Gadget, telecoms firms target home security market


Electronics makers and mobile phone companies are employing their technology to enhance home security, especially for people living alone or families with small children.

“When I went to buy a replacement fax machine, I was also looking for some simple security device, and I found just what I wanted,” said Yumiko Takagi, a 32-year-old housewife from Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The device she installed in her detached home, a new product by Panasonic Corp., combines a fax machine/phone with 13-cm-long sensors attached to the inside of windows that alert homeowners to break-ins.

The sensors, fax machine/ phone and a separate handset are programmed to produce an alarm when someone tries to enter by opening windows.

A voice message will also be sent to a registered mobile phone, allowing homeowners to report break-ins to police even if they aren’t home.

“I feel safe alone with my 1-year-old son even when my husband comes home late,” Takagi said.

In recent years, wireless gadgets have become ubiquitous in homes, owing to the widespread use of Wi-Fi networks. Panasonic’s product uses a frequency different from those used by many other electronic devices.

“Commercialization was made possible after we sharply reduced the risks of signal interference,” said Hirokatsu Tanaka, a marketing official of Panasonic’s digital audio, video and communication division. “We are keen on recommending it to customers who want replacements for their phones or faxes.”

The window sensor sells for around ¥5,000. A phone can be linked to up to 20 sensors. Sensors for new frequency ranges are priced higher at between around ¥8,000 and ¥27,000.

Softbank Mobile Corp. is planning to release sometime after late January a home security device dubbed Mimamori Home Security that also requires window-attached sensors.

If the window with a sensor attached is opened, the device will text a registered mobile phone for a basic monthly fee of ¥490.