First Apple HomeKit-Certified Smart Home Devices Launch

Aaron Tilley for Forbes:  Five startups are announcing the launch of the very first HomeKit-certified devices today. HomeKit is Apple’s standard for how third-party smart home gadgets connect in iOS.
 
These five HomeKit-compliant devices include:
  • Ecobee’s $250 WiFi-connected thermostat.
  • Elgato’s line of sensors that collect data on air quality, humidity, air pressure, temperature as well as energy and water consumption.
  • iHOME’s smart plug that allows users to turn on and off appliances wirelessly.
  • Lutron’s bridge device that connects the HomeKit standard with its connected lighting system.
  • Insteon’s bridge device that connects its massive catalogue of existing home automation devices with HomeKit.
Each of these device makers had to go through Apple’s MFi (“Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad”) program to achieve certification. Apple requires device makers to install an authentication chip in their product as well as go through extensive usability testing to make sure the products live up to Apple’s lofty standards.

IKEA's Building a Super Cheap and Versatile Smart Home System

Adam Clark Estes for Gizmodo:  Smart lighting systems like Philips Hue are futuristic and awesome and, typically, expensive. But IKEA wants to offer this type of technology to the masses. The Swedish flatpack furniture empire is developing an entire smart home system, and it looks futuristic and awesome and, you guessed it, cheap.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. IKEA’s been inching into the home electronics business very deliberately, and it’s only natural that it would want to upend the burgeoning smart home market. Creating with a connected lightbulb system makes good sense. We already saw IKEA’s affordable, motorized sit/stand desk last fall. Then, came IKEA’s versatile and customizable wireless charging system that hit stores this spring. But next fall, the so-called Home Smart II Lighting Collection will take things to a new level.
At least, IKEA says it’s going to do this. I recently visited IKEA’s headquarters in Älmhult, where the company was showing off all kinds of new goodies, from vegetarian meatballs to couches made out of paper. At an event that I can only describe as a science fair for furniture, I learned a little bit about how the new lighting system will work. Since I didn’t test the products themselves, I’ll offer you IKEA’s description of the system, which is being developed in collaboration with Frog Design.  Cont'd...

Google is trying to solve the smart home's biggest problem

By Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:  The promise of the smart home is a world of appliances that anticipate your needs and do exactly what you want them to at the touch of a button, but that vision devolves into chaos when none of those devices can actually talk to each other. That's more or less the state of the smart home today, but now Google is trying to offer a solution.
At its developers conference this afternoon, Google announced two pieces of software for the smart home and the broader collection of connected devices around us, increasingly known as the internet of things. Those two pieces are Brillo, an operating system, and Weave, a common language for devices to talk to one another. And importantly, Weave doesn't have to run on Brillo — so appliance manufacturers can theoretically add it on to their existing products.
With Weave, Google is creating a "common language" that devices can use to talk about things like locking a door, taking a photo, or measuring moisture. Google will keep adding more functions as it thinks of them, and developers will be able to submit their own functions, which Google will vet and potentially add in. Weave devices are even required to go through a certification program to ensure that they work properly.

Analyst: DIY systems a 'real threat' to traditional home security offerings

SOURCE: SECURITYINFOWATCH.COM:  Through managed smart home offerings from retailers such as Lowes and Staples as well as standalone devices such as video cameras from Dropcam, or smart locks from Kwikset, the research firm said consumers increasingly have the option to install and monitor their own security systems. Demand for such smart home systems are expected to outpace traditional professional monitored security subscriptions as consumers ditch the installation fees, monthly payments and long service contracts of the traditional offerings.
At the same time, professionally monitored security service providers such as Frontpoint Security and NextAlarm offer solutions where users self-install their devices, or can integrate existing dormant installations into new IP based services.
“Self-install and self-monitor home security solutions are real threats to the standard business models offered by traditional vendors,” said Dan Shey, practice Director at ABI Research. “While matching these solutions is one option, traditional vendors need to look for ways to better integrate their core services with partner smart home services. These can range from call-center monitoring as a plug-in service to bringing home video monitoring into the call center.”

Alarm.Com Files For IPO; Aims To Raise $75 Million

Alarm.com, a company providing security and home automation products, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) and is looking to raise up to $75 million through the offering, as per documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is trying to make headway in the market for smart homes before more established companies such as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hit the home automation market. The S-1 filing lists Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as key underwriters.
Alarm.com was founded in 2000, and for the last five years has been trying to penetrate the home automation sector, inking deals with other service providers to offer products to consumers to enable them to automate their homes. The automation entails controlling lights, appliances, door locks, and other things remotely.

A new "Home" app from Apple could make smart homes easier for users.

By Adriana Lee for ReadWrite:  Since Apple announced its HomeKit smart home initiative last year, it's been mostly quiet about just how iPhones and other Apple gadgets will wrangle those connected devices. Now, however, the company may have a fancy new app in the works—complete with virtual rooms, a clever and apparently easy-to-grasp metaphor for running a smart home.
 
Apple’s approach, according to a 9to5Mac report, will be to launch a new "Home" app for controlling smart-home gadgets—think smart locks, sensors, garage openers, thermostats, lights, security cameras and other connected appliances. The Home app will sort gadgets by function and location into a visual arrangements of virtual rooms
 
The goal is to simplify the otherwise bewildering task of finding, adding and controlling smart devices and appliances from Apple and other companies.

Hitachi Introduces High-Performance Wireless Whole-Home Audio Speakers

Hitachi America, Ltd. today announced the debut of three stylish new Wi-Fi enabled speakers powered by the AllPlay™ smart media platform, a wireless whole-home audio solution developed by Qualcomm®. AllPlay is a complete hardware and software whole home audio platform that offers manufacturers and consumers a unified solution for local media and cloud based Wi-Fi streaming across iOS and Android platforms.
 
Hitachi’s smart speakers offer seamless streaming of high-quality local and cloud-based audio content – with the high performance and versatility of Wi-Fi – at three affordable price points. Industry-leading audio streaming music services such as Spotify®, Rhapsody® and others have committed to supporting speaker products powered by AllPlay this year.

ADT Announces Bold Vision to Lead Next Generation of Security and Automation Market

The ADT Corporation unveiled a series of innovative partnerships and new product and platform enhancements aimed at delivering advanced solutions to its residential and business customer base.
 
Driven by President and Chief Executive Officer Naren Gursahaney’s mission to “put the customer at the center of everything we do” and “secure the connected world,” these announcements include: A new alliance with global consumer electronics leader LG Electronics to deliver a groundbreaking “All-In-One” smart security product, coupled with ADT security services; and a partnership with Nest to integrate its acclaimed Nest Learning Thermostat into ADT’s Pulse® ecosystem. Both are made possible through ADT’s ongoing investments in its technology and innovation platforms.
 
As broadband adoption continues to grow, there is a greater push for leveraging home automation within both the consumer and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) segments. ADT’s market leadership in home and business security makes it an attractive and highly sought-after partner for a broad range of leading technology companies. With innovative new user experiences driven by its platform, ADT can now address traditional monitored security, while also adding new smart security solutions for residential and business customers - empowering users to be in greater control of that which they value most.

CEDIA Launches Video Guide to Smart Home Wiring

CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) has produced a new video Guide to Smart Home Wiring which introduces consumers, builders and design professionals to the benefits that a properly designed and installed cabling infrastructure can provide in homes today. 

"We all dream of living in a comfortable, secure and energy efficient home," says Matt Nimmons, CEDIA EMEA's Operations Director. "The reality is that technology can now be seamlessly integrated and controlled to deliver these benefits to us all. By following the Best Practice advice within CEDIA's Smart Home Recommended Wiring Guidelines, this video shows how the right cabling infrastructure is an essential requirement for the internet-connected smart home." 

CEDIA's Guide to Smart Home Wiring looks at how technology is an integral part of a typical family's lifestyle in today's home. It then explains how the right wiring infrastructure can manage and distribute audio-visual, lighting, heating, security and other data hungry services effectively within a property whilst, at the same time, helping to minimise electronic box and cable clutter in the home. 

Samsung wants everyone to build smart home gadgets on its new platform

From Josh Lowensohn for The Verge: If you plan on building or buying a connected gadget in the immediate future, Samsung wants to be inside of it. Today the company announced Artik, a collection of small system-on-chips designed to power everything from wearable devices to home appliances.
The Artik line is made up three different sizes, what Samsung is calling the Artik 1, 5, and 10. The one is the tiniest of the bunch, measuring at 12mm by 12mm, and runs off a coin cell battery for what Samsung says is "several weeks." It has Bluetooth LE, an accelerometer, a 9-axis motion sensor, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, and a cost of less than $10. Samsung envisions companies using it for Bluetooth tags (like Tile), location beacons, and wearables. The larger Artik 5 (which is a little larger than a quarter) is like a small computer, and adds Wi-Fi, ZigBee wireless, and onboard 720p video decoding. Samsung says a good use case of the Artik 5 would be something like on-board chips for drones. Lastly, the Artik 10 — which is the most like a small computer and will run about $100 — adds more storage, 1080p video decoding, and a 1.3GHz Octa Core processor, all things Samsung says will be useful for media hubs, home servers, and personal cloud storage devices.

CSR and Avi-on Labs Add Simple, Seamless Whole-Home Control to GE Branded Lighting

 CSR plc announced that it has worked with Avi-on Labs to provide Bluetooth® Smart mesh connectivity in a new GE branded line of smart lighting from Jasco Products. These lighting and home control products, which are expected to appear in major retail stores this year, use CSR’s Bluetooth® Smart solution - CSRmesh™ - to allow an almost unlimited number of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices to be simply networked together and controlled directly from a “smart” switch or dimmer, a smartphone or a tablet.
 
“CSRmesh has the potential to disrupt the smart lighting market by eliminating the complex setup, pairing, and use of an access device, such as a router, needed with other connectivity solutions available today,” said Cameron Trice, CEO of Jasco Products. “By combining CSRmesh with Avi-on Labs’ software and support we are able to offer a lighting product line that offers an unrivalled user experience and secure connectivity to customers through our major retail partners. Working with CSR and Avi-on allowed us to get to market fast to meet growing consumer demand for these types of smart devices.”
 
The GE branded Jasco Products range will include “smart” switches, dimmers, an outdoor timer and a smart plug which will give consumers on/off control of virtually any standard home device or appliance.

FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge Participant Survives Avalanche

FIBARO, a leading European manufacturer of wireless, intelligent home automation systems, announced that the main participant in the FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge Powered by Z-Wave, Mariusz Malkowski, has been rescued from the mountain and is now home with his family in New Jersey, USA.
 
Malkowski Helped People Trapped Under The Snow
 
Malkowski was about two weeks into his ascent when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing avalanche hit. He miraculously survived the avalanche, uninjured, and was able to help people who were trapped under the snow and save lives. FIBARO arranged to have him airlifted off the mountain on Monday via helicopter. He was brought to New Delhi for a short stopover, after which he was able to catch a flight for the 15-hour trip back to the U.S.
 
“I feel so fortunate to have survived such a horrible tragedy,” Malkowski said. “Obviously, there were thousands of people that weren’t so lucky. The devastation there is overwhelming. Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal and their families.”

Comcast Home Automation System Opens Up

Joseph Palenchar for TWICE:  Comcast is opening up its monitored-security/home-automation system to operate with devices from a wide variety of home-automation brands. The company’s Xfinity Home system has been available with a variety of unbranded devices such as smart plugs, smoke detectors, security cameras, light switches, door/window detectors, motion detectors and a water-leak detector, a spokesperson said. An Xfinity thermostat and a smart door lock from Kwikset have also been available.

Consumers will be able to buy the products from Comcast or from CE retailers, a spokesperson said. Later this year, Comcast will release a software development kit (SDK) and a certification program so home-automation suppliers can offer products that work with Xfinity Home.

Marvell Unveils Industry-Leading ZigBee Wireless Microcontroller SoC to Advance Smart Home and IoT Innovations

Marvell announced its next-generation industry-leading 88MZ300 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless microcontroller system-on-chip (SoC), the newest member of Marvell's wireless microcontroller family of Internet of Things solutions. The high-performance, low-power, cost-effective SoC offers superior radio frequency (RF) performance that more than doubles the transmission range and reduces power consumption by 50 percent over Marvell's previous generation 88MZ100 SoC, while maintaining the least amount of external components due to the high integration in silicon. Together with its support for open standards, including the upcoming ZigBee 3.0 and Thread protocols, the 88MZ300 SoC, along with a ZigBee to Wi-Fi bridge reference design and an ecosystem of hardware manufacturers and system integration partners, it enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to rapidly bring new, innovative IoT applications to market. The 88MZ300 SoC is sampling now.

"Marvell continues to demonstrate innovation in home automation, connected lighting and IoT with its 88MZ300 ZigBee wireless microcontroller which leads 802.15.4 technology in both performance and cost," said Philip Poulidis, Vice President and General Manager, Mobile and Internet of Things Business Units at Marvell. "Along with Kinoma and Marvell's recently announced Smart Home Cloud Center™, the 88MZ300 delivers a total solution for home automation and IoT markets. We look forward to the range of exciting new product opportunities that will be possible with the deployment of the 88MZ300."

Sony announces 2015 home and portable audio ranges

Sony has announced an extensive line-up of new audio products for both in the home and on the go.
 
The home audio products — new sound bars, wireless speakers, and audio/video receivers  —  have prioritised high-resolution audio, multiroom connectivity and expanded music streaming capabilities. For example the range will offer Google Cast and Spotify Connect. The new Google Cast platform allows you to control music directly from music streaming apps like Deezer, Rdio, Pandora and Google Play Music. To cater to growing consumer demand for multiroom audio, a complete home sound system can be set up and controlled throughout multiple rooms with the Sony app SongPal.
 
“Imagine stepping into your home and being greeted by your favourite music being streamed seamlessly throughout every room. With a touch of a button, you can access a world of music options and control all the connected speakers within in your home,” said Abel Makhraz, head of video, sound & tablet, Sony Australia & New Zealand.
 
For inside or outside the home Sony has announced a range of portable wireless speakers. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours with Bluetooth and NFC to stream music from your smartphone or tablet.

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