The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Ensuring the integrity of the home and safety of the family is something that every homeowner cares about. Whether it’s making sure the kids are back home in good time, or that the babysitter is working responsibly, it is normal to want to know what is happening at your home when you are away.

The same would apply when checking on relatives—such as elderly parents—or friends who are staying over, as well as on other visitors, including people making deliveries. And when a stranger comes to your front door, it is only natural that you want to know who it is and why they are there.

Using a new face-recognition camera called Netatmo Welcome, homeowners in Japan, just as in Europe and in North America, are now able to monitor who comes in their home.

Made by Paris-based company Netatmo, the home security device uses the latest technology—until recently only available to governments and industry-related enterprises—to identify family, friends, and visitors at your home. The camera is further able to distinguish unknown faces from your family members and friends.

As the company’s Chief Operation Officer Matthew Broadway says, “Up until now, this sort of face-recognition technology has been the preserve of governments, security services and major facilities, such as airports.”

SAFETY FIRST
The Netatmo Welcome connects a high-definition camera positioned inside the home to a mobile device—via a customized App—such as a smartphone, tablet, computer or Apple Watch.

Since the camera has face recognition technology embedded, it can recognize your family members or friends when they enter the premises and send an instant notification to your smartphone or smartwatch.

And when the Netatmo Welcome does not recognize a face at the door or inside your home, such as that of a stranger—or of someone who has not yet been identified—it immediately sends an alert to your mobile device.

Netatmo Welcome enables the homeowners—be they at home, work, or play—to enjoy peace of mind knowing their home is secure. As Broadway says, “The system is really useful in a whole host of ways. It’s great for working parents who want to be sure that their children are home from school. It gives peace of mind.”

“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,” Broadway adds. “Then it can alert you when the cleaner arrived, that the babysitter is present, and so on.”

Netatmo Welcome does not just enhance security while putting the homeowner’s mind at ease; the device is particularly useful for people whose busy schedules mean they are always on the road—updates from the device ensure you stay in touch with loved ones back home.

EASY TO USE AND SECURE
Slick and subtle, the Netatmo Welcome is fitted with 1,080p full HD resolution and night vision capability. Easy to set up, the user can identify unknown faces with a click in the App.

When Welcome sees a face, it automatically takes a screenshot of it, which is accessible in the App. The user simply clicks on the picture and is able to give the person a name and to create a profile. From the App the user can also access past or live videos of various events.

The device is typically positioned to face the primary entry point of a home. And while it records the movements of everyone entering and leaving the home and transmits it to your chosen device, its in-built data storage system means only the user has access to its data—there is no cloud-based storage.

The video storage on the included micro SD card is entirely free.

AFFORDABLE AND AVAILABLE NOW

Chief Operation Officer of Netatmo,  Matthew Broadway

Chief Operation Officer of Netatmo,
Matthew Broadway

What’s more, Netatmo has managed to ensure that the unit is not only secure and effective, but also cost-effective. “No one has been able to develop the technology while keeping development costs at acceptable levels,” Broadway says.

“So this is an enormous breakthrough.”

Netatmo Welcome is available in Japan—at ¥29,800 with no contract to sign or subscription fee—through Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, and Yamada Denki. The device can also be found at Tokyu Hands, the Loft and Amazon Japan.

For Broadway, Japan is a key and timely market for a device that both enhances security and supports family life. “Japan is going to be an extremely important market for us,” he says.

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