'We must fight Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung or they will dominate the smart home sector'

By Dominic Sacco for PCR:  The UK and Europe must come together to fight against the might of Amazon and other tech giants, or the smart home sector will be lost to them, says Deutsche Telekom.

Jon Carter, the firm's UK head of business development for the connected home, was speaking to PCR at the Smart Home Summit today in London.

"The danger of this event is that it's a wake," he said. "Everyone here is focused too much on competing with each other - and aren't focusing on the customer.

"We need to start with the customer. Why do they want any of this?  "If we're not careful, Amazon, Google/Nest, Apple Homekit and Samsung will have 90 per cent of the smart home market in the future.

"They will own this market, the customer and the value. What we're trying to do at Deutsche Telekom is saying Europe can fight back and drive growth from this market. But the approach has to be about all of us working together."  Cont'd...

Nest Gets Into the Smart-Lock Game by Going Old School

CADE METZ for Wired:  Today, Yale, the company, unveiled a digital lock that taps into the “smart home” system designed by Nest. The Google-owned Nest makes Internet-connected thermostats, security cameras, and smoke detectors that also handle carbon monoxide, but that’s not all. It also offers a variety of tools that let other companies connect their own devices with the various Nest gadgets. The idea is that you can control all these devices with a single smartphone app—and that each device can talk to the others. You can, say, set your security camera to start recording when someone opens your door lock—or program your door lock to say something when you step into a house full of carbon monoxide.
But the new Yale lock, dubbed Linus, is a little different from other devices. It’s the first third-party device designed to communicate with Nest gadgets directly, via a wireless network set up inside your home. Previously, such devices could only reach Nest gear in a roundabout way, over the Internet. And this has its drawbacks.  Cont'd...

Consumer Satisfaction in Smart Home Automation Market Rising Slowly though Overall Demand Continues to Drop

Smart Home devices and technology are supposed to make life easier for consumers, but a new report from Argus Insights shows that satisfaction is only slowly rising while overall demand continues the decline as revealed in the Connected Home Demand Report from June. Connectivity has been accomplished, but future success of the market will depend on how smart the products can really be. According to the new data, distrust from consumers about the reliability of connected devices is obstructing growth in consumer adoption and that, along with a steady drop in demand, may lead to a challenging holiday sales season for home automation companies. Argus Insights Smart Home Delight report is available here: http://www.argusinsights.com/smart-home-delight-2015/

Argus Insights proprietary analysis of 45,000 consumer reviews sourced from around the world from March through August 2015 shows that there is a slow improvement in satisfaction among home automation customers with smart light bulbs and security kits and hubs leading in ‘consumer delight' with the greatest disappointment in the category of security cameras. The report takes a deeper look at consumer response to security systems, in particular Canary and SimpliSafe, and security cameras and the Nest Cam market acceptance.

"These devices are still designed more for the Internet of Things than the Internet of Humans. Mainstream consumers were burned last holiday season by installation and reliability issues and though the remaining consumers in the market overall like these products more, the issues that forced out mainstream adopters after Holiday 2014 remain," said John Feland, CEO, Argus Insights. "Our analysis suggests that 2015 may be less than robust for smart home devices."  Cont'd...

CliniCloud Raises $5M For Its Connected Home Medical Kit

Fitz Tepper for TechCrunch:  CliniCloud, a company that is building a connected home medical kit, has just announced a $5M seed funding round and a new retail partnership with Best Buy. The round was led byTencent and Ping An Ventures.

Founded by Dr. Hon Weng Chong and Dr. Andrew Lin, Clinicloud is a device that digitally records respiratory and cardiovascular sounds.

The devices records these biometrics by utilizing a stethoscope and non-contact infrared thermometer, both of which connect to your phone. Measurements recorded with these devices are then displayed inside the CliniCloud app, where the data can either be analyzed or sent directly to a doctor.

The company also has a partnership with Doctor on Demand, which will let users video chat a doctor and allow them to use CliniCloud to access heart and lung sounds in real time, as if you were at the office in person.

Additionally, CliniCloud is working on implementing machine learning to eventually automatically diagnose illnesses using the device. The company explained that respiratory and cardiovascular sounds alone can help identify a large number common conditions, including Asthma, Pneumonia, and Congestive Heart Failure.

The device will be available online in October, and in over 500 Best Buy stores starting in November.  Cont'd...

This startup's connected outlets can make your smart home even smarter

By Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  I’m testing a $160 package of three outlets from a startup called Zuli. The outlets allow me to plug in any device and turn it on and off remotely, set schedules, gather energy consumption, and, if the device is a lamp, I can dim it. But the real magic comes into play when you have three of these outlets plugged into your home, because then they can track where you are and offer presence awareness.
Presence is big. To get to a truly smart home, devices need more context, and knowing where people are in the home is a crucial piece of context. For example, one of the most popular Internet connected devices in the home is probably the Nest thermostat. It can sense when you are home or away based on a proximity sensor in the thermostat. But because thermostats are usually located in out-of-the-way locations, a lot of people find themselves working away in an isolated corner of the house only to realize their thermostat has switched to away mode because they haven’t walked in front of the thermostat in a while.  Cont'd...

Quirky Files For Bankruptcy, Selling Off Smart Home Platform Wink To Highest Bidder

Abigail Tracy for Forbes:  Launched in 2009, the New York-based Quirky quickly grabbed the attention of investors with its unique business model of connecting inventors with manufacturers to bring products to market. Based on votes sourced from its online community, Quirky would pick pitched products on a weekly basis to manufacture and distribute. In eight rounds, the startup managed to raise an impressive $185 million in funding before it encountered a series of setbacks and flops—the most notable of which was a failed update to Quirky’s smart home system, Wink. Quirky’s problems came to a head when its founder Ben Kaufman stepped down as CEO at the end of July after six years at the helm.

According to the company’s bankruptcy announcement, Quirky has entered into an agreement with Flextronics International USA Inc., to sell off its Wink smart home brand at a purchase price of $15 million—unless it is presented with a higher offer. The bankruptcy filing will not affect the day-to-day operations of the Wink brand.   Cont'd...


By Chris Leo Palermino for Digital Trends:   While we reported about the Chromecast 2 earlier today, it sounds like that’s not the only Chromecast that Google will be debuting on Sept. 29. The tech giant is also working on Chromecast Audio, a separate device focused on “Wi-Fi-enabling the speakers in your home,” according to 9to5Google. Allegedly called “Hendrix” internally, the music-focused Chromecast will attach to speakers via a standard 3.5mm headphone cable.

The new device will allow users to listen to music and other audio like podcasts (and maybe even online radio?) via wi-fi from Android devices or the Chrome browser. Chromecast currently supports Google Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and — as of recently — Spotify. It will have ‘multi-room support,’ which means that it may have the ability to play the same audio through multiple speakers.  Cont'd...

Scientists develop brainwave-scanning smart home system that's controlled with thoughts

By Kelly Hodgkins for DigitalTrends:  Eda Akman Aydin at Gazi University in Turkey wants to make it easier for people with movement disabilities to get around their home and has a novel idea. Her team is combining EEG (brainwave scanning) technology with current smart home products to create a thought-controlled home, reports New Scientist. It sounds like a script from a science fiction movie, but the technology to build a prototype thought control system is here, and researchers like Akman Aydin are working to develop it.

Akman Aydin’s system uses an EEG cap that can detect a specific brain pattern, known as P300, that appears when a person intends to do something. The cap works in conjunction with a display that shows pictures of items, such as a TV or phone, which a person might want to use. When the person sees the image they want, the brain will send out a P300 wave that is detected by the EEG cap. This signal then can trigger the smart home appliance and be used to turn on the TV, prepare the phone to dial, and more.  Cont'd...

Apple Reveals Future 'Home Automation Hub' for Apple TV in 'Siri Remote' Trademark Filing

When launching the reinvented Apple TV device last week Apple noted that the all-new Apple TV was built from the ground up with a new generation of high-performance hardware and introduced an intuitive and fun user interface using the 'Siri Remote™.' Well, the trademark symbol presented beside 'Remote™' may be a little premature as Apple just filed for this trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Although the filing was made public today, the actual date is noted as being September 9, 2015, the day that the Siri Remote was officially launched during Apple's Hey Siri San Francisco event. One more thing: Apple hints in their trademark filing that Apple TV will become the hub for home automation as we predicted back in 2014.
Apple's idea of a home automation system may have humbly started with an Apple patent application filed back in January 2010 regarding a smart-home energy management dashboard system. Then came word that Apple was about to introduce a new smart home platform during their 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). That became reality with the introduction of Apple's new HomeKit that revealed "Siri Integration" as noted as the last point of the slide presented below from WWDC 2014.
In a Patently Apple special report covering Apple's WWDC event specifically on HomeKit, the following was stated: …it's very possible that Apple could be thinking of integrating their new Home App right into Apple TV and finally bringing to market a true in-home digital hub that we've been waiting for. Is it a pipedream? Only time will tell.  Cont'd...

70% of Smart Home developers are hobbyists

By Stijn Schuermans for Vision Mobile:  While today’s Smart Home developers are plentiful, the vast majority of them are not pushing to develop the market.

Out of all Smart Home developers, 70% are involved in the Internet of Things as a hobby or a side project. Only 30% are doing IoT in a professional capacity. When we look at the goals and motivations of Smart Home developers, this picture becomes even clearer. More than a third of Smart Home developers (36%) are Hobbyists, primarily interested in building solutions for themselves. Another third (32%) are Explorers who are learning the ins and outs of IoT.

For Hobbyists in particular, Smart Home is an attractive choice: 57% of Hobbyists choose Smart Home, versus only 37% of non-Hobbyist IoT developers, a 20 percentage point (pp) difference. On the other hand, professional Guns for Hire working on commission (-10 pp), Gold Seekers hoping to strike VC money (-11 pp), Optimizers aiming for efficiency gains (-18pp) and Data Brokers selling repackaged data (-18 pp) seem to shun the Smart Home.

In short, 7 in 10 developers, significantly more than in other IoT verticals, are building solutions for their own benefit first, not yours or mine.  Cont'd...

Branto makes it possible to monitor and control your home in real-time by connecting with your smartphone and Google Glass

ANNA JOHANSSON for PSFK:  Branto is an orb that controls multiple aspects of your home through smart technology. Tired of seeing so many smart hubs that were unattractive and only worked if you bought all new gadgets and appliances, the Branto team set out to solve this problem. They created a sphere-shaped device with the power to monitor your home through a 360-degree camera and speaker.

It connects to your devices to provide full-time telepresence, video conferencing, security, infrared control, audio streaming, and smart appliance control through your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee connection.

However, you don't always need Wi-Fi in order to enjoy the perks of your smart orb. It works even if your Wi-Fi goes down, thanks to its ability to connect to your cellular data, meaning that your home will never be without security just because someone unplugged the Wi-Fi.

It can also connect to third-party devices, such as Nest thermostats, Phillips LED televisions, and your lighting systems.

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this technology is its ability to connect to Google Glass. This goes beyond the ability to control your home from your smartphone, opening the door to a future age that the world might not be quite ready for.  Cont'd...

Wireless Multiroom Audio: Room For More?

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Sales growth is slowing in wireless multiroom audio even as more companies enter a market whose top brand – Sonos — enjoys almost a 90 percent dollar share of the market at the retail level.

So you’d think the market would be in the midst of a shakeout, shrinking margins, and a downward spiral in average selling prices. But you’d be wrong, at least for now.

Some audio suppliers see ASPs and retail-level margins holding steady or rising as high-performance audio brands begin to play in a market established by Sonos 10 years ago. And they aren’t too worried yet about slowing growth because the household penetration rate is still very low. Only 2 percent, or 3 million, of the country’s 116 million households have wireless multiroom-audio speakers, according to estimates from Yamaha, which entered the market in August.  Cont'd...

Connected home centre stage at IFA

Ciara O'Brien for The Irish Times:  The connected home may be nothing new, but at this year’s IFA consumer electronics exhibition, it seemed as if every manufacturer was keen to push its smart home credentials.

From Samsung and Intel to Panasonic and Sony, the big electronics companies joined smaller startups in jumping firmly on board the smart home band wagon.

Smart locks that keep out intruders but can be opened with your smartphone, smart cameras that watch your every move, and smart appliances that can be activated via your home network could all be part of your future home. Smart kettles and coffee makers that can be programmed through your phone, ovens where you can monitor the contents on a livestream and fridges that you can peek inside with cameras when you’re out of the house were just some of the inventions that are hoping to make our lives easier on display at IFA in Berlin.

Samsung announced that it would be getting into the connected home, with a starter kit dubbed Smart Things. The line includes a central hub that connects everything from electrical sockets and sensors, and links in with your home router to put your home online.  Cont'd...

Top 18 Home Automation Companies Who Will Run Your Home

Murray Newlands for Huffington Post:  The home automation space is poised to continue growing in 2015 and beyond. There are more companies and investors behind these companies that want entry into your home to make it smarter, more energy-efficient, safer, comfortable, and cost-effective. Here are the top 18 in-home automations across all segments, including hubs, security devices, energy-saving devices and monitors, appliance controls, and systems, which you should consider for your home:

Apple and HomeKit: From your phone and tablets to your television and computer, to your entire home, Apple plans to control just about everything in your life. Its HomeKit home automation system is a hub that will give connectivity to all automation in your home, including numerous home automation products from other companies. You can use Siri to give it voice commands, and it will include its AppleTV in the hub along with virtual rooms.
Google and Nest: Google's acquisition of Nest and Dropcam provides it with a full feature hub and additional security and energy-efficiency features in addition to the overall smart home command center. Google also plans to add voice command to its overall solutions. The Nest thermostat has already been named as the best thermostat solution on many home automation technology lists.
Samsung and SmartThings: Named as the best smart home hub by CNet, Samsung's SmartThings provides a whole home solution that also is intended to eventually connect to all of Samsung's home appliances as well as tablets and smartphones. It is admired for its low-entry price point and user-friendly implementation and overall use.  Cont'd...

LG Smart Sensor Can Turn Your Low-Tech Appliances To Smart Home Appliances

By Alexandra Burlacu, Tech Times:  The Smart ThinQ Sensor is designed to work with traditional, low-tech home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and others, turning them into smart appliances or, as LG puts it, making them "smart-aware."

Once attached to home appliances, this circular Smart ThinQ Sensor gets feedback such as temperature or vibration and transmits its readings to the Smart ThinQ app on the user's smartphone.

LG offers examples to illustrate how this will work out when paired with existing home appliances. Attached to a traditional washing machine, for instance, the Smart ThinQ device can sense when the machine completes a laundry cycle, sending a notification to the user's smartphone. Attached to a refrigerator, it can send the user a notification when a food item is approaching its expiration date. Connected to an air conditioner or some other such appliance, the Smart ThinQ allows users to remotely control the appliances via the smartphone app.  Cont'd...

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