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Security and surveillance: two sides of the coin in smart homes

Person controlling building security via mobile device

Avnet's Smart Building Automation 

How end user security solutions depend on secure engineering strategies

The new era of home security won’t just be an alarm that rings when a lock was picked or a window broken. With the rise of new technology comes the added need to protect a home’s hardware and its software.

And homeowners are demanding higher security and surveillance options.

Nearly half of people worry about security when it comes to connected devices like the ones in a smart home, according to Accenture. That means secure solutions are top of mind. However, when 75% of break-ins happen in residential homes, where homeowners suffer an average of $2,230 in lost property, they also need good surveillance solutions to keep the expensive smart technology in their home safe.

What does that mean for someone developing technology for the connected home? It means engineers must think of not only the safety and surveillance products end users want, but also the security that goes into building these solutions.

Engineering a safe smart home
This signals a change in perspective. Even the smartest smart homes today have a variety of subsystems that share a network and not much else. Outside of the normal security and surveillance needs of homes, engineers contend with:

  • Managing encryption as well as public and private keys for security: One of the major keys to the Internet of Things application of a smart home is knowing what can talk to what. Today, a human steps in to program, verifying security and identity of applications in the process. In the future, if machines are to communicate with other machines properly, that verification will have to happen without human intervention with the right encryption chips and key security.
  • Ensuring hardware communicates safely with software: It’s more than just multifactor authentication to protect the increasingly unsafe password. It’s up to engineering to ensure the right frequency around firmware updates or that applications have secure communication protocols when sending messages from a smart refrigerator to a smartphone application.
  • Additional needs and constraints around wireless security: Interoperability between all the appliances in a connected home means wireless connectivity. This is powered by antennas which must allow users to gain remote access to their device of choice without direct wiring between transmitters and receivers. While this allows a homeowner freedom when it comes to location and movement, it also adds to safety complications.

Security and surveillance applications are broad
Once developing a solution is secure, then you can shift focus to applications for your solutions. From smoke detectors and person recognition sensors to burglar sensors, security cameras, door locks and door bells, a handful of components can help ensure security and surveillance in a connected home:

  • Antennas: RF engineering should use simulation software and high-quality measuring equipment to develop embedded antennas mounted inside the device’s PCB or internal cabled antennas inside the device and connected to the PCB via coaxial cable.
  • Connectors
    • Board-to-Board: Slim versions good for smart detectors like smart doorbells
    • Milli-Grid Applications like smoke detectors benefit from the design flexibility in a milli-grid system
    • Compression: Reliable connectors suited for ultra slim mobile applications
    • FFC/FPC: Best used for tight packaging applications
    • Wire-to-Board: Micro-miniature smart home features like door bells benefit from high quality wire-to-board connectors
    • USB: Data connections remove the need for a PC: perfect for wireless smart home applications like security cameras
    • Memory card: Space-saving versions respond to space and access challenges around surveillance cameras

It takes a village to build a connected home
To not just be a “smart” home, but a truly smart solution, technology developers have to meet a wide variety of customer needs: from connected door locks to intelligent smoke detectors next to the stairs and a smart surveillance camera at the back sliding glass door. Especially when 60% of burglars said they’d avoid homes with intelligent home security systems, there’s a big market for solutions that serve this need for end users.

Combine knowledge from a single component, product or subsystem to a larger technological ecosystem of partners who can help throughout development and deployment of home automation security solutions, and you’ll win their attention.



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