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The ADT home security empire strikes back at CES

Amid a flood of new competitors, the venerable security giant is offering users a bounty of new features.


These days, consumers interested in protecting their homes have more options than ever before, thanks to security-minded home automation services like SimpliSafe and fee-free, crowd-funded DIY upstarts like Piper and iSmartAlarm that continue to improve. That spells trouble for established industry leaders like ADT, as an increasing number of consumers are finding better value with the little guys.

Today, ADT answered back, announcing a sweeping list of upgrades to ADT Pulse, its premier home security package. Chief among these is the ADT Pulse Voice app, which will enable users to manage their home security and automation needs by way of simple voice commands. In addition, ADT announced Canopy, an app-based security system that promises to keep you covered (get it?) while on the go, providing live monitoring-based "Chaperone" service for situations like entering a dark parking garage or walking across campus at night. There are also additional remote controls for things like garage doors and ceiling fans, along with a new wireless touch-screen control panel -- perhaps a bit of a nod to the popularity of unobtrusive DIY setups that can be installed quickly and don't need to be hard-wired into your home.

The "Chaperone" feature in ADT's new Canopy app will offer live monitoring-based protection while you're on the go. ADT

On top of these upgrades, ADT announced multiple strategic partnerships to help expand the scope of its service. Thanks to a new deal with McAfee, ADT will now offer its users in-depth digital security for their data and devices. A partnership with Ford will put ADT's new voice controls into vehicles equipped with Ford Sync AppLink. A continued relationship between ADT and Ideal Life will allow for focused health and care-giving support.

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Beyond those partnerships, ADT is also making a surprising move for an entrenched leader in what some might have called a mature industry. ADT will be offering Canopy integration to third-party hardware manufacturers. That means smaller security device makers will be able to make use of Canopy, and ADT's monitoring service, in their own products.

By offering that monitoring to others, ADT capitalizes on its successful service side, while also strengthening the security offerings and easing the burden of a service overhead from any hardware partner that wants in. That's a savvy move by ADT, and not one we expected.

As strategic shifts go, this one seems to come at a good time for ADT, as the industry bar is definitely rising. Multiyear contracts and significant monthly fees are getting tougher and tougher to justify in light of the competition, and short of reworking its entire business model, the most obvious way for ADT to remain competitive is beefing up its offerings. There's no word yet on how the new services will affect pricing, but you can expect more information closer to the planned rollout this spring.