Feb 25, 2015
In another life, I was involved in safety, and I remember how involved securing people and places could be. The physical system themselves could be confusing mazes of people and incompatible hardware. It was madness, and the people who were most in the dark tended to be the consumers themselves.
Thankfully, home automation in general (and, specifically in this case, Skylink Alarm System) gives the power back to the Everyday Person.
The Starter Kit review unit Skylink sent us was interestingly small, but packed quite a lot: a singular Internet Hub, one Keychain Remote, a Motion Sensor, power adapter, ethernet cable and a small cache of screws and such for optional mounting. Not included, but needed to set up are a total of seven (7) AAA and AA batteries. The idea is that the Hub acts as the brains, and the other pieces connect together to create a cloud-supported, user controlled safety and security network.
Setup is intuitive enough; after batteries are installed, the powered Hub gets connected to a modem. Then, with the help of the SkylinkNet Android application (which requires prior account creation), one can complete the setup of the Hub, and the overall system settings. Next, the sensors and included keychain can be paired and programmed with notification settings, chimes, names and more.
Next, one gets to place the sensors where they need to me. yes, I probably enjoyed this way more than I should have. The included double-sided tape is especially useful here, and I was more or less able to test out the best location for the sensors continually.
I was impressed as to how similar it is to a conventional alarm system. Things like arming, disarming, delayed exit and such are all supported via the app and keychain. The Hub provides audio sound to accompany activity based on the status of the system. As an added benefit, the app can also be used to control Skylink home automation modules.
I absolutely adore the fact that the setup is infinitely expandable/customizable; one can literally build to suit with extra pieces such as sensors, outdoor alarms, vibration sensors, silent alarms, and more. A system based on power and internet connectivity does have at least two potential flaws, and I like that the Hub incorporates battery backup to somewhat ameliorate that issue, along with the option of phone backup functionality. The app is fairly expansive (up to 100 sensors and controllers), and works well as a software bridge, while simultaneously providing backup control. I do think more documentation and more consistent app navigation is needed.
Put together, it is a much better DIY solution than I envisaged. No contracts here, but the flip here is that at the basic level, it’s all on the user. Still, how can one not be a fan of consumer control, especially with regards to home automation?