How to Make Your Smart Home Brilliant and Secure

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Hello there! My name is David Vranicar and I’m the Managing Partner here at Fortified & Ballistic Security. I’m very proud to say I’ve been here since the very beginning — I’m one of the founders of the business. 

I meet with almost all of our clients at some point or another, whether it’s at the beginning when they’re trying to decide if they want to hire us, or later on to look at the final product. I take a lot of pride in getting to know the people we work with and for the sake of transparency, I thought I should get down a few things about myself. I think it’s important to know who you’re working with. 

Background: Home Automation

Before I got into home security, I worked in home automation for many years. My business partners and I focused on creating technology solutions for clientele with unique issues. 

In the 1990’s (which seems so long ago now), we happened upon clients who wanted services and technology that simply didn’t exist. For example, back then, cable companies could only give you three cable boxes, which is fine for most households — maybe you have one TV in your living room, one in a bedroom, and one in the basement. 

But for affluent people living in luxury homes, this wasn’t nearly sufficient. They had six or seven bedrooms instead of three. They hosted large Super Bowl parties and wanted a TV on their covered patio outside so people didn’t have to crowd into one room. 

So me and my business partners put our heads together to look for solutions in other arenas. Corporate boardrooms had controllers that could send video signals to various monitors, so why couldn’t that work in residential circumstances? 

One client was having an issue with his lights because he had so many different zones and switches to control them, he couldn’t keep them straight and could never make it work the way he wanted to. Instead of leaving him with a bank of 400 labeled switches, we created one simple keypad that functioned using scenes. Each custom scene created a unique atmosphere that he could call up whenever he wanted. It was far more effective and efficient than all those switches. 

A photo of someone typing a code into a home security keypad.

Another wanted specific scents pumped in through his HVAC system. Again, that wasn’t something that was being done in residential spaces, but it was (and still is) being done in every casino in Vegas. We were able to adapt the technology to a smaller space and automate it so his luxury home smelled exactly the way he wanted it to at all times. 

By finding ways to automate luxury homes, we managed to tap into a cottage industry that had been previously underserved. No one knew these types of problems would exist as technology became more prevalent in a residential setting, and someone needed to fill it.

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m not exaggerating when I say we were pioneers. It may seem like the 90’s were only 10 years ago, but it was more like 25 years ago. Technology was completely different than it is now. There was no such thing as streaming to as many devices as you wanted. Blockbuster was a thriving business. DVRs didn’t even exist — you had to consult the printed TV guide to know when a show was going to air, and then you had to watch it live! 

Very few people were doing the work we were doing back then — in large part because the technology experts had no idea what clients in luxury homes needed. Similarly, very few people are doing what we’re doing now with home security doors and windows, and how we integrate them into smart homes. Most security doors and windows are effective, but ugly and difficult to use. That’s why we’re dedicated to creating beautiful products that are also effective. 

Integrating with Smart Home Technology

Integrating smart home technology and automation with our home security doors and windows was never even a question for me. It was a given. 

Coming from such a strong home automation background — particularly working with an affluent clientele — I knew instinctively that they’d want their home security features to be fully incorporated with the rest of their home technology. It just makes sense. 

The team we work with to integrate our products into smart home technology has been doing it for so long, they wrote their first programs on Windows 3.1 (one of them is the extraordinarily talented Noel Blackman). The people we work with have written programs for tech giants, celebrities, and even themselves in their own smart homes.

We’ve all been working together for at least 20 years. At this point, we all work together so well that everything we do is seamless. Our philosophy back in our home automation days was that if an action required more than two button pushes, it wasn’t good enough — and that’s something we use as a benchmark today for smart homes. Ideally, we want you to touch one button and have the task accomplished.

A photo of an FBS exterior motion sensor light and camera.

Furthermore, we have gone through great lengths to user-test the way our technology integrates with smart homes so that anyone — even those who aren’t typically good with technology — can pick it up and use it with absolutely no training. We believe that if you can’t work it without training, it doesn’t work. 

Keyless Entry

One of the easiest ways for us to integrate our security doors into your smart home is to use keyless entry technology, which can come in many forms, such as keypads, Invisiprox™, facial recognition, and fingerprint scans. 

Any of our keyless entry options needs to include a motorized lock, and also ideally our Stealth Closer™ and our Stealth Hinge™ structural upgrades. These upgrades allow the door to open and close on its own, and then lock whenever it’s shut. 

Keyless entry is the perfect combination of security and convenience, but with FBS fortified doors, you don’t have to sacrifice the look or the function. 

Biometric Scans (Facial Recognition)

We have multiple variations of biometric entry panels, from fingerprint scans to facial recognition. They’re the ultimate in security because quite literally, no one can get in without you, but the best part is the way they can integrate into your smart home. 

Fingerprint scanners vary greatly in functionality, accuracy and security, and all of those elements are intertwined. For example, the fingerprint recognition device on your smartphone functions relatively well, in that it unlocks the phone whenever you want it to. But that also means it’s not very accurate, which means it’s not very secure.

The more secure the device, the more accurate it needs to be, decreases its functionality. You can trust that the military isn’t using fingerprint recognition software as inaccurate as your smartphone. They need 100% accuracy — someone’s similar fingerprint cannot be able to unlock the device. 

The best of the best in terms of security is facial recognition. Good facial recognition programs (like ours) are accurate to 0.005%. It reads your bone structure from your nose to the top of your eyes, which never changes in adulthood. 

So how do we integrate this technology into the rest of your smart home automation?

Picture this: You come home after a long business trip and you can’t wait to get in the house. You walk up to your door and it opens without you touching it. 

Not only does the door open, but the thermostat adjusts to exactly where you want it to be, the shades open just enough to let light in but not blind you, and your favorite playlist starts playing at the perfect volume. You’re free to grab a drink because you don’t have to think about a single thing. The house is exactly the way you want it and you didn’t have to lift a finger to make it happen. 

A photo of our home security app alerting a client that there is someone at the door.

PerfectVision™

At FBS, we found a discreet, unobtrusive camera that fits into a door’s peephole, which we integrated into our home security doors — we call it PerfectVision™. It can be a simple, high-definition (with optional 4K or thermal sensing) camera you can view from your touch panel, phone, or television, or it can be connected to a chip that will record whatever it sees (which of course, you can also review from your smart home interface, phone, etc).

As you’d expect, you’ll be able to check who’s at your door from anywhere (whether you’re home or not) and either unlock the door to let them in, or ignore it and go back to what you were doing. If you’re watching TV and the doorbell rings, your TV show will pause and your PerfectVision™ camera will show you who’s at the door.

What makes it so incredible is that it doesn’t degrade the security of the door — intruders could break the camera with enough force, but they’re still not going to get past the steel plate behind it.

Putting it All Together

Every single one of our clients has a smart home. Every single one. So integrating our products with home automation is completely critical, but we also have to maintain the integrity of our doors and windows. As a result, we’re very selective about the home automation companies we’ll work with.

The more people that have access to your security system, the less secure it is. If we give all the secrets of your security features away to your home automation company, we’re compromising your safety. If we know the company, we’ve worked with them before, and we can verify their competence, the integration goes much more smoothly. But if we don’t, we’ll have to draw a hard line.

Most home automation systems are easily hacked — it’s just the nature of the technology. If we’re not fully confident in the system you’re using, we’ll make sure that crucial aspects of your security (such as unlocking your doors) cannot be accessed through your home automation system. 

For example, if we trust the home automation company, we may configure your control panel to let you lock and unlock your doors while lying in bed. It’s the same concept as checking all the doors before you go to bed at night, but you’re doing it with technology (because who wants to check all the doors in a 25,000 square foot house?). 

If we don’t know enough about the home automation company you’re working with, or we specifically don’t trust them, we would allow you to view the status of your doors, but not actually control them. You could see someone left the sliding door closed but unlocked, and you’d have to get out of bed to go lock it. It’s certainly not the end of the world for you, but it’s less convenient. 

A photo of our home security app displayed on a tablet and a smartphone.

We can even send you notifications so you’re aware when any doors or windows are opened when they’re not supposed to be — like if the kids are home from school before you get home from work and are supposed to stay in the house. Your kids might hate it, but you’ll feel better knowing that they’re safe at home until you get there.

Why We Won’t Integrate With Video Doorbell Services

Something important to note is that we will not integrate with the widely available video doorbell systems. Again, the reason for this limitation is your safety and security — something we take very seriously. 

On a technical level, the mass-produced video doorbell systems aren’t secure at all. Their systems constantly communicate between your home LAN (local area network) and their servers because it has to in order to function the way you want it to. If you want to see who’s at your door while you’re out of town, you’re accessing their servers to view it — you won’t be able to access your LAN from anywhere. And that setup makes their systems extremely hackable. 

Every video doorbell (and widely available virtual assistant device, for that matter) is recording everything it hears or sees, and those companies keep it forever. By signing on with these companies, you’re signing over your privacy — and that’s not something we want you to do.

Our systems use VPNs (virtual private networks) because that’s the only way to keep your information and your family safe.

How FBS Can Make Your Smart Home Brilliant

Now that home automation and smart homes are so prevalent, there are a lot of companies breaking into the industry that, to be frank, have no business being there. They lack the capability to create something from scratch. They’re simply walking into a home and installing a product that has been installed in hundreds of other homes that are nothing like yours. 

Products that are sold to the masses are not easily customizable. They do a few things well, but adaptability is not one of them. And when they are, it’s not easy to get customer support for them. You’ll end up on the phone with someone who is reading from a script and responding with pre-written information, as opposed to intelligent answers based on a deep knowledge base.

The big question you need to ask yourself as a homeowner with significant means is: do you know someone who is creative and innovative enough to find a solution for you when it appears as though it doesn’t already exist?

We want to maximize what you’re already spending. You’re already buying home automation systems, and you’re getting security doors and windows. They might as well all work together, and we’re the best people to help you with that. 

There truly isn’t anything involving home automation and security that we can’t do for you. If you don’t believe us, give us a call and tell us your dream. We’d love to talk to you about your security needs and how they fit into your luxury dream home!

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