Kevin Warnock

Entrepreneurship, ideas and more

Smoke detectors should send activation warnings via text messages via Wi-Fi

with 3 comments

Natural gas detector (picture from

Natural gas detector (picture from

Technology to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi networks is small and inexpensive. Mobile phones and even camera memory cards accomplish this task.

I have an idea of how to use this technology to improve safety.

Combine a smoke/carbon monoxide detector with Wi-Fi circuitry so that when the detector activates text messages can be sent to people and entities that should be alerted.

There are already ‘Wi-Fi smoke detectors’ for sale, as a quick search will reveal. But these detectors are not for detecting smoke, but for covert video recording of a room. These products demonstrate that it’s easy to put a Wi-Fi transmitter into a smoke detector case.

The best of all worlds would be to combine an actual smoke/carbon monoxide detector with a video camera so that when the detector activates that a text message can be sent that includes a link so the message recipient can sign in to a webpage to observe the room the detector is located in. In this way, false alarms can potentially be identified from afar.

Current video fake smoke detectors cost a lot, but that’s because they are made in tiny volume. I bet a combination smoke, carbon monoxide, video Wi-Fi detector could sell for under USD $100 if they were required by building codes.

Finally, I think it’s time to add another feature to smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. I think detectors should also sense unburned gas such as natural gas and propane. For reasons I can’t understand, modern gas stoves don’t stop the flow of gas if there is no flame, so it’s possible to fill the house with gas without warning, other than the bad smell. Smell based warnings do no good for sleeping occupants. Gas detectors typically need more than a 9 volt battery to operate, so gas detectors usually are plugged into AC power. I think that’s fine, provided there is a battery backup to carry through power outages.

I would certainly pay USD $200 per detector for a gas/smoke/carbon monoxide/Wi-Fi/Video detector.

Would you?

Written by Kevin Warnock

July 23rd, 2011 at 11:00 pm

3 Responses to 'Smoke detectors should send activation warnings via text messages via Wi-Fi'

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  1. Well, you just have to be creative. I agree with you of course, but have searched in vain for a wifi smoke detector (I really don’t care about the camera since I already have a Foscam installed). Back to the creative part. An ordinary smoke detector gives off sound, right? And quite a lot of it too. Well, as it now happens my camera can be turned on by sound, so called “sound triggering.” Yeah, you start to get the picture I guess. I now have both an ordinary smoke detector, a camera that enables me to see my home whenever I care to, and a smoke detector that makes my camera send me an email notification whenever it goes off. That’s not how they intended the baby call to work, but it does…

    Eivind Sletner

    15 Sep 11 at 2:29 pm

  2. I have been saying this for a year now. I am trying to figure out a way to get the sound to send me a text. How exactly does your set up work? what type of camera? Really need it.

    Patti cardamone

    9 Oct 11 at 8:05 pm

  3. Patti,

    I haven’t built such a system. I just wrote about it. Eivind Sletner, who commented here, built a system that uses a camera that can send him an email when activated by sound. Since an email can be sent to an email address that causes a text to be sent, he has a complete system. You might write to Elvind and ask him what make and model of camera he has for this.

    Kevin Warnock

    Kevin Warnock

    9 Oct 11 at 8:09 pm

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