Tech Review: The Point Alarm System

November 26, 2014
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Tech Review: The Point Alarm System

Here’s another Kickstarter campaign that has already surpassed its ambitious set of goals almost instantaneously.  The brainchild of Nils Mattisson—formerly one of Sir Jonathan Ives’ best and brightest boys at Apple—the CEO and Chief Engineer of Form Devices in Malmo, Sweden. It’s an internet-connected device that serves a multiplicity of practical purposes. Called Point (and not ‘The Point’) as a company PR representative repeatedly wished me to point out, it owns a variety of miniature sensors that measure ambient noise, heat, background noise, airborne particles and humidity. Point is very much an owner friendly product.

“Today security systems often involve camera—compromising the feeling of home. They are complex, often requiring daily interaction. Point is different,” Mattison says. “It respects privacy and requires no attention beyond the annual change of batteries”.

There are already a number of Green-thinking neo-home security devices, most of which are rather high-priced and created for house owners. One being the Nest product line I wrote about last year. Proceeding with the notion that a lot of young people live in apartments and hate the extra clutter added by close-circuit cameras and any number of surveillance toys, Form Devices decided to simplify things down to the bare necessities. The important thing, unless, say, you want to spy on the babysitter, is that you want to be sure whenever you check on your home that everything is okay, nothing has burned down and there hasn’t been an accident of any kind. That simple set of needs, Form’s engineers decided, could be satisfied through sound alone.

Tech Review: The Point Alarm System

Resembling a modem or a slightly thicker smoke alarm, Point sits and constantly measures sound. By measuring background acoustics it is constantly calculating frequency ranges, which tell it when something sounds like breaking glass, or, similarly, glass being cut on a window; a door or window being opened and closed; all the clues to a burglary or, at the other end of the spectrum, an unfaithful lover. Should it notice something, it will alert both an apartment building’s tenant and landlord via a Blackberry or smartphone app or Apple’s iWatch technology.

Sweating the big stuff is one thing. But then there’s just plain old convenience. One of my pet peeves in these kinds of reviews is the irritating way that temperature, smoke and humidity sensors can go off in a nerve-jangling shrill enough manner to really add to a bad day. Atypical is when I’m making a well-done burger for one of the kids and that hysterical bastard goes off. Well, thank Jah for Point. It owns a clever little system for analyzing airborne particles that definitely differentiates between smoke from your abode burning down rather than the afore-mentioned blackened burger.

Tech Review: The Point Alarm System

Above and beyond landlords and tenants, there is a also a vast connection to be utilized among the kind of investors who have second and third homes they rent out for short and long periods, but which also sit empty and unused for large blocks of time. The phenomenon of AirBnB comes to mind. In such cases, even without heavy investment in close-circuit camera circuitry and bugging technology, Point can be set to glow yellow when it is exposed to loud music or cigarette smoke. As such, an owner or janitor or custodian could serve fair warning on guests who flout house rules that they are flirting with disaster, all of it without any need for in-your-face conflict. In such cases, however, it might also be wise to disguise or hide the device with the knowledge that a malicious, educated hacker might attempt transform it into something evil.

At any rate, on November 4, 2014, Form Devices launched a Kickstarter Funding Campaign that has already more than tripled its $50,000 goal.  For those who are still interested in making an investment, the last day of the campaign is Wednesday December 3, 2014. The device is due to ship to consumers in mid-2015.

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