Do-it-yourself security company SimpliSafe is beta testing a new service that allows its agents to both look into your home and talk to potential intruders during an alarm event. The “24/7 live guard” service is based on a new AI-powered security camera. If the camera detects human movement while the system is armed, it can trigger the alarm and open a live feed for a security guard to see and speak to whoever triggered it – and hopefully scare it off.
The program only works with SimpliSafe’s new Smart Alarm Wireless Indoor Security Camera, paired with a SimpliSafe Base Station and a monthly subscription for interactive monitoring. The Smart Alarm camera is an AI-enabled, battery-powered indoor security camera with a PIR motion sensor and a built-in siren.
The new camera can detect motion and the built-in AI can distinguish between pets and humans. While the system is armed and motion is detected, the camera processes the footage locally, determines whether it’s a pet or a person, and sounds the alarm if it sees a person, explains Hooman Shahidi, senior VP of product at SimpliSafe, to The edge in an interview.
At that time (and not before) a SimpliSafe agent can view the live feed. This is something SimpliSafe already offers with its video verification option, which can help facilitate a faster response from emergency services. The difference with live guard is that the agent can also communicate with the person through the camera’s built-in microphone array and speakers. The idea is that they may be able to deter them and/or more accurately verify what is happening in order to initiate the appropriate emergency response, if necessary.
The idea of letting a live person look into your home naturally raises questions about your privacy. Shahidi says the live guard beta testing is done from SimpliSafe’s own monitoring center, not through an outside service. He also says: “We have measures in place through a chain of custody to ensure that the video passing through our system is kept strictly confidential. No one has access outside of the live event, the only time we see it is during the alarm.”
However, the user can access recordings of all interactions through the SimpliSafe app. In addition, like SimpliSafe’s existing indoor camera, the Smart Alarm camera has a mechanical privacy shutter that clicks open and closed audibly and visually. By default, the shutter is closed when the system is in home mode or powered off.
This “proactive” approach to professional home security monitoring isn’t entirely new, Ring launched its Virtual Guard service for outdoor cameras last year, and there are other companies that offer the added feature of having a real person check in on your security cameras to evaluate a glitch so you don’t have to. But SimpliSafe is the first company to bring this inside your house.
The live guard feature will launch in beta on February 2 and is scheduled for a full release later this year. SimpliSafe customers interested in requesting the beta can do so at SimpliSafe.com.
There is no price yet for the camera or the live surveillance. Shahidi said SimpliSafe will confirm those details once the program exits beta. For now, beta participants will be offered the new camera for $49.99 (a discounted price). By comparison, Ring’s Virtual Guard costs $99 per month on top of a $20 per month Ring Protect Plus subscription.
Indoor security cameras walk a delicate line. People are understandably cautious, especially given the recent news about security camera companies like Eufy not being transparent about their technology. However, SimpliSafe’s approach does offer a number of safeguards, such as the automatic privacy shutter and local processing. But that has not allayed all concerns. Shahidi said the new camera is designed explicitly as a security device, not just to check in on your pets (although you can!). The live guard feature is also opt-in, so if it’s something that gives you more peace of mind, that might be a risk you’re willing to take.