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InGrid taps broadband to unlock home security market

Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:59am
Jeff Baumgartner, CED

A startup based in Berwyn, Pa. aims to apply broadband as the key to unlocking a home security sector currently led by companies such as ADT and Brink's Home Security.

While ADT and Brink's specialize in analog security systems delivered via traditional phone lines and have just recently started to embrace VoIP technology,  InGrid believes the time is now right for its broadband-only approach.

And cracking that market and competing might not be as difficult as it might seem, given its present makeup and segmentation. InGrid CEO Louis Stilp estimates that ADT and Brink's own just one-third of that $8 billion market, with the balance going to about 10,000 to 12,000 regional or local security dealers.

InGrid's system, which looks to provide wider coverage than analog systems, is all-digital and all-wireless, with data fed over high-speed broadband networks. To provide coverage to all areas of the home, InGrid uses a wireless mesh system based on DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications). 

The network is supported by a portable handset (which doubles as a cordless phone) and a broadband-connected base station that communicates wirelessly with window and door sensors. Another element - a two-way keychain remote that can arm the home's security system after the owner leaves the house - can help to reduce false alarms, Stilp explained.

Although the system taps the always-on benefits of a cable modem service, it can also leverage existing phone jacks as a backup should the home's broadband service go down.

InGrid, founded in 2004, had its coming-out party at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company, which will target its platform to cable operators and other broadband service providers, has yet to disclose specific pricing, but the expectation is that it will be offered in line with prices for existing home security services, which average about $30 per month for the monitoring service, plus upfront capital costs for equipment in the range of $300 to $500.

But InGrid hopes to sweeten the pot with services and applications delivered to the system's keypad that extend beyond the traditional home security elements. Among them: weather information and text messaging (delivered by InGrid or the broadband service provider).

Another app, called "Home Connect," can link systems together or allow users to control the system remotely from another home set up with the InGrid platform. That might also come in handy for small business owners who might want to check their business location while at home, Stilp explained.

He said InGrid is also exploring new sensors that can detect things such as smoke and carbon monoxide. It is also looking into a cellular version of the product that might come in handy for people with vacation homes that do not subscribe to a broadband service.

Presently, InGrid is in the pre-production phase, but has started discussions with service providers, though it will offer products via a Web site. "But the largest channel we expect to be the broadband providers," Stilp said.

InGrid has about 40 employees today. It plans to offer the monitoring and response component (i.e. people to respond to alarms and handle dispatches to local law enforcement) through a partnership expected to be announced later this year with a company with cable industry ties.

InGrid isn't the first to take a broadband-only approach to home monitoring.

In the earlier part of the decade, a company called @Security Broadband Corp. sought to offer remote video monitoring via a system that recorded events when a motion detector in the home was tripped. @Security entered the market with financial backing from MSOs such as Adelphia, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications.

That company had trouble gaining traction at the time, Stilp said, in part because broadband had yet to reach critical mass. Still, InGrid is also looking into video monitoring as a potential enhancement for its home security system.

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