If you have the time, money and inclination, you can use smart home tech to make your home into a digital fortress. Alternatively, if you just want to keep an eye on everyday happenings without a security focus, the Canary is a system that tracks the most important areas of your home and learns your family's behavior over time.
The Canary is a 6-inch tall cylinder that comes in white, black or silver. Following a successful IndieGogo campaign that raised nearly $2 million, the Canary now has manufacturing partners in China. Its creators expect to bring the device to its backers in May 2014, with a potential retail release in July 2014 at the price of $249.
Tom's Guide got to go hands-on with the Canary at CES 2014, and while it's not as robust as other smart home security systems, it's also much easier to use. The device contains a 1080p HD camera with night-vision capabilities, as well as sensors for motion detection, temperature, humidity and air quality.
The Canary also includes a microphone and speaker, although it does not support two-way audio communication at present. You can hear your family talking at home, but they can't hear you. Since all the hardware is in place, though, two-way communication may come in a future firmware update.
What sets the Canary apart from other entry-level security systems is its ability to learn about you, your family and your household over time. You can set some initial parameters about when and where your family is active, but Canary will learn the rest for itself.
For the first few weeks you have the device, it will notify you about almost any unusual event it captures — motion, temperature changes, noises or even lights turning on and off. Canary will notify you of these events via a smartphone app, at which point you'll have the option to call the authorities, set off a siren or tell the device that everything is fine.
The more you tell the Canary that an action is OK, such as the family dog wandering around late at night or a nightly fire in the fireplace increasing the temperature, the less the Canary will bug you about it. This means that when you get a notification a few months down the line, an anomalous reading will really be worth the time to check out.
The Canary won't please hardcore home tech DIYers, but if you want to see what happens at home when you're not around without a lot of cumbersome setup, it could be worth checking out. If you supported the IndieGogo campaign, sit tight and you'll get yours in a few months.