The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Peace of mind comes in the shape of the Netatmo Welcome. The newest connected device from Paris-based Netatmo, the system links a high-definition video camera positioned in the home to the user’s mobile device, providing real-time images from inside the property.

What puts the system head and shoulders above other companies that offer home security solutions, however, is the ingenious application—for the first time ever in a consumer-use device—of advanced facial recognition software.

That means the user can see precisely what mischief the kids are getting into or permits the monitoring of an elderly relative. And, in a worst-case scenario, the Netatmo Welcome sends an instantaneous alert when it determines that an uninvited guest is helping himself to the family silver.

Selling like hotcakes
French consumers were swift to grasp the potential of the system, with the company pre-selling 14,000 units before it was launched on June 11, while the entire stock held by Amazon France was sold out within an hour of going on sale.

“Up until now, this sort of facial recognition technology has been the preserve of governments, security services and major facilities such as airports,” said Matthew Broadway, chief operating officer of Netatmo.

“No-one has been able to develop the technology at the same time as keeping development costs within acceptable levels, so this is an enormous breakthrough,” he said, adding that the company had been working on the Welcome project for more than two-and-a-half years.

As easy as A, B, C
The device is straightforward to use, he said, with the homeowner encouraged to place the sleek camera close to the main point of entrance.

The owner then records an image of all the people who are regularly in the home—husband, wife, children, babysitter, gardener and so on—and creates a profile for each individual.

The facial recognition system will then automatically identify when each person is in the home and can send an alert to the user’s mobile device.

Easy to customize, the system can be programmed to ignore certain individuals, to provide a live video feed, to record or to perform any of a myriad of other options.

Customization also permits degrees of privacy for trusted members of the household, but when a face that the system does not recognize appears, the reaction is immediate.

Netatmo Welcome is slim and compact.

Netatmo Welcome is slim and compact.

Peace of mind
An added advantage over rival systems is that Welcome stores all the data in the camera instead of putting it in the cloud, ensuring better privacy and security, while the device has full 1080P HD video quality and night vision.

“The system is really useful in a whole host of ways,” says Broadway, who joined the company in April after nearly 11 years with British home appliance manufacturer Dyson, four of which were in Japan.

“It’s great for working parents who want to be sure that their children are home from school; it gives that peace of mind,” he said. “It’s also extremely useful for people who are caring for elderly relatives and want to be able to make sure that they are safe. Then it can monitor when the cleaner has arrived, that the babysitter is present and so on.

“But also, for a person like me who is away from home with business a great deal, it allows me to see what my wife and daughter are doing in the kitchen, allowing me to share moments with them even though we are a long way apart,” Broadway said.

“It offers reassurance that everything at home is as it should be.”

Netatmo Welcome can be programmed to identify family members.

Netatmo Welcome can be programmed to identify family members.

Japan launch
The Netatmo Welcome was launched in Japan on June 22, with a price of ¥29,800, and will be available through the main electronics stores, including Bic Camera Ltd, Yodobashi Camera Co., Ltd., and Yamada-Denki Co., Ltd., as well as Tokyu Hands Inc., The Loft Co., Ltd., and Amazon Japan K. K.

And while Netatmo is “a relatively unknown brand” in the Japanese market, Broadway believes the company’s products will swiftly develop a firm following. “Japan is going to be an extremely important market for us,” he said.

“We know that the Japanese are very keen to make use of the very latest consumer technology, they are very open to new ideas and technology and they are a nation of early-adopters.”

It helps that virtually everyone has a cellphone and broadband WiFi is widely available. “It’s a perfect fit,” Broadway says.

Netatmo Welcome is easy to use.

Netatmo Welcome is easy to use.

Photos by Masaki Okumura and Nicolas Demeersman


Julian Ryall is Tokyo correspondent for The Daily Telegraph


What puts the system head and shoulders above other companies that offer home security solutions, is the ingenious application . . .