Earlier this week, Ford and ADT announced a joint venture called Canopy that promises “breakthrough technology” for vehicle security. This may be a breakthrough for cars and trucks but if you have a smart home, you likely already have or know about the technology. That’s because this effort is bringing smart home security to your Ford vehicle. Be that as it may, this is a big deal. Canopy is backed by $100 million between the two companies, which isn’t pocket change.
So what is Canopy and what will it deliver? Essentially, Ford will initially be offering self-installed connected cameras in 2023 to watch over the cargo area of your pickup trucks and vans. Eventually, Canopy cameras will be available as integrated components in Ford vehicles. These will monitor larger areas of the interior as well as the outside of the car or truck. All cameras will have multiple sensors and route their information to both your smartphone, through the Canopy app, and ADT agents.
The idea here is to protect both the valuables in your car or truck, as well as the vehicle itself. If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same security model we have today in smart homes with various cameras and systems, both self- and professionally monitored.
You’ll be able to get a live view of both the inside of your car and what’s going on around it. You’ll receive alerts whenever glass is broken or an entry attempt is made. A two-way microphone and speaker allow you to alert people that they should stay away from your car. And if the cameras see something that could lead to a break-in, ADT agents will be alerted so they can take pre-emptive action such as contacting the local authorities. Canopy’s camera’s are advertised as having AI to determine the difference between a benign action and something that looks suspicious.
Like I said: Not exactly “breakthrough technology” given that it’s really an effort to take existing smart home technology and move it inside vehicles. And it’s not the first of its kind by any means either. Tesla owners have long used Sentry Mode, which is basically the same thing. The key difference here is that Tesla already has cameras and sensors in its cars for driver safety purposes and re-uses those for security.
So why doesn’t Ford just do what Tesla does, given that it’s been adding similar cameras and sensors for driver safety over the past few years?
That’s where the smart home model of service comes in, courtesy of the Safe by ADT service. Ford’s core competency is in building vehicles. By partnering with a company such as ADT that has a proven track record of customer engagement, Ford can continue to focus on what it knows best. It’s more efficient to throw $100 million or less at offloading the security aspects into a partner venture so it can invest billions into the overall product.
Fun fact: GM took the same approach, at least from the customer service aspect, with its GM OnStar program that launched in 1996. That’s the service that detects crashes so an OnStar rep knows to call you and offer assistance. Except it wasn’t GM employees that were calling you, even if you thought they were. OnStar agents were actually contracted out to the old Ross Perot company, Electronic Data Services (EDS). I know because I worked for EDS at the time in a call center. I represented the customer service of dozens of banks but nearby were OnStar agents.
Of course, the Canopy venture will be a subscription service and that shouldn’t surprise smart home owners either. The entire IoT industry isn’t just about fancy new hardware, but also services that can bring recurring revenue after the device sale.
Canopy pricing hasn’t been released yet, so I don’t know what it will cost. Tesla charges $10 a month for its premium services, which include Sentry, so perhaps that’s a reasonable starting point for Canopy. I’d also guess this is the first of many such partnerships between automakers and smart home companies as the technology use cases expand beyond our homes. I’m all for it, but you couldn’t pay me enough to put one of those “Protected by [COMPANY]” stickers on my car.