Shifting trends in alarm technology on display at ISC West

Mobile apps, interactive services among the features gaining prominence in the market

According to Robert Marabella, senior product marketing manager, hybrid security, controls, keypads and wireless at Honeywell, one of the biggest drivers for remote services in the market is video surveillance because it generates more RMR for dealers.

"The whole iPad craze has changed everything," he said.

Kenny said that is launching seven new camera models at this year's show. Earlier this year, the company released its Image Sensor solution, which is essentially a motion detector that can capture video when triggered, allowing users to see who has entered their home or business.

Energy Management

Though its only a portion of what some people would consider home automation, the concept of energy management seems to have really gained popularity among consumers, which is why nearly every alarm company on this year's show floor is offering the technology in their products.

Thomas said that 2GIG, which began in the security industry with an emphasis on smart home features, said that the integration of these features into modern day alarm systems is driving innovation in the industry.

"We're seeing the integration of more and more features into the system," he said. "Why not integrate other things? Why not know when my garage door was left open at night? The communication capability is there."

Thomas said even simple enhancements, such as the integration of a new, integrated door bell that his company is featuring at the show can provide value to users.

"I can send a text message. I can catch a video clip from a camera. There are all kinds of things you can do with simple enhancements like that," he added.

Though people may say they are concerned about energy, Marabella said that most won't sacrifice using their air conditioners to save money during the hottest days of the year. However, he added that energy management could be become more important in the future, depending on how energy costs continue to affect peoples' bottom lines.

"I don't think today it's a big deal," he said. "I think as time goes on, energy will be woven into peoples' lives. "

Cellular Communications

In addition to the features of alarm systems that are changing with the times, so to is how they communicate with central stations. As more and more people have ditched their landline telephones in recent years, cellular communicators are becoming the primary means of communication in numerous alarm systems.

Just as POTS (plain old telephone service) lines have begun to be phased out, there is already talk in the communications and security industry over the potential for the sunsetting of 2G cellular communications.

Shawn Welsh, vice president of marketing and business development for Telular, which announced on Tuesday that it's launching its Telguard line of solutions in Canada, said that they are encouraging dealers to install 3G products in anticipation of this technology shift.

"I think the trend the industry is going to see is the move to 3G," Welsh explained. "We're going to have to fight this idea of procrastination in the industry.."

Welsh said he believed that 3G would provide the industry with a communications platform that has "longevity."

"Our industry does not need speed," he said. "We need to build our products on a communications platform that isn't going away."

On the contrary, Michael Boyle, general manager of Uplink, believes that any migration away from 2G at the moment would be premature given that the FCC has not set a date for the elimination of the platform.

"We don't think it's going away anytime soon," he said. "The reality is the FCC hasn't said anything about it. Until they set a date, it's just pie in the sky."

Uplink announced on Wednesday that it offering customers a lifetime guarantee on it 2G products for 99 cents a month to ensure that they don't get left behind as technology evolves. In addition, the company also launched new CDMA and 4G communicators.

Even if the FCC were to sunset 2G, Boyle says that a move to 3G would be pointless as it would not be far behind.

"The move to 3G is like kissing your sister," he said. "If 2G is going away, 3G is too."

While there may be a struggle between 2G, 3G and 4G for dominance in cellular communications for alarm systems, Mechler said that IP as a communications protocol will remain "stable" because its fast, reliable and relatively inexpensive.