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Premises management innovator Observables adds SONOS wireless speaker integration to growing list of services

Configurable security platform provides centralized control and access of alarm and premises monitoring services powered by software-defined network technology

Residential and commercial security tech vendors continue to relentlessly extend their reach into the smart home market, adding value with new capabilities and partnerships. Nothing exemplifies this trend more succinctly than the announcement by Observables of the integration of its AlwaysON Premises Management Service Delivery Platform with SONOS wireless speakers. The new capabilities of the firm’s IoT (Internet of Things) hardware was demonstrated at the recent ISC West Conference (International Security Conference & Exposition), an annual event claimed to be the industry’s largest converged security trade show.

The David and Goliath partnership is a hometown alliance of sorts as both the small, privately-held Observables and publicly traded SONOS (Nasdaq: SONO) were founded in Santa Barbara, Calif. and have headquarters just a handful of miles apart. Launched in 2002 by Software.com co-founder John Macfarlane, SONOS has a market cap of just over $1 billion and annual sales which topped $1.2 million last year.

Founded in 2013, Observables has carved out market share with an IoT hardware platform which supports video surveillance, access control, security alarms, and sensor monitoring. The services delivered by its compact IOBOT SD-LAN device are controlled by a user interface accessible from smart phones, computers and tablets. Both IOBOT and the AlwaysON cloud-based services delivery platform have won a number of industry awards from the security and smart home industries.

In explaining the benefits of harnessing SONOS Connect to deliver audio services through the platform, Abe Schryer, CEO of Observables said it “brings SONOS into the security ecosystem” while providing security system installers and monitoring service providers with new recurring monthly revenue (RMR) opportunities. Among the advantages the firm envisions their dealership network will benefit from are selling music subscriptions services such as Spotify and Pandora. Primarily positioned for commercial installations, the firm says customers can leverage SONSO Connect by integrating it with existing overhead paging and speaker systems.

At the same ISC West Conference, Observable also debuted their partnership with the award-winning Connect+ Security system from Alula, a highly configurable platform for delivering security, automation and video services. Used in combination with the Observables platform, users can add telephony, access control, and network management services to their existing Alula system.Bay 

Bay area startup Dedrone protects everything from military bases to mansions against airspace threats with counterdrone security systems

Privately held firm specializes in detecting drones while chasing a potential $400 million airspace security market

Last August during a military parade in Caracas, spectators suddenly noticed two drones approaching from the sky. As they dropped altitude, the drones briefly hoovered ominously just above the grandstand where embattled President Nicolás Maduro was delivering a speech live on Venezuelan television. Moments later, they exploded, showering the troops below with metal fragments but missing their intended target. Within hours officials confirmed it was a failed assassination attempt, the first ever of a head of state.

Mere months later, during one tension-filled week just before Christmas 2018, several drones were reported flying in the restricted airspace of Gatwick Airport, the second busiest in the UK. Over the next three days between December 19th through the 21st, hundreds of flights were canceled, disrupting the travel plans of 140,000 passengers. Industry sources later calculated the 33 hour shutdown cost airlines approximately £50 million ($64.5 million) in lost revenue. Just a few weeks afterwards, a drone sighting near London’s Heathrow Airport caused a one hour stoppage.

To date, authorities in England and Venezuela have been unable to determine the identities of the perpetrators nor bring anyone to justice. In all three incidents, the drones used were determined to be commercial models of the kind available to hobbyists in stores or online. Inexpensive, lightweight, and highly navigable, these flying devices can be mastered with just a few days of practice and guided remotely with radio frequency (RF) joysticks. Government and law enforcement agencies admit the ubiquitous nature of drones make them virtually impossible to trace, regardless of whether they’re purchased for recreation or by others interested in more nefarious purposes.

While the prospect of drones, armed with explosives or not, becoming commonplace as yet another weapon in the terrorists’ toolbox is alarming, to a well-funded startup in San Francisco, these disturbing incidents strongly validate the growing need for their technology.

Launched in February 2014, Dedrone has developed an “airspace security” platform designed to detect, track, and neutralize threats from the sky, specifically drones. The newest generation of its system, DroneTracker4 hit the market just last month, further advancing the firm’s mission of establishing itself as the global leader. Comprised of portable hardware sensors which can be installed virtually anywhere and machine-learning software, the firm says their systems are the “most detailed and actionable counter-drone platform” available.

With $28 million in funding, the latest version of platform creates what Dedrone executives claim is a virtually impenetrable perimeter. Once a drone is detected by the system’s RF Sensor which picks up the radio frequency in use to control the flying threat, localization technology pinpoints exact location. Strategically positioned high-resolution video cameras feed data into the DroneTracker software (in the cloud or on-site), which classify the drone’s model and means of communications (RF, WiFi, non-WiFi) by comparing it to the system’s continually-updated DroneDNA database. More than a single drone attacking your facility? No problem. Dedrone’s can track a swarm of drones simultaneously and map their precise location in real-time. Other features include Drone Flight Pattern Recognition, a set of analytics which look for patterns of drone activity to determine the threat level and appropriate countermeasures.

Using advanced heat mapping algorithms, the video feed can be analyzed for hot spots of suspicious activity. Continuous monitoring and documentation of drone activity is capturing and aggregated into a sophisticated reporting application to update the client about the status of their airspace.

The company’s leadership estimate the emerging market for defending against drone attacks to be in the neighborhood of $400 million for private, commercial, and military applications. Other anti-drone technologies have also arrived on the scene, although many are not designed for the sophisticated purposes Dedrone addresses. Some involve signal jamming capabilities, nets fired from guns, attack drones, frequency disrupting “fences”, malware which remotely infects onboard hardware, and laser weapons, the latter thus far only in use by U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, of course.

To date the DroneTracker4 has been chosen by several federal and state agencies as well as law enforcement and private security firms for test installations, one-time deployment, and ongoing, permanent protection. Over the past three years the company has been contracted to monitor drone activity for a wide range of applications, including securing facilities such as military bases and a penitentiary (drugs and other contraband were being dropping into the prison yard by drones), to guarding high profile public events, and virtually anywhere a terror attack would gain immediate worldwide notoriety and news coverage.

Following a 56-day pilot program at a military base on the Eastern seaboard, the system produced proof of 95 incidents of unauthorized airspace incursions in the vicinity of the facility. Subsequently, the Department of Defense expanded the program to other undisclosed locations. In 2017 Dedrone was chosen to provide airspace security for the 3,000 VIPs attending the Global Economic Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Impressed with the additional security measures provided by Dedrone technology, the police force of Canton of Graubündenm invited them back the following year.

Other examples include two presidential debates held at universities during the last election cycle,  the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Beach Volleyball World Championship, and a PGA Tour. Although military and commercial applications are the obvious sweet spots for airspace security technologies, the burgeoning smart home sector may not be far behind. While the current costs of a DroneTracker4 installation might greatly exceed most home security budgets (the company doesn’t disclose any pricing information on its website), greater market acceptance and further penetration into the security industry might bring prices down to earth.

In the meantime, the super rich and merely wealthy will happily pay whatever it takes to protect their privacy and ensure their safety. When the Royal Family of Qatar visited Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, local security firm and Dedrone partners Computrade and Max Cultura installed airspace protection in the private residence they rented.

Although the property was entirely surrounded by water, the intense presence of journalists covering the games posed a high risk of paparazzi taking extreme measures to take photos valuable on the international tabloid market. After placing two sensors on the facade of the building, the DroneTracker4 system functioned completely autonomously, scouring the sky and shielding the occupants from even their own security detail. During the Royal Family’s stay, the system clocked 720 hours of monitoring time without incident.

What does the future hold for drones and those intent on protecting society from the dangers they pose when in the wrong hands? Drones are here to stay, and in fact, the few you personally may have encountered to date are just the tip of an enormous airborne iceberg. According to a Goldman Sachs Group forecast, roughly 7.8 million drones will be purchased by consumers within the next year, totaling an expected $3.3 billion in sales. When coupled with military and commercial sales, the total drone market will likely top $100 billion by 2020, the same report projects. Most security professionals and industry analysts agree that well-meaning legislation alone won’t curb their use and misuse. In a recent interview on CNBC television, Joerg Lamprecht, CEO and co-founder of Dedrone offered this assessment: “Laws will not stop drones, only technology will. The race is on, the future is unmanned and we’ve got to be staying in charge and in control.”