With DirectConnect 911, a smartphone can tell when your house is on fire and call 911. It works even if you’re in Timbuktu and can’t make it back. (Or, maybe you live in Timbuktu.)

It’s a combination smartphone app and hardware that detects smoke. The app and device are free, but the DirectConnect service costs $10 a month. It claims to be the first hardware device to communicate over a cellular network. It’s cheaper than a home monitoring system and handier than a standard smoke detector, which just emits a siren.

The hardware attaches to a ceiling or wall, like a regular smoke detector. When smoke is detected, the alarm sounds and the device calls emergency services through your smartphone, which better be on at the time. Any additional contacts are notified by phone or email. There’s a manual shut-off button in case it’s a false alarm. If the system fails to do its weekly self check, you’ll get a notice on your phone. You can also buy this device for $45 at Home Depot and it comes with four months free service. If you do the arithmetic, however, it’s cheaper to get it from DirectConnect911.

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