Smart home tech and, as a result, home security tech have exploded in the UK in recent years. Having an eye on the outside of your home, always watching and feeding reports is very appealing to those who have worries about the safety of their house and possessions. The smart home market is already set to near $8 billion this year, with some 46 per cent of households making use of some form of the tech.
As for the electronic security market of the UK, which covers access and control systems, surveillance and alert systems, anti-theft systems, and other types of equipment, it’s expected to continue growing at a compound annual growth rate of over eight per cent from a baseline of $6 billion back in 2019. Put these together, and you see a British society that’s increasingly open to setting up smart home security.
While the price points, various methods of installation, and increasing adoption to promote through word of mouth all help this momentum, it’s the application of live streaming technology that’s really captured the imagination of the public. Still, it is somewhat controversial in its present state, so to help you navigate the potential pitfalls of live stream home security, and pick the best products, here’s what you need to know.
Developing live streaming into the mainstream
It wasn’t that long ago that live streaming was reserved for those who wanted to tune into various sports from around the world that, perhaps, weren’t being shown in the UK. Then, streaming platforms emerged to blur the lines, forcing the UK’s TV Licensing to clarify that you do need a licence to live stream YouTube, Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, All 4, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, and the like. Still, those being live-streamed were always part of the TV programming, knowing they’d be watched.
In a much more interactive application of live streaming technology, online platforms also integrated it into their games so that players could enjoy classic and new-age gambling games in real-time but with professionals. Online casinos are now famed for live games like Live Power Up Roulette, Live Football Card Showdown, and Live Crazy Coin Flip because they offer in-the-moment, real gaming with professional croupiers running the show. Again, though, those being live-streamed are doing so as part of the product.
Live streaming has also become mainstream for the general public, away from the professionals at live events or running live casino games. Sites like YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram all have live-streaming features. Importantly, though, those who opt to set up and run a live stream have agreed to certain terms and conditions and are knowingly going live to the general internet public. If they feel the need to, though, they can also protect their privacy with fake names and the like.
The elephant in the room for home security tech
Even in a product review that focuses on the tech at hand, it’s impossible to dance around the privacy concerns of live-stream home security tech. Live streaming so far has been adopted in mass as a passive activity for viewers and players, while those who are the subject being streamed invariably confirm their desire to go live and may also be trained for the experience. With the home security tech, people watch as they normally would a live stream, but those on the other side don’t get the option to consent.
Over the last couple of years, a lot has been made of neighbours spying on one another with their live stream doorbells – particularly those from market leader Ring – as well as the issue for the delivery personnel. Those in the postal service or who work for private delivery companies don’t consent to be recorded or live-streamed, and in the opinions of many, they shouldn’t have to do so. While tech like Ring does protect the user with end-to-end encryption, they can do anything with the live-streamed media that comes to their apps.
Brands to know for smart home security
We’ll start with the only place that you can start on this topic: Ring. In 2018, the company was purchased by Amazon for upwards of $1 billion, and since then, they’ve rocketed from an innovative business developing accessible home security to an industry giant. Each new version appears to offer a valued upgrade on the last, akin to Apple's smartphone devices, as shown by the Ring Video Doorbell 4 on the Ring Video Doorbell 3. While video quality could be considered a bit low, as far as wireless video doorbells go, it’s at least on par, and the Live View feature is very popular.
Whenever you pick out a brand other than Ring, you need to draw comparisons between it and the Amazon-owned product, as Ring, deservedly, leads the market. This is why our Eufy battery-powered review compares it to the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus. As it goes, the Eufy holds its own against the more popular model. A big part of why it gets the nod is that the doorbell integrates so well with the wider Eufy offering of cameras and other home security tech bits.
Looking further out, Arlo offers among the best products that don’t come from the internet and personal data behemoths Amazon and Google. The Arlo Pro 3 is one of the best home security cameras available today, and while its upfront price is a little steep, it does come with an additional kit to ensure that the cameras work as well as they can. The Arlo Video Doorbell is also a top-class product, offering 2K video and cloud storage.
You have plenty of options to make your way into the world of live-stream smart home security, but it’d be wise to consider the privacy implications before simply treating your set-up as you would any other live-streamed product.