Time was that hi-tech home security attained perfection in circuitry comprising a high-resistance wire, concave reflector and power source -- in short, a flashlight.
Things have changed since. Just describing all the gadgetry that forms part of the home security solutions market might give you a headache.
Let's just say that if you suspect your neighbours are better equipped to ward off intruders than you are, you might well be right.
The market, after all, has been growing at a frantic pace -- an estimated 30 per cent per annum, with companies like HCL, Zicom, Bosch and Honeywell offering several options in securing homes as well as corporate offices. With new players entering the fray, the battle to safeguard your home/office is set to stiffen.
According to G B Singh, managing director, Kavach Protection, the need for security is shifting from latent to felt status: "People have started to realise the need for making their homes secure from break-ins and intrusions."
Mostly, security systems take the form of alarm systems. Says George Paul, executive vice president, HCL Infosystems, "Today, even the common man is taking assistance from the latest gadgets and technology available."
You can install a home alarm system that has sensors located at several entry points to alert you by SMS if someone tries to sneak in. For this, all you need is a GSM-based control panel (in which you can insert a SIM card that links it to the mobile network) and a set of break-in sensors.
Closed-circuit camera surveillance is popular too. HCL, for example, offers multi-channel video/audio surveillance systems that use advanced video compression technologies to monitor vulnerability zones.
Most of all this sells to corporates, but the home market is picking up fast. Swipe-card operated doors are no longer a rarity in residential India.
According to Singh, the demonstration effect is at work: executives and professionals who see fancy technology installed at their workplaces often start demanding the same at home. Pilots, for example, are particularly fond of contraptions that "secure all doors" electronically.
Apart from security solutions, peril detectors and sprinkler systems are gaining popularity. You can have a gas-leak detector installed, for example, that sends out an SMS in case of distress.
All of it makes up a market placed at around Rs 300 crore, and Paul expects sales to grow dramatically. "There is a lot of scope in the market, but awareness has to be created among customers."
Singh, meanwhile, expects "a lot of action in the next few years", as new-fangled defense devices come about. Don't expect any offense mechanisms, though.
No automated stun sprays, and certainly no zap lasers to "teleport" intruders, Star Trek style, straight to some place suitably desolate. Yet.