Anyone moving into a new home or apartment can face a tough choice: spend a large sum of money on a traditional, hard-wired alarm system, or screw on a deadbolt.
But two Yale graduates are offering a new alternative.
Simpli Safe, a home security system launched earlier this year by Chad and Eleanor Laurans ’00, offers a shorter-term approach to home protection, targeted especially to temporary residents of urban areas. The inventors said they hope the product, a wireless home security system that can be transported from home to home as the owner moves, will appeal directly to the subset of students too apathetic or budget-conscious to invest in electronic security.
“We had three of our close friends get robbed within a span of a few months,” Chad Laurans said, “and they felt helpless because traditional security systems didn’t work with where and how they were living.”
The product consists of a wireless, self-adhering keypad, a keychain remote, multiple wireless sensors placed around the home and a base station that emits an 85-decibel siren when the alarm is triggered. The system does not require a phone line because it wirelessly communicates with the REFLEX network used by hospitals and emergency services, a feature that prevents buyers from having to sign any multiyear contracts. By contrast, most traditional home security systems, such as Brinks and ADT, not only require a landline phone for communication with emergency services, but, once hard-wired, may be impossible to transport.
Chad Laurans said he developed the idea he and his wife were both students at Harvard Business School. Chad Laurans, an electrical engineering major at Yale who said he knew for years that he was interested in technological entrepreneurship, decided to draw up a business plan with his wife for a wireless home security company to address what they saw as an urgent, unmet need in the campus community. After two and a half years of preparations — including finding adequate financing, hiring designers and engineers, and traveling to China multiple times to arrange a manufacturing deal — Simpli Safe went to market in January 2009.
Last month as students across the nation returned to school, the company introduced the “Off-Campus Security Package,” priced at $249.99, designed for a college lifestyle (complete with up to five keychain remotes for additional roommates).
Despite the Laurans’ doubts about how much college students would be willing to pay to secure living arrangements that are by nature temporary, the product has caught the attention of some Yale upperclassmen living off campus, most of whom simply rely on the quality of the locks on their doors.
“Security is obviously a major concern for anyone who decides to move off campus,” said Matthew Lucas ’12, who shares an apartment with four roommates in a part of New Haven he called “definitely not the most secure.” (Lucas is a former photography editor for the News.) Lucas said he has not planned to buy Simpli Safe.
Bonnie Lee ’10, who also lives off campus, expressed concerns, however, about whether the system would run smoothly in different regions of the country, where wireless compatibility might be an issue.
“I’m not planning on staying in Northeast after graduation,” Lee said, adding that she was thus hesitant to make the investment.
For the time being, the Laurans couple said they intend to proceed with their urban-focused business approach: The wireless range of Simpli Safe’s motion sensors, for example, is about 400 to 500 feet with a direct line-of-sight, making it more suitable for smaller living spaces. But the system has been used in large, multi-story homes with no problems, according to the product’s Web site, and the Laurans added that they expect to keep making improvements and adding options to the system.
“We’ve been living in urban areas ever since Yale,” Eleanor Laurans said. “And now we’re trying to make it easier for people to do that.”