Spark enters smart home wars with 'Morepork' home security

Home security applications are a new frontier for telcos such as Spark - but they are also being targeted by Apple and Google.

Spark has entered battle on the home security front with the official launch of its "Morepork" service, the company's first offering to address the so-called smart living market.

But with industry giants such as Google and Apple also eyeing the emerging market, the New Zealand telco won't have it all its own way.

Spark began offering Morepork, named after a native owl, to customers on its broadband plans today, allowing them to monitor their homes from their smartphones.

Morepork monitors homes with sensors and cameras connected to the cloud and sends alerts to customer's smartphones if it detects changes such as movement or windows and doors opening. It can also take a photo or record a video clip.

Morepork is a product from Spark's innovation unit Spark Ventures.

"It's the type of disruptive new innovation that will re-shape the home security market," Spark Ventures GM of Smart Living Gemma Croombs said.

Morepork is the first of a range of smart living products Spark is developing, she said.

Morepork is designed to be easily self-installed and portable for when customers move house.

Meanwhile, Google-owned Nest released a home security camera in May which integrates with its other home security offerings. Nest has also partnered with one of the world's largest home security companies, ADT, which operates in New Zealand.

Last June, Apple introduced its HomeKit platform, however it appears to be struggling for traction as third-party add-ons have been slow to arrive.

Other more traditional names such as Chubb are also well established in alarm systems and monitoring.

Spark customers who sign-up for a Morepork will receive a starter kit with a control panel, three door and window sensors, an image sensor and a video camera. Customers can buy extra sensors, cameras and a smoke alarm.

Customers can choose to pay NZ$519 upfront and NZ$20 a month over 24 months or NZ$999 upfront in full for the starter kit. They then choose whether they want a self monitoring plan (NZ$29.95 per month) or the professional response plan (NZ$49.95 per month).

Spark home, mobile and business CEO Jason Paris said Spark had been working with US-based to develop Morepork's software platform.


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