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Alarm.com now offers a new burglary deterrence feature available from some of its cameras. Alarm Triggered Warning Sounds, once configured, will cause selected cameras to emit a siren when an alarm is triggered. This feature can be activated based on sensors, partitions, or the entire panel.


One crucial note about this feature is that it is only compatible with non-doorbell Alarm.com cameras that support the two-way audio feature. A full list of compatible cameras, with links, is available in our FAQ that walks you through setting up this new deterrence feature.

The requirements for this feature are fairly simple:

  • A security service package with Panel/InApp panics enabled by your alarm dealer.
  • A video service package with the Audio for Non-doorbell Cameras add-on enabled by your alarm dealer.
  • At least one camera compatible with the MTWS feature.
  • An IQ4 Panel (IQ Panel 4, IQ4 Hub, or IQ4 NS). You can't do this with a video-only account.

See? Easy peasy! If you have an Alarm.com camera that supports two-way audio, and it's not a doorbell camera, then it likely supports this feature. On general principle, be sure your camera is updated to the latest firmware. For most cameras, the minimum firmware to support this feature is Firmware Version 0.6.7.852+. The exception is the ADC-V515, which requires Firmware Version 0.0.5.476+.

This feature is easy to set up. Just use the Smart Rules Builder through either the customer website or the Alarm.com app available from Google or Apple. Once you log into your account it takes about two minutes to create the rule needed to utilize this feature.

The Alarm Triggered Warning Sounds (ATWS) feature works hand-in-hand with the Manually Triggered Warning Sounds (MTWS) feature. If you have any MTWS capable cameras, then you know you will be able to configure the ATWS feature and vice versa. Manually Triggered Warning Sounds are not automated. Instead, a user must manually trigger the sound while logged into either the app or the website. You can check out how to use MTWS here.

When you manually trigger a warning sound from one or more cameras, the sound duration is 30 seconds, unless you manually turn the warning sound off sooner. When the warning sound is alarm triggered, the duration is five (5) minutes, or until the alarm is canceled by a user disarming the system where the alarm occurred.

Scenario 1: Manual Trigger

You're away from your home or business. You receive an alert that motion has been detected by one of your cameras. You log into the app and, pulling up the live view for your camera see a person or animal in an area of your property where they don't belong. While you're viewing the live video, and assuming this is a compatible camera, you can choose to trigger a warning sound that will hopefully scare the person or animal away. In this scenario the Manually Triggered Warning Sound can be used to great effect.

Scenario 2: Alarm Trigger

You're at home, and your system is armed in the Home mode. While you're asleep an intruder attempts to enter your home by breaking a first floor window. They may have triggered an alert from one of your outdoor cameras, but you slept through it. The window they're attempting to enter through has a glass break detector associated with it and this detector is active when the system is armed in Home mode. The intruder breaks the window, but the alarm goes off. This causes not only the alarm panel, but also your outdoor cameras to begin sounding a siren. The would-be intruder hears the sirens and leaves, preventing an actual break in.

One limitation of all-in-one panels is that they aren't high-current siren friendly. That's not to say that you can't add one of these sirens, but it takes some work and it can get expensive. Not to mention, where do you put the equipment for it? By allowing the cameras that offer siren sounds to use those sirens in an alarm situation you're adding extra sirens to the system at no additional cost, assuming you planned to have compatible cameras anyway. In my opinion, this is a great new feature. It's also an example of how Alarm.com continues to add value to their products without requiring additional investment.

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I've been hearing about Matter for a while now, and a new version was released this month. I haven't heard enough to give me a clear idea exactly what the fuss is about. So, I set out to educate myself, and hopefully I can educate you in the process. Here's what I've learned about Matter

Matter is a Protocol

Matter is a protocol and it officially launched on October 4, 2022 with Version 1.0. It is the official protocol of IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Equipment that uses Matter can do so using wired media (Ethernet) or wirelessly (WIFI, Thread). It is an open source protocol that is governed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance™ (CSA), formerly the Zigbee Alliance. Matter is being developed and promoted by some of the largest companies in the world including Amazon, Google, Apple, Ikea, LG, Resideo, Samsung, the list goes on (and on).

A big difference between Matter and technologies like Z-Wave and Zigbee is that Matter is a protocol only. It runs on existing IP infrastructure. By contrast, Zigbee and Z-Wave combine their networking and protocol elements. Since 2022, the CSA has released an update for Matter about every six (6) months, with the latest version, 1.3 being released on May 8, 2024.

Matter began as an idea back in December of 2019 when the "Project: Connected Home over IP" (CHIP) working group was created. The group was founded by Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance. As noted above, The Connectivity Standards Alliance™, formerly the Zigbee Alliance, is the governing body over development, certification, and promotion of Matter.

Matter Timeline Through May 2024:

  • December 2019 - Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and other companies go public with the CHIP initiative.
  • May 2021 - The name is changed to Matter. Protocol development is under way. At this time, the Zigbee Alliance also changes its name to the Connectivity Standards Alliance™ (CSA).
  • August 2021 - Delay 1. Due to the pandemic, along with some other issues, the Software Development Kit (SDK) is delayed from the end of 2021 to the latter half of 2022.
  • March 2022 - Delay 2. Additional testing is required, so launch will be later in the year.
  • October 4, 2022 - Matter 1.0 is released. Specifications are now available, and certification of devices can now begin.
  • Early October 2022 - Samsung SmartThings Hubs and Android Apps are updated to support Matter with a software upgrade. Apple iOS users have to wait a little longer.
  • October 24, 2022 - Apple introduces Mac OS 13.0, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS 16.1, and Watch OS 9.1. This gets Apple devices ready for Matter.
  • November 3, 2022 - CSA hosts a launch event in Amsterdam.
  • December 16, 2022 - Google's ecosystem now supports Matter. An Android Smartphone is required for installation.
  • December 19, 2022 - Amazon updates 17 Echo models to include Matter support for specific product groups (lamps, sockets, switches) via WIFI. Also, the Alexa App for Android is updated for the commissioning of Matter devices via phone.
  • May 2, 2023 - Amazon opens up Matter via Thread and makes the Echo 4, a border router for the Thread radio protocol.
  • May 18, 2013 - Matter version 1.1 is released with minor improvements.
  • Early September 2023 - Matter Bridges can now be added to Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings apps. Finally, devices with Zigbee, Z-Wave and possibly other wireless protocols are accessible via all major Matter ecosystems.
  • September 19, 2023 - Phillips Hue Smartbridge gets Matter.
  • October 23, 2023 - Matter 1.2 is released. It includes nine (9) more product categories and other improvements.
  • May 8, 2024 - Matter 1.3 is released. This update brings energy management to Matter and adds more new product categories. One new product category is Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). This allows you to control when an electric vehicle is charged, or how much charge it receives. You can even specify how many miles of range you want to charge to, and by what time. This update also adds product categories for home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry dryers, and robot vacuums. Allowing you to control compatible devices through Matter.

Glossary of Common Terms

  • Matter Device - Smart Home products that support Matter.
  • Matter Fabric - This is the name for the virtual network Matter devices are connected through. All of the devices in a fabric share the same Trusted Root. A Matter Fabric forms a star topology.
  • Trusted Root - In a Matter Fabric, a Trusted Root Certificate Authority (TRCA) anchors the fabric. The Root of Trust is the owner of the Trusted Root CA Certificate. Each node's Node Operational Certificate (NOC) connects back to this Trusted Root.
  • Commissioning - The process of assigning Matter Credentials to a new device on the fabric.
  • Attestation - During commissioning, each Matter device must prove that it is what it claims to be. This is attestation. Only devices that have gone through the certification process outlined by the CSA and have a Device Attestation Certificate (DAC) will be able to join the fabric.
  • Thread - Thread is a wireless networking technology. It was designed from scratch but is based on the Internet Protocol using the IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology. It was designed to meet the following requirements:
    • Low power requirement.
    • Low latency.
    • The ability to work with any, and multiple, application layers.
    • A strong, reliable, self-healing mesh network with no single point-of-failure.
    • Easy setup with no need for a hub or gateway.
    • Must not be restricted to a particular application standard. Thread works with Matter, HomeKit, Weave, and numerous other applications.
  • Thread Group - The organization responsible for developing, maintaining, and promoting Thread.
  • Application Agnostic - Thread was developed to be application agnostic. As long as a device's application layer is based on the Internet Protocol, it should be able to support Thread.
  • Border Router - Based on the IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology, a Thread network can be formed and operated completely by itself, without any bridge or hub. This is how it prevents a single point-of-failure. If the Thread network needs to communicate with the WIFI or Ethernet network, it does so using IP-based routing. This routing is done by a Thread Border Router. There can be multiple of these in a Thread network. The border router is usually not a stand-alone device, but rather something like a cable modem, WIFI router, TV Streaming device, smart TV, or smart speaker.
  • IPv6 - Matter, as mentioned above, uses the Internet Protocol (IP). Specifically, it uses IPv6 for its operational communication and takes advantage of the multicasting capability it provides.
  • Bridge - A network device used to allow access to devices that don't support Matter to the Matter Network. An example would be a Zigbee device. Bridged devices can then work with Matter devices within a fabric, and communicate on different application layers.

What's New in Version 1.3

So, Matter is an open source protocol that uses the IPv6 standard, which supports multicasting. It's intended to unite all smart home devices, allowing users to create a mesh network, or fabric of devices from different manufacturers.

Version 1.3 has added some exciting advancements, here's a list of a few of them:

  • Support for Energy and Water Management - This addition allows any device type to report both estimated and actual measurements. This includes things like power, current, voltage, and other readings in real time. It can also report energy consumption or creation over time.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging - Matter 1.3 adds the new Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) device type. Now, EV charging equipment manufacturers can provide a way for users to control how and when they charge their vehicles. With this addition, users can now manually start or stop charging. They can also adjust the charging rate, or specify the number of miles of range to be added by a particular departure time.
  • Water Management - Matter 1.3 adds support for leak and freeze detectors, rain sensors, and controllable water valves. This allows users to monitor and control water within their space.
  • New Appliance Types -
    • Microwave Ovens - Control cooking time, power level, and mode of operation. Also, receive notifications when food is ready. For range hood style microwaves, control of a fan and light can also be achieved.
    • Ovens - Oven-types such as built-in, stand-alone, or as part of a range with a cooktop are included. Each oven can be controlled individually. This can include the operational mode (standard, convection bake, roast, steam, broil/grill, proofing) and the temperature, and information related to the state of the oven (i.e., preheating or cooling) is also available. Notifications such as preheating and target temperature reached can be provided.
    • Cooktops - With Matter 1.3, cooktops can offer remote access and control (typically this would be used with induction-based cooktops). The cooktop’s individual elements (presumably burners) allow for temperature control and measurement (this may be subject to regulation).
    • Extractor Hoods - Range hoods, or vent hoods over a range can now include support for Matter. This integration will allow control of the fan and light, and if there is a filter with an end-of-life notification, Matter can provide that notification.
    • Laundry Dryers - Matter 1.2 added Laundry Washers, and Matter 1.3 adds Laundry Dryers. Users will be able to set the dryer mode and target temperature. Depending on local safety regulations, they may be able to start and stop the dryer remotely. Notifications for the end of drying cycle as well as any manufacturer specified warning messages, i.e., door open can also be provided.

Summary

What have we learned? Well, for one thing, it seems that Matter has more acronyms than a government agency. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it will take some getting used to. In my opinion, as a new standard it's moving along and developing nicely. With so many large (and small) companies being involved I have a good feeling about Matter. Although I believe it will be like any system, labor (and probably cost) intensive to set up once the initial configuration is done, I think it'll be smooth sailing. I can't wait to find out if I'm right!

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ISC West is the premiere trade show in our industry. It happens in Las Vegas each spring and all the manufacturers of security products show up. Of course, we're interested in Qolsys, Alarm.com, Resideo, AlarmNet, and 2GIG, but there are many more! They'll display all their best new gadgets.

This year Alarm.com showed up to ISC West loaded for bear! They rolled out several new offerings in the form of both products and services. Many, but not all of these devices were targeting commercial applications. We'll list the big new items below:

Alarm.com

Outdoor Floodlight Camera and VizBlinder:

The Outdoor Floodlight Camera is a new product. As the name implies, it mounts outside in darker areas where an intruder may attempt to enter or gain entry to an area where they shouldn't be.

The new Outdoor Floodlight Camera features 4MP video and Two-Way voice options. It has 3,000 Lumen floodlights, allowing you to customize your lighting options. It's suitable for homes and small- to medium-sized businesses. Additionally, because it uses video analytics, the floodlight can automatically respond to threats when unwanted visitors or vehicles are detected. It can activate red and blue warning lights and also play warning sounds from a powerful siren.

VizBlinder will incorporate new hardware as part of the new feature. It allows the central station operator to fill a room with a vision obscuring white haze. This is done after the operator has accessed the available Alarm.com cameras and determined that an intruder is present. If cameras that support Two-Way audio are in use the operator will be able to engage with the intruder prior to activating VizBlinder. If I were an intruder, and the room suddenly began filling with an unknown white fog, I would skedaddle!

Remote Video Monitoring Console:

The Remote Video Monitoring Console (RVM) is a system that allows central station operators to offer "round-the-clock concierge video monitoring and proactive defense services to customers with Alarm.com Video Analytics cameras." Operators will receive immediate alerts when a vehicle or person enters an area that is restricted. Through the RVM, the operator can review the situation and, if necessary, intervene through the RVM using hardware located on the protected site. This includes using the two-way voice feature of some cameras to talk to the unexpected visitor.

Because both the cameras and the RVM Console are provided by Alarm.com, this is truly a seamless end-to-end integration. The fact that Alarm.com makes the cameras, video analytics, and the central station hardware, there is no special interface equipment required. The Remote Video Monitoring Console is what allows the central station operator to deploy VizBlinder, which we outlined in the previous section.

Sunflower Labs Autonomous Security Drone:

Alarm.com has partnered with Sunflower Labs to offer an autonomous outdoor security drone. Sensor activity on the alarm system and Video Analytics trigger the drone to deploy and investigate suspicious events. It can cover 10 acres in 90 seconds, making it perfect for larger commercial and residential properties. The drone provides "eyes in the sky" for property owners and central station operators alike, and puts intruders on notice that they're being watched. Presumably, central station operators can also deploy the drone based on information they glean through the RVM Console.

Shooter Detection Systems

Adding to their commercial offerings, Alarm.com introduces the Shooter Detection Systems (SDS) Indoor Gunshot Sensor. In the event of an active shooter situation, this system allows for a faster and more accurate response while also providing valuable information to both police and medical first responders.

The SDS sensor uses dual-authentication technology identifying both the acoustic and the infrared signature of a gunshot. It has an accuracy rating of less than 1 false alert per 5 million hours of use. Gunshot detection signals are automatically forwarded to Alarm.com and the appropriate central station is alerted within seconds. With the information provided by the system, the operator can inform the authorities exactly where the incident was reported.

Resideo

First Alert® VX5 Indoor Camera

Adding to their recently released First Alert® VX1 video doorbell and First Alert® VX3 outdoor camera Resideo introduces the new First Alert® VX5 Indoor Camera at ISC West. Like most of these products, the VX5 is not yet available, so information about it is scarce, but we know it will offer these features:

    Advanced Event Detection
  • Privacy Mode
  • Integration with ProSeries Security Panel
  • Compact, Versatile Design
  • 2MP resolution and day and night vision with WDR
  • Two-way audio
  • Easy to Use App – TC 2.0 - for full control of the connected home or office

2GIG

E+ Extended Range Sensors

2GIG brings their new E+ Extended Range 900 MHz sensors to ISC West. This is an exciting addition to their portfolio. This product line will capitalize on the extended range capabilities of the 900 MHz wireless frequency. The E+ lineup will offer up to 1.2 Mile (2km) transmitting range. These sensors are bi-directional and fully encrypted with extended battery life as compared to regular 2GIG 345 MHz sensors. As with most products rolled out at ISC West, these are not yet available, but a data sheet for each is linked below. We will link to the products once they become available for sale.

Available sensors, so far:

Qolsys

We saved Qolsys for last because they didn't really roll anything out especially for ISC West. Qolsys finished 2023 strong with the release of their PowerG Everywhere 900 MHz automation devices and the Qolsys IQ4 NS no screen security panel.

PowerG Everywhere combines the excellent transmitting range we've come to expect from PowerG with the battery-savings and simplicity of use we get from Z-Wave. The resulting product is a battery sipping tour de force. So far, they offer the following PowerG Automation products which are compatible with the IQ Panel 4, IQ4 Hub, and IQ4 NS running firmware 4.4.0+ and the IQ Pro with firmware 4.3.0n+:

  • IQ Lock-PG
  • IQ Dimmer-PG
  • IQ Switch-PG
  • IQ Socket-PG
  • IQ Smart Plug-PG
  • IQ Outdoor Plug-PG

The IQ4 NS is a budget-friendly panel based on the IQ Panel 4. It's nearly identical to the IQ4 Hub, in fact, with one exception. It does not include a touchscreen interface. Instead, programming is performed using the IQ Installer App, available as a free download from the iOS and Google app stores. You can read all about the IQ4 NS and PowerG Everywhere in our blog posts here and here respectively.

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Recently, we told you about T-Mobile customers who, in the past received MMS notifications with video thumbnails, but now receive SMS notifications with a link. Alarm.com will soon unveil a Push Notification Migration Tool to encourage and help users to switch from SMS to push notifications.

You may be asking, what's the difference between SMS, MMS, and push notifications? SMS or Short Message Service is a text message delivered to your phone through your phone carrier. Changes undertaken by the cell phone carrier can affect how and when you receive SMS notifications, or whether you receive them. These changes are outside the control of Alarm.com.

MMS is Multi-Media Service. An MMS message is sent for video notifications when a thumbnail preview is part of the notification setup. Changes to the way T-Mobile, and now Sprint which was acquired by T-Mobile a few years ago, handle MMS delivery caused the recent change in the way video notifications were delivered to those customers. Again, this is something that is outside the control of Alarm.com.

A push notification is generated by an app. The Alarm.com app can generate a push notification for any notification that may be generated through your alarm system that is connected to Alarm.com. Here are a few examples of why Alarm.com believes Push Notifications are superior to SMS or MMS:

Benefit Description
Push Notifications are Actionable Because Push Notifications are received via the internet, they are actionable. They can bring you directly into the Alarm.com app, and in some cases, allow you to send a command directly from the Push Notification. (i.e. locking a door based on a notification about the door being left unlocked.)
The notification source is clear. Push notifications come directly from the app, with the app logo and name displayed clearly. This removes any uncertainty about the source of the message.
Push notifications allow for Critical Alerts. When properly configured, both iOS and Android devices can receive critical alerts while the device is in Do Not Disturb mode. Examples of Critical Alerts include Fire Alarm, Burglary Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Alarm, and several other event types.
Video push notifications are superior. Push notifications can be set for plain text or thumbnail images for certain events (i.e. video). A link within a push notification takes you to a specific place within the app. For example, if the notification is for camera motion, the link will redirect to the camera's live view. If the notification is that a clip has been uploaded, the link will take you right to the saved clip.
Push notifications are independent of your cell carrier. Text notifications are dependent on the cell carrier and can be affected by low signal or other carrier issues. Push notifications only require a network connection, whether cellular or WIFI.
Push notifications can be sent to all devices. Push notifications can be sent to phones, tablets, and even smart watches.

Alarm.com will soon unveil a Push Notification Migration Tool to steer customers toward using push notifications. You can check on the status of the tool rollout here. Not everyone will see the migration tool prompt. Being offered the prompt is based on the login used to access the Alarm.com app. At first, only a very specific group of customers will be targeted. That is customers with exactly one (1) SMS contact and one (1) push device on a network known to have had problems with SMS or MMS recently. This includes T-Mobile, Sprint, and Rogers (Canada) customers.

The full requirements are:

  • The login must be the primary login.
  • The login must not be linked to other systems.
  • There must be exactly one enabled SMS/MMS contact address on the account and no other disabled SMS contact addresses.
  • At least one enabled notification rule with an SMS recipient.
  • There must only be one active push device on the account, and it must be the one the customer is using. Push notification rules need not already exist for that active push device.

When the tool is rolled out, customers who fit the parameters mentioned above will see a message like this:



As you can see, this is strictly a voluntary change. Users have the option to Migrate now, be reminded later, or never have the prompt come up again. If you use the migration tool and switch to push notifications, your SMS/MMS notifications will no longer be active. However, the SMS contact information will be retained in the address book.

At some point, the switch to push notifications may become mandatory, at least for some cellular customers. If it does, it will likely be due to changes undertaken by the cellular carrier that make the delivery of notifications less than optimal. If that occurs, we'll be sure to let you know about it here in our blog.


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Alarm Grid and Alarm.com customers in Ameren, IL can sign up for the Peak Time Savings Program. Once enrolled, you will receive a $50 e-gift card. For each subsequent year you remain enrolled, you will receive a $25 e-gift card. This is another way your smart thermostat can pay for itself.

We've written about the Give Back, Get Back program numerous times in the past. Many different utility companies offer a similar incentive program, and each company has its name for the program. Some offer rebates, others may offer bill credits. The incentive amounts also vary. The information included here is specific to the Ameren, IL program.

To qualify for this incentive, you just need the following:

  • Be a residential electric customer in Ameren, IL, with service in your name.
  • Use an internet-connected, qualifying smart thermostat.
  • Sign up for the program, which allows the Ameren, IL electric company to make small adjustments to your thermostat remotely, during peak usage times.
  • You must not already be participating in a demand response program.

The times when your thermostat is likely to be adjusted are during the hottest days of summer when power demands are at their greatest. This can cause strain on the electrical grid. By signing up for the Peak Time Savings Program, you agree that the electric company can make small adjustments of four (4) degrees or less during these times. These adjustments will last for no more than four (4) hours.

The most likely hours during which an adjustment may occur are between 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. CT, but adjustments could occur anywhere from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT. You retain control of your thermostat and can opt out of an adjustment event at any time. In some cases, the thermostat may briefly be adjusted down (cooler) before being adjusted up (conservation) to maintain comfort during the adjustment period.

The thermostats that are compatible through Alarm.com are:

You can sign up for the program by going to this page, and then clicking the link "Enroll Your Smart Thermostat." Once you are accepted, you should receive an email within 60 days of being accepted. The $50 e-gift card will be delivered to your email, so be sure when you sign up, you enter the correct email information.

If you remain enrolled in the program, on the anniversary of your enrollment, you will receive a $25 e-gift card via email for your continued participation. This will occur each subsequent year you remain enrolled. Currently, there is no end date, so this incentive will continue until you are notified otherwise.

It's the middle of winter, but summer will be here before you know it. If you've been on the fence about purchasing a smart thermostat, this may be the perfect time to commit. Signing up for a program like this may seem like a small step, but as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and every step brings you closer to your goal. In this case, the goal is energy conservation, and every little step helps.

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It's that time of year again! The time when you might spot Santa Claus on your Alarm.com video feed as he prepares to deliver Christmas gifts. Of course, the true magic occurs on Christmas Eve, but Santa could drop by at any time between December 4 and December 31. So, be on the lookout!

Alarm.com is always enhancing and expanding its video offerings. For the past few years, its technology has become so advanced that it can capture Santa Clause as he goes about his pre and post-holiday preparation.

Any time between December 4 and December 31, 2023, you may catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf as he scurries about, scoping out the surroundings and getting all of the logistics prepared for the big night. Delivering toys to all the children of the world in a single night requires meticulous preparation!

The only way you can see Santa is if you capture a still image from your video feed. Santa is much too quick to be seen on the video feed itself. Just log into your Alarm.com account, pull up the feed of one of your Alarm.com cameras, and click the Santa icon. You'll see the various Santa poses captured within the feed. Click the one you like best, and then share the image with your family and friends.

In dark settings, Santa will appear in black and white, in lighted areas you'll see him in color. Just be sure you have the latest version of the Alarm.com app installed on your iOS or Android device so that you can take advantage of this rare opportunity. For iOS users, the latest version is 5.2.1. For Android users, the version you see will vary depending on your device. Just check the Google Play store and be sure there are no available updates. Your phone must be on Android 7.0 or higher to support the Alarm.com app.

Of course, only those with a video subscription, and cameras installed will be able to capture Santa Clause in action. For Alarm Grid customers, this will be those on one of our Platinum Plans (Self or Full) or a Video Monitoring Account. If you've been considering adding an Alarm.com video camera to your system now may be the perfect time!

If you don't happen to have Alarm.com video service, but you do use Alarm.com monitoring for your security system, you have another option for tracking Santa as he visits your home. You can set up a Santa Alert for your system. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Designate a sensor. Log into your Alarm.com security account. Tap the Sensors card and choose a sensor that is easy for you to open and close. Change the name of that sensor to something fun. If you have a chimney, you can call it Chimney Sensor. If not, you can name it Santa Sensor, or a similar fun name.

  2. Create a notification. If you don't already have a zone open/close notification set up for the sensor you chose, tap the Notifications menu option, then click the "+ New Notification" icon. Looking at the Standard Notification options, you should see "Sensor Activity." Click on this option.



  3. Complete the notification setup. When you click on the "Sensor Activity" option, you'll be taken to a configuration screen. First, name your notification. Check the box next to the sensor you renamed in Step 1. Configure all the required parameters to ensure you receive a notification when this sensor is opened. Remember, a notification will be sent every time this sensor is opened or faulted, so you probably want to wait until you're ready for Santa to visit, before you set this up. Otherwise, if this is a sensor you use often, you may be inundated with notifications until you set things back to normal. Presumably, you'll do this on Christmas Eve. Be sure you have at least one recipient for this notification enabled. When you've completed the configuration, click "Save."


  4. Create the event. When it's time for Santa's visit, open the sensor you renamed in Step 1. You should receive a notification on your designated device that shows the Chimney Sensor, Santa Sensor, or whatever fun name you gave your sensor has been opened. In the morning, you can show your family proof that Santa Claus visited during the night.

  5. Revert to normal. Once you have your proof, you can reverse the above steps and put your system back to normal. There is no need to delete the notification. You can simply toggle it off, then it will be ready again next year, in case you want to use it again.
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Update 09/18/23: Qolsys has released this firmware as of today. Alarm.com, however, has not yet made it available for dealers to perform remote OTA updates. They usually lag behind Qolsys by a few days, as they perform their own testing. Instructions for updating using a patch tag can be found here. The full Qolsys TSB can be found here.

Original Blog Post:

We've been hearing about it for a while, and Firmware 4.4.0 will be available any day now. In this post, we'll go through some of the big additions, fixes, and improvements that you can expect to see in this release. From support for PowerG automation devices to the addition of Night arming.

This is one of the most ambitious updates for Qolsys that we've seen. There are a lot of new features in this update. There are also some important fixes and improvements included. In this post, we'll go through what we believe are some of the more important changes coming up in Firmware 4.4.0.


New Features:

  • Support for All New PowerG Automation Devices:
  • Added a new Automation Icon within the Installation > Devices Menu. This icon is where you will now go to add everything except Z-Wave Automation devices. However, from within this screen, you can reach Z-Wave Automation (if you navigate here in error). In the future, we expect all Automation will be programmed from within this screen.
  • Added "Night Arming" mode. The panel can now be armed in "Away", "Stay", or "Night".
  • Created a new PIN code setting for users of the IQ WIFI 6. This will restrict access to the profiles and network map settings of the router.
  • Added support for Aeotec Indoor Siren 6.
  • Added Sensor Group 11 (Day Zone) and Group 21 (Night Motion).
  • Added Sensor Groups 61 (Fixed Intrusion Panic) & 62 (Fixed Silent Panic). With these settings, hardwired, latching panics can now send restore signals when they are physically restored.
  • Allows exterior PowerG motions to be programmed as Door/Window sensors to expand the Sensor Group options when programming.
  • Added the option to display ambient temperature on the IQ Panel 4 and IQ4 Hub screen when used with PowerG and PowerG Plus devices that support reporting ambient temperature (listed below).

  • PowerG Smoke Detectors can now sound different cadences for Intrusion, Fire, and CO alarms when the "PowerG Smoke Detector Siren" option is used for additional sounders.

Before going on to Fixes and Improvements, I wanted to pause for a moment and expand a bit on a couple of the things listed above. With the new Sensor Group 11 (Day Zone) here is the description of operation for that zone type: Intended for a Door or Window zone that triggers an alarm instantly if the system is armed (same as Group 13). When the panel is disarmed, the zone will annunciate Opens AND Closes, and will continue to notify until the Dismiss button is pressed on the panel screen.


When it comes to Night Arming, an understanding of the Groups associated with motion detectors is essential. Below is an explanation of how each Sensor Group operates. All of these Groups are supervised.

  • Group 17, Away-Instant Motion: Active only when armed to "Night" or "Away". Trips instantly when motion is detected. Does not trip if an E/E zone is tripped first.
  • Group 15, Stay-Instant Motion: Active in "Stay," "Night," and "Away". Trips Instantly when motion is detected. Does not trip if an E/E zone is tripped first.
  • Group 35, Stay-Delay Motion: Active in "Stay," "Night," and "Away" modes. Triggers an Entry Delay if motion is faulted. Does not trip if an E/E zone is tripped first.
  • Group 20, Away-Delay Motion: Active when armed to "Night" and "Away". Triggers an Entry Delay if triggered first. Does not trip if an E/E zone is triggered first.
  • Group 21, Night Motion (New): Active only when armed to "Away" and trips instantly when motion is detected by this sensor first. Does not trip if an E/E zone is tripped first.
  • Group 25, Safety Motion: This sensor does not report or trigger an alarm. This is a "Chime-Only" sensor when "Activity Monitoring" is active, regardless of panel armed status. Used for medicine cabinets, storage, activity tracking, etc.

Panel Fixes and Improvements:

  • Changed the Z-Wave naming convention for Settings related to Automation.
  • Added support for Z-Wave Weiser/Kwikset Lock supervision requests.
  • Made improvements to text size and movement in Photo Frame Screensaver.
  • Enhanced the downloading of images and videos from the IQ Panel to a mobile device.
  • Added a 30-second arming delay for the IQ Panel 4's built-in glass break detector.
  • Fixed an issue with pairing the ADC S2000-T Temp Sensor to the panel.

IQ Remote PowerG Fixes and Improvements:

  • Added the ability for the IQ Remote PowerG to automatically power back on after an extended power failure/battery drain, once primary power is restored.
  • Corrected an issue where "Nighttime Mode" was not working properly on the IQ Remote PowerG.
  • Changed the functionality of the Power Button on the IQ Remote PowerG. Power Down/Reboot now requires a 10-second button press.
  • Added support for Thermostats and Garage Door Control to the IQ Remote PowerG.
  • Added "Weather Clock" to the IQ Remote PowerG Frame Options.
  • Weather to the IQ Remote PowerG now functions when paired in both PowerG and WIFI modes.
  • Added support to IQ Remote PowerG for "Installer Test Mode" where the siren is temporarily silenced during testing.
  • Added support to the IQ Remote PowerG for Doorbell Notification pop-up and chime, when paired over both PowerG and WIFI.
  • IQ Remote PowerG enrolled over PowerG will now automatically upgrade upon first enrollment, rather than waiting 24 hours.
  • General communication improvements (Sync/Delay).

Update Instructions:

This firmware is now available, so you can perform the update. Your panel must be on Firmware Version 4.3.0+ before upgrading to 4.4.0. To check your firmware version, tap the gray bar at the top of the panel's home screen, then press Settings > Advanced Settings > Enter Installer or Dealer Code (1111 or 2222 respectively) then tap About > Software.

If your panel is on Firmware Version 4.0.0, 4.0.1, or 4.1.0, you must first update to 4.1.1.

From there, you can update to 4.2.0 or 4.2.1. Then you can update to 4.3.0 and finally to 4.4.0. This is very important! Failure to follow the proper update steps could cause your panel to become unresponsive.

Now that 4.4.0 has been released you can follow the steps below to update from 4.3.0 to 4.4.0:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the panel screen and tap "Settings."
  2. In "Settings" tap "Advanced Settings."
  3. Enter Installer or Dealer Code (default is 1111 or 2222 respectively.)
  4. Tap "Upgrade Software."
  5. Tap "Patchtag" then enter iqpanel4.4.0 and then tap "Ok."
  6. Tap "Upgrade Using Network," making sure the panel is connected to WIFI. Without a WIFI connection, the upgrade will not go through.

The patch will now be downloaded and then installed. It is important not to touch the panel screen during this process. You'll see a progress bar while the download is in progress, then the panel will reboot. This is normal. Once the panel boots up to the usual security screen, the upgrade is complete. The update usually takes approximately five (5) minutes to complete.

If you prefer, the update can eventually be pushed by your alarm dealer through the Alarm.com dealer portal. If your panel is on an older version, they should also be able to send any prerequisite updates to your panel prior to sending 4.4.0. Just be sure the panel has a connection to WIFI as even updates that are sent through Alarm.com require a WIFI connection at the panel.

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Qolsys, which is owned by Johnson Controls, Inc., the same company that owns DSC, is introducing a new lineup of PowerG automation devices. Currently, they offer a door lock along with a range of wired and plug-in switches. These devices will be supported by the IQ4 panels and the IQ Pro.

I say "will be supported" instead of "are supported" because the firmware required to support these new PowerG automation devices hasn't been released yet. For the IQ Panel 4, IQ4 Hub (PowerG Version), and IQ4 NS (PowerG Version) this is firmware version 4.4.0. For the Qolsys IQ Pro, firmware 4.3.0n is required. These firmware updates should be available later this month for the IQ4 Series panels, and soon thereafter for the IQ Pro.

We've talked before about the benefits of PowerG sensors. The big story with this and all PowerG devices is the transmitting range. Depending on the PowerG transceiver being used you can expect hundreds, and up to thousands, of feet in transmitting range. The PowerG repeaters will also work with these devices, so in the unlikely event you need one, a repeater is available.

Compare that to a Z-Wave Plus device, where you can expect a transmitting range of a couple hundred feet at most. Z-Wave is a mesh network, though, so if you plan to install a large number of devices, you can build out an impressive network using that technology. The problem is if you have a single area you want to automate, and it's not near the rest of your Z-Wave network, you might be out of luck with Z-Wave, but not with PowerG!

The encryption used with PowerG security sensors is also used here, so you get 128-bit AES encryption with FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum) which you can read more about here.

IQ Lock-PG:


The IQ Lock-PG (SKU: IQDLK-PGK) is available in three (3) finishes. Shown above from left to right in Satin Nickel, Matte Black, and Oil-rubbed Bronze. This lock is powered by four (4) AA batteries (not included) and with typical use, the battery life expectancy is one (1) year. This estimate is based on six (6) user code unlocking events and ten (10) locking/unlocking events per day. The IQ Lock-PG offers self-handing capability, and the lock motor is noticeably quieter than previous automated locks we've heard.

Unlike some automated locks, the IQ Lock-PG does offer the option to use a key, and two (2) keys are included with it. It has a KW1 keyway cylinder. The IQ Lock logo lights up green when the door is unlocked, and red when it is locked. This provides a nice visual indication of the lock status when the user is returning home or to their business.

Specifications:

  • Operating Temperature: Exterior: -31°F to 150°F (-35°C to 66°C), Interior: 32°F to 140°F (0°C to 60°C)
  • Material: ANSI Grade 2 Certified
  • Compatibility: Compatible with the Qolsys IQ4 NS (No Screen) (PowerG Version), IQ4 Hub (PowerG Version), IQ Panel 4, and IQ Pro panels
  • Technology: PowerG
  • Key Cylinder: Yes (KW1 keyway)
  • Self-Handing: Yes
  • Bolt Type: Motorized/ Standard Deadbolt
  • User Codes: Up to 250 unique users
  • Code Length: 4-10 Digits
  • Batteries: Four (4) AA batteries (not included)
  • Low Battery Alarm: Yes
  • Backset: 2 3/8”/ 2 3/4” Adjustable (60/70mm)
  • Door Prep: 1 1/2” / 2 1/8” (38/54mm)
  • Door Thickness: 1 3/8” ~ 2 1/4” (35-58mm) automatic adjustment
  • Lockout Mode: Keypad lockout for 3 minutes after 10 entries of invalid user code
  • Certifications: FCC, IC, ANSI BHMA A156.36 Grade 2, UL10C (20min Fire Rating)
  • IP Rating: Exterior assembly: IP54
  • Operating Humidity: Exterior: 100% condensing Interior: 20% – 95% non-condensing

IQ Switch-PG:

Next up is the Qolsys IQ Switch-PG (SKU: IQSWH-PG). This is an in-wall on/off switch without dimming. It can replace any standard in-wall switch to add automation capabilities to the circuit. With PowerG technology built-in, you will be able to automate devices in areas you may have thought impossible before. Have an outbuilding that you thought was too far away for automation? With PowerG, that goal may be well within reach depending on how far the building is located from the compatible panel.

Before removing the old switch and replacing it with the IQ Switch-PG, be sure the breaker is turned off. Failure to do so may cause damage to the switch and to you! This is a hardwired switch, which will be connected to 120V, so we do recommend that you have a qualified electrician perform the wiring.

Specifications:

  • Technology: PowerG
  • Power: 120V at 60Hz
  • Maximum Load: Incandescent 600W, CFL/LED 300W
  • Current: 5A Max
  • Standby Power Consumption: <1W
  • Wiring: 16 AWG (direct wire connection)
  • Noise: 24dB at 20cm Max
  • Operating Temperature: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -4°F to 140°F (-20°C to 60°C)
  • Weight: 4.09 oz (116g)
  • Operating Humidity: 0% – 85% non-condensing

IQ Dimmer-PG


The Qolsys IQ Dimmer-PG (SKU: IQDMR-PG) is also an in-wall switch, with dimming capabilities included. As with the IQ Switch-PG, this device can replace any existing 120VAC switch that fits within its specifications to add remote control and automation capabilities.

Another attractive feature for this and all of the new hardwired PowerG switches and sockets is that they come with a screwless faceplate. This provides a clean, modern look. Currently, they are only available in white. If you prefer a more traditional look, the screwless faceplate can be removed and there are screw holes for a traditional faceplate. This may also come in handy if you have multiple switches in a line and require a double-gang or triple-gang setup.

Some Important Specifications:

  • Compatibility: Compatible with the Qolsys IQ4 NS (PowerG Version), IQ4 Hub (PowerG Version), IQ Panel 4, and IQ Pro panels
  • Technology: PowerG
  • Power: 120V at 60Hz
  • Maximum Load: Incandescent 200W, CFL/LED 100W
  • Current: 1.67A Max
  • Standby Power Consumption: <1W
  • Wiring: 16-10 AWG (terminal block connection)
  • Operating Temperature: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -4°F to 140°F (-20°C to 60°C)
  • Weight: 4.83 oz (137g)
  • Operating Humidity: 0% – 85% non-condensing

IQ Smart Socket-PG:



The Qolsys IQ Smart Socket-PG (SKU: IQSKT-PG) is an in-wall socket with two (2) sockets that can be controlled individually. By replacing a standard in-wall socket with the IQ Smart Socket-PG you gain the ability to individually control the devices plugged into each outlet from the panel's touchscreen, or from the Alarm.com app or webpage.

Using rules and scenes, you can create automation scenarios to turn devices on or off based on other events that occur on the system, or based on a schedule. With the Smart Rules Builder, available on Alarm.com, you can easily create automation rules to suit your every need.

Specifications:

  • Color: White
  • Tamper Resistant?: Yes
  • Technology: PowerG
  • Input Power: 120VAC at 60Hz
  • Output Load: 120VAC at 60Hz, 15A Total Max Load for both outlets
  • Maximum Load: Total 1800W@120V (Resistive Load)
  • Standby Power Consumption: <1W
  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.75 x 1.7 Inches (115 x 70 x 44 mm)
  • Operating Temperature: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -4°F to 131°F (-20°C to 55°C)
  • Weight: 5.57 oz (157.8g)
  • Operating Humidity: 0% – 90% non-condensing

IQ Smart Plug-PG:

The Qolsys IQ Smart Plug-PG (SKU: IQIDP-PG) is an indoor plug-in module. Often referred to as appliance modules, these devices allow you to quickly turn any existing wall outlet into a smart outlet with no electrician required. With its low-profile form factor, you will be able to make one outlet smart without blocking the other outlet in a traditional two-outlet wall plug.

To learn these devices into any of the IQ4 panel lineup, once you have the 4.4.0 firmware installed you'll press the grey bar at the top of the panel screen, go to Settings > Advanced Settings > Enter Installer or Dealer Code (1111 or 2222 by default) > Installation > Devices > Automation > Auto Learn Devices. From there, just power on the PowerG device and it will auto-learn into the system.

Prior to firmware version 4.4.0, the Automation menu option was missing from the Devices screen, so you won't be able to properly learn these devices on older firmware panels. If you attempt to learn any of them as a security sensor, they will likely learn in, but will not operate properly and will need to be removed from sensor programming prior to proper enrollment once the firmware has been updated.

Specifications:

  • Color: White
  • Technology: PowerG
  • Power: 120VAC at 60Hz
  • Output Power: 1800W@120V (Resistive Load)
  • Standby Power Consumption: <1W
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.5 x 1.29 Inches (68 x 38 x 33 mm)
  • Operating Temperature: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -4°F to 122°F (-20°C to 50°C)
  • Weight: 2.29 oz (65g)
  • Operating Humidity: 10% – 90% RH, non-condensing

IQ Outdoor Plug-PG:

The Qolsys IQ Outdoor Plug-PG (SKU: IQODP-PG) allows you to take one single outdoor outlet plug, and make two (2) smart outlets out of it. These two (2) outlets will be enrolled as separate automation devices and can be controlled individually.

Here's an example of how this plug can come in handy. Perhaps you used to have your patio string lights and a bug zapper connected to the two plugs of an outdoor outlet. You can now connect the IQ Outdoor Plug-PG to one of the existing available outlets, and plug the string lights and the bug zapper into it. You can automate the string lights to come on at dusk and turn off at a set time. Automate the bug zapper to turn on based on some other criteria, whether it's a schedule, or based on the opening of the patio door. And you still have one of your previously existing outlets available for another device.

Specifications:

  • Color: Black
  • Tamper Resistant?: Yes
  • Compatibility: Compatible with the Qolsys IQ4 NS (No Screen), IQ4 Hub, IQ Panel 4, and IQ Pro panels
  • Technology: PowerG
  • Power: 120VAC at 60Hz
  • Output Power: 1800W@120V (Resistive Load)
  • Output Load: 120VAC at 60Hz, 15A Total Max Load for both outlets
  • Standby Power Consumption: <1W
  • Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.5 x 1.29 Inches (68 x 38 x 33 mm)
  • Operating Temperature: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -4°F to 122°F (-20°C to 50°C)
  • Weight: 2.29 oz (65g)
  • Operating Humidity: 10% – 90% RH, non-condensing

At Alarm Grid, we're super excited about the launch of these new automation devices. I believe these will be game-changing, particularly in circumstances where transmitting distance has been a hindrance in the past. I expect we'll see additional PowerG automation devices in the near future.

Hopefully, a PowerG garage door controller, PowerG PGM device, and my personal hope, some PowerG motorized blinds or shades. Stay tuned and we'll let you know when the firmware to support these devices is released. Are you excited about the new PowerG automation products? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. What other automation devices would you like to see in the PowerG lineup?

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Exciting news! Alarm.com has unveiled a new customer app with a fresh look. Faster response times and fewer clicks mean instant access to the data you need. Video and Activity are now conveniently available right from the Dashboard, ensuring quick access to your most vital information.


In addition to the changes and time savings you can see, response times have been improved at the server level as well. Now, instead of clicking the hamburger menu (≡) and then selecting an option, the most commonly used selections, like Video, Activity, and Home, are pinned right at the bottom of the screen.

When you first log in to the app after the update, you'll see a What's New screen that summarizes all the updates.


The Dashboard can be customized so that when you log in, you see exactly what you want, and nothing that you don't. In the example below, Images and Highlights have been removed from the Dashboard. Click and drag the enabled cards to rearrange the order in which they are displayed. To edit the dashboard, click the Home icon, and scroll to the bottom of the screen, then tap Edit Dashboard.


Tapping the Video icon brings you to the video screen where you can see a live view of any camera in your account. You can also see Saved clips, and if you have any cameras enrolled in Onboard Recording you can click the 24/7 option to review selected feeds.


Clicking the gear icon allows you to edit various video settings.


The Activity screen shows you a list of events in chronological order with the newest events at the top. Each day has a Highlights section that provides a brief animated recap of the day's events. Video events provide a thumbnail for quick access to review those items. Use the extensive filter options to find specific items quickly.


Clicking the More option provides you with the options you used to see when clicking the hamburger menu in the upper left.

This upgrade appears to be a significant step forward for Alarm.com. By streamlining the user experience and placing the most pertinent information front and center within the app, overall usability and efficiency are enhanced. As users, we can all appreciate any change that simplifies navigation and reduces the number of clicks needed to access desired features! I am personally excited about this update and how it will make managing our alarms and security systems even more convenient. What are your thoughts on the latest Alarm.com UX update? Feel free to share your opinions and experiences in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Total Connect 2.0 now offers a server-to-server integration with Genie® and Overhead Door™ garage door openers. This allows you to control your alarm system, automation devices, and garage doors from a single app. No more fumbling between apps to control both your alarm system and garage door.


The new Genie® and Overhead Door™ server-to-server integrations join Chamberlain and LiftMaster as well as several others. Between these server-to-server options and the Z-Wave options for garage door control, you can now operate nearly any garage door from the TC2 app. This makes it much more convenient when attempting to control multiple systems at once, such as when you are arming your system to leave, or disarming your system to return home, and you also need to control the garage door.

This integration doesn't allow for the automation of the garage door, sadly. It provides manual control only, but it is still a worthwhile integration because it simplifies the process of leaving and returning, which most of us do each day, multiple times per day. To set up the integration you simply need a compatible Genie® or Overhead Door™ product, a WIFI connection for that product, and a Total Connect 2.0 account with the Smart Home plan. For Alarm Grid customers, that is a Silver Plan (Self or Full) or higher.

Step-by-Step FAQ for Overhead Door® Integration
Step-by-Step FAQ for Genie Aladdin Connect® Integration

Setting up the integration is easy. Once you log into your Total Connect 2.0 account, click on Devices. Click the three (3) vertical dots in the upper right corner then tap Add/Remove Devices:


From there, choose Genie or Overhead Door™ from the list of available integrations. You will have two (2) options. You can either "Link to Existing Account" or "Add New Account". If you've already been using the garage door opener manufacturer's app, choose the former, if not, choose the latter.

If you choose "Link to Existing Account," you'll be prompted to enter your login credentials for the existing Genie (Aladdin Connect®) or Overhead Door™ (OHD Anywhere®) app, and then click "Login." Once the credentials are verified, you'll see a list of garage doors to select which ones you want to enable.

On the other hand, if you choose "Add New Account," you'll be redirected to the app store to download either Aladdin Connect® or OHD Anywhere®. Follow the provided instructions to set up your garage doors for remote access. Once completed, return to TC2 and follow the steps to complete enrollment. Once again, you'll need to enter the credentials you created for the garage door manufacturer's app and click "Login." Select the garage doors you want to enroll, and you're all set!

We're thrilled to see Resideo adding new third-party integrations to its Total Connect 2.0 offering. While Alarm.com has been more proactive in supporting this type of integration in the past, Resideo is starting to close the gap. We can't wait to see what they offer next!

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