BLEEDING Edge realises we might not have sufficient emotional detachment from our gadgets, but we cannot adequately describe quite how thrilling it was the other day when our burglar alarm sent us an email. The feeling deepened only hours later, when our clever little system sent us its first SMS.
It's not as if the LS-30 wireless alarm, manufactured by Taiwan-based Scientech, is a recent purchase.
We bought it four years ago, making it positively ancient compared with the armada of electronic purchases that in the same span have expired or become obsolete.
We'd bought it as a replacement for a ''state-of-the-art'' alarm, which cost us $2500 three years earlier - three years of upset and frustration, during which it continually went in to a panic over a variety of perfectly innocent ''threats'', including pets, spiders, sunlight, moving curtains and equipment failure.
Worse, the system refused to reset after these paranoid delusions, which led to a couple of tense conversations with neighbours, and two anonymous notes in our letterbox.
We decided to replace the ''state-of-the-art'' system to restore harmony. That led us to a Wollongong-based company called Securepro Security, which imports the LS-30.
We set up the LS-30 in roughly four hours.
The wireless reach is impressive and the system monitors reception.
We did hire a handyman for a couple of hours to do the trickier bits, like lining up three door sensors and mounting an external passive infra-red motion detector, to say nothing of the daunting challenge of clambering up on the roof to attach a solar-powered external alarm.
For less than half of what we had spent on the previous alarm, we had a zoned system that could detect intrusions on the perimeter as well as break-ins, and had restored peace to the neighbourhood.
Originally we connected the alarm to our phone line - it can dial up to 10 numbers, a pager and two central monitoring station links, and even allows you to talk remotely to intruders, but with phone lines falling out of fashion, and the threat of jamming devices, dialling alarms are becoming problematic.
And then, in Sweden, IT consultant Niclas Gruseus had his basement flooded by a blocked drain, and began musing about developing a monitoring system that could be viewed and controlled remotely via a web browser. He came across the LS-30, acquired the Swedish distribution rights and began working with developers to extend its capabilities.
What they did, with a service called myABELL, was introduce the alarm to the so-called ''Internet of Things'' - a rapidly growing network of hardware devices with embedded processors and links that can generate and send data about their processes and state.
Plug the LS-30 into your router and get a free myABELL account and you get a simple, elegant interface. Free iPhone, iPod or Android apps turn those devices into remote controls and monitors. For $5 a month you get the SMS and email alerts.
The unit ships with proprietary - but not very powerful or user-friendly - software for PCs, Macs or Linux. You need the $99 ethernet adaptor for the internet link.
The myABELL service adds significant utility, including time and event-driven operations.
The range of sensors includes glass-break, smoke, gas, flood and humidity detectors, temperature monitor, panic and medical emergency buttons and inactivity detection. It also works with security cameras: the company recommends the D-Link DCS 932-L wireless camera.
Our first email message informed us that we needed to replace one sensor's batteries. The first SMS informed us of an ''intrusion''; we were just testing the new capabilities, which - given the price dropped a lot two weeks ago - could be the basis of a powerful neighbourhood-watch system.