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TECH
Piper Smart Home System
TECH
Piper Smart Home System
A home automation and security device that keeps an eye on everything from light and sound to temperature
by Graham Hiemstra
on 21 January 2014
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While the quantified self continues to be a major trend in consumer tech, the smart home sector is quickly picking up speed and attention as well. A standout among the many presented at this year's CES was Piper, which launches to the public today. The comprehensive device works as a stand-alone home security and automation system with three security modes, a 180-degree HD camera and environmental sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, ambient light and sound—all while being Z-Wave compatible (to remotely control lights and electronics). The system is controlled entirely through a dedicated, neatly designed app, which we recently tested along with the system.

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With three modes for stay, away and vacation, Piper lets the user monitor their home from anywhere there's phone service. While it's nice and futuristic to focus on the ability to remotely turn on and off appliances from your phone, the simple security features are what really make the system worth a second look. By relying on rudimentary "if/then"-style rules for each mode, users are able to dictate just what will happen should anything unexpected occur. For example, with a few clicks, users can set up a trusted neighbor to be alerted if there's an sudden spike in temperature or any number of other triggers. The "trusted circle" seems like a no-brainer yet from what we've seen, few—if any—other smart home devices include it as an option.

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The device also offers users the ability to peer into their own home via live streaming video with the high-definition camera, which is a benefit—albeit one that other systems offer. That said, it will never not be entertaining for dog owners to watch their pooch run around the house while they're at work or on vacation. And, thanks to the internal environment vitals mapping, it's easy to see just how active the pup was—as well as monitor temperature, humidity, noise and light levels.

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Billed as a comprehensive smart home system, Piper works as a base for any number of Z-Wave-enabled devices as well, allowing users to sync and control numerous outlets, appliances, and door and window sensors. While there are heaps of apps for this already, by combining it all under the Piper app, life just gets simpler. Visit Piper online where the subscription-free device is now available for $239.

A second, more attractive, smart home security system on show at CES was Canary, a more security-focused device with equal abilities in environment monitoring—although lacking Z-Wave connectivity. While the "eye" on Piper never quite allows the device to seamlessly integrate into the home, the sleek design of Canary seems more adaptable. Set to launch in July, Canary specs and pre-order are available online.

Lead two images by Graham Hiemstra, all others courtesy of Piper

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