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Contracts are optional with this DIY connected-home system

Jake Widman | April 14, 2015
Abode is designed like a product from ADT or Vivint, but its service plans are very different.

And that brings us to the optional monitoring service: One of Abode's primary selling points is that once you buy the equipment, there's no monthly fee if you choose to monitor your system yourself. But if you prefer the kind of professional monitoring that ADT, Vivint, and some other companies offer, Abode will offer that service for $30 per month. In that case, activity and alarm notifications (plus their confirmations), as well as any press on the key fob's panic button, are received by Abode's monitoring center as well.

Unlike most of its competitors, however, you'll be able to purchase Abode's service only when you need it. "You can order the monitoring on demand," says Carney. "We're going to sell it in monthly increments, with no long-term contract. If you're going away for two weeks, you can order monitoring and you'll be covered by our monitoring center during that time." Carney also envisions short-term renters signing up for full-time monitoring as they settle down into more permanent residences.

Abode as a platform

"Not only does our product provide security protection," says Carney, "but we also have an open platform to integrate with other devices. We don't want to have a million devices coming out of our company. We think the value that we bring is the gateway and the core security components, and we want it to work with other things people may already have or want to buy in the future."

The company intends to certify products that it has tested and confirmed work well with the Abode system. "It's kind of like the 'Works with Nest' platform," Carney continues. "All the Z-Wave and ZigBee products can work with our system because we speak the protocols. But in order to actually control those things, we need to test them to make sure they work exactly the way the manufacturer intended them to."

The Abode partners are aware that when devices don't work with a platform, it's usually the platform provider that takes the blame. "It's like what Apple's done with its app approval process," says Franks. "We want to be very careful--we have to say 'no' to people on some things we can do, but we're not going to because we can't control them."

Nevertheless, "things like light bulbs, locks, thermostats--you can hook them up to our gateway, and you can use them as integrated components," claims Carney. "For example, the system can remind you to set your alarm if you leave the house without doing so. Or if an alarm goes off, it can turn the lights on." The company also plans to build an If This Then That channel that will enable the Abode system to connect to other Wi-Fi devices.

 

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