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Hands-on with Homeboy: This could be the best home-security camera yet

Michael Brown | Oct. 23, 2014
Homeboy remedies almost every drawback seen in security cameras and it doesn't cost a fortune.

If you're looking for a nanny cam or something to monitor your pets, this isn't it.

Let's form a posse!
But the Homeboy does more than send a video clip to your smartphone. You can designate a group of people--a posse--that will receive the same alerts and clips once they install the Homeboy app on their smartphones. Each posse member can be either a Chief (with complete control over all the Homeboys at a given location and the ability to invite others into the posse) or a Deputy (who can arm and disarm cameras, but can't change any of their settings).

Provided you can convince friends, family, or a good neighbor to join your posse, this is about as close as you can get to getting central-office alarm monitoring--a service that can cost $15 per month or more from ADT, Vivint, or a similar company-- for free. You'll want to be the primary contact, but if your smartphone battery is dead, you're out of range of a cell-phone tower, you forget your phone, or some other circumstance causes you to miss an alert, someone will be able to take action when they see a stranger inside your house. Provide an emergency number and a button will appear with each alert giving you one-tap access to that resource.

And if central-office monitoring is something you want, Richards tells me that Homeboy will offer an atypical subscription service early in 2015. Richards didn't provide guidance on pricing, but he said users won't have to sign long-term contracts, and they'll be able to buy the service in small chunks of time. If you're going on vacation for a week, for instance, you'll be able to buy a week's worth of monitoring. If the Homeboy produces an alarm, the service will attempt to reach you or someone on your posse first. If they can't get in touch with anyone, they'll call your local police dispatcher and report the alarm (what the dispatcher will actually do depends on that law-enforcement agency's policy on burglar-alarm response).

You can arm and disarm the Homeboy manually using the app on your smartphone, but it's much easier to use the app's geo-fencing feature. When you input the camera's address location into the app, it will automatically arm the camera when you cross a predetermined perimeter--provided you take your smartphone with you, of course.

The camera's housing is one part plastic and one part polished metal. The metal is important because Homeboy's base contains a powerful magnet. Hang the base on the wall or set it on a flat surface, and the magnet will hold the camera in place at almost any angle (that's where its spherical shape comes into play). The magnet is surprisingly strong, but it might not withstand the shaking of a significant earthquake.


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