Home security has often been about blending in: That teddy bear was not a christening gift from Aunt Nell, it was spying on the nanny. But now these systems are being built to stand out, with high-end design becoming just as important as the protection they provide. Take Canary (pictured right), which exists because CEO Adam Sager couldn't find anything that suited his tastes. The tubular construction, he says, "was the most aesthetically pleasing shape for a table." If there's any doubt that form preceded function, Sager and the rest of Canary's team refused to sacrifice the elegance of their design as they figured out how it was actually going to work.

Given that we can't accept even uninspired thermostats anymore, it makes sense that companies like Canary are rushing to fill the void in sleek security setups (it must be a deep one: Canary raised nearly $2 million on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo). Another player, Dropcam, teamed with industrial designers Whipsaw (which gave Nike's FuelBand its look) for its device. Dropcam's new motion sensors mount to windows or MacBooks with adhesive strips and look like iPod shuffles.

These rookies—who are using mobile technology to let you monitor what's up in your living room—have forced stalwarts into action. Belkin, Logitech, and AT&T are modernizing their equipment, and this year, ADT released Canopy, an app that's part Google Maps, part panic button. "We need to start thinking like a start-up," says ADT's chief innovation officer, Arthur Orduña. If only there were a way to keep tabs on what other companies are up to.

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Three Ways to See—and Be Seen—in Style

 

Canary
Best for: Appearance, inclusiveness. Like the others, this six-inch-tall device records high-definition video. But it also has night vision, can measure temperature and humidity, and is programmed with an algorithm that sends more accurate alerts over time. $250; canary.is

Dropcam (pictured right, top)
Best for: Storage, sharing. You can save up to 720 hours of video a month in the one-of-a-kind cloud system that can be accessed with this drop-pin-shaped camera. Then send clips to your friends. Starting at $150; dropcam.com

Piper (pictured right, bottom)
Best for: Field of vision, zoom. With its 180-degree fish-eye lens, the HAL lookalike records your entire room in panoramic video. It can also store a thousand 25-second-long clips based on prompts like a door opening, a loud sound, etc. Starting at $240; getpiper.com