the whereabouts of your child, i’m Here is the perfect companion. Use your i’m Here straightaway thanks to the 200 inclusive geolocations. You can buy more, directly from i’m Cloud, at just €0.05 each.

 

 

 

Posted by: In: Blog 24 Jan 2013 0 comments

We have uncovered a new and affordable video door entry

It is simple to both use and install with just 3 components: external panel, interior monitor and door control unit

The system provides:

  • Intuitive, colour touch-screen monitor
  • Robust external panel comes with a keypad and RFID reader
  • Infra-red camera for low-light use
  • IP55 rating for use in all weather conditions

The Video Entry Systems comes in a discreet design that is suitable for a range of environments. The entry panel has an attractive brushed steel effect for a smart appearance and durability.

Installation of the exterior panel is flexible, with flush or surface mount options and can even be mounted onto a metal surface if required.

The interior monitor is available as a wall mount, or optional desk mount stand.

Operation – A visitor initiates a video call via the bell button on the external panel. Visitor access can be granted via the entry monitor, which features an intuitive touch-screen user interface. The internal monitor can be used via either the handset for private calls or in hands free mode.

When connected to an Access Control System, access to the building can be gained by using a PIN, Code and/or proximity token.

Contact SCS for more details and pricing.

 

 

Posted by: In: Blog 15 Jan 2013 0 comments

We are always on the lookout for interesting new security products.

This new camera caught our eye. It is released at a trade show in Dubai and we expect to have one in the SCS office before long.

EverFocus is launching network-based, compact-sized fixed domes for indoor installations and on-board monitoring applications. The indoor models and the mobile-specific models are making their industry debut at Intersec 2013, which takes place in Dubai from January 15 to January 17.

Both variants come in various resolutions of 1.3 megapixel, 2 megapixel and 3 megapixel, catering to all kinds of user demands.

Certified with IK10 rating and IP67 rating standards, the EMNs models are vandal-resident, weather-proof and capable of exceptional performances in numerous application environments. The mobile outdoor domes are also EN 50155-compliant for in-vehicle applications.

“We’re proud to present this newest addition to our IP-based product line,” said Jessy Lee, the director of system planning and development at the EverFocus Electronics Corporation. “With a diameter of only 100 mm, our versatile and installer-friendly mini domes offer the best possible value and cost-effectiveness to users.”

Models in the EverFocus EDN 1000 Series and the EMN 2000 Series are ideal solutions for all vertical markets, particularly retail stores, boutique shops, corporate offices, shopping malls and hotel lobbies.

Contact SCS for more details.

Posted by: In: Blog 06 Dec 2012 0 comments

Lockitron keyless entry

In our quest for interesting security devices we came across this new company with a wireless key-less entry system.

The company is called Lockitron and have just received funding from over 14,000 crowd sourced backers to bring their Lockitron key-less door product to the market place.

The company is interesting in that they applied via Kickstarter, the high profile crown sourcing site that has funded Pebble, Skallops and other fascinating hi-tech products. After Lockitron were turned down the founders branched out on their own with a goal of raising $150,000. Now, only a few week later they are sitting on top of $1.5 Million in pre orders. The catalyst was when the high profile website TechCrunch wrote about the company and product. The video report was seen by over 2 million viewers on YouTube.

The story about the funding has been widely reported in Inc. CNBC, PCworld as well as TechCrunch. While this is interesting the real story is about the lock.

The Lockitron door lock system enables you to replace your keys with your phone. Doors can then be opened from your iPhone from any location enabling you to let family or friends in to your house when you want from anywhere. By using local a local Bluetooth connection the door will automatically open when you approach it. How cool is that?

For an office this is incredibly useful as the need for keys is greatly diminished and you have instant remote control over the doors.

The device slips over an existing deadbolt in a doorway; these are very common in the United States and less common in the UK. The graphic below explain a little more.

Lockitron is compatible with most through-hole / cylindrical deadbolts (green checkmark). 

If you have an interconnected deadbolt (yellow X) you can use Lockitron by removing the interconnecting plate first. 

If you have a mortise lock (red X) then you can install Lockitron above your current lock by adding an additional deadbolt.

 

 

We have some on order and will be experimenting with them once they land in the CSC offices in May 2013.

Posted by: In: Blog 15 Oct 2012 0 comments

After the successful installation of a bar-code Access Control system at Powder Mills lake in Surrey the Albury Estate Fisheries wanted to extent the system to include Syon Park, the seconds of the five Albury Estate Lakes.

Syon Gate Access Control System with bar-code readerThis is a pedestrian only gate that permits members of the fly fishing club to enter the Syon Lake. The lake is particularly popular with anglers as it one of the few location to offer fly fishing in the London area. On a summer weekend the lake can see over 100 anglers, who don’t want to be disturbed by non-members accessing the lake area. The gate system is designed to permit members access and restrict the general public from entering the lake.

The system shares the member’s database from the existing Access Control system in use at Powder Mills. The central server is located in the Albury Estate Office in Albury. The challenge for SCS was to connect the Syon gate with the Albury server when Syon gate had no Internet connection. Syon does have good 3G coverage and this was the selected connection method to link the gate with Albury.

A specialised 3G router was sourced to provide an IP connection over the public Internet to link the Albury Server with the Syon Access Control. While the gate system stores all membership data locally it does communicate with Albury whenever the gate is opened and the Albury server alerts the fisheries bailiff staff that a particular angler has entered the lake.

The Access Control system is now live and the Estate plan to deploy additional control units at the other three lakes.