New CTA Smart Home Security Checklist for Tech Installers Will Improve Consumers' IoT Security

"To better safeguard consumers' privacy and sensitive information, CTA created the first-ever tool designed by installers, for installers, that outlines existing best practices, standards and methods for today's smart home security challenges."

Apple and Amazon take fight from smart home to hotel room

Caitlin McGarry for MacWorld: The high-end Wynn Las Vegas resort chose Alexa last December, adding Amazon Echo devices in its suites. Now Marriott International is trying to decide between Amazon and Apple, according to a Bloomberg report. The JW Marriott in San Antonio, Texas has been testing Amazon Alexa-integrated devices since October as an operator of sorts-the conduit to room service and housekeeping. Alexa can also control the lighting in a handful of the Marriott's rooms, though that isn't her primary role.

iSmartAlarm Unveils Major Updates and Innovative Features

iSmart Alarm, Inc., the leader in DIY smart home security, today announces the launch of iSmartAlarm App v2.0.1, the largest update to date to the award-winning iSmartAlarm Apps on iOS and Android devices. With this new update now available for download, fans will have a host of exciting new features, the ability to customize all system Modes, a cleaner UI experience, and significant upgrades in speed and stability.

Not trying to outdo Comcast, this Philly start-up finds its own home-automation niche

Diane Mastrull for Philly.com: Moorman and Buchert decided that multifamily residences represented a vast opportunity in the IoT -Internet of Things - and launched StratIS (for Strategic Implementation and Support), a software company in East Falls, in June 2015.

A look inside the 2017 HGTV Smart Home in Scottsdale

12 News Arizona:  With an audio system wired into every room, a security system that can monitor for pipe leaks, and outlets with USB ports built in, the HGTV Smart Home 2017 is not your grandma's house.

The fully wired, 3,300-square-foot home is located right in the Valley, in north Scottsdale.  HGTV representatives say they chose Scottsdale -- "The West's Most Western Town" -- for its combination of tech and culture, as well as opportunities for year-round family fun.

Designer Tiffany Brooks says she took her cues for the house from the desert landscape -- using natural materials like stone, wood, leather and glass, as well as incorporating antique tribal pieces and work from local artists.  Full Article and Video:

Leviton Delivers New Wi-Fi Lighting Automation Solution with Voice Control, Scheduling and Remote Access

Leviton announced today the release of a ground-breaking "hubless" home automation solution, Decora Smart™ with Wi-Fi Technology, offering remote access, app-based scheduling and voice control. The new product family simplifies home lighting control from anywhere by automating interior and exterior lights using the free My Leviton app. The devices can also be connected to Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap or Alexa-embedded products, like the Nucleus touchscreen intercom, to provide voice control through commands such as "Alexa, turn living room lamp to 33%." The Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology product family includes both 600W and 1000W in-wall dimmers and 15 Amp switches that are all multi-way capable, as well as plug-in outlets and plug-in dimmers. 
Leviton devices are connected to a home's Wi-Fi network as well as to Amazon Alexa-enabled products via the My Leviton app. In the app, users can easily add a new home, device, room, activity or schedule at any time from an iOS or Android device. Users can also create schedules and activities based on specific times or events.   Full Press Release:

iRobot Takes Next Step in the Connected Home with Clean Map™ Reports and Amazon Alexa Integration

iRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT), a leader in consumer home robotics, today announced updates to the iRobot HOME App that expand the value of connected Roomba vacuuming robots within the smart home. New Clean Map reports provide visual post-cleaning maps that display information about the robot's cleaning performance, such as the dirtiest floor areas and total space cleaned, while the integration of Amazon Alexa™ voice activated control will make communicating with a Roomba vacuuming robot a breeze. 
"iRobot is aggressively pursuing opportunities within the connected home to improve our customers' experience with our cleaning robots," said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot. "The latest updates for the iRobot HOME App make cleaning with an iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot even more user friendly, with voice-activated commands, enhanced mapping features and useful post-cleaning reports. These are exciting next steps towards our vision of an ecosystem of home robots that work collaboratively and further enable the smart home."   Full Press Release:

Celebrity Cruises brings smart home automation to its latest ship class

Julian Chokkattu for DigitalTrends:  Celebrity Cruises has unveiled a new ship that was completely designed in 3D. The Celebrity Edge won’t be operational for some time, but the company offered a sneak peak at how technology will improve a guest’s experience on the ship.

At 1,004 feet long and 128 feet wide, the Celebrity Edge can carry 3,373 guests in total, as well as 1,320 members of the crew. It features 1,467 staterooms, 14 passenger decks, 12 passenger elevators, and more.

As Carnival highlighted in its announcement earlier this year, Celebrity Edge will feature “friction-less arrival,” meaning guests won’t have to wait in long lines for a check-in process. This will work through a combination of facial recognition software and geo-fenced beacons.  Cont'd...

Can your smart home be used against you in court?

Brian Heater for TechCrunch:  On a November, 2015 morning in Bentonville, Arkansas, first responders discovered a corpse floating in a hot tub. The home’s resident, James Andrew Bates, told authorities he’d found the body of Victor Collins dead that morning. He’d gone to bed at 1 AM, while Collins and another friend stayed up drinking.

This past December, The Information reported that authorities had subpoenaed Amazon over the case. The police were considering Bates a suspect in what they suspected was a murder after signs of a struggle were found at the scene. They hoped his Echo might hold some insights into what happened the night before.

Amazon initially pushed back against the request, citing First Amendment protections, but ultimately conceded when Bates agreed to allow the information to be handed over to police.

While Amazon’s fight has been rendered moot, this case lays groundwork for some tough and important conversations to come, raising a slew of fascinating questions around the technologies.  Cont'd...

Comcast completes acquisition of Icontrol's IoT and home security arm

Tas Bindi for ZDNet:  Comcast has completed its acquisition of Icontrol Networks' Converge business, which creates Internet of Things (IoT) and connected home security solutions.

Converge already powers Comcast's XFinity Home, in that it allows Comcast to communicate with and manage security sensors that are part of Xfinity Home, and also supports home-automation devices like cameras and thermostats.

While the terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Comcast SVP and XFinity Home general manager Daniel Herscovici explained in a blog post that the acquisition will give the company full control over Icontrol's research and development roadmap. Specifically, it will allow the company to accelerate the pace of XFinity Home's development, especially in the area of connected home security.  Cont'd...

Smart home opportunity in its infancy

Simon Quicke for Computer Weekly Microscope:  If anyone in the channel was worried that they were missing out on a booming smart home market then they can sleep more easily knowing that the Uk is in its infancy when it comes to connected homes.
Some of the distributors are positioning themselves ready for the uptake of services to control features likes security and heating but according to Gartner things are still at an early stage.
The assessment of the market from the analysts means that the channel still has the time to develop skills and vendor relationships in the smart home area. Gartner estimates that current adoption rates are around the 10% mark.  Cont'd...

The connected home window is open, but for how long?

Paul Lalancette Opinion piece for RCR Wireless News:  The potential for “connected homes” enabled by the internet of things to become a major market opportunity is no longer in doubt. The benefits for consumers, such as controlling energy costs, increasing security and having a home that learns how to behave according to personal preferences, are too promising. Offering these services represents an enormous opportunity for communications service providers, but it is not a forgone conclusion they will lead in the arena.

CSPs can play a central role in delivering an easy to use yet valuable experience to consumers in managing their connected homes. The number of devices and services operating across different and fragmented platforms for the connected home is holding back its widespread adoption. For the connected home to make the jump from being used by early adopters to being commonplace, the experience has to evolve to be far more seamless than it is today. This is the window that is open for CSPs to step up and bring a truly integrated consumer experience to the connected home. But it may not be for long.  Cont'd...

Control4 Acquires Triad Speakers

Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ: CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announced the acquisition of Triad Speakers, Inc., a leader in advanced audio technology with best-in-class, customizable speaker-solutions. 
"Entertainment is integral to the connected home and our Control4 dealers are designing end-to-end experiences for family room entertainment, home theaters, and indoor and outdoor multi-room music for their customers," said Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. "The acquisition of Triad brings proven premium-acoustics experience and innovation to our company, enabling us to immediately deepen our entertainment offering and develop new integrated-audio experiences for the future."   Full Press Release:

How Amazon's Alexa Could Drive the Connected Car Revolution

Harsh Chauhan for The Motley Fool:  From pulling up location coordinates to finding a free parking spot or opening the garage door, virtual assistants in cars are going to play a key role in powering the connected-car revolution. The voice-enabled virtual assistant space is becoming hotly contested among tech giants.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), however, seems to be taking the lead in this market with its Alexa Automotive platform, which is powered by the Echo voice assistant. The company has lined up deals with some of the biggest automakers, and is also receiving support from third-party accessory manufacturers such as Logitech (NASDAQ:LOGI) that could give Alexa a major push.

The Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas last month showed that Alexa is finding favor among carmakers, as Ford (NYSE:F) and Volkswagen (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) both said they had signed up to use the platform for services including weather updates and navigation. This is a big deal for Amazon; it needs to sign up big automakers for Alexa to steal a march on rivals such as Microsoft's Cortana and Alphabet's Google Assistant.  Cont'd...

In The Smart Home, Whoever Owns The Hub May Own Retail Too

Nikki Baird for Forbes:  According to our research at Retail Systems Research, retailers are very bullish on the future of the Internet of Things, or IoT. They are most excited about opportunities to interact with consumers via their mobile phones and even consumers’ own IoT devices (think wearables). For them, IoT is not about saving money. It’s about driving customer experience.

But what they are ignoring is how the IoT ecosystem looks set to evolve. Retailers will in no way be at the center of the IoT ecosystem. Just look at smart home technology: connected refrigerators, lights, ceiling fans, curtains, door locks – you name it – all increasingly connect to some management framework for all of those devices. Think “operating system for the smart home,” even though it’s a little more sophisticated than that.  Cont'd...

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Advanced UPB Lighting Packages from Simply Automated

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