Technological advances developed in the United Kingdom are helping to recover stolen property and find vehicles that have broken down in isolated locations.
LookC Pro, developed by Applied Technologies Manufacturing, in Tyne and Wear, north-east England, is described as the world's first Internet enabled security system.
The remarkable aspect of this system is that existing technology is used with the firm's own proprietary software and hardware to achieve a considerable reduction in the overall operating cost compared with similar products. The system is hosted in an ordinary personal computer using the LookC Pro hardware linked to standard, low-cost closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and security sensors such as passive infrared (PIR) detectors, door and window contacts and pressure mats.
When a sensor is triggered by an intruder attempting to break into a wired-up house, for instance, the LookC system performs seven automatic responses. First, the telepaging and web uploading functions that are preselected by the user are activated.
The telepaging function calls the user's mobile telephone and tells him or her the address and exactly where the break-in has occured, which LookC camera is recording the event and whether it has activated the alarm bells. Using the website address provided by the mobile telephone and an account password, the owner can then look at the recorded video of the event which has been downloaded to a server on the Internet. Better still, the recorded event can be replayed many times, frame by frame or a live view of the scene of the crime can be remotely activated.
Designed for a wide range of uses the software allows for a 24 h schedule and will switch itself on and off automatically. Since all the recorded events are saved on a remote server the chances of corrupting or accidental erasure of vital information is minimal. Accessing the data is simple. The user selects a day in a calendar and the day's event list by camera, by time or general playback and LookC does the rest.
The freeze-frame mode enables hard copy to be printed or a JPEG image file to be e-mailed to the police or friends. The system is not limited to anti-burglary monitoring only. It can be programmed to monitor children or a nanny. The LookC Pro system has been installed by car manufacturer Rolls-Royce.
Reducing car crime
Another innovative system developed by a British inventor Christopher Collins aims to reduce the noise made by car alarms that go off with irritating persistence either because of an attempted break-in or malfunction.
After research showed that in most cases the owners were not within earshot when the alarms were triggered, Mr Collins designed the device the size of a television remote control which is programmed with the owner's mobile telephone number. When the alarm sounds, the device rings the owner's number and reads a recorded warning alerting him either to turn it off immediately or return to the vehicle to investigate.
A spokesman for the RAC, one of the UK's leading roadside assistance organisations said: "We are in favour of all technology that could help reduce car crime by making alarms more reliable. People using systems such as this would also have to realise that they could end up getting to their vehicles a lot quicker and so disturb potentially dangerous thieves in the act."
Another roadside rescue company - the AA - launched a key fob location system as an accessory to its Trackstar, a service for locating the whereabouts of a stolen vehicle fitted with the tracking device. With the new accessory, the positioning equipment will be activated when the owner presses a button on the fob which then automatically transmits the car's location via an in-built terminal to an operator enabling him to talk to the owner through a microphone installed in the car's stereo system.
The AA is also working on another service called URHere which will locate a member through a new mobile telephone technology instead of a satellite by calculating how far the mobile telephone is from the nearest three of the network's antennas.
For details, contact Applied Technologies Manufacturing on tel (0944) 191 414 5929, fax (0944) 191 414 1939, e-mail email@example.com, www.atmltd.co.uk
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