Smart home redefined: What is a home security system in 2021?

ISC West, the mammoth Security Industry Association (SIA) tradeshow, will soon convene, bringing many in the smart security ecosystem to Las Vegas even at the height of the summer heat, after COVID-19 lockdowns left them starved for in-person events. Perennial discussions for home security players will revolve around growing RMR (recurring monthly revenue), reducing attrition, attaching smart home products and services, adjacent revenue opportunities, emerging technologies, and the impact of DIY on dealers.

From a consumer viewpoint, the conversation is much simpler and tends to revolve around home security systems versus smart cameras. The lines are increasingly blurring. If you go to and type in the search bar “home security system,” you will see systems from Ring Alarm, Simplisafe, and a few little-known manufactures, but you will also find a far greater number of security cameras and camera systems that outnumber traditional form factors.

Ecobee has even been featuring its new camera line in ads at the top of the page of security system search results. There is little daylight now between a security system and a security camera system, especially when both are self-monitored.

Granted, this is Amazon, but it is where Main Street America lives. “The mental picture of a security system has changed with ‘video as the alarm system’ challenging traditional notions of what a security system looks like,” remarked Brad Russell, Interpret VP. “This is really not about DIY, or value-conscious consumers looking for good-enough solutions. Economics can be part of the equation, but this trend is about media preference and user experience, which doesn’t have to signal a race to the bottom on cost.”

Russell continued, “Imagine a pro-installed, pro-monitored video-only home security system supported by robust video and audio analytics, machine learning to identify threats, and proactive artificial intelligence. A headless hub provides the cellular connection to the cloud, data security, edge AI, and RF support, and a smartphone app provides the primary interface. There would be lots of RMR value in that offering.”

According to Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix™, about half (48%) of networked camera owners and video doorbell owners (47%) do not have a smart security system. While there remains a strong overlap between owners of the devices, half of the camera owners feel no need for a “sensor-based” system. Security and peace of mind persist as the most compelling value propositions for smart technology. Sensor-based security systems continue to evolve with rich features, but if enterprise-grade video solutions trickle down to home security, the definition of a system will certainly expand.