May 22, 2014

Security from abroad

If you’re planning a week or three away this summer, here are a couple of cool security tools you can leave at home but operate from abroad.



If you want to keep an eye on your home while you’re away for the day or the summer, the prevalence of household Wi-Fi and portable connected devices like smartphones and tablets has made that a cinch. As the name suggests, the $130 SwannEye HD Plug & Play Wi-Fi Security Camera is a video monitoring device that can be accessed remotely, assuming your home has Wi-Fi.

Setting it up and connecting it to your network takes but a minute; creating a secure link to it to view through your smartphone, tablet or laptop takes a few minutes more (depending on how app-savvy you are). Next thing you know, you’re spying on your house, your dog, your kids, your housekeeper, your neighbour’s kid that comes over to water the plants and feed the fish and hey, stay out of the junk food stash!

What’s rather remarkable about the SwannEye is some added utility that you wouldn’t really expect at this price point.

It’s got night vision, for one thing. And a microphone, for another, so you can see and hear that “trustworthy” neighbour kid munching on your Doritos after dark. If you really want to mess him up, you can plug a speaker into the cam and start an authoritative conversation about crumbs in the pantry.


A marvel of technology designed specifically for deterrent adherents or the chronically scatterbrained, the $50 WeMo Light Switch replaces a conventional light switch as easily as, uh, replacing a light switch. It’s a programmable device that can be set to turn on and off at specific times of day – ideal for lighting up the porch, garage, hall or bedroom lights at specific and finite times, making would-be burglars suspect that somebody’s home, even though you told everyone on Facebook you’d be away on vacation.

The app also allows for more complex, automated programming of multiple switch flicks per day. It can even be set to check what time the sun sets each evening and then flick on exactly at dusk, year round. Similarly, Belkin also proffers the WeMo Switch, which turns a regular wall outlet into a “smart” outlet, thus enabling the same sort of interactive interfacing as the Light Switch, only with appliances instead, such as portable air conditioners, lamps, patio lanterns or the kids’ TV in the basement – supper is at 6 o’clock sharp, dammit!

Shaun Conlin is editor-in-chief of

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