This millennium has been teeming with amazing releases of new and fun technology being made readily available for the average consumer. There are a plethora of products currently on the market that just screamed future to me while growing up. Things that were, until quite recently, only possible in our imaginations or within the depths of science fiction are now just a few clicks and some shipping time away.
One example of tech that’s becoming increasingly more accessible to the average person are smart-home devices. Items that can be installed in your home that will allow you to interact with your home in constructive and convenient new ways. Blacksumac, a young company based out of Canada has created a clever and creative device they’re calling Piper that will not only allow you to view your home while you are away, but will notify you when it senses something is amiss. I’ve asked some of the minds at Blacksumac a few questions in regards to Piper, to help give you a taste of what’s to come.
Here in the US, we don’t often hear reports of frequent home invasions in Canada, what inspired the team to develop Piper?
We have home invasions in Canada as well! Especially in larger cities like Montreal and Toronto. Our co-founder’s daughter lives in an apartment in a dangerous area of Montreal, and both he and her daughter were quite concerned about her safety there. However, there are not a lot of options for simple, easy to use security systems in apartments. That’s one kind of situation that we’re all familiar with that inspired us to create Piper.
Is Piper compatible with Lowes IRIS system?
Piper can act as a secondary controller in an existing home automation network. Lowe’s Iris uses Z-Wave technology, so that allows Piper to easily interoperate with an existing Iris Z-Wave installation.
Do you consider IRIS a competitor?
No. We see Piper as being complementary to Z-Wave based smart home integration platforms.
What smart-home accessories is Piper compatible with?
We are working to make Piper compatible with as many Z-Wave accessories as possible. Initially we will support door/window sensors, plug-in modules, light dimmers, wall switches, freeze sensors, and external motion sensors. But eventually we plan to support door locks, thermostats, and many more.
How many Piper Devices can be incorporated into a single home?
Users will be able to incorporate up to 5 Pipers in a single home.
What is the max resolution of Piper’s cameras?
Piper’s camera has a 1080p sensor. It is an HD camera with a 180 degree fisheye lens and a 1920 x 1080 CMOS sensor.
Is any of the footage recorded? Is it stored locally, on a home server or remotely?
Piper continually records video in a loop and stores that locally. If a security event occurs Piper sends the recorded video (including 10 seconds before the event) securely to our cloud for the user to recall and replay. We are also providing an option for NAS support, so users can store video on their local network drives instead of the cloud
I see that Piper’s stream is accessible via both Android and iOS, could I view the stream from a laptop or desktop?
At launch we will have the Piper app on Android and iOS. Eventually there will be a web app so you could also view the stream from your computer.
Is Piper battery powered or does it need to be plugged in?
In general Piper needs to be plugged in for all of its features to be accessible. It does however have battery backup and will continue to function as a security system if the power goes out.
What is the installation process like? Does one simply plug it in and go or is there a setup period?
The setup process for Piper: Step 1: Open the box and set Piper down of a flat surface or mount it on a wall. Step 2: Download the Piper app on your smartphone or tablet. Step 3: provide Piper your home Wi-Fi network details and Piper will do the rest.
Can Piper be hung from a ceiling or a wall? Are mounts available?
Yes, there is a wall mount provided so you can hang Piper on the wall.
How long does it take to charge, what it the battery life?
The batteries we provide are not rechargeable. The battery life is about 4-6 hours, which is more than enough time for an emergency backup situation.
How do you plan to expand the Piper line?
We have plans to expand the line to include a cellular version of the product and an outdoor version.
How does Piper connect? Is it using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc?
Piper connects to your home Wi-Fi network. It also connects through Z-Wave to home automation accessories.
What details can you share about the cellular Piper? What features does this have over the basic models?
Cellular Piper will have a cellular chip and a slot for a SIM card. This means that you won’t need Wi-Fi connectivity to use Piper. You could use it pretty much anywhere including cottages, boats, hotels and resorts, and more. Cellular version will also provide failover redundancy if for example Wi-Fi connectivity lost.
What security measures are taken to prevent malicious snooping of the Piper feed?
All feeds from Piper are encrypted and authenticated. Live video feeds are a direct connection to the user’s mobile device and are not linked through our cloud infrastructure. Our cloud storage is secure and is used for recorded (event triggered) videos. The user will have the option to save and store recorded videos to their NAS instead, if they prefer.
Can you give more details on the Z-Wave pack?
The Z-Wave pack included 2 door/window sensors and a plug-in module. It’s the perfect size for securing and automating smaller homes and apartments. It’s also a great and easy introduction to Z-Wave for people who haven’t used home automation accessories extensively but are still interested in the convenience and benefits of them.
If a user has any issues with Piper, what kind of support can they expect?
We expect a one-year limited warranty for the hardware. This is will be confirmed within the next several weeks. For product support, we will provide online support, FAQ’s, forums and documentation.
Is there a feature in place that notifies or asks permission to notify emergency services in the case of a break-in or other issue?
In general Piper is a self-monitored system. We expect that the average user of Piper will almost always have access to their cell phones or email to get notified through text, phone call, or email. They can also set up trusted circle notifications for friends and family members. The idea of the user being the decision-maker for what happens in case of an emergency, because Piper can show them exactly what happened, makes it different from traditional security systems. The user can choose to call emergency services if they see something like a break-in or other emergency, but Piper will not make an automatic call to emergency services. It could be possible for Piper to be integrated into a more traditional call center model and in future we may form partnerships where this makes sense.
Your Indigogo campaign has Piper going for $209 for the white model and $219 for the black, what are the expected retail prices?
We’re in discussions with several large retailers and we’re still determining what our retail pricing will be.
Piper is currently on the last 7 days of their Indiegogo campaign. While they have already reached their funding goal you can still make your contribution and receive a price perk for your very own Piper.
Jordan Goodson, the geek in the darkness, guiding his readers through the vast catacombs of tech and science. He journeys the interwebs searching for any and all relevant data to be absorbed and shared.