Security for everyone
Flare, the first product from German startup BuddyGuard, is a home security device that’s designed to be as autonomous as possible. Where traditional security systems have only two modes — off, and high alert — Flare uses a combination of sensors plus facial and voice recognition to make intelligent, contextual decisions about when to sound the alarm and when to stand down.
In the words of CTO George Platon, one of BuddyGuard’s main goals is that “no one should spend time on their security system.” That means it should be easy to install, require minimal configuration, and — crucially — that users shouldn’t have to constantly activate and deactivate the system when they leave and return to the house.
Flare is a self-contained device, including a suite of sensors and an HD camera in a flying saucer-shaped package that clings magnetically to a wall plate. It primarily connects via Wi-Fi, but can switch over to the 3G cellular network as a backup in case the house loses its Internet connection or electrical power (Flare also includes a rechargeable lithium-ion backup battery).
Streamlining Flare’s ease-of-use is largely a matter of cloud-powered image and sound processing algorithms, plus a little bit of sensor data. As a resident or “trusted contact” approaches the home, Flare first detects their smartphone via Bluetooth. Then as they enter the house, a quick glance in the direction of Flare’s camera allows facial recognition software to provide a second layer of authentication. Flare also learns to recognize familiar voices, which helps it to tell strangers from friends and lets it accept voice commands from those it trusts.
While you’re home, Flare goes into standby mode: The camera lens closes and it won’t eavesdrop on your conversations. But when the house is empty or a preset schedule says Flare should be active, security monitoring resumes automatically.
Flare touts a number of additional clever features, like pet-friendly motion detection algorithms (so you can leave the dog at home while knowing burglars will still trigger the alarm) and a motion-based tamper alert so a thief can’t just knock Flare off the wall before the camera catches him.
If a break-in or other emergency does occur, Flare can take action on a sliding scale. At the low end are push notifications which might prompt you to check the live camera feed before taking the next step. On the high end, the device can simultaneously sound a siren, call emergency services, and start streaming live video and audio to BuddyGuard’s cloud service where it can be stored safely as evidence. And if an unwanted visitor forces you to let them in the house, Flare can recognize a safe word that will silently call for help.
Flare’s success will rely heavily on whether its software can consistently deliver the streamlined intelligence the company promises, without false alarms or overlooked signs of danger. But from severaldemovideos, it looks like BuddyGuard is well on the way to a fully-functional system. The team’s Kickstarter campaign is about to close at nearly double its goal, and if all goes well Flare should be protecting homes by December.
Learn more in the video below.