Making Everyday Life Easier Isn’t A Luxury For Those With Disability

Child watching television in a lounge filled with furniture.It’s thought that up to 1000,000,000 alive today have some form of disability, that’s 14.3% of the world’s population who have trouble performing tasks that the able bodied are able to do without much effort.

With that number of people struggling it makes sense that technology should be deployed to make life easier, which is why we need to stop thinking about Smart home solutions as a luxury for those who can afford it, but a necessity for those who need it.

Jaquelline Fuller of Google.org, Google’s charitable arm, said that “historically people living with a disability have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive and limited to assisting with one or two tasks. But that’s to change. Together we can create a better world, faster.” So, as we see further developments in connected home devices, the more we see how they can be deployed in such a way that helps those who have trouble seeing, hearing, reaching or even moving a great deal.

Lifestyle Isn’t Luxury

Many devices exist which are a welcome addition to the array of goods which people suffering from mobility and sensory disability will appreciate, yet they’re not marketed at these people because to get the best bang from the buck, marketing departments overlook people with disabilities because they are regarded as a low take-up group with too small a budget/income. Instead the obvious advantages they have for these people are sublimated to the convenience that the devices hold for cash rich time poor individuals for whom total automation and intuitive voice control are the holy grail. Gimmicky gadgets detract from the advances that Smart devices are making. Newspapers and magazine writers take delight in mocking the latest innovations, often because they solve a problem that the writers take for granted or don’t look at from any angle beside face value. Because of this Smart devices are considered luxury goods or needless developments that boffins come up with simply because they can. However, a lot of that ‘luxury’ technology is a godsend for people who know the limitations of living in a world which isn’t designed for them. Read more

What You Should Be Putting On Your Wireless Wishlist

With Christmas coming, what could be a better time to start thinking about your IoT and wireless enabled Smart home? With so many Internet of Things devices available, and your Christmas list still looking scant, maybe ‘new tech’ should be your standard answer whenever anyone asks what you want. Better to ask for a smart home hub and get a smart switch than saying ‘Oh, I don’t know, anything you get me would be lovely’ and ending up with another ugly Christmas jumper.

With Smart home technology you can take complete control of a vast range of different gadgets and consumer durables from anywhere on earth with an internet connection. Or you can sit in the comfort of your own front room and control everything from blinds, lights, air conditioning and heating, CCTV and an intercom, all by simply calling out and telling the house what you want it to do. (If you’re struggling to justify the cost of replacing perfectly good tech that you bought five minutes ago which isn’t Smart, offset the cost by selling your superannuated goods on Gumtree or eBay. You make a bit of the money back, save landfill and someone gets some lovely gadgets for a great price.) Read more

Installing Your Own CCTV Security Camera System

One of the greatest barriers to entry for home security cameras used to be the cabling. The fact that a security camera needed a cable to pass through a wall meant that location was limited, and not everyone was happy about drilling a hole thought the brickwork or rendering, especially in historic, rented or listed buildings. With Smart CCTV that’s no longer a problem.

Now that wireless CCTV cameras are now available, that problem is eliminated. Because they’re wireless, they can be installed virtually anywhere, meaning that they can not only cover doors, windows and the access to your property, they can be put in and around garages, outbuildings and sheds. It’s common for burglars to break into sheds not only to steal tools, bikes and lawnmowers and the like, but to take your own ladders, using them to get further access to your home and its contents.

When planning where to have your new security camera system installation, there are one or two issues to consider.

Coverage

Will it capture images of people as they approach the property? If you put the camera too high the angle will be too steep to get a good look at people’s faces. Is there anything obscuring the lens creating a blind spot which could be used to evade detection by a CCTV security camera’s motion detectors?

Access

You’ll probably want to tweak the angle that the camera is aimed once it’s installed and set up, and at some point you’ll need to either change the batteries or clean the solar panel, depending on how the unit works. You’ll undoubtedly need a ladder to reach the camera, so consider whether you can do that safely regularly before you set the CCTV camera up.

Network Security

Because the camera is wireless it needs to connect with your wireless home network. If the camera hasn’t been correctly secured it could get hacked, meaning that other people can turn the camera on and off or even use it to get access to other smart devices you have around the home. Change the product name and password from the default and use something innocuous as a name and a long, complex password. Calling it ‘security camera front door’ and using the default password, or the same password you use for all your devices makes it incredibly easy to hack if you have half a mind.

Extras

You can opt to have a mic and speaker on your security camera so you can talk to people who are wandering around your property, the motion detector can be tied to security lights so they flood the drive or garden when people are coming to your door, some come with infra red night vision, human detection (so they won’t activate every time a cat or fox walks up the garden path) and motion zones so you can identify areas in frame where people shouldn’t be going.

Now that we know what you need to be looking out for, which are the best products on the market?

Depending on where you plan to use them, the features and benefits will dictate which you will choose, but we’ve looked at the best CCTV and home access devices on the high street and run them down below.

nest cctv home security perimeter camera
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

While it is technically ‘wireless’ insomuch as the data is sent over your wifi network, the device still needs to be powered by a cable, which they helpfully suggest you pass through a window or drill a hole in the wall. So it’s wireless, however, it’s cable dependent. And running a cable through a window compromises not only the window, but can damage the cable too, and if the cable is cut…

The Nest Cam IQ sends 24 hour data so you don’t have to worry about motion detection, but that means it’s data heavy since they operate in full HD. They have facial recognition and night vision with close-up tracking, so if there is a break-in you can be sure to have incredibly good footage of your intruder. It has two way audio so you can talk to people on your property, not only unwelcome visitors, but deliveries, salespeople, and unexpected guests. To get all the features and the most out of the device you need a strong broadband router, and monthly subscription to Nest security services.

ario home security camera
Arlo Pro 2

Arlo Pro 2

The Arlo is indeed a wireless, motion controlled device which saves battery by only coming on when the motion detector is triggered. While the picture quality is an average 720p it has a 130 degree camera which gives a great field of vision. It’s a very small device which is easy to install and is robust, high and low temperatures and rain don’t bother it a bit. The data can be stored locally on a USB or onto the cloud so there is no immediate need to buy a monthly subscription. It also has night vision and adjustable sensitivity, so you can eliminate hedgehogs rootling around and only start filming when people are present.

logitec home security cctv
Logitech Circle 2

Logitech Circle 2

The Logitech Circle comes with a built in battery, but that battery life is limited to 12 hours standby, and less if the camera is activated, so you have to switch over the batteries quite regularly, and if you’re leaving the house from more than a day, you’ll need to find an alternative. You get a choice of video quality capture, 720p or 1080p HD and nigh vision. It has facial and motion detection. Facial recognition means that the camera won’t activate when it recognises you, your partner and kids, but will activate when anyone it doesn’t recognise appears before it. It has 24 hour free cloud space, and a subscription service is available to unlock other features and benefits. The Circle is really a more robust version of the same device designed for indoor use, to record activity and monitor what happens within the home, rather than being designed specifically to use outside. Essentially it works better if located indoors looking out of the window than it does outdoors as thick walls can interrupt the signal when operating wirelessly.

Briant Communications can help you with all your CCTV security camera requirements. From a free quote for installation to a full coverage review, location plan, supply and installation we offer a full service package. Get in touch today for a visit from one of our experienced engineers.

Don’t Give Thieves An Early Christmas Gift

Christmas can be a high old time for burglars and thieves. The nights are dark and cold, you’re buying lots of treats ready for wrapping and giving to your friends and family, and you’re preparing to be out of the house for much of the time. It’s perfect for people planning no good. Not giving them the upper hand is simple though. A few common-sense precautions, one or two deterrents, and your home is safe and secure.

Don’t make your home a target. Many thieves operate at this time of year because the dark afternoons mean that they get to enjoy the best of both worlds: people are out at work, out shopping or walking the dog, but the houses in the neighbourhood are shrouded in darkness. There’s every chance they will have been in your area earlier that day to see if you’re home, checked your security measures and possibly taken a look through the window to see what they’re going to steal when they come back once night has fallen.

Most burglars are opportunist, and by no means professional. They cause thousands of pounds worth of damage stealing goods worth a few hundred that they will only get a few pounds for when they sell them on. They don’t plan beyond looking at the security precautions you’ve on display, they don’t have housebreaking skills or specialist tools, generally they will only spend about a minute trying to force their way in. If they’re successful they will spend 10-12 minutes inside and then leave. They don’t spend time looking carefully at the kinds of door locks you have, whether they can bypass the circuit, or any of that, if they can force their way in without making too much noise, grab what they want and get away again before the police are likely to arrive then your house is good enough for them. Read more

Black Friday Begins A Week Early This Year, So Prepare For Fantastic Offers

home entertainment systems installationIt’s almost time to get Black Friday deals in the UK

Up until recently Black Friday wasn’t a thing in the UK. It’s commonly known that most retailers don’t make a profit until November or December, but until a few years ago shops didn’t make a big deal of it or run sales events to get rid of old stock to make room for new. And once it caught on thanks to Britons becoming more and more aware of it thanks to social media, then retailers with an eye for a promotion started promoting Black Friday events here too.

However, they quickly stopped doing it again when shoppers, eager for a deal and egged on by the hype, stormed the shops, tore them to pieces and several shoppers got quite badly hurt. Consequently they quietly scaled back the hype and Black Friday became a mere mid-season sale. Read more

A Beginner’s Guide To DIY CCTV

Crime levels are creeping up and the budgets which police have are on the decline. If you want to protect your home and property from burglary or criminal damage it’s becoming ever more necessary to deter burglars and vandals yourself rather than expecting the threat of detection and conviction to put off opportunists and career criminals. Wireless CCTV cameras are just the ticket.

Burglar alarms used to do the trick, but people got used to seeing those yellow boxes attached to the wall, rusted and broken down, and now they offer no deterrent at all. If you want to put off burglars today it’s worth investing in CCTV cameras and security lighting to cover the outside of your home.

Security cameras are becoming ever cheaper and easier to find on the high-street. Being wireless they can be positioned anywhere you think they will be the most useful, covering windows and doors, gates, outbuildings, garages and sheds. But how do you keep your security devices secure? Read more

Safe, Simple Wireless Technology Security, A ‘How To’ Guide

We’re not suggesting that the typical burglar has added a laptop to his traditional striped top, mask and duffle bag with ‘Swag’  printed on it, but as crime rates climb, it increases in the cyber realm as much as it does on the streets. Criminals aren’t the kind of people to let opportunities slip past them, and once the thief or burglar catches on to the fact that they can use wireless technology to make their lives of crime easier, they certainly will.

The ways that criminals can take advantage of your incorrectly secured wireless home network can manifest themselves in several ways, many of which we’ve probably never thought of yet, but they currently include identity theft, credit and debit card data scraping and cloning, disabling security cameras and controlling webcams. It’s a truism to say that you wouldn’t go out and leave the house unlocked, but if you don’t lock down your home wifi network, that’s exactly what you’re doing with your data, and, as Wi-Fi enabled access control becomes more prevalent, your front door too. Read more

Is Sky Q The Service For You?

Sky Q is the latest offering from Sky intended to change the way we watch TV.

Sky Q brings all of your entertainment into one place and makes it easier to use wherever you are. Stream movies, sports, TV, music and boxsets while you record other channels and watch a different channel altogether. The beauty of Sky Q is that it can handle a huge amount of data and deliver it to multiple locations throughout the home all at once.

Depending on whether you choose 1 terabyte or 2 terabyte options you will have several different options available to you.

1 terabyte:
• 150 hours of HD recording space
• 8 TV tuners
• 1 minibox
• 1 tablet
• Full HD 1080p but no Ultra HD playback

2 terabyte:
• 350 hours HD recording
• 12 TV tuners
• 2 miniboxes
• 2 tablets
• Full HD and 4K HDR playback Read more

How To Proof Your Home Against Hackers

Child watching television in a lounge filled with furniture.In many senses the latest advances in wireless technology can go a long way to making your home safer. From CCTV to baby monitors, from smart doorbells to fire, smoke and O2 detectors, there are a plethora of different devices which make home security far easier and more practical than ever before.

Who Watches The Watchman?

The upside of accessibility is that you can attach any number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to your home hub and control them all from the comfort of your sofa, or from anywhere else in the world for that matter, so long as you have an internet connection. The downside is that, unless you follow a few basic security protocols, so can anybody else with a will, a little know how, and a laptop.

As the number of devices which are online via the IoT, so does the number of potential breeches in security which could be abused by a hacker.

As your home network grows you may find that your wifi router can’t keep up with the volume of data which is being processed, and you want to buy a new one. That’s good in at least two ways. Old WiFi routers weren’t built to ward off determined hackers. All the old security was concerned with was keeping people out and preventing them from piggybacking your bandwidth. New routers are far more secure, and designed to keep out hackers who would want to get into your network for several reasons. As with so many things, the more you spend, the better the features and benefits. A top end router doesn’t only deliver a better signal and speed, it also offers better security protocols.

The first thing you should do when you’re installing any new equipment or IoT device, you need to create a long, complex password for each item. And don’t write them down, especially don’t create a document on your computer with them in. If anybody gets their hands on your computer, they get access to all the devices you can’t remember the passwords for. As well as being long and complex, you should also update your passwords regularly, especially after you’ve shared your WiFi network with guests and visitors. More than half a million phones are stolen every year, and if one has access to your router, they essentially have the keys not only to your door, but your bank account, emails, and every other part of your life which lives online. Read more

DIY Hi-Fi, WiFi And Home Entertainment Pitfalls

DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.

I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.

DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flatpack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over the period of several years. Read more