Houzz: Consumers Embracing Smart Home Technology

MEGAN SALZANO for HomeWorld Business:  Houzz’s recent home trends survey identified a growing consumer awareness and integration of smart home technology when it comes to home renovations and remodeling.

The survey revealed that 45% of renovating homeowners are incorporating smart technology, systems or devices into their home that can be monitored or controlled via smartphone, tablet or computer. Houzz’s 2016 U.S. Smart Home Trends Survey of nearly 1,000 homeowners in the midst of, planning, or who have recently completed a home renovation project, was conducted in collaboration with CEDIA.

According to the survey, renovated homes are more than twice as likely to include a smart system or device than before the renovation, 51% versus 20%, respectively. In terms of connected product category, the survey showed 25% of homeowners are installing smart devices for security and safety, 18% for entertainment, 14% for climate control and 12% for lighting. It also showed that 30% of upgraded smart home systems or devices can be controlled via a central hub and 26% include voice-controlled features.  Cont'd...

Will Hackers Outsmart the Smart Home? Why Security Needs to Happen at the Design Level

ABI Research:  The advent of home automation and rapid rise of smart home connected devices is seeing some vendors and new startups scramble to become a part of the movement, with ABI Research forecasting 360 million smart home device shipments by 2020. But many companies are leaving major security flaws in the wake of their hurried attempts to penetrate the market, producing products riddled with bugs and unpatched vulnerabilities. Ignoring cybersecurity at the design level provides a wide open door for malicious threat actors to exploit smart home products.

“We see an alarming increase in ransomware in smart TVs and IP cameras, code injection attacks, evidence of zero-day threats, and password eavesdropping for smart locks and connected devices,” says Dimitrios Pavlakis, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “The current state of security in the smart home ecosystem is woefully inadequate. Smart home device vendors need to start implementing cybersecurity mechanisms at the design stage of their products.”

Numerous attack vectors have been identified in popular smart home communication protocols, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi. Many companies are creating and selling easy-to-tamper smart locking systems, easy-to-hack sensor systems, and products that host a plethora of software vulnerabilities.  Cont'd...

The Apple Home arrives next week but it won't change the smart home market as we know it

BI Intelligence:  At its September event, Apple announced a new iPhone 7, equipped with faster processing, a better camera, and added features.

Additionally, the tech giant announced that iOS 10, the next version of its iPhone operating system, will be available for download on September 13. This means Apple Home will become a native app available on compatible iPhones with iOS 10 onSeptember 13.

The Home app, which manages compatible devices, is the final and central part of the Apple smart home ecosystem. The app is built off the Apple HomeKit developer framework, which was released in 2014, and it aims to conquer technological fragmentation within the smart home ecosystem.

When testing the new system, BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, found that many of the devices were simple plug-and-play devices.  Cont'd...

Mark Zuckerberg made a smart home AI and it's almost finished

JACOB KLEINMAN for TechnoBuffalo:  Back in January, Mark Zuckerberg announced that his personal challenge for the year would be to develop an artificial intelligence capable of controlling his house similar to J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man. Now the Facebook CEO says he’s almost ready to show off the new AI.

“I hope to have a demo, hopefully next month,” he said during a Facebook Town Hall Q&A session broadcast live from Rome on Monday, August 29.

Zuckerberg’s AI is capable of controlling the house, including connected lights and thermostat. It was developed with help from Facebook engineers and uses voice recognition along with face recognition software. So it can do things like open the gate to his house without needing to receive a specific command first.  Cont'd...

Bosch shoulders into the smart home with three new products and IFTTT

Andrew Gebhart for CNet:  Back in 2014, Bosch introduced the Home Connect app with the intention of making it an all encompassing solution. At this year's IFA trade show in Berlin, the German company is bringing that dream closer to fruition.

Bosch showed off three new products and announced integration with online rules platform IFTTT at this morning's press conference. It shows the company's intention to make a concerted push into the smart home with its own products, while allowing the system to remain open to wider integration.  Cont'd...

Lowe's integrates Amazon Alexa into its smart home hub to control lights, temperature with voice commands

Nat Levy for GeekWire:  Lowe’s is the latest company to take advantage of Alexa, the digital brain that powers Amazon Echo.

The home improvement giant earlier this week began rolling out voice-integrated skills for Iris, its smart home system. The new skills allow users to control Iris devices throughout the house with the sound of their voice. That means users can now say things like, “Alexa, set the temperature to 72 degrees,” or “Alexa, turn on the ceiling fan.”

Lowe’s makes a host of smart products under its Iris division, and not all of them are Alexa-integrated yet. For now it’s mostly thermostats, fans and light switches.  Cont'd...

Coldwell Banker Introduces First-Ever Smart Home Staging Kit

Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC, the original Silicon Valley real estate start-up, today announced that it has signed a supplier agreement with Worthington Group, Ltd., to directly supply the industry's first Smart Home Staging Kit directly to sellers who list their homes with Coldwell Banker®. 
The Smart Home Staging Kit, available on Worthington Group's smart home staging website, allows participating sellers to enhance their homes and meet the guidelines of the newly released Smart Home Definition that was jointly developed by Coldwell Banker and CNET, the leading online technology reviewer. Coldwell Banker agents can then market qualified properties as a Smart Home bearing a Smart Home icon on the listing and inclusion on the brand's smart home resource site, coldwellbanker.com/smarthome.  Full Press Release:
 

Smart Home Startups Are on the Rebound, But Barely

Adam Rowe for Tech.co:  Funding for smart home startups is looking up. According to the latest data from CB Insights, funding amounts are on track to be 30 percent better than they were in 2015. That’s only the total amount of funding, though: The actual number of deals is still on pace to remain even. Both the amount and the number of deals are well below the smart home interest peak in 2014, however.

In short, smart home startups are showing signs of weathering the 2014 bubbleand continuing to march towards profits.  Cont'd...

Home Automation: A Growth Area For The Security Industry?

Ron Alalouff for SourceSecurity.com:  ring a replica smart home, showcasing a range of interconnected devices such as intruder alarms, CCTV, biometric readers, door entry solutions and locks, as well as wireless control of blinds, lighting and heating, and 4K video and audio distribution.

But despite the market entry of some big names such as Google’s Nest, Apple’s HomeKit, and telecommunications giants AT&T and Deutsche Telekom, are we really on the threshold of a home automation revolution?  Cont'd...

Who is best positioned to build a smart home assistant?

Jan Dawson for recode:  There has been a lot of talk recently about advancements in the smart home arena, especially about new ways to control smart home devices. I have heard Amazon’s Echo referred to as a smart home device, and just this week, web service IFTTT announced new partnerships that are intended to allow smart home devices to connect in an automated fashion to other devices and services.

However, what we’re still missing when it comes to the smart home is a true smart home assistant — a counterpart, if you will, to the smart assistants that come baked into every modern smartphone operating system. This post dives into what that means in practice, and who might be best positioned to deliver on this vision.  Cont'd...

IFTTT Looks To Cement Its Position In The Smart Home Market

Daniel Fuller for Android Headlines:  App enthusiasts and/or home automation fans are likely already quite familiar with IFTTT. One of the bigger forces in the Android tinkering world, IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and it’s actually a pretty accurate description of what the app does. Essentially, users can use triggers and recipes to make the app look for a condition to happen on a device or in an app. Once that happens, it will trigger a specified action, even if that action takes place elsewhere, so long as everything is rigged up right. IFTTT users can create a variety of mind-blowing functions, so it’s no surprise that the app found its way onto the Amazon Echo and that was apparently, only the beginning.

IFTTT has officially given the go-ahead for the guts of their app, the recipes and their capabilities, to find homes in new products. Naturally, the first wave of IFTTT recipients will be home automation products. Since IFTTT is already integrated with the Amazon Echo and programmable recipes can use an IoT hub as a conduit rather than transmitting from device to device, home automation is a natural fit for IFTTT. Using a web-based backend, IFTTT and the 40,000 some odd recipes that the firm has publicly released can now run on just about any device, and talk to just about any other device. The idea is that IFTTT will act as a backend for crosstalk between devices and services that would otherwise require a decent amount of time and money in engineering.  Cont'd...

Big-I is a smart home robot that will stalk your family

Brittany Vincent for enGadget:  Siri, Alexa and Cortana are helpful around the house, but can their respective tech follow you around the house like something out of a science fiction movie? Big-I, the personal robot, can do just that.

The robot resembles a cuddly trash can, standing at waist length with one large "eye" where the trash can's lid would be. It's actually sort of cute, when you think about it. Big-I can see, hear, move and respond to voice commands you program it with, including IFTTT-like instructions. The robot is seen in its promotional clip reminding a father to send jackets with children if the temperature is below a certain threshold. It's told to play music when the father raises his hand a specific way.

The robot's open API and unique operating system mean there's room for customization as well, in addition to integration with your smart home appliances like lights and thermostat systems. It can also be educated, meaning you could potentially train your own little personal housekeeper. Just make sure Roomba doesn't see it and get jealous.  Cont'd...

Windows 10 moves closer to smart-home centerpiece with big Internet of Things deal

Agam Shah for IDG News Service via PCWorld:  Lazy people will love Windows 10 and its ability to automate home tasks, and the operating system's smart-home credentials are getting a serious boost with a recent internet of things pact.

Microsoft wants to put Windows 10 at the center of smart homes. The company wants users to be able to tell the operating system's Cortana voice assistant to switch on a light, open a door, release food for a cat, and even check the contents of a refrigerator.

For Windows 10 to be successful, the OS will have to work with a wide range of smart home and IoT devices, and that goal has taken a big step forward thanks to a recent agreement between standards bodies the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and the Thread Group. The two organizations will work together on improving interoperability between smart home and IoT devices.

This means devices running Windows 10 will be able to connect with most smart home products and program home automation tasks based on events or times of the day.  Cont'd...

Staples abandons its smart home hopes

David Priest for CNet:  Staples has officially announced that it's handing over sales and support for its home automation system Connect to Z-Wave Products. Though the exact terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Z-Wave has purchased Staples' inventory and licensed the Staples Connect brand to use moving forward. According to representatives at Zonoff, the company that has supported Connect's software and will continue to do so with Z-Wave, users should experience no practical change to their Connect automation systems.

This transition isn't a surprise to many industry watchers. Staples stopped selling the Connect hub months ago, and rumors began to swirl that the office supply retailer might be planning to unplug its internet of things ecosystem altogether. In April, the company said it would be releasing a statement about Connect's future sometime in the coming weeks. As many users waited anxiously, Staples finally opted to keep Connect alive, handing it off to a third-party caretaker.  Cont'd...

Rentals and Smart Home Survey Finds Competitive Edge

Andrew Burger for TeleCompetitor:  Travelers are more willing to make a reservation for short-term rental housing if the housing has smart home features, according to a rentals and smart home survey conducted by Edelman Intelligence for  smart home products provider August Home, Inc.

Eighty percent of vacation guests and 92% of business travelers said they would be more likely to complete a reservation for short-term accommodation rentals that were equipped with smart home technology, such as smart door locks, lighting, smart TVs, entertainment systems and doorbell cameras.  Cont'd...

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