The idea of smart homes, which combines security with other areas of automation is not new, but there are many products and solutions available on the market today that make the idea of an automated home a reality. And, as can be expected, security is a central component of this automation, with products being applied in multiple areas of the home from security to energy conservation to checking up on the kids.
Of course, one always has to take a step back when considering what technology is actually being used in South Africa and what we think is being used because of good marketing by international companies. Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Ryan Wang, country business manager at EZVIZ South Africa, for his input to determine if local homeowners are ‘smartening up’, or if home automation is not top of their agenda.
“I have to admit that the smart home security market is definitely growing fast, way faster than we’d expect, both globally and in South Africa,” Wang says. “It’s part of the trend of how people adapt to a new, technology-driven lifestyle. Also, after Covid-19 broke out, we noticed that people became more concerned about how to renovate their home space to be more comfortable and safer.
“With that in mind, consumers are constantly looking for easy-to-install, smartphone-accessible, all-in-one smart home technologies and security cameras tend to appear on top of the must-have list. We believe the demand for smart security products will soon grow to be similar to the demand for smartphones – everyone will need at least one.”
Based on the company’s market experience, he says security cameras and smart speakers are the top two accessories people purchase as their first smart home product, before they are intrigued into taking on a comprehensive home automation solution. For example, security cameras have their irreplaceable value in property protection, which is fundamental to everyone’s home. When homeowners consider upgrading the home system, a security camera always comes to their mind first – it’s needed, affordable and easy to use. “Once a family benefits from the convenience and protection provided by the security cameras, they want to experience more.”
Focused on smart home security
EZVIZ is a global brand focused on smart home security. Wang says the company started by making reliable and powerful, but still easy-to-use security cameras. “In this field, we’ve achieved multiple technological breakthroughs such as a dual-lens camera set-up, ultra-clear video quality, AI-powered detection capability and more. We aim at developing all-in-one cameras, which means we build and design them to deliver comprehensive protection so one camera can solve multiple security pain points.”
He provides the example of the C3W bullet camera, which provides 24/7 protection with two-way audio, night vision and can automatically deter intruders with siren and strobe light.
As consumer demands expand, EZVIZ has extended its product portfolio to include more product categories, including smart doorbells, locks, home sensors, smart lighting, smart plugs etc. These will be released in short order to the local market. EZVIZ’s range of products also work together and are interoperable through the EZVIZ app, so a single product can be linked and integrated into the full solution.
Who is driving smart home security?
Home security in South Africa has, in general, been driven by the security companies offering alarms and armed response services in the past. As these companies expand their residential services to include cameras and other systems, some homeowners might be carried along and adopt smart technologies that are managed by their service providers. There is, however, the questions of privacy when one installs cameras to be monitored by a third party.
No matter what promises are made, we have seen issues around the globe where companies providing security systems – in particular, cameras – have been caught spying on users and sharing videos of people at home. This is an issue many will find a turn-off to using the smart home automation solutions available to them. The solution may be to opt for a solution that allows the user to retain control.
Wang explains that most EZVIZ security cameras are designed to provide real-time motion or human detection and ‘on-the-spot deterrence’. They can intelligently detect intruders, send alerts to users’ smartphones and even trigger a loud siren to scare away trespassers. These functions can be set to run automatically so users can ‘set and forget’, knowing they’re fully protected. They are also able to manually initiate the same functionality via their apps. As more products become available on the market, such as fingerprint locks and smart sensors, they will also be integrated with the cameras and managed from the app.
And we should not forget artificial intelligence (AI) in the list of enhancements to home security technologies. Just as AI has impacted the commercial security world, the same technology will soon be available in the residential market. However, the question of ease-of-use is a hindrance because homeowners just want their products to work and tweaking settings is not on the list of things most people want to have to do.
“For daily home use we are still at the early stages of AI enhancements as we try to bring down the technological threshold to make it affordable for everyone,” explains Wang. “At EZVIZ, we’ve innovating in the field of AI vision where we embed our latest security cameras with AI-powered human and vehicle detection capabilities. With these algorithms, users will no longer be bothered by insignificant alerts triggered by moving objects or animals, while we are able to increase the efficiency and accuracy of detection.
“However, it’s just the start. For the next generation of our products, EZVIZ will continue to bring AI features for more flexible, wider application across our product line.”
Home means DIY
While larger organisations spend the time and money on installers and integrators, many homeowners prefer the DIY approach and want to set up their home systems themselves, which means manufacturers need to make sure their technology, which is inherently complex, as simple to use as possible. While there will always be those who prefer to have a professional doing the work for them, Wang says the DIY option is gaining more popularity.
“With DIY solutions, homeowners can enjoy great flexibility in customising their smart home system, while having fun as well.”
To cater for the ease-of-use, Wang says local MicroSD cards on the cameras are a common way of storing video footage for home users, but just as with businesses around the world, cloud-based solutions are becoming more popular.
“EZVIZ is one of the few brands that provides multiple storage options to consumers. Most of our cameras come with a built-in storage card slot, with up to 256 GB storage capacity. We’ve also developed EZVIZ CloudPlay services, so users can subscribe to it for fully encrypted, unlimited storage space on the cloud. To provide better services that caters to the local market, we’re also actively working with local service providers on additional options.”
Wang also notes that to better serve the home market, it is important to realise that the core of any automation solution is to be ‘hassle-free and worry-free’, to minimise the possibility of having to send technicians to sort out problems. EZVIZ focuses on reliability and removing components or issues that can cause problems before the products are shipped.
“A good home product, therefore, needs to be easy to install, but with low-cost maintenance and easy upgrades. For example, with EZVIZ products, the device can be upgraded easily through the app with no professional help needed.” At the same time, the company is also focused on customer service. “We understand that even the best technologies cannot fully replace manpower and we need both plans ready.”
A new old market
Home security is certainly not a new market, but the options and automation capabilities are stretching the imagination (as readers will see in other articles in this section). Wang sums up by stating that EZVIZ is presenting South African consumers with a full range of security cameras to cover both indoor and outdoor protection needs, supported by the all-in-one EZVIZ app for control and management, as well as the EZVIZ cloud storage service for data protection.
“We have proven our success in the categories of smart floodlights, doorbells, door locks, home sensors, smart lighting and many more in other countries across the world and will be introducing new products and solutions to the South African market in the near future.”
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