Motorola homesight Wireless Easy Starter Kit review
Congratulations on your new home. Or, alternatively, on that lovely big pile of presents sitting under the tree. And seeing as the relatives are imminently due, doesn’t the house look nice and inviting? That’s what those desperate burglar types are thinking too. Thankfully, Motorola has something to put your mind at ease this Yuletide with homesight, its new home-monitoring system.
The system is controlled using the Wireless System Controller from a single PC running the homesight software. This may look like a typical Wi-Fi router, but it connects with your PC over USB and the wireless protocol it uses to link with all the monitoring devices is proprietary. Because of this, there’s no chance of integrating homesight with your existing wireless network, but it does operate using the 2.4GHz radio frequency of 802.11b/g, so interference is a potential problem. homesight asks which channel your wireless network uses (and so which to avoid), but if your router hides this information or channel-hops, it isn’t a particularly helpful question.
In our single-WLAN, three-bed test house, homesight was generally reliable. The Starter Kit comes with a wireless day camera and a door/window sensor; more devices can be added to a total of 12 wireless cameras, three wired cameras and 16 wireless controllers. While that’s more than enough to cover a small business premises, it certainly isn’t comprehensive enough to replace a professional monitoring or alarm service: it doesn’t connect directly with the emergency services, either.
homesight can send email and text notifications, though. Email notifications contain the name you gave to the Event, the device that was activated, and the time it was activated. homesight can even attach the captured picture or video from a camera to enable you to see what’s going on. Text notifications to your mobile phone work using SMS, sending the same information but with no attachment.
And homesight isn’t just for monitoring buildings – add a few accessories and you can automate parts of your home. For example, a motion sensor in the hallway can trigger a Power Controller to automatically turn on a lamp as you enter the front door, and cameras can monitor sleeping babies just as well as nefarious burglars. Or perhaps a day/night camera could keep tabs on the wildlife prowling through your back garden at night. The flexibility of homesight is impressive, with any device able to trigger any other. Motorola has also teamed up with I’m InTouch to give homesight users a discount on its remote-access software, so you can keep an eye on your home from a Pocket PC or Palm OS PDA, or work PC. Visit www.imintouch.net for details.
We have a few gripes with the homesight software though, as it was a trying process to get everything set up as we wanted. We tried to group all the cameras as one, so that whenever the motion sensor in one is triggered it would record 30 seconds of video, and then send us an email notification. Our first problem was in grouping the cameras; we had to start a new device discovery to get an option to group devices. And then homesight treated the group as a single entity, and as it doesn’t let groups initialise an event, it won’t send the email.
Once we became used to the rigidity of homesight, it was easy enough, if a little long-winded, to slog through setting up Event rules. The three stages of setting up the rule (Condition, Action, Notification) are tabbed for simplicity, with the Condition tab holding advanced options such as day- and time-based scheduling. For example, you can tell a camera not to bother doing anything unless it’s between 10am and 6pm on a weekday.