You are undoubtedly familiar with Wi-Fi as a data transmission medium. It is the most common means of connecting home devices to the Internet, be it smartphones, televisions, or any number of smart home devices. Origin Wireless says it has identified an entirely new use for wireless technology: motion detection so accurate it can monitor a person’s breathing, even through walls.
Initially debuted as a feature on Linksys Velop mesh Wi-Fi systems, Origin is now offering the technology in a DIY home security system called Hexagonal house (This review specifically looks at the Hex security package.) Origin says Hex Home can replace a traditional system based on myriad door, window and wall mounted sensors with a single hub, the Hex Command module, and one or a few secondary devices it calls Hex Sense. The company sent its midsize kit that has one Hex Command and two Hex Sense units for this review. The $ 220 kit is designed to monitor up to 1,500 square feet on a single level. Additional Hex Sense units that increase the range of the system cost $ 45 each.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart home systems, where you will find reviews of competing offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide on the features to consider when purchasing this type of product.
Hex Home is not a Wi-Fi router; you will need to provide it or use the router you already have. However, the system will create a mesh Wi-Fi network with your Command and Sense units in your home, and will monitor disturbances in those radio waves as people move within it. Origin says its AI can distinguish between people, pets, and moving objects, like a robot vacuum cleaner.
Hex Home Components
The Hex Command resembles a partially deflated Google Nest Mini, while the Hex Sense, with a glowing ring of status LEDs around its center, is reminiscent of a macaron. The Hex Command works with a wall wart and the Hex Sense plugs directly into wall outlets. Origin recommends that each of these components be placed two to four feet above the floor. I was able to do that with the Command and one of the Senses, but the best lift I could get for the other Sense was 16 inches, which is a relatively typical height for electrical outlets in most American homes. If there was a negative performance impact as a result, I didn’t see it.
Configuring the devices involves connecting the Hex Command to your network and then adding each Sense to the Command network. All of this is accomplished through the uncluttered and mostly easy-to-navigate app.
On my first try, however, I found the setup to be frustratingly meticulous. A later attempt, trying system wipe, factory reset, and reboot was much faster, with only one failure to connect to my home network.
For the record, the factory reset procedure is pleasantly easy, just engage a paper clip in a hole in each device for 10 seconds.
Origin recommends deploying Sense modules on opposite sides of the Command module on the same floor, ensuring there is at least one room or 15 to 30 feet between each device, to avoid overlaps. In my case, the location generally led to the system reporting movement in the correct rooms, except when we were sitting at the dining room table, where I regularly received notifications about movement in my living room.
Hex Home Security Modes
The Hex Security Suite has three modes that you configure in the app: Home, Guardian, and Away. In startup mode, unsurprisingly, there are no notifications by default. Watchdog mode is for times when you want to be notified of a movement inside your home and where the movement occurred, but you do not want the siren to sound because it is waiting Someone to be there, whether your kids are coming home from school or your dog walker is coming to take care of your pet. Origin says this mode can also be useful for caregivers monitoring a person from afar, such as adult children helping their parents age instead. The frequency of notifications in Guardian mode can be adjusted from every minute to every 60 minutes. Finally, Away mode notifies you of movement and turn on a local siren.
The app’s live view graph presents a system visualization that detects motion in real time, showing how much motion is happening and where in your home it is being detected. I tested it by walking around my house and watching the graph change as I walked; it was amazing to see how accurate it was.
Meanwhile, an Events and Activities tab shows recorded motion events while the system is in Away or Guard mode. Motion History features a static version of the Live View graph that you can view by month, week, day, and even hour, with separate graphs for each device in your Hex security system.
The Hex Security Suite Experience
I tested the system’s Away mode the morning after I set it up and activated it when we were leaving to take my daughter to school. The system has an exit delay that gives you 30 to 60 seconds to leave the house before the system is armed after being armed (there is also an entry delay that gives you time to disarm the system from Away mode when you return home). I didn’t make it out the door during the countdown, triggering a second countdown. I later found out that the system will arm only after a second countdown, but I decided to cancel the state change and set it to Guardian mode.
Almost immediately after the first countdown ended, the Hex app notified me of movement near the front door, where my cat had been when I left. I took the system apart, but unsurprisingly, you can tone down the system’s motion sensitivity to account for pets. I have two active small pets in my home, and the appropriate sensitivity value seemed to be between 3 and 5.
You can schedule automatic mode changes by choosing arming and disarming times on defined days of the week, but geofence support is conspicuously absent. That feature would accomplish the same goal more conveniently, based on your location (perhaps more precisely, based on the location of your smartphone). Origin says it has plans to integrate its technology with broader smart home platforms in the future, so geofence is likely to become part of the equation when that happens.
The professional monitoring option
You don’t need a subscription to use the Hex Security package unless you want an optional professional monitoring service to track it for you and send an emergency response on your behalf. Origin Wireless contracts with noon for this professional monitoring, a company that performs similar services for Wyze, Eufy, and several other home security brands. Noonlight will attempt to contact you if your Hex Home goes into a state of alarm and will contact your local police department if an emergency response is warranted. If they cannot reach you, the service will contact the police.
Noonlight’s service costs $ 10 per month or $ 100 per year, and it’s unusual in that it also offers protection for up to four members of your household. beyond your home. Tap a Help button in the app and a screen will appear with a large white button displaying the message “Please wait until safe or tap for help.” One tap will start a 10 second countdown, after which a map will be displayed with your location pinned on it. Shortly thereafter, you will be notified that you will receive a call from Noonlight to determine the nature of your emergency and what type of assistance you need. You can skip the countdown to get an emergency response more quickly.
Conclusion and future potential
The hex security package is elegant, but ultimately incomplete. For starters, the only thing that can tell you about what is happening in your home is that motion has been detected. It cannot tell you if a door or window has been opened, it cannot show exactly what is happening in your home or take a photograph of a perpetrator, and it cannot provide the police with forensic evidence that they can use to investigate. a theft. And if you want to be warned of a fire or flood, you will need another product, and possibly another service, in addition to this one.
On the other hand, the professional monitoring option is much less expensive than most competitors offer, and the Hex security package is much less invasive of your privacy than a security camera. And then there’s the future potential of Origin smart home tech in general. We covered some of that in this January 2020 article, and Origin says we should be looking for announcements to that effect starting in early 2022.
All that said, only the most aggressive of early adopters should jump on the Hex Home security train as it exists today.
Updated shortly after posting to clarify that Origin Wireless’ technology name is Hex Home, and this particular offering is marketed as the Hex Security Package.