Chapter 6. Security

Hacks 69–82

Home security is the primary reason most people get started with home automation, and for good cause. A smart home can be much better than a simple alarm system when it comes to preventing burglaries. The hacks in this chapter will help you make your home look occupied while you’re away [Hack #72], scare away prowlers with an electronic dog [Hack #79], and keep watch on your house, or pets, using network cameras [Hack #82].

Check for an Empty Home

If your home is unoccupied, your home automation system wants to know about it. But when you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to forget to set the alarm or otherwise tell the house it’s on its own. This script uses your motion detectors to decide for itself.

When you leave home for the day, sometimes it’s hard to remember to push a button that tells the house you’re leaving [Hack #24]. Besides, your home is supposed to be smart, so why can’t it figure out you’ve left? It can, with a little clever scripting and knowledge about what an occupied home should look like, from your home automation system’s perspective.

The key to detecting that the house is unoccupied is in identifying the normal activity patterns the motion detectors you have installed in your home will see. To help you do this, review a few days’ worth of home automation event logs from typical days when you were home, compared to days when you were absent. Here are some things to look for:

  • Are there periods of time that you’re home, but none of your motion ...

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