Big bucks can make your home a high-tech fortress
If you have money to burn, why not invest in the security of your home? You could thwart most any burglar with iris-recognition scanners; bullet-resistant walls, ceilings and glass; panic rooms with 18-inch steel walls; remotely monitored surveillance systems; customized keyless locks and your own private security force.
Rotundus Groundbot is a rugged, weatherproof ball that rolls silently around your property shooting video. It costs roughly $120,000 and holds two day/night surveillance cameras, gyroscopes, sensors and wide-angle lenses. © Netwatch
Advancements in electronics and the heightened sense of insecurity in the world are driving the creation of new products for home protection. If you have a pricey home filled with expensive possessions, then networked surveillance, keyless locks, remote monitoring and sensors are the way to go. If you have the goods to protect and an unlimited budget, a lot of options are available.
High-end home security today is, by definition, electronically networked. Door and window locks, alarms, video cameras and emergency communications all are linked to a central system that, typically, also includes controls for the home’s climate, entertainment system, pool, irrigation and even robotic mowers.
Strictly controlled and personalized access
Keyless locks and electronic alarms are easily customized, letting homeowners tightly control who comes and goes. Each family member uses a personal key code. You can assign a one-time code to a workman or nanny who is allowed entry for a specific time but cannot return without renewed permission. As you pull into the driveway, you can unlock all doors from a fob on your keychain. Or lock down the whole house from a remote at bedtime.
You can also link electronic surveillance cameras to your home network, enabling you to watch a live video feed of your home through your desktop PC, smart phone or laptop while you’re vacationing or traveling for work.
If watching the doormat sounds boring, you could add a Rotundus Groundbot: This rugged, weatherproof ball rolls silently around your property shooting video. A Groundbot, which costs about $120,000, houses two day/night surveillance cameras, gyroscopes, sensors and wide-angle lenses giving a 360-degree real-time view of one’s grounds as well as alerts to any radioactivity, biohazards or gas leaks threatening your atmosphere. The Groundbot can be remote-controlled or programmed with a GPS-enabled system. It propels itself at about 6 mph, fulfilling its “mission profile” for 16 hours at a stretch before needing to recharge. The robot was invented for planetary exploration and is mostly used in commercial applications, but why not be the first on your block to have one?
Bing: Search & decide
24/7 human monitoring
The problem with video surveillance is that someone has to watch all that endless footage of the grass growing. That’s where Netwatch comes in. The Irish company says it eliminates the need for on-site security by installing cameras and speakers on your premises and monitoring them for you. Say someone is spotted breaking into a home, whether in Cape Town, Zurich or Aspen: The staff at Netwatch headquarters will yell at the intruders, “Attention, you guys in the ski masks! You are trespassing on private property. You are being recorded and monitored live. The police have been notified.” Judging from video clips at the Netwatch site, that’s usually enough to send bad guys running. . Cost: Prices vary by property but a four-camera system runs roughly $9,190 to $9,900.
Or you can take another approach: Just ignore the video feed until you need to identify an intruder. Automated Video Systems sells a 16-camera night-vision-capable package ($2,800) activated by a motion-detection sensor. The cameras come with wide angle, fixed lenses, and you can digitally zoom in on the image through a DVR. The system includes high-quality audio and records 240 frames per second, storing images for up to 60 days. Remote viewing software allows users to monitor all the cameras, in real time, from most Internet-enabled devices.
If you’re rich or famous, you yourself are a valuable commodity. Some celebrities spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for peace of mind. No wonder. Consider the choices: There are iris-recognition scanners and bullet-resistant walls, ceilings and glass. Security consultant Chris McGoey says many of his celebrity clients install extensive communications systems, perimeter fencing around their homes and guards at the gates and in house.
Elaborate home installations include microwave sensors and ground sensors to detect a person’s approach. At the sign of intruders, guards may release the dogs or let remote sensors drop a net or blanket over them. Or the system can simply lock them in the house until the law arrives.
Of course, “If you’re really rich, you don’t call the police. You call your private security force,” McGoey notes.
A panic room of your own
A new preoccupation among the security-minded is the “safe room” — an interior room built to withstand a tornado or hurricane. (Anyone can build one: See more on this from the Federal Emergency Management Agency). But those with money – and fears – are pumping up the concept to create “panic rooms,” built to forestall an armed assault until the cavalry arrives. (Gaffco, a Mt. Vernon, N.Y. company, installed panic rooms with 18-inch steel walls for the British royals at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle at a cost of $2.7 million.)
“You can create a protected space in virtually any structure” and make it safe from nuclear, biological, chemical, airborne toxins or allergens, smoke particles and dust, says American Safe Room Inc.
In reality, panic rooms are used less in kidnappings and assaults and more when abused spouses need safety from a rampaging family member, McGoey says.