Six cool home security products on Kickstarter


I’ve always loved gadgets: Macgyver, Mission Impossible, Bat Man, etc. Especially when they relate to home security!

When I visit San Francisco, I love to visit the International Spy Shop and check out the latest gadgets. I’m also a big fan of kickstarter, and check out products on that platform nearly every day. In this post, I’m excited to share a few of the products that I think are really cool, and relate to home security :)

Safewise.com put out a killer article (reprinted below) that goes over some of the coolest home security products out there – products that are really pushing the needle & changing the way that we think about home security. See below:

Every year, hundreds of new products enter the security industry to help keep you and your belongings safe. Some of the most creative — from a belt buckle that hides credit cards to software that safeguards children — are found on Kickstarter. We took a detailed look at upcoming Kickstarter campaigns and highlighted the six coolest safety products.

1. Wallet Buckle

Wallet Buckle

The Wallet Buckle, which was featured on the “Today” show, efficiently holds and hides up to five cards in a stylish belt buckle. This is a safe solution invented for the places you go where a wallet or purse is necessary, but may be a pain or a security risk to carry — like a concert or sporting event. The buckle’s innovative tapered design securely fits IDs and credit cards so they can’t fall out. There is space for you to grip your cards and slip them in and out, but the pinched buckle creates tension so the cards stay put when you want them to.

The Wallet Buckle designers have already spent years developing the perfect product after testing and feedback from customers. The belt buckle comes in various designs for both men and women, and customization options will be available soon.

My $0.02: I’m a huge fan of the flag and have a lot of flag-related gear, so this works great for me. If you’re looking for a different design, they’re planning to release a few more after the product launch. Since almost everything is put on the card these days, you could swap your wallet out for this belt and carry credit cards, ID, etc. Pretty cool!

2. Fitti Guard

Fitti Guard

The sharp-looking Fitti Guard watch goes beyond the abilities of other smartwatches and fitness wearables. The Fitti Guard safeguards wearers from environmental elements with sensors that monitor air quality, UV rays, radioactivity, humidity, and noise pollution. The Fitti Guard app features a customizable user interface, giving wearers control over their exposure limits to harmful environmental conditions. If the sun is too bright or air pollution is too dense, Fitti Guard will alert you to put on sunblock or step inside.

This product’s battery lasts up to 21 days, and it also includes popular features of other fitness wearables — like a step counter, heart rate monitor, activity recognition, sleep analysis, and calorie counter.

My $0.02: what a cool idea! For people who live in cities with poor air quality (a list of the most polluted cities here), this could be a game changer. Cities like LA, industrial cities like Bakersfield, and areas with poor ozone like Visalia could really benefit from this product. Great way to keep an eye on your health & surroundings.

3. Light Eye

Light eye

Light Eye, a Bluetooth security light, turns your old smartphone’s camera into a monitoring device. Install the Light Eye electronic light in the location you want to monitor — like your car or front door. When motion is detected, the Light Eye flashes and turns your smartphone on via Bluetooth to take photos or record video. The companion Light Eye app will then email you the pictures or video your smartphone captured.

Light Eye is IFTTT compatible and works on standby mode, so neither it nor your phone needs to be constantly connected to a charger or powered on. Light Eye allows you to customize alerts and alarms in the app, and batteries should last 4–7 months.

My $0.02: how cool! This reminds me of something that a spy would have: a mobile notification that there’s an intruder! Since we all sleep with a smartphone nearby, this could be a great way to keep an eye on the backyard, the front gate, etc. without installing an expensive system.

4. FillaBox Recycling

The liquid inside the disposable bottles invented by FillaBox Recycling safely destroys any unused medication or vitamins. The patented liquid is made with a charcoal blend that binds to the medication and neutralizes the drug. The bottle can store up to 50 pills — either over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, or vitamins — rendering them harmless. When full, the bottles can either be thrown away or sent back to FillaBox Recycling for carbon credits — they burn the recycled bottles to generate electricity.

FillaBox Recycling is a safer alternative to flushing pills down the toilet or throwing them in the trash. This technology is the first of its kind and offers a way for people to dispose of their pharmaceuticals at home without compromising their drinking water.

My $0.02: great idea. I know how dangerous prescription drugs are, not only for the environment but mainly for the potential abuse by our loved ones. This is a great way to keep them safe.

5. Rated 4 Kids

The intelligent Rated 4 Kids system filters Internet content through a combination of hardware and software. When this touch-screen system is plugged in to your router, it becomes the gateway between your devices and the Internet. You will no longer have to rely on subpar browser safety settings to protect young minds from the dangerous parts of the Internet. This comprehensive, Cloud-based filtering service relies on ratings from you and your community, so if other parents rate a website as inappropriate, Rated 4 Kids will also block it for your child.

The software allows parents to define settings for each device and control content differently based on each child’s age. Alerts are sent to the parent if a child has been viewing questionable content. Parents can also set curfews and screen time limits to disable the device during certain hours like homework time or bedtime.

My $0.02: There’s a whole lot of crap on the internet, and if this box can protect your kids and also reduce viruses, I’m in.  I don’t have any software on the computers in the house now, but maybe I should…

6. Dash

Dash

The thin, minimalist Dash travel wallet secretly carries your most important documents when you travel. Three compartments hold your IDs, credit cards, boarding passes, currency, and passport. Made for travelers who are tired of the awkward fanny pack, the Dash wallet is discreet. It fits into the front or back pocket of pants, or even a shirt pocket. Dash weighs less than one ounce and is made from durable, eco-synthetic leather.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a common debit and credit card payment method. Unfortunately, it is also a popular way to electronically pickpocket and can be a threat to travelers. The Dash wallets are made with RFID-blocking material and come with a two-year warranty — though they should last your whole life.
These exciting and ambitious products still have time to make it to development if they are fully funded, though many prototypes won’t be created until late 2016. Visit their fundraising pages and contribute to their goals to get first dibs and special perks. In the meantime, find the perfect security system to keep you and your family safe.

My $0.02: fashion & function. I have a slim wallet anyway because my back got messed up from sitting on a fat wallet for too long, so I think that this is cool. I don’t travel on planes enough to make it worth it, but the RFTD blocking function is pretty cool and would probably protect you in your daily life: at the grocery store, in line at the bank, etc.

Safe Rooms


Does your family have a “Safe Room”? Not a room where you hide a safe, but rather a sort of bank vault to keep your family safe in the event of an emergency, like a home invasion or robbery. These rooms are often depicted in Hollywood movies, and are extremely useful in protecting your family from bad actors (not the Hollywood kind).
The experts at CrimeDoctor.com wrote a great article to help explain the importance and benefits of safe rooms (summarized below):

Most security experts use the phrase Safe Room rather than Panic Room to describe the concept of having an ultra-secure location within a residence. The concept is simple…prepare a room within the interior of the home where the family can safely retreat during a home invasion or other terrorist threat and summon help.

Think of a safe room as a box with only one opening. You simply fortify the six sides to the box and the single door leading into it. I’ve seen safe rooms that were built more like a bunker or bank vault with eight-inch concrete walls and a steel door. These elaborate designs were also used to store cash, valuable jewelry, and collections. I’ve seen others that had reinforced steel sheeting in the walls and equipped with a video monitor, a cellular telephone, and alarm keypad.

Unlike the movie, most safe rooms are merely fortified enough to delay an intruder so an alarm can be activated or call made to summon the police or security. Any homeowner can create such a room with relatively little effort and expense. The most common reason the average person would want a safe room is fear of assault from a home invasion robber or abusive spouse. The most common reason for corporate executives to constuct a safe room is fear of kidnapping for ransom or fear of home invasion robbery.

Although most Americans would probably prefer to build a bar or a game room rather than a panic room, the benefits cannot be overstated. Although they are probably out of the reach of most of the world because of the sheer cost, panic rooms allow families to have a clear plan of action in case of a burglary or home invasion, and can deliver a lot of peace of mind.

If the safe room is out of reach of your family for financial reasons, you can get many of the same benefits by having a clear plan of action in the event of an emergency. In case of a fire, get on all fours and crawl to the nearest exit, and wait outside in front of your house for emergency personnel to arrive. If everyone in your family is on the same page about what to do an emergency, That’s a big step in the right direction.

How To Avoid A Lockout


Most people get locked out of their home, car, or office at one time or another. By being proactive, however, we can avoid  lockouts while keeping our home safe & secure. The following types of lockouts are most common:

Office Lockouts

Since many offices are much more secure than homes (security cameras, ANSI grade 1 & 2 locks, anti-bumping locks, higher quality hardware, etc.), getting locked out of your office can be a real hassle. However, offices are secure for good reason: they have more assets to protect. Especially for high value merchants like jewelers or high security tech companies that hold their customers’ private information, these security measures are a must. Chris from Locksmith of San Mateo offers a few options for when you’re locked out of your office:

  • If the office is open, you can call a coworker to let you back in
  • If you know where your keys are, and they’re not locked inside the business, you can simply go get them & let yourself in
  • You can call a certified commercial locksmith, who can defeat your exterior locks. However, depending on the security of the doors outside, he may need to damage some of the locks to get you back inside. Make sure that you’re on the same page before he starts, and that he’s insured against any damages

Car Lockouts

Every comedy movie in the ’80s included a scene where a character locked their car with the keys inside. Fortunately, many cars have evolved enough to prevent this from happening, but certainly not all. For instance, a friend of mine had a BMW from the early 2000’s, and she locked her keys in her car several times, because the doors automatically lock, even if the keys are in the ignition, when you close the door. Pretty serious design flaw, if you ask me!

locked out of car

 

However they happen, car lockouts can be a REAL hassle. If your key is specialized, it can be expensive (& time consuming) to replace. If it’s a smart key, then it needs to be ordered from the manufacturer (remember “Gone in 60 Seconds”?). However, many locksmiths can produce keys for most big name car manufacturers, but it’s important to check with them first. Make sure to include your car’s make and model when you’re on the phone with them, before they send a locksmith out to you.

Home

Elizabeth Weintraub wrote a great article about how to be proactive & avoid home lockouts, based on her own terrifying experience! We’ve reprinted most of the article below, but you can read the whole thing here: http://homebuying.about.com/od/buyingahome/qt/Locked-Out-Of-House.htm

 

Sooner or later, almost everybody gets locked out of the house. You may think that getting locked out of the house won’t happen to you, but just you wait. If you don’t take preventative measures against getting locked out, it could very well happen when you least expect it.  I never thought it would happen to me, but one day I lost my house keys. I pulled them out of my bag, and the ring holding my keys went flying, unnoticed.

When I got home, I discovered that I was locked out. So, I hauled a ladder out of the garage and climbed it, hoping to crawl in the second floor window. The ladder wasn’t high enough to reach the window ledge. In my infinite wisdom, I jumped up and flung my body through the open window head first. I could have killed myself.

How to Not Get Locked Out of the House

One thing you absolutely do not want to do is to leave a door or window unlocked as protection against getting locked out. Because if you know how to break in to your house, a burglar can easily discover that method, too. Always lock your doors and windows.

The secret to avoid getting locked out of the house is to make an extra set of keys, and make sure you have access to a spare key in the event you are locked out.

If you do not have an extra key, you may need to call a locksmith. Do not kick in the door because you may end up replacing the door jamb, door frame and your door, which is far more expensive than paying a locksmith.

Ditto for breaking a window. Locksmiths are cheaper. Just in case, program a locksmith’s phone number into your cell.

Good Places to Stash a House Key

You can’t have too many house keys. First, it helps if all the locks in your home are keyed to one key. You can remove your door knobs and take them to a hardware store, do it yourself (if you know how) or call a locksmith to change all the locks so they unlock with the same key.

Here are places to hide an extra key:

  • Give an extra key to a friend, family member or neighbor whom you trust.
  • Buy a fake rock, put the key inside and hide the rock in the garden. Make sure the rock looks real because burglars know how to look for these.
  • Carry an extra key in a briefcase or, if you’re a woman, your bag.
  • Install a wireless keypad on the outside of your garage and hide a key inside the garage. Bear in mind that in the event of a power failure, your garage door may not open.
  • Lock the key inside your electrical panel and lock the panel with a combination padlock.
  • Attach a heavy duty contractor’s box to a gas pipe and put the key inside.

Bad Places to Stash a House Key

  • Many burglars prefer to enter homes through unlocked doors, but they rarely take the time to search for a key. Breaking a window is faster and more convenient for crooks. Still, that doesn’t mean you should leave a key in a conspicuous spot where a burglar is likely to find it. Here are bad places to hide an extra key:
  • Under the mat. First place people look, not to mention, the wind might blow it off the steps.
  • Under a planter.
  • In the mailbox.
  • In your car’s glove box.
  • Taped inside a gutter.
  • On a window ledge.
  • On your dog’s collar.
  • In the lock itself.

Now of course, after I inflicted bodily harm by thrusting myself through my second-floor window, I found my house keys the following morning, lying on the floor of my office. That episode was the turning point for me, and now I will never get locked out of my house. Providing, I should add, if I can remember where I hid my extra key.

Lock Bumping & How To Prevent It


The concept of lock “bumping”, and the fact that there are many guides across the internet that explain exactly how to do it, is enough to scare the pants off most people. To put it simply, bumping a lock allows someone to defeat a wide variety of residential locks in just a few seconds, with little to no practice. Here’s the explanation from Consumer Reports:

A bump key is made by taking a key that already fits into a particular brand of lock and filing it down. But turning a blank key into a bump key isn’t as simple as it looks in those Web videos.

First, a key must fit into the lock someone wants to pick—even if the key can’t open the door, it must slide all the way into the lock. A thief would also need to schlep around hundreds of keys to the home(s) they intend to enter since there are so many different key fits on the market.

“Just think of the selection displayed when you get a key duplicated in a hardware store,” says John Galeotafiore, our director of testing for home improvement.

Next, the crook would need to file the cuts in the key down to the deepest depths and then use a “bumping” tool to bounce the pins and open the lock.

“Ultimately, the consumer is responsible for assessing the risk of an attack from bumping,” wrote Marc Weber Tobias, author of Locks, Safes, and Security. In a 2006 analysis on lock bumping, Tobias pointed out that apartment buildings or business complexes that utilize one standard lock brand and model face a high risk of having their locks compromised. The same goes for homeowners whose old keys fall into the wrong hands after a lock has been changed for a similar model.

The solution? Fortunately, there are several.

  1. Install high quality locks. Not all locks can be bumped, and consumers can buy very high-quality locks which will provide adequate protection from bumping and other entry methods used by criminals, says the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC).
  2. Buy smart locks. Kwikset has been a leader in the transition from traditional locks to smart locks, And has released several high quality Solutions to combat the threat. Smart keys are controlled with either pass codes or your cell phone, Which eliminates bumping as an entry method. Aside from that, it can assure you that your tront door is locked, that your child or other family member has arrived home safely, track when housekeepers and other service providers enter and exit your home, etc.
  3. Install lock bumping countermeasures. Quick add-ons to your existing locks like The Ultimate Lock can prevent any key from opening a lock, which prevents picking, bumping, etc. Consumer reports issued a great report on this subject, going over both cheap & expensive options to keep your family safe.

Evaluating Your Home’s Security


Is your home as safe as it could be? Have you had a neighborhood break-in recently? Or a string of car burglaries? Making sure that your home is protected from intruders, burglars, violent criminals, and others is essential in 2016.

home security inspection

HomeAdvisor published a great article that we’ve reprinted below in its entirety, because we think that continual home security inspections are vital to protecting your family. Please read the article & see our commentary below:

Whether you have a full blown security system or a simple lock on your doors and windows, just about every home can benefit from a home security inspection. Is your house as safe as it could be? Are there a few simple projects that could greatly decrease the likelihood of a break-in? A home security inspection can answer these questions and give you the peace of mind that comes from having a safe, secure home both when you’re inside and when you’re away, too!

Home Security Inspections: What to Expect
Home security inspections are generally quick and inexpensive, but the results of such inspections are likely to improve your property for years to come. A good home security inspection will look at your property as a whole and identify any problematic areas where your home is either unprotected or under-protected. Your windows and doors will, of course, fall under some of the heaviest scrutiny, as these are highly visible entryways for would-be burglars, but these aren’t the only areas that will be focused on. Your garage, landscaping, trees, lighting, and even the numbers on your house will all be examined. Often, it is these areas that present problems and need to be altered.

Secure Homes, Not Impregnable Fortresses
While home security inspections are most likely going to suggest a few improvements to your existing property, they are not meant to make your home into Fort Knox! In fact, you may be surprised at how secure your home can be with only a few unobtrusive alterations. Of course, if you want your home to be a fortress, you can certainly find a security company to fulfill your wishes. However, as most of us are rather fond of our homes’ current condition, a home security inspection is likely to point out a few small characteristics of your property that could be slightly changed to make your home a safer place to be and a less attractive target for intruders.

Who Performs Home Security Inspections
The person who performs your home security inspection is important. A home security company that offers “free” inspections might do a very thorough job, but as they may have an interest in drumming up more business for themselves, the conclusions their inspections lead to may be a bit self-serving.

In some areas, the local police department offers free home security inspections. This is a far better option, as your police department’s only agenda is making your home safer and preventing crime. Not only will they objectively examine your home for security needs, they will also have information available on the types of crimes that are prevalent in your neighborhood, and give you suggestions according to those trends. Even if your police department doesn’t advertise free inspections, you may be able to get one for free (or for a nominal fee) simply by requesting it.

You may also be able to get a home security inspection from an independent third party. There will be a fee associated with going this route, but you will get a very thorough inspection with a clear list of items that could or should be improved without the worry of the results focusing more on what can be sold to you than what you can do better.

DIY Home Security Inspections
While you can find checklists for homeowners to perform their own home security inspections, there’s really no substitute for a professional eye. Checking your door and window locks and trimming back your hedges away from the house are both good starts, but because few homeowners know all the tricks of the trade (and looking at your own home objectively is extremely difficult, anyway), it really is a good idea to call in a pro for this job. As long as you are sure that the motives of your inspector are not to sell you equipment you don’t need or charge you for improvements that aren’t necessary, a professional home security inspection is a far more effective tool than any inspection you can do yourself. Remember, you don’t have to make all of the suggested alterations immediately! By examining your results and performing what you can afford, you’ll be making your home safer one step at a time and staying within your budget, too.

As the article points out, it’s not important who performs the home inspection audit (whether you do it yourself, hire a locksmith, hire a local security firm, etc.): it’s only important that IT GETS DONE! Furthermore, these inspections are more about identifying vulnerabilities then they are about turning your house into an impregnable fortress. Every home will have areas of entry and exit, and  they are important to maintain in case of a fire, earth quake, etc. It is important, however, to identify the areas that are most vulnerable and to mitigate risk as much as possible. In some areas, as the article mentions, your local police may be able to perform a free home security inspection. If you aren’t even performing it, and it doesn’t cost anything, there really is no excuse keep your home secure! The Los Gatos Police website has a quick article that offers a few tips to keep your perspective fresh & your family alert.