Even if you’re not a self-described technology and gadget enthusiast, you’ve probably seen “smart home,” “connected life,” “Internet of Things,” or “IoT” mentioned a few times here and there. Do you know what the Internet of Things is, though? Should you even care?

Beyond the buzzwords, smart home devices and IoT in general are emerging categories that really are worthy of all the hype. Why? As I mentioned in a recent feature, these devices are going to completely change the way we live our lives.

As a matter of fact, they’re already changing our lives today.

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In our new “Connecting my life” series, we’ll focus periodically on how BGR writers and editors personally use devices that fall into the smart home and IoT categories. To start things off, I’ll focus briefly on a device I have been testing for the past couple of months called the Piper NV.

Home security systems with monitoring service are typically quite expensive. Beyond installation fees, the equipment needed to set up a home alarm system can easily cost between $500 and $1,000 or even more depending on your system.

Then you can look forward to paying $30, $50 or even more each month for monitoring service, which consists of a call center that is notified anytime your alarm goes off. Monitoring center staff then call a phone number they have on file and if they can’t contact you to get an “all clear,” they alert local authorities.

Of course in most cases, the sound of the alarm will have scared off any would-be burglars long before the police show up. What you’re left with is a thousand-dollar system that costs you another $360+ per year in monitoring fees, plus another $50 every so often for false alarm tickets courtesy of your local police department.

But there’s another way.

Some people don’t feel safe unless their system is connected to a call center, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re not one of those people and you’re comfortable with the idea that a piercing alarm is what actually does the trick in the event of a home invasion, you stand to save a fortune with a new home security solution from Piper.

The Piper NV is a small device that looks harmless enough. One wrong move, however, and the Piper NV lets out a piercing 105-decibel alarm that will likely stop any intruder in his or her tracks.

For context, those painfully loud fire alarms in office buildings are often between 100 and 120 decibels loud. I was standing far too close to the device when I first tested the alarm function, and my ears were definitely ringing for several minutes.

The Piper NV is much more than just an alarm, though.

Home monitoring is also covered by this little device, which features a 180-degree camera with 720p HD resolution and automatic night vision mode that is enabled whenever it gets dark.

The encrypted camera feed from the Piper NV is accessible via a secure connection to Piper’s mobile app, and it also automatically records whenever a security event occurs. Recordings are encrypted and stored on Piper’s remote servers and are saved until they are deleted in the app.

Of note, the camera is not constantly broadcasting its feed over the web. Instead, it only sends video when an event is triggered or when you connect to it with the iPhone or Android app.

The device houses sensors that monitor motion, sound, light, temperature and humidity, allowing you to monitor the conditions of your home from anywhere. There is also a pet mode, so any animals roaming your house while the device is armed won’t set off your alarm.

Finally, the device connects to your home Wi-Fi network and plugs into the wall, though it includes batteries so the alarm will still function in the event of a power outage.

Piper’s companion app is simple to use and well-organized, so controlling the device is a breeze.

The app’s home screen provides quick access to the Piper NV’s different modes such as Away Mode and Vacation Mode, and it also lists event notifications. Anytime the alarm is set off, for example, a notification is pushed to your phone via the app. You’ll get a notification anytime the Piper NV has to switch to battery power, as well.

Also accessible in the app are “vitals” for your home, giving you access to the current temperature and humidity in your house as well as volume levels and motion detection. Additionally, you’ll have access to historical data from the past 48 hours.

Of course, the app also gives you access to your Piper NV’s video camera. You can see a live feed from any connected devices, switch between standard and night vision modes, and even hold a microphone icon to speak to anyone who might be in your home. Audio accompanies the video feed as well, so you can hear what’s going on in your home at any time.

The Piper NV is also a Z Wave controller, so you can control connected lights, switches or any other compatible devices using the Piper app.

I’m a big fan of Piper’s home security solution. Using just one small device — or multiple Pipers that can be linked together and strategically placed throughout your home — you can replace costly conventional home alarm services that get even more costly when options like live video feeds and automation are added to your package.

Meanwhile, the Piper NV costs $269 from Piper’s online store. There’s even a less expensive older model that’s only $199. These devices are affordable, capable and very easy to set up, and they’re perfect examples of smart home devices that can connect our lives and save us money in the process.

Connecting my life” is a series that offers personal accounts of ways BGR’s writers and editors use devices that fall into the smart home and Internet of Things categories.

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