One of the companies exhibiting at IFSEC UK this year was the Essence Group (Essence). The 20-year-old company is based in Israel where it employs and contracts around 500 people serving the security, smart home and healthcare markets – with basically the same solution architecture: wireless cloud-based solutions. Essence is a provider of M2M (machine-to-machine) or Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based systems and manufactures its own products.
Daniela Perlmutter is head of marketing for Essence and she spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about the company and its plans to launch the brand in South Africa. She explains that even though Essence is based in Israel, over 99% of its sales come from Europe and the USA. While Essence provides the solutions, it works through channel partners to implement its systems.
Essence started out as a security product provider and still makes and provides what it terms Smart Security solutions to the residential and small business markets. These solutions cover the expected security areas, from perimeter security to intrusion detection and flood or fire warnings. They are all wireless and battery operated to prevent users having to install cables throughout their houses.
Designed to fit into the most elegant houses, the systems start with a control panel that uses a proprietary protocol to secure communications between all the attached devices. Connected to the control panel is a selection of security devices, from sensors to motion detectors and indoor and outdoor cameras, sirens and a remote control.
The control panel communicates with the cloud via PSTN or GSM/GPRS (cellular) services where the EverGuard software manages the client’s security systems remotely. The internal systems are all wireless and run on batteries to ensure the alarm system functions no matter what Eskom does.
Because it is cloud based, the house is always monitored and any alarm events trigger a response. Essence resellers can offer a response service or alert an armed response company along with video verification of the event when something happens. The system is designed for a black-screen approach, meaning the internal intelligence raises the alarm. The central monitoring station as well as the users can manage and view their own premises via the Internet or via a mobile app, which can be used to view events or reset alarms after an event, for example.
With the Smart Living solution, Essence allows clients to monitor their homes using similar technology (wireless, battery operated, cloud-based and manageable via mobile app) through its WeR@Home solution, extending home security with home automation devices and services based on the Z-Wave protocol. Smart Living users do not have to be connected to a remote monitoring service to gain the benefits of the technology, but can be.
Using the system in cooperation with a guarding company or as a standalone application allows homeowners to exercise total control over their residences whether they are at home or not. For example, if a repair person arrives when nobody is home, residents can remotely open the door and disable the alarm in certain areas of the house to allow him to do his job and secure the premises when he leaves. If cameras are installed they can also keep an eye on him while he is at work. Additional remote management services can be added, such as managing a thermostat etc. to deliver a full home automation solution.
Because the technology used is an extension of that already used for security, and in some cases the same technology, Essence offers its Smart Living solutions to security companies as well. G4S in Denmark, for example, uses the Essence WeR@Home solution to offer its clients DIY Smart home systems.
The third part of the Essence offering is Smart Care, which uses the same technical solutions and remote monitoring to provide better care for the elderly that is also less intrusive than paying a visit to their homes. Essence Smart Care solution Care@Home uses a similar architecture (wireless, cloud-based software, battery operated and manageable via web and mobile apps) and uses a smart algorithm and an analytics engine to analyse the elderly's daily activities and trigger personal alerts. The solution includes also a personal emergency response system (PERS) for users to proactively call for help.
This system monitors the elderly as they go about their daily routines and establishes a personal pattern for them after some time – normally about one month. The routines are not observed by monitoring personnel, but privately by the system. When it detects a significant deviation in an individual’s routine, it raises an alarm and assigns it a severity level.
Depending on the severity, the remote monitoring personnel can then call or visit the person in their home to check that everything is in order, or call a family member and ask them to check on their mother or father. The intelligence of the PERS enables the elderly to live independently for longer, while their families can be assured of their safety.
Perlmutter says most of the existing self-care services offered to the elderly depend on the individuals measuring their own vital signs and raising an alert if readings are out of control; they also depend on the elderly pressing a panic button should the need help after a fall, for example (falls constitute about 20% of emergencies for older people).
Quite often, however, these elderly folk don’t want to be a nuisance or are embarrassed and spend too long trying to help themselves, which can lead to longer recovery times and higher medical bills. Care@Home introduces a paradigm shift in its seamless experience. The elderly user doesn't have to press buttons or send information. Once a routine has been established Care@Home detects any problems quickly and raises the alarm, getting help to the individual faster, which generally results in faster recovery times and lower medical bills.
Smart Care provides a total 'connected care' experience for the elderly folk, their family members and caregivers that can be extended with additional safety devices such as smoke and water leakage detectors. The company’s YouTube channel has more on the company and its products and can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOdUAVC7QmDoSZGyHMOjwUg).
As noted above, Essence is looking to expand into the South African market and will make use of channel partners in the region.
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