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CES 2019: Sunflower Labs wants to use drones to keep your mansion safe

These garden lights sense motion and vibration, then send a drone to check out suspicious activity.

sunflower-labs-system-overview
Berna Namoglu

When it's ready, Sunflower Labs won't be a simple or a cheap security system, but it could be a pretty effective one. On display at CES, the system combines high-tech garden lights with a camera-equipped drone to patrol your yard.

The startup behind the system plans to officially start selling it later this year or early next year, but the team at the show didn't yet know a price. They only indicated that it would be expensive until they can start making it at scale, so at first, it will be a high-end security system only. 

It'll use three pieces to keep your home secure. The drone is called the bee, and it lives in a hub station called the hive. The hive connects to your Wi-Fi router and keeps the app up to date. You'll set the hive in your yard, but it supposedly has a strong enough antenna to talk to your router. You'll also need to connect the hive to power, as it charges the drone.

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The hive doubles as a hub for the sensors and a charging station for the drone. 

Alex Pachikov

The sunflowers complete the system. They look like garden lights and you place them strategically around your yard, connecting them to power through a daisy chain cord. They do cast light, but they also have built-in motion and vibration sensors. Apparently, they're smart enough to be able to tell the difference between people, pets and cars just from their different motion patterns and the vibrations they make when they move.

Once the sunflowers sense something, they send a signal to the hive using a proprietary high-range, low-power radio frequency. Then, the hive sends you an alert, and you can send the bee into action with a simple press of a button in the app. Sunflower Labs will also work with a professional monitoring service that can send the drone if you're indisposed. The drone is supposedly smart enough that it could navigate to the alert itself and take a look, but a person needs to initiate its flight in order to avoid breaking drone-related laws. 

The app shows you an overhead view of your yard, and you can mark points of interest such as your front door or your driveway. These allow you to customize alerts based on time of day, type of motion, and location. You'll also get very specific notifications that could indicate a person walked to your front door, then around to the back. The bee will use these points of interest when examining the situation.

While Sunflower Labs certainly sounds cool, you'll supposedly need four different sensors for adequate coverage of an ordinary yard. Even once the company gets to scale, I'm guessing Sunflower Labs still won't be cheap. Nevertheless, combining motion and vibration sensing is pretty smart, and if the company can do what it claims, this security system could be compelling for a privacy-minded person with plenty of disposable income. 

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