Using a home security system has become a part of normal, everyday life for many, but the system itself was conceived little more than half a century ago. So, when we reflect on the history of modern home security systems, the best starting point is with the invention of the first home security system that utilized video surveillance. A patent for this was originally filed on August 1, 1966.
Marie Van Brittan Brown, born on October 30, 1922, in Jamaica, Queens, New York, was an African American woman who would go on to be credited with the invention of the video home security system, along with her husband, Albert Brown.
Marie worked as a nurse and Albert as an electrician, which often resulted in different work schedules and nights when Marie was left home alone. Marie and Albert continued to live in Jamaica, Queens, which historically had a very high crime rate throughout the 1960’s.
The patent for the system was the first of its kind, involving a camera that could move between several peepholes to match the height of a visitor at the door, microphones placed opposite speakers at both the front door and in the bedroom, and TV monitors carrying the camera’s live signal.
With her system in place, Marie could use her bedroom television to see who was knocking on the door without opening the door. By incorporating two-way audio, visitors could identify themselves to her or state the purpose of their visit.
Marie Van Brittan Brown would improve her own system by incorporating a lock that could be unlocked using a remote to allow guests entry. Eventually, this would undergo a crucial revision allowing a radio-controlled alarm under the control of the occupant to immediately alert a guard, policeman, or watchman at a security station with the push of a button, essentially creating the first panic button.
What began as an individual’s means for staying vigilant would eventually grow into an entire industry, but initial interest was low due mostly to the cost of installation by homebuilders. Complete systems like Marie’s wouldn’t see popular adaptation for more than 3 decades, but her innovations were cited on over 30 subsequent patents as further advancements were made.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that home security systems became more affordable. The popularity of such systems rose, despite the challenges of installation which involved hardwiring sensors throughout the home. By this point, a basic alarm system would include a control panel that received opening and closing signals from sensors assigned to provided zones, entry and exit delays, a bell with automatic cutoff, and remote arming and disarming.
As the digital age ushered in new technologies, the first IP camera was created in the mid-1990s by Axis Communications, which had several advantages over a traditional closed-circuit TV camera. One major advantage was remote access from anywhere. The quality of this video would improve as internet speeds increased. The resolution and length of video captures would also change for the better as digital media storage became faster, more compressed, and more available.
Alarm systems would soon include wireless technology, which improved both the installation process as well as reliable communications. By enabling systems to leverage cellular communications, hardwire failures would no longer prevent alarm signals from being sent. Signal protocols, like Z-Wave, have also been used to extend the device options of a security system into a network of home automation equipment.
Currently, security systems have been built upon prior technologies, and since 2011, with significant growth in the percentage of households that have smartphone ownership, these systems have been made increasingly interconnected with mobile devices.
A home security system which incorporates wirelessly connected security cameras can now stream live, high-definition video to a mobile device over a wireless or cellular internet signal. A homeowner who may be miles away on vacation can still answer their door, even having a conversation with a visitor that rings their video camera doorbell.
What’s more, is that a cellular phone can use its location to signal home automation systems through the larger home security system as its owner enters or leaves an area around their property. This can be set up to remind the homeowner if their door is unlocked or even lock the door automatically. When coming home outside of normally scheduled hours, this can trigger lights to turn on and the temperature to adjust for the occupant’s comfort upon arrival.
Many of the ideas which Marie Van Brittan Brown had would also evolve into current home security developments, such as access to see what is being captured on security cameras from multiple vantage points through the screen directly included on the security panel itself. Two-way audio is still a common component used to greet and interrogate visitors. Remotely controlled locks are still a feature available on modern security systems, as well as both panic buttons and the ability to immediately notify authorities, all from a central location under the control of the occupant.
If you’ve decided to upgrade the protection and convenience of your property with security features and the ability to include automation, contact us today to speak with a Brinks Home™ Consultant about which systems and devices are best suited for you.
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