Now Shipping: Luxul Epic 4 Routers

Luxul, a leading provider of networking solutions for professional installers, has announced today the availability of its new Epic 4 routers. The first in the Epic series, Epic 4 routers offer advanced capabilities above and beyond the traditional router. 
In addition to being high-performing commercial-grade routers, the Epic series offers a platform for optimizing the user experience in smart homes, workplaces, retail establishments and more. This experience is delivered through Luxul and third-party applications running on the Epic platform. The first of these offerings is enhanced content filtering from Router Limits, with remote management tools from Domotz to follow in Q2. Additional applications, including Ihiji's remote network management tools and Luxul's award-winning Roam-Assist™ wireless controller technology are on the way. Any of these advanced features can be implemented at the integrator's discretion, making Epic routers an outstanding platform for delivering world-class support and services to their customers, along with the perfect solution upon which to build recurring revenue.   Full Press Release:

Gilbert apartment complex joins 'smart home' movement, experts question if trend will take off

Farai Bennett, Cronkite News via AZCentral:  The apartments at Vistara at San Tan Village look like many other “luxury” units available in the Valley, with their granite countertops and walk-in closets.

But step inside one of the Gilbert complex’s apartments, and you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and play music with just the press of a button.

The 366-unit complex has partnered with Clare Controls to make the apartments “smart.”

The complex is marketing its apartments as the first in Arizona to offer this kind of technology. It’s part of the “smart home” trend the public may recognize through consumer products such as Amazon’s Echo and Wink Hub 2.  Cont'd...

TrackNet Launches Tabs™ IoT Home and Family Monitoring Solution for Busy Families

The Tabs hub provides Wi-Fi coverage over an entire residence and Tabs sensor coverage over entire neighborhoods with significant benefits not only to consumers but also to operators and service providers deploying Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). For operators and service providers, the Tabs hub installed within customers' homes accelerates and scales LPWAN deployments much faster than a solely tower-based approach, easily provides deep indoor coverage and significantly reduces the network deployment capital and operation expense. 
Each Tabs solution starts with a wireless hub, which provides the Tabs sensor coverage over an entire neighborhood or high-rise development, delivering immediate benefit to the consumer. Each solution further includes a Tabs extender, which is a Tabs sensor hub but not a full Wi-Fi router, to ensure coverage over the locations most frequented by families such as school, day-care, or a friend's house. 
As more users install Tabs hubs and extenders, they collaborate to build or improve network coverage over an entire city or region, giving the users additional benefit for locating children, pets, elderly or things.   Full Press Release:  

Smart Home Automation & Monitoring Devices to Exceed 770m by 2021, Realising 1000% Growth

A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that smart home automation and monitoring devices will grow to over 770 million globally by 2021, representing an eleven-fold rise from just 68 million estimated in 2016.

The new research, Smart Home Markets: Entertainment, Monitoring, Automation, Health, Metering, Appliances 2017-2021, found that increasing adoption of platform evangelism and openness to partnerships is boosting third party development of devices, especially in developed markets.

Indeed, North America, Far East & China and West Europe will account for almost 75% of all households adopting the technology in 2021.  Subscription Services Lose Traction,  Cont'd...

Voice calling could soon come to smart home speakers

Business Insider:  Smart home speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home have been thus far positioned as novelty personal assistants, but this could soon change. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Amazon and Google are looking to integrate a voice-calling feature to the speakers, adding valuable functionality for users and giving the tech giants more insight into users' home lives.

If the companies manage to launch the feature, it would impact not just the smart home experience, but the mobile one as well.  Cont'd...

Can A Smart Home Replace Security Guards and Video Camera Surveillance?

Craig Bretzlaff for IoT Evolution:  All homeowners are concerned about protecting their property against burglars and break-ins, especially those in the luxury market. Home automation is quickly becoming a reality, allowing individuals to control certain aspects of their home through the simple click of a button on an internet-connected device. Since security guards and video camera surveillance can significantly increase security overhead, smart homes can offer a way to lower those costs while still maintaining a keen eye on one’s property.

What is a smart home? A smart home is a home that is equipped with devices that can transmit data. These devices can control lights, electricity, and locking systems - which can be accessed remotely from an internet connected device, like a cellphone or tablet. The home automation market is predicted to grow, with experts putting its market value well over $10 billion by 2020 (Source). The ability for technology to integrate naturally within a home may seem strange now - like an amenity only applicable to multi-million dollar mansions -  but in a decade the IoT technology will likely become standard in many middle-class homes.  Cont'd...

Why Vivint Smart Home Is One Of The Most Innovative Companies Of 2017

Fast Company:  The company's device-subscription packages are opening the door to the connected home of the future.

"We’re taking what’s very complicated and simplifying it for the consumer," says Vivint Smart Home cofounder and CEO Todd Pedersen. The Provo, Utah–based company solves the most common problems with intelligent appliances—namely that they’re often difficult to set up and don’t play nice with any other internet-connected devices—by approaching smart-home technology as a subscription-based service.

A lot of companies develop a single product, Pedersen says, "but if you try to add additional services and products to your home, they’re completely uncoordinated." Instead, Vivint’s 1.2 million customers sign up for packages that include the installation of hardware (both its own and that of other companies, such as Nest); 24/7 tech support; repair services; and the seamless coordination of everything—from doorbell cameras to thermostats­­—via the Vivint app. Last year, this strategy increased annual revenue by roughly 15%, to more than $650 million.  Cont'd...

Year-Over-Year Home Automation Revenue Grew Over 50 Percent

According to global information provider, The NPD Group, annual 2016 U.S. dollar sales of home automation products experienced growth of 57 percent versus 2015. Security and monitoring products continued to lead the category, making-up over 60 percent of dollar share. Smart entry devices, such as smart doorbells, saw an increase in dollar and unit sales of 171 percent and 206 percent, respectively, when compared to the year prior, according to NPD's Retail Tracking Service. 
While awareness levels of many smart home devices have fluctuated, smart doorbells are an item within the smart entry space that saw growing awareness and ownership. Smart doorbell awareness increased four percentage points, and ownership increased two percentage points, according to the Connected Home Automation Report from NPD's Connected Intelligence. 
Networked video cameras continue to be the most common component of today's smart home, as nearly one-third of smart homes have this feature installed. In fact, over the last year consumer demand for multi-packs of IP cameras has increased 129 percent in U.S. dollar sales versus 2015*.   Full Press Release:

Inside Tim Cook's Apple HomeKit-equipped smart home

Neil Hughes for AppleInsider:  During his company's quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday, Cook revealed to analysts and the media that he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine.
"This level of home automation was unimaginable just a few years ago, and it's here today with iOS and HomeKit," he said.
While Cook didn't single out any accessories or products in detailing his routine, Apple's secure authentication for HomeKit gives the company strict control over approved accessories, providing consumers with a relatively small set of options. As of the end of 2016, there were about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.
As such, we can likely narrow down the HomeKit accessories Cook is using in his own home. Here are our recommendations on how you can get a HomeKit experience on par with the head of Apple.  Cont'd...

Control4 is First to add Cloud-Based Management for Connected Homes to High-Performance Routers

Control4 Corporation, a leading global provider of connected home solutions, announces the release and immediate worldwide availability of BakPak on Pakedge RK-1 Routers. A first for the industry, the integration of the latest release of BakPak management software with the router enables Control4 dealers to offer more homeowners the benefits of a monitored, intelligent home network. 
BakPak proactively manages both the IP network and smart home devices, delivering real-time visibility of network health, allowing diagnostics and troubleshooting before problems happen to mitigate downtime, service calls, and unhappy customers. Now integrated with the ubiquitous network device, the router, Control4 is arming its dealers with a more robust tool to help them manage their customers' systems remotely.   Full Press Release:
 

Apple strategy in 'smart home' race threatened by Amazon

Stephen Nellis for Reuters:   In less than a year, Amazon's combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant has come close to delivering on the elusive promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words.

Yet Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) surprise success sets up a long-term battle with Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) and Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O) for primacy in the connected household. And the contours of that competition are following a classic tech industry dynamic.

Amazon is pursuing an open-systems approach that allows quick development of many features, while Apple is taking a slower route, asserting more control over the technology in order to assure security and ease-of-use.

The strategic importance of the "connected home" niche looms large: Amazon wants a way to own its customer interactions -mainly shopping online - without an Apple phone or a Google Web browser as an intermediary.  Apple needs to keep the iPhone at the center of customers’ lives, and has built a whole home automation architecture, called Homekit, into its smartphone.  Cont'd...

51% Would Trade Smart Home Device Data For Cost Savings

Chase Martin for IoT Daily:  When it comes to smart home devices, consumers seem to be open to sharing control and data if it means saving money.

U.S. homeowners are interested in measuring and monitoring activities in the home, especially energy usage, and would share their data to receive a discount, according to new research from Parks Associates.

More than a third (36%) of households said the idea of a system that monitors or manages energy usage in their home is very appealing.

Slightly more (37%) said a security monitoring system is very appealing and almost as many (35%) said the same about a safety monitoring system, according to Parks Associates.  Cont'd...

5 Top Home Automation Investments

Danny Vena for Fox Business:  If you're considering an investment in the home automation segment, there are a mind-boggling number of choices. You can invest in individual component manufacturers, professional systems installation companies, or managed services. We will look at some of the best in each category.  Home automation falls into three very broad categories. Let's look at a few potential investments in each:

Professionally installed systems.
Managed service systems.
Do-it-yourself (DIY).

Home automation is reaching into every aspect of our lives.   Cont'd...

Powerful home automation app Stringify comes to Android and adds IFTTT integration

Rita El Khoury for AndroidPolice:  Ever since I got my Wink Hub 2, one of the services I kept seeing in conversations when trying to bridge together different smart appliances and services was Stringify. The app was limited to iOS though, so I never got to use it because I wasn't going to carry my iPad around all the time to toggle a light bulb. But at CES, Stringify made a few announcements that we just came across (excuse the delay, we had tons of emails and releases to sift through) and that are sure to please Android users.

Before going further, here's a quick rundown of what Stringify is for those of you who'd never heard of it. Think of it as a more powerful IFTTT. You're not limited to linking one trigger to one action, instead you can build flows that involve many services, conditional circumstances, and successive triggers and actions, like so: turn X on and Y off when I am home and only if it is night time. This kind of flow is impossible with IFTTT now. And for those of us who are Wink users, Stringify has a much better integration than IFTTT with Wink, letting you use your connected Wink things as triggers too, not just as actions, so you can have Stringify trigger a flow based on a door sensor being open in Wink, something that Wink's IFTTT collaboration doesn't do at all. However, the downfall of Stringify is that while it supports a lot of services and gadgets, it doesn't have as many partners as IFTTT.   Cont'd...

A smart home scoreboard for CES 2017

Rich Brown for CNet:  How about a good, old-fashioned technology arms race?

You could just buy a smart light bulb set, but for a lot of consumers (reportedly more than 5 million of you, as of November 2016), it's Amazon's voice-activated Alexa that will be the entry point for controlling devices around your home.

Along with Amazon, Apple continues to grow its Siri-powered HomeKit smart home system. Google has also entered the fray with its own blandly named smart home AI, Google Assistant, which featured prominently in Google's Echo-imitating Google Home speaker in November 2016.

That's a lot of industry power competing to put a virtual assistant in charge of your home, and that's why our scoreboard for tracking new smart home devices announced at CES 2017 is focusing on voice control.  Full Article:

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Security & Communication - Featured Product

REPLACEMENT INTERCOM SYSTEM WITH BUILT-IN MP3 DISTRIBUTION

REPLACEMENT INTERCOM SYSTEM WITH BUILT-IN MP3 DISTRIBUTION

RETRO-M is designed to replace existing Home Intercom Systems and operate on existing 3 and 4 wire systems. BLUETOOTH you music by adding the BT-RECEIVER. No need to remove existing master wall housing, trim plates available to cover those large holes. The RETRO-M intercom unit has a built-in AM/FM radio. Plug in mp3 players such as iPod, iPhone, Zune or any other hand held player into the master and share your music with the entire family. Choose between two music sources; listen to the radio in one room and the mp3 in another room.