Beyond Thermostats: Ecobee Dreams Of Being A Billion-Dollar Smart Home Giant

Jared Newman for FastCompany:  For the last nine years, Ecobee hasn't strayed from being a maker of smart thermostats.

Unlike rival Nest, Ecobee never built its own smart home platform, and hasn't expanded into new product categories. The $170 Ecobee3 Lite, announced last week, is the company's first new hardware in two years, and it's just a budget variant of the existing Ecobee3, ditching room sensor support while knocking down the price by $80.

So far, the singular focus has served Toronto-based Ecobee well. Thermostats are the most popular type of self-installed smart home devices, according to The NPD Group, and Ecobee—whose revenues have been doubling every year—is not far behind Nest in sales. Ecobee hopes to reach first place in 2017.  Cont'd...

Smart Home Technology Is Revolutionizing The Music Industry

Beth Kotz for Hypebot:  The steady march of progress through technology has radically altered the way many industries operate, and perhaps nowhere is that effect more evident than in the music industry. The movement toward digital media has changed everything from the way music is produced to the way it is discovered, purchased and consumed by listeners.

Now, the Internet of Things, and in particular the rise of interconnected “smart” home technology, promises to once again revolutionize the way the music industry operates and engages with consumers. Rather than being tethered to a PC or laptop, listeners equipped with smart tech can now discover and stream music seamlessly throughout their homes.

The Streaming Revolution

In the not-too-distant past, listeners needed to venture out to the store and purchase a CD in order to enjoy their favorite music. Word-of-mouth recommendations, television and radio were the most common ways to discover new music. With the explosion of streaming, however, a vast universe of music is now placed at users' fingertips for instant, affordable listening.  Cont'd...

3,200 Connected Home Devices At Best Buy

Chuck Martin for IoTDaily:  Any consumers who go shopping specifically for a smart, connected home device this holiday season are going to face a bewildering assortment.

The number of products ranging from smart appliances and home control systems to smart security systems and streaming media devices is now in the thousands at Best Buy alone, according to a new study.

The study on consumer attitudes toward smart appliances is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 consumers each in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, conducted by Futuresource Consulting.

Researchers counted more than 3,000 connected home devices being sold at Best Buy. The tally provides a general idea of the largest and smallest categories.  Cont'd...

Smart Gardens

The internet of things is coming to make your yard smart. The market for systems that can connect your yard may be new, but it's already proving to be exciting.

The UK Just Switched on Its Future Smart Home Power Grid

Mike Brown for Inverse:  The world’s first data transmission over a power grid has been successfully completed, paving the way for a decentralized future where smart houses tell each other how much energy they need. The tests, conducted by Reactive Technologies in the UK, sends data along the 50Hz electricity signal that passes through sub-station transformers that link up the country’s grid. The wires themselves have been used to send data before, but it’s getting through those transformers that’s never been done.

“We are keen to support innovative products like this one that can bring a real benefit for customers,” Cordi O’Hara, director of systems operator at National Grid, told The Guardian on Tuesday. “It represents another step forward in the development of the smart grid technologies that are going to play an increasingly important role in the energy systems of the future.”  Cont'd...


This Startup Wants To Smarten Up Your Smart Home Devices

Blake Montgomery for Buzzfeed:  Today, Thington launches. It’s a smart assistant app that aims to simplify smart home devices.

Thington’s distinctive feature? Thington Concierge, a conversational bot that helps you set up and control the smart things you’ve already set up in your home. From weather stations to light switches to security cameras, it supports a range of devices.

With its bot messenger interface, Concierge allows you to create rules for your house. You can set your lights to glow fluorescent during the day and incandescent during the night, or to turn on when you get home. Or, for example, you can program your Nest thermostat to lower the heat while you’re sleeping in your cozy bed, and then to raise the temperature before you wake up. And you can add people to a “Guest List” to give them access to your home’s controls when they’re visiting you. These kinds of combinations and features, Thington founders Tom Coates and Matt Biddulph believe, is their product’s competitive edge: It’s more like an assistant with a personality than a remote.  Cont'd...

9 things Google Home can do that Alexa can't

Taylor Martin for CNet:  Google announced its Amazon Echo competitor back at its I/O developer conference in May. Today, it made Google Home official with arelease date and price.

It also gave us a closer look at how the company plans to compete with the more established household assistant today, Alexa.

While Google has its work cut out in getting broad third-party support that includes other smart-home brands, there is already a healthy list of in-house features Google Home will be capable of out of the gate that Alexa could only hope to add in the future.

Here are nine things Google Home can do that Alexa can't.  Cont'd...

Here's Why You're Paying $200 to Rent a Clunky TV Set-Top Box

Todd Shields for Bloomberg:  Imagine watching TV without paying the cable company for the blinking set-top box, using a gadget of your choice that makes it easy to switch between cable channels, streaming programs and online shows.

The idea, simple in concept, is proving difficult in execution.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing a plan to force cable companies to give up their control over set-top boxes, "unlocking" the marketplace as he puts it.

But he’s drawn opposition from lawmakers in both parties, not to mention some of the most active corporate lobbyists in Washington. Comcast Corp. and the cable industry -- which stands to lose $20 billion a year in box rentals -- say it’s unnecessary and are fighting it. So are Hollywood studios, DirecTV owner AT&T Inc., and CBS Corp. Even a fellow commission Democrat said Wheeler’s plan set for a Sept. 29 vote is flawed.  Cont'd...

Apple Stepping Up Plans for Amazon Echo-Style Smart-Home Device

Mark Gurman & Ian King for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. is pressing ahead with the development of an Echo-like smart-home device based on the Siri voice assistant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Started more than two years ago, the project has exited the research and development lab and is now in prototype testing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced Apple projects. Like Amazon Inc.’s Echo, the device is designed to control appliances, locks, lights and curtains via voice activation, the people said. Apple hasn’t finalized plans for the device and could still scrap the project.

If a product reaches the market, it would be Apple’s most significant piece of new hardware since the company announced the Apple Watch in 2014.  Cont'd...

Raspberry Pi Home Automation System Hits Kickstarter

Julian Horsey for GeekyGadgets:  Zip The Fish has created a new Raspberry Pi adapter which has been specifically designed to enable a wide variety of home automation features allowing you to transform any property from a single small room to a large hotel smarter, say its developers.

Watch the promotional video linked below to learn more about the Zip The Fish Pi home automation system which has been specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi.

Main Features of the Zip The Fish Pi include :

– More power for PI – Three different power supplies up to 3A each.
– Micro USB power supply input
– Uninterruptible power supply: Seamless switching between three power sources. There is the possibility to connect small or large batteries – a special chip takes care of battery health, including charge and protection.

Full article and video:

A series of tubes: What's next for home automation

Peter Sayer for PCWorld:  "A series of tubes" is one of the most famous explanations of what makes the internet work, but it's also what many Europeans use to heat their homes. That's made room-by-room heating automation difficult -- until now.

Heating systems in Europe typically circulate hot water from a boiler to radiators around the home, with the pump and boiler controlled by a central thermostat. Programmable timers can boost the temperature on winter evenings or lower it at night.

Generally, though, such control is an all-or-nothing, whole-home affair, making it impossible to heat the living room only in the evening but warm the bathroom for a morning shower. Smart controllers like Nest and its European competitors Tado and Netatmo can't change that, as the series of tubes in most homes doesn't allow for independent control of different heating zones.  Cont'd...

L U C Y Smart Home Assistant Launches On Kickstarter

Oliver Winkler has designed and developed the new smart home assistant that incorporates a touchscreen display, together with camera and voice control technology to help you manage your life.
The L.U.C.Y. home assistant has this week launched via Kickstarter with the aim of raising €100,000 and is available to back with pledges starting from just €358 for early bird backers.

L.U.C.Y. takes the form of a 17 inch display complete with companion application. Watch the promotional video below to know more about what L.U.C.Y. is capable of providing and how she can help your day run even smoother.  Kickstarter Page:

Sony's Xperia Agent robot is a cute, friendly smart-home butler

Raymond Wong for Mashable:  Sony has reintroduced the Xperia Agent at tech showcase IFA 2016, adding some new tricks, including the ability to connect to a smart coffee machine to make you a caffeinated cup.

Also, the last time we saw Sony's adorable little personal home-assistant robot, Xperia Agent, it didn't have a screen on its body. Now it does.

The Xperia Agent is still at concept stage, but it's getting more and more smart-home features as it edges towards the production line.

Sony showed off how it could now connect to a Nestlé smart coffee machine and serve up a caffeine fix at your command. 

It's really no more special than pushing a button on a smartphone app and having a connected machine start dripping out coffee, but it's undeniably more fun to see a small robot do so, while dancing along on your counter and blasting out notifications, such as the time and weather.  Cont'd...

Best Buy Finally Figures Out the Internet

Shelly Banjo & Shira Ovide for BloombergGadfly:  Best Buy's quarterly financial results on Tuesday were downright Amazon-like: Consecutive quarters of double-digit online sales growth. Hot new products including virtual-reality headsets and techy watches. Words like "exploration" and "experimentation."

Gone were the store-closing announcements of quarters past, along with talk of bad weather or other tired excuses for why consumers aren't shopping (many of which we've heard from Target, Macy's and other retailers in recent weeks). Shares surged 19 percent on the news, marking Best Buy's biggest one-day stock gain since 2001.  Cont'd...

Genesis Teams Up With Amazon To Bring Connected Cars To Connected Homes

PR Newswire:  "Did I lock the car?" "How can I warm up my car on a snowy morning without going outside, get my news and still get to work on time?" These are questions that can leave many car owners feeling frazzled. But not G80 and G90 owners, as Genesis is the first automaker to launch an Alexa skill, allowing remote voice commands to control connected cars. Genesis Connected Services can take care of these tasks and more from inside the home using the Alexa voice service on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The new Alexa skill for Genesis is available today across Alexa-enabled devices.

"We're excited to bring the convenience of voice and Alexa to the Genesis G80 and G90," said Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa. "With this innovative Alexa implementation, customers can now start their car, and get the heat going all just by asking Alexa from the comfort of their own home. We can't wait for our customers to try it out."  Cont'd...

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