Alarm industry veteran develops DIY home security system

May 5, 2015
Abode to offer professional monitoring, installation for its alarm solution

With the evolution of smart home technology and the proliferation of wireless-enabled devices, there has been plethora of do-it-yourself home security systems that have hit the market in recent years. While many of these solutions have been developed by those with backgrounds in various sectors of the high-tech industry, one that will be making its way into consumers’ homes later this summer called Abode was actually the brainchild of a former financial analyst who, after spending over a decade with both ADT and Tyco, decided it was time to branch out on his own.

“I fell in love with the industry and the recurring revenue model and was intrigued by that, as well as the fact that we were helping people in their lives by protecting them,” said Chris Carney, co-founder of Abode. “As my career progressed with the company, I moved from the residential business over to the commercial side and we were really pressing to force innovation to happen in the security industry.”

In starting his own company, however, Carney said that it was paramount that they would be able to offer what he says is a “real industrial security solution” to consumer and light commercial markets that was also well-designed.

“Being out in Silicon Valley, I came to appreciate a lot of the new technologies coming out and a lot of the industrial design work that goes into that, which is something else I thought would be a big difference maker in peoples’ lives to have something that is really nice looking in their homes as opposed to the commoditized-looking products that are out there in the market,” added Carney.

In addition to that, as with most consumer-focused products these days, Carney said it had to be simple to install and use from both a hardware and software perspective.

According to Brent Franks, Abode’s other co-founder, another aspect that was important in the development of the company’s system was that it be an open platform and integrate with various third-party devices.

“Essentially, we want every customer interaction to be very frictionless,” said Franks. “That’s why we have come up with ways to do monitoring on-demand and see what is going on in your home, but also being able to automate the rest of your home as well and integrating with third-party devices that you could purchase at Home Depot, Lowe’s or Best Buy.”

To accomplish these goals, the Abode system features a robust gateway that incorporates both ZigBee and Z-Wave wireless radios, along with a 3G cellular backup communicator and a 12-plus hour battery backup.

“A lot of the consumer devices today are basically connected to the internet and that’s it, so if you lose power or you lose internet, you don’t have any information coming out of that system to you at all,” said Carney.

Additionally, on the RF side, Carney said they have adopted a proprietary wireless protocol that has rolling key encryption on it to protect the Abode system from cyber vulnerabilities, which is not commonly found with other solutions.

“We made every decision to make sure that security was at the forefront. While other gateways basically support Wi-Fi, we actually want an Ethernet connection to be plugged into the gateway to ensure that no wireless jamming could stop it from sending signals,” explained Franks.

Also, unlike other DIY solutions, Abode will offer customers a choice between monitoring the system themselves, having it professionally monitored or potentially utilizing a combination of both.

“We will offer a self-monitored option for people, so it will come with basically a free service to use to control the system – get notifications, view things – and then we will offer a professional monitoring service on top of that for people that want to order monitoring,” said Carney. “We have monthly, annual plans and we are working on kind of an innovative concept for the industry which would be monitoring on demand when you need it.”

Carney said the Abode starter kit comes with the gateway, two door/window contacts and a PIR motion camera that leverages the ZigBee protocol. The system is completely controlled through the Abode app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices. Abode will also offer customers the option between installing the system themselves and having it installed by a professional.  

“We definitely do not want to alienate the industry. We would love to have dealers selling and supporting our products,” said Carney. “It’s an easy installation for (dealers) as well. It’s essentially going to be plug-and-play, download the app and put the devices up where they need to go.”

Carney said the company will be delivering a short run of their system to their early Kickstarter backers by late June or early July. That will be followed by another run of systems to their remaining Kickstarter supporters by late August and early September. By the end of September, Carney said they will be rolling the system out to the public. Abode has thus far raised more than $134,000 on Kickstarter.

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief,

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.