Westlake Village (CA) – Alarm and surveillance systems have been the traditional ways of protecting your home or business, but they often require expert installaion and expensive gear. Sentinel Vision hopes to change that with its Safescout alarm system that can send text, pictures and audio alerts to email accounts and cellular phones. Mark West, CFO and co-founder of Sentinel Vision, told TG Daily that the system lets users be more active in deciding if law enforcement should be called.
The Safescout system consists of a base unit with a keypad, camera and microphone along with a wireless alarm speaker capable of blaring out 95 to 105 decibels. Buyers can purchase optional keyfob (think car remote) to remotely arm and disarm the system.
The system plugs into a regular phone line and then sends intrusion alerts with pictures and sound to up to 5 phone numbers (usually cellular phones) and 5 email accounts. SMS and MMS messages can also be sent. Full-color pictures are taken at 640 X 480 pixel resolution; these pictures will be downscaled on the receiving phone’s screen. Audio is sent in 20 second increments.
West told us the pictures and sound help users make smarter decisions than a “dumb alarm systems”. Images can arrive as fast as 1 minute 10 seconds after the intrusion and users can decide to call the police. Users can remotely override the system if the intruder turns out to be a friend or their drunk uncle Harry. “You are in control. It’s not a dumb decision and doesn’t make the wrong decision by calling the cops,” says West.
Already the Safescout has had some notable successes and West told us of a California lady who had her apartment broken into while she was away. She received the intrusion pictures and then contacted the local police department. The police car had a color printer which printed out the pictures and rushed to the scene. Unfortunately the crooks were gone when the police arrived, but you can imagine the slam dunk case if they had stayed.
The previous case brings up an interesting point about having almost live pictures and audio. Typically police respond much faster to crimes in progress than normal burglary calls. West claims that police will always jump at the chance to catch a bad guy in the act.
Some people may have been put off by the complexities of professional and DIY surveillance systems, but West told us that the Safescout is simple to configure. “If you can buy something from Amazon.com, you can handle this,” says West. The user types in the configuration information on a website and then connects the SafeScout to a phone line. The information is synchronized after pressing a button on the unit.
West says apartment owners and dorm dwellers will like the system because it doesn’t require people to rip into the walls. “Often you don’t have the authority to change wiring or install traditional alarms,” says West.
You often hear stories of crooks stealing the surveillance cameras and VCR, but in SafeScout’s case this won’t work. While the Safescout does have some flash memory for storing alerts, audio and pictures, West told us that everything is stored on their servers. Stealing the box does the crook no good and West adds, “Whether or not you have pro monitoring, everything goes to our servers first.”
What if the criminal tries to cut the phone line? West adressed that concern by saying phone lines are difficult to find, especially in Sentinel Vision’s primary market of apartment and dorm dwellers. He adds that all traditional alarm vendors face a similar problem, but very few criminals are smart enough to cut the phone line.
The Sentinel Vision Safescout sells for $300 and the mandatory notification service is around $20 a month. Professional monitoring is another $10 a month.