CompuSchmooze August 2005: AudioGuardOffers Cost-Effective Security Tactic
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2005 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
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A British firm, AudioGuard, has created a highly cost-effective security tool to ward off casual potential burglars.
Its a 21st Century riff on the barking dog recordings sold in the early 1960s. You played the recording, the burglar heard the dog, and assumed that the home was inhabited, or at least protected by a vicious animal.
At least thats the way it was supposed to go. Vinyl LP recordings were only good for about half an hour, so if you were gone all day, eventually the dog would stop barking, or the burglar would hear the clicks as the turntable shut itself off.
AudioGuard (www.AudioGuard.com) has taken this security tactic to a new level with high quality digitally recorded ambient sounds of a busy household, a busy office, a home undergoing DIY renovations, and a quieter but restless nighttime household. The CDs are designed for use in the continuous shuffle or random mode in a regular CD player. The recordings have been endorsed by several police organizations in the UK.
“Having reviewed it and spoken to colleagues I am of the opinion that if used correctly it could prove to be a useful deterrent to burglary, says Paul Frances, Force Crime Reduction Officer, Gloucestershire Constabulary, in a testimonial on the AudioGuard website.
“As criminals become even more sophisticated, so do the methods of preventing their success. Modern innovative ideas and technology is needed to defeat the modern, innovative criminal. I believe this product can act as an additional deterrent, added Michael Powis, Crime Reduction Manager, Nottinghamshire Police.
Gary Hawkes, co-creator of the program, said the idea for the recordings came from observing how his parents tried to secure their home by leaving lights and the radio on.
“It occurred to me that if I knew they werent in, then Im sure a local burglar could work out when my parents were out,” he said in a telephone interview.
Hawkes also said his grandmother was very concerned about nighttime break-ins while sleeping. He decided it would also be useful to have a collection of middle-of-the-night sounds that could be played downstairs whilst youre asleep upstairs.
This more subtle recording of nighttime sounds would help deter what the British call sleeper breaks, when a burglar targets a home for break-ins while occupants are asleep. British burglars are somewhat more likely to try entering an occupied home, Hawkes noted, because firearms are not widely available there, and the most they risk from a British household is a bop on the nose.
AudioGuards professionally recorded discs avoid the use of distinctive sounds like voices that can be identified easily if they repeat during a recording.
According to AudioGuard’s website, all sounds have been recorded using 24-bit digital technology incorporating techniques to give maximum authenticity including vacuuming, doors and chairs moving, hammering, etc, edited and layered to create an audio deterrent when any potential burglar approaches your property.
Hawkes brother Stuart, who has recorded sessions by such musicians as George Michael, Van Morrison, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams, supervised the recordings at Metropolis Studios London.
AudioGuard further notes that All of the sounds recorded were selected for their ability to travel efficiently, allowing them to be heard easily from outside any property, and also to be able to be convincingly reproduced on low budget sound systems. As a further precaution the soundtrack also incorporates a carefully placed low-level recording, using a constant rhythm designed to add an extra subliminal deterrent.
Although the CDs create a realistic audio illusion of activity, the package doesnt include scrap lumber or building materials to be left outside the home where sounds of power tools are emanating.
“This is mainly aimed at your opportunistic thief,” Hawkes said. “It’s just putting that bit of doubt in their mind that will send them on to another opportunity elsewhere.”
AudioGuard supplements its recordings with home security tips (http://www.AudioGuard.com/top-ten-home-security-tips.htm) and links to other UK crime prevention sites (http://www.AudioGuard.com/crime-prevention-links.htm). The four CD set,which costs $29.95, can be ordered directly from the AudioGuard website.
To hear the complete interview with Gary Hawkes, including a sample of the AudioGuard office audio program, visit the CompuSchmooze Blog (http://compuschmooze.blogspot.com) or subscribe to the RSS feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/compuschmooze).
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