This week’s Editor’s Choice was a recent choice for Gadget of the Week. The accolade is
given to products that represent a significant advance in technology, or a remarkable
approach to innovation or user needs. The Ajax StarterKit with Hub, MotionCam,
DoorProtect, SpaceControl, FireProtect, LeaksProtect and Home Siren is Editor’s Choice for
the week starting 8 May 2023.
What is it?
In the village of Borodyanka near Kyiv in the Ukraine, on a wall of a building destroyed by Russian bombing, legendary street artist Banksy has created a painting of a man resembling Russian president Vladimir Putin being flipped in a judo match by a little boy representing Ukraine. So famous is the painting in Ukraine, the country used it on a postage stamp issued on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion on 24 February 2023.
The painting, one of seven works created by Banksy in and near Kyiv, is already part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, to the extent that extensive security systems have been put in place by tech company Ajax Systems to monitor and protect it, along with several of the other works.
“These art objects are war artifacts that we must preserve for Ukrainians,” says Heorhii Yerko, acting head of the village council of Borodyanka. “Our cities have suffered from significant destruction, and these art objects represent an unbreakable belief that life will definitely win. We are grateful to Ajax Systems for fast responding and protecting the paintings.”
The image and its protection are deeply pertinent in South Africa, not only because of the government’s continual denialism of Russian aggression and its cosying up to a dictator, but also because of its inability to provide day-to-day security for ordinary homes. And the fact that Ajax technology is now available in South Africa.
Before going into local specifics, let’s see how the tech is protecting Banksy’s work. A temporary protective structure has been placed over the wall, with a LifeQuality smart air quality monitor inside, to monitor carbon dioxide, temperature, and humidity levels. A WallSwitch relay helps maintain microclimate conditions to keep the painting safe.
The security system includes 20 on-site wireless detectors and 4 control panels in a remote room. The hubs can communicate with the devices at up to 1,7km away, and trigger alarms in less than an eighth of a second.
Ajax Systems was founded in Ukraine in 2011. Its products are sold worldwide, with an estimated 2-million premises under the protection of its 120-plus devices and apps running in the cloud.
The beauty of the system is that one can confiture it according to needs, concerns or situation or budget. Ajax provides a great system configuration tool at https://ajax.systems/configurator/
We decided to install a motion detector starter kit, with Hub, MotionCam, DoorProtect door-opening detector, fire alarm and water alarm. The Hub was connected via an internet cable to a Rain 5G indoor router, but it can be connected wirelessly to any router via Wi-Fi signal. The starter kit comes with a Space Control key fob for controlling security modes and features a panic button. Fortunately, the fire and flood alarm have not needed testing, but the motion detector worked seamlessly in an area we regarded as potentially vulnerable.
When one is out and the detector is “armed” and identifies motion, it sends an alarm to the hub, which activates a siren connected to the system, and notifies users. It takes a series of photos, which allows one to assess what is happening in the monitored area, to avoid false alarms. Alerts and events are recorded in the notification feed of the Ajax app. One can then also view the monitored area live, from anywhere in the world.
The app could do with some refinement, but generally it is a cost-effective way to monitor the safety and security of a home regardless of where you are.
What does it cost?
Local suppliers can be sourced at https://ajax.systems/where-to-buy/south-africa. The recommended retail prices are:
- StarterKit with Hub, MotionCam, DoorProtect and SpaceControl: From R8400 upward.
- FireProtect Plus wireless smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detector with sounder: From R2100.
- Home Siren wireless indoor alarm siren: From R930.
- LeaksProtect wireless flood detector (for burst geyesers, leaking roofs, etc): From R930.
- Wireless Keypad control panel: From R1800.
Installation cost depends on the complexity of one’s setup, which will affect the time taken.
It can be less than an hour. We used CoroCon Projects (contact email@example.com).
Why does it matter?
If It’s good enough for Banksy, it’s good enough for us. Ajax wireless security systems have been installed to protect four paintings by Banksy in the Kyiv region against both vandalism and weather conditions. The objects are monitored 24/7 by a security company, with a rapid security team on hand respond to intrusions, until they can be delivered intact to a museum.
The project was initiated in December 2022 after an attempt was made to steal one of the paintings. It is an object lesson to homeowners to install security proactively rather than in reaction to a security or safety incident.
What are the biggest negatives?
- Numerous components. Unless you’re a D-I-Y enthusiast, it needs professional installation.
- The set-up is not as simple as the brochures suggest.
- The app is not streamlined, and some of the most common likely uses are several clicks away.
What are the biggest positives?
- Elegant and unobtrusive, it blends easily into most living areas.
- Cost-effective and versatile.
- Extensive controls via mobile app, compatible with iOS and Android.
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee