Home automation and control is becoming one of those do-it-yourself areas that’s gaining a lot of traction, as network companies get in on the fun with their own solutions. Panasonic’s attempt at the area though is a little different, connecting phones and cameras and providing control from your handset.
That’s the message we’re being shown as Panasonic Australia reveals what it calls the “Connected Home System”, which appears to be Panasonic’s take on a combined security and home automation effort that can take advantage of more than just cameras and security devices, but also home phones produced by the company.
“The home automation market is growing quickly and becoming increasingly important to households,” said Samantha Dawson, Panasonic Australia’s Product Marketing Manager for Home Automation, who said that “Panasonic has developed a solution that is so simple to set up and then monitor via your smartphone.”
“For example, place motion sensors on windows or doors,” she said as one suggestion, offering up that you could “schedule lights and appliances to turn on and off” and “keep watch on specific locations such as your baby’s room or pet’s kennel” using the technology.
To do this, the Panasonic Connected kits will be made available with window and door sensors, motion sensors, cameras, and even smart plugs which can be controlled based on if someone is home or not, essentially allowing people to fiddle with the power of gadgets and appliances when security settings are matched, or merely controlled from a smartphone or tablet.
Four kits will be made to begin with, and from what we understand, each of these will be fairly modular, allowing you to add more as time goes on, with each kit focusing on a specific area.
There will be room monitoring with cameras and motion sensors (ideal for baby monitoring), home monitoring to do the room monitoring on a larger scale, a home control kit with motion sensors and smart plugs, and a home alert kit which packs in pretty much everything and adds a Panasonic DECT equipped home phone that can tell you if a sensor has been tripped.
Wireless connectivity will connect all of these gadgets, the modular components talking to Panasonic’s specialty hub, and each hub will support a maximum of four cameras (indoor or outdoor), six cordless phone handsets, and up to 50 other devices including the sensors and smart plugs, though you can always bring extra hubs to a home and make different zones if need be.
Panasonic’s Home Automation app will be required to make all of this work, controllable on up to eight smartphone or tablets with no ongoing fee for the recording, monitoring, on controlling through the application, thanks to the app saving any video from the camera onto a microSD card.
Compatibility for the app is spread across Android and iOS (iPhone and iPad), and we’re told the app will even allow you to create a schedule for when the smart plugs are switched on and off, essentially allowing Panasonic’s system to act like other automation solutions currently on the market today, powering floor standing lights and other appliances on and off based on your rules.
Unfortunately, regular light bulbs aren’t a part of that package at the moment, though we’re checking with Panasonic to find out when the company will be rolling out lightbulbs compatible with its Connected Home System kits.
It also lacks compatibility with one of the larger automation systems out there, IFTTT, also known as “If This Then That”, which allows you to create formulas for appliances to respond to that do things based off of one trigger going off.
With IFTTT engaged, you might tell a home automation kit to trigger the air conditioning when the front door is opened, switching on the lights in the kitchen immediately after.
That isn’t a part of this package, however, though Panasonic is quick to point out that its system does support something similar, with scenarios able to be setup and configured.
Pricing for the Panasonic Connected Home kits start at $329 for the room monitoring kit with a hub and one camera, with the home monitoring kit retailing for $549 (hub, two outdoor cameras, and a microSD card). The home control kit chimes in at $599 and ditches the camera for a pack of eight sensors (above), while the home alert kit appears to be the granddaddy of it all, including sensors and both an indoor and outdoor camera, as well as a phone handset, for $769.
Availability should be good for now across all the ranges, though the latter two are set to arrive sometime this month, so if they’re not in stock now, perhaps wait a week or so for Panasonic to get them in.