Piper gives you access to a live video feed of your home, directly from an app available for smartphones and tablets. It seems to be a perfect blend of security, monitoring and automation that sets to make any environment more secure – it may be a relatively small device but it has a long list of features.
The app gives you access to Piper’s live stream and all its features from anywhere in the world, not just from your home WiFi connection. An interesting feature is the environmental statistics from your home that Piper displays, including humidity, motion and noise levels. It gives you an overview of activity in your home over a 48 hour period, split into day and night columns for better viewing. This enables you to automate your home (if you have smart accessories) so it’s comfortable for when you get back.
Piper: Video Monitoring
Piper boasts a wide-angle lens that provides a 180 degree field of vision, allowing you to see more of the room than traditional cameras. With such a large area to view, you can pinch to zoom and pan around the screen, much like you’re able to do with photos on the Photos app.
It’s definitely a unique feature to Piper but I feel that the overall quality of the camera lets it down. Even though it boasts a HD resolution, Piper only comes packing a 2mp camera which means the more you zoom in, the more pixellated it becomes, sometimes to the point where you can’t really make out what’s displayed. With that being said, if you don’t zoom in too much the camera quality isn’t an issue, especially with good lighting.
While on the point of lighting, it’s probably a good time to mention that Piper doesn’t have night vision – you’ll have to get the Piper NZ for that functionality. That means that you’ll always have to have at least a lamp on to see what’s happening at night – which isn’t ideal for most people. They do have something to combat this issue though, but I’ll come to that later.
What happens if you want more than one room monitored? Piper has you covered – the app allows you to connect multiple Piper units to your account, allowing you access to all cameras conveniently. All you need to do is select which feed you want to access when you tap ‘Live Video’.
Piper also has a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing for 2 way interaction between you and family (or pets, for those that love their animals a little too much). It’s a feature that I thought was a novelty at first but I’ve found myself using it more frequently as time passed – even if it was to scare people once or twice! It was temperamental though; on occasion, I’d be able to hear what’s being said but when I’d try and speak, nothing would come out of the Piper unit. A hard reset usually fixes the issue but it can turn into a bit of a chore after a while.
Piper has three different security modes, each with customisable settings. The system monitors motion, sound & temperature and allows you to be notified if the system detects anything out of the ordinary. While I’d expected motion and sound detection to be standard, temperature monitoring is an interesting feature to have – but I suppose if there were a burglary with forced entry, the temperature in the room would drop.
Once your system detects motion/noise/temperature change, you can be notified by either push notification, email, text or even phone call. There’s also an option to record a video clip that you can view on the app via the free cloud service that Piper provides, just to make sure it’s not a false alarm.
The most impressive deterrent that Piper has is its inbuilt 105db siren – to give you an idea of how loud that is, the human threshold for pain is 101db and any exposure to 105db for over a minute can cause permanent damage. Ouch. You can set the system up so that when something is detected, the siren will go off and inevitably scare any potential intruders away. There’s also a panic button on the app for when you’re at home that enables you to turn on the siren manually if you need to.
If you have pets, you may be wondering how that could affect Pipers motion detection feature. There’s an option in the settings menu to enable “Pets at home” and change the sensitivity of the motion detection. While I turned down the sensitivity to about half, I’d still be notified about my cat jumping onto a chair.
Piper: Home Automation
Remember my mention of the issue regarding lighting at night? Piper has built-in technology that allows it to control Z Wave accessories via the app. This means that if you have Z wave light switches or plugs, you can turn on lights quickly and easily if you need to. Sound detection in a dark room? Turning on the lights would spook any potential intruder – and if that doesn’t work, you’ve got the 105db siren to back you up!
Piper has optional accessories that you can purchase, including window and door sensors. When a door or window is opened, you can be notified in the same way as if motion had been detected by Piper itself. It’s an extra level of security that gives you peace of mind both while you’re at home and away.
The Piper system allows peace of mind for those of us that worry about home security. Even though the camera quality could be improved, the device on the whole does what it says on the tin. It's a cheaper and simpler alternative than a conventional home security system and would recommend it to anyone thinking of buying one. If you're interested, you can purchase them from the Piper website for around £150!
Value for Money9