Going for the Gold in Home Security

A Q&A with Tom McKinney of ADT regarding residential video surveillance, home automation and the convergence with consumer electronics

Would this program be rolled out by ADT's existing network of dealers, or is it a special segment within that group?

Initially the VideoView component of this is being launched what we refer to as the direct channel. When you look at the residential component, that's over 2,500 dedicated residential sales people, and over 4,000 dedicated residential installers. So it will start there, but certainly a product like VideoView will eventually be offered through the dealer channel as well.

The Gold program mentions home automation. How does that fit in?

Right now we've looked at our strengths and core competencies, and when you look at security and you look at safety, there are a lot of other systems and subsystems that are happening in the home. Lighting is one of the key subsystems. So, as we speak, we're talking to national providers of lighting systems that can help us bring that solution and particular product line to our team that's out on the street every day, who can then bring lighting solutions to the consumer. We're talking to other providers who have some very interesting home automation products and technology, and they look at our distribution capabilities and our sales teams and it's very attractive. I can't disclose names at this point, but the ADT model that is focused on safety and security, and other technology providers - whether in the cable space or the telephone space or even retailers - create some interesting scenarios for bringing those together.

ADT provides the monitoring to the home, and it stands to reason that automated home systems could benefit from having monitoring. Is one of the models that ADT would be the monitoring for these systems and would be interface for remote access?

One ADT advantage is that we operate state-of-the-art customer monitoring centers - five in the U.S. and two in Canada - that are fully redundant with each other. As example, there was the big snowstorm in Denver over the past two weeks, we were able to move the signals from that facility to other facilities in a seamless fashion. The ability for us to monitor anything in the home, whether that's diagnostically, or bring that remote video.

Certainly the capabilities of bring voice, video or data is something we can do easily. And again, it's a very attractive entr,e for other providers to know that we have that capability.

In servicing the high-end residential market, security and safety has been a bit of a given. But home automation has faced a bit of a challenge in that you've got a low-voltage segment and a high-voltage segment and there's not always cross-over in terms of the ability to install both. What are your thoughts on how our industry can get beyond that so home automation can really happen?

That's a great question. What's interesting is if you take a look at the Geek Squad from Best Buy, or Firedog.com, now all the consumer electronics retailers are bringing installation expertise to the home, to be able to simplify the convergence of what's happening to the home. And I think that even the lighting manufacturers, Lutron and some of the others, are bringing wireless line-carrier type solutions that require minimal 110-volt AC work, and thus make it easier. I think that there will be a convergence in the home of all these disparate keypads and controls. The proliferation of flat-screens and LCDs and plasma might become the hub or central point where one can easily control all these subsystems. It's fascinating to watch that, but I think the high-voltage and the low-voltage systems are coming together in the home much quicker now.

Is it being aided by standards for communications between these control devices?

From what we're watching over the hill, more of the major players are beginning to partner up and bring together the power of the various brands to accomplish that. To your point, yes, the protocols and the standards are coming together a little bit tighter.

Can you share a potential vision for what the Gold program could do for a homeowner?