HoloLens concept lets you control your smart home via augmented reality

By Luke Dormehl for DigitalTrends:  There’s no doubt that device-filled connected smart homes are on the way. The real question is how we’re going to control them.

That was the starting point of a nifty proof-of-concept project created by interaction designer Ian Sterling and software engineer Swaroop Pal during a recent HoloLens hackathon in San Francisco. Their augmented reality pitch shows how smart devices could be controlled with glances and gestures — in what Sterling calls a “virtual Zen mode,” complete with calming lights and sounds.  Full Article:

APIs: From Connected Home Into Programmable Platform

CXOtoday News Desk:  Consumers will increasingly use digital personal assistants to interact with consumer services in the connected home, says Gartner. Gartner predicts that, by 2019, in at least 25 percent of households in developed economies, the digital assistants on smartphones and other devices will serve as the primary interface to connected home services.

“In the not-too-distant future, users will no longer have to contend with multiple apps; instead, they will literally talk to digital personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant,” said Mark O’Neill, research director at Gartner. “Some of these personal assistants are cloud-based and already beginning to leverage smart machine technology.”

Digital personal assistants show the potential to satisfy wants and needs by delivering experiences that connect services, configure devices and even order and deliver products. Personalized, context-aware information can also be presented as it is wanted or needed — for example, suggestions for restaurants near planned meetings, or recommended temperature settings for the home to optimize energy consumption and comfort in line with the weather.  Cont'd...

Now You Can Hide Your Smart Home on the Darknet

Andy Greenberg for WIRED:  The Privacy Software Tor has aided everything from drug dealing marketplaces to whistleblowing websites in evading surveillance on the darknet. Now that same software can be applied to a far more personal form of security: keeping hackers out of your toaster.
On Wednesday, the privacy-focused non-profit Guardian Project, a partner of the Tor Project that maintains and develops the Tor anonymity network, announced a new technique it’s developed to apply Tor’s layers of encryption and network stealth to protecting so-called “Internet of things” or “smart home” devices. That growing class of gadgets, ranging from refrigerators to lightbulbs to security cameras, are connected to the Internet to make possible new forms of remote management and automation. They also, as the security research community has repeatedly demonstrated, enable a new breed of over-the-Internet attacks, such as the rash of hackers harassing infants via baby monitors or the potential for hackers tosteal your Gmail password from your fridge.  Cont'd...
 

iRobot CEO: Robotics Is An IoT Solution

Meghan Ottolini for CRN:  Could robotics provide solutions that would help the Internet of Things to go mainstream? iRobot CEO Colin Angle believers IoT-integrated robots can solve issues around IoT device mapping and maintenance.  “In order for the Internet of Things to work, we need maps,” Angle said. “We need to understand where all these devices are. We need to maintain them, and a robot can do that on its own every day.”

Angle used the example of the simple Roomba robot, which quickly learns where walls meet and furniture lies.  “While it’s doing that, why not build a map?” Angle proposed.

That way, as the Roomba cleans, it can also test whether connected lights are still operative. That type of robot can also be used to turn lights on and off depending on room usage to save energy.  Cont'd...

Are prices driving away potential smart home consumers?

DAVID CURRY for ReadWrite:  Almost every product in the house now has a smart alternative, Nest revolutionized the thermostat and smoke detector, August built a smartphone connected door lock, and Samsung launched a smart fridge.

Even with the abundance of smart alternatives, Lux Research says there is still disconnect between the consumer and manufacturer. Price is the most obvious issue, despite manufacturers lowering prices in the past year, they are still too high for consumers that aren’t fully invested in the usefulness of smart home devices.

Lux Research also argues that retrofitting may have helped major smart home firms like Nest and Samsung keep customers on board. Some, after purchasing first generation tech, decided not to purchase the second generation, either due to cost or lack of additional features.

“Current prices [for smart home appliances] are three times higher and will have to be lower for manufacturers to push smart appliances for mass adoption,” said Jessica Hernández, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report. “Also, businesses can benefit by focusing on retrofit technologies as a bridge for smart appliance adoption, drawing in products such as refrigerators and air conditioners that have a long life cycle.”  Cont'd...

With 7 mini houses, the first Sonos store lets you hear as you would at home

Keith Nelson Jr. for DigitalTrends:  Home is where the heart is and the heart of Sonos’ new 4,200-square-foot retail store is a recreation of the home experience. Located in New York City’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, multiroom audio pioneer’s first ever retail store was built following one core acoustic principle: 50/50. “We wanted a 50/50 environment. 50 percent diffusion and absorption, 50 percent reflective,” said  Whitney Walker, general manager of Sonos Stores, during a tour of the store, referring to the different manners in which sound interacts with the store’s surrounding environment.

The result is a retail store that never feels as if it is trying to sell you anything other than a good listening experience. The highlights of the store are the seven listening rooms, each designed to “recreate that experience of going to somebody’s home” and hearing new music, according to Siegel. Cont'd...

Control4: Apple Home App will help Home Automation Industry

Rob Stott for Dealerscope:  Not to say that the Home app is a killer to companies/platforms like Control4 and Crestron, but Apple is clearly encroaching on their space.

That said, the aforementioned companies don’t necessarily see this as a problem. Rather, as Paul Williams, Control4’s VP of Solutions, put it, it’s more of an opportunity.

“We would put this in the category of something that we think helps the smart home automation market,” Williams recently told Technology Integrator. “much like when, in the rise of the Internet of Things and IoT, what it’s really done has opened up consumers’ eyes to the possibilities. We’ve said, long before IoT came around, the biggest hurdle that we have in this space for us and other manufactures that specialize in home automation is customer awareness. Customers don’t even realize that this technology is available, that they can even do these kind of things, that there’s these sophisticated but simple-to-install and simple-to-use home automation systems that allow them to have great experiences in their homes.”  Full article:

Six Google Patents describe a new Home Automation System Covering Home Security

Patently Apple:  Late last month the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a series of six Google patents regarding a future home security system that will part of a larger home automation system that will be revealed over time. 
In today's brief non-Apple patent report we cover an overview of Google's six patents relating to a future home security system that will eventually be a part of a greater home automation system. Google's first security system patent filing is titled "Home Security System with Automatic Context-Sensitive Transition to Different Modes."  Full Article:
 

This Utah Company Has Emerged As The Biggest Smart Home Player

Aaron Tilley for Forbes:  On the first warm summer week of the year in Provo, Utah, the headquarters of Vivint Smart Home appears quiet. It’s not till you make your way to the second floor that you stumble upon a flurry of activity. That’s where row after row of cubicles house mostly young men in their 20s, many sporting beards and tattoos. Some stand or pace about the room with headsets on, their eyes focused on sales scripts. Others stare into the distance past suburban office parks and toward the scrubby foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. Mawkish soft rock plays in the background. Above the cubicles, a monitor flashes the names and numbers of top salespeople. This year’s prize for the number-one seller is a trip to Hawaii.

It’s a pretty low-tech operation, especially when you consider these reps are selling the future. Along with an army of 2,500 door-to-door salespeople across the United States and Canada (and a few in New Zealand), these 200 or so Utahans are aggressively pushing the Vivint smart home. They have already managed to persuade more than a million homeowners to pay between $40 and $80 a month to have their houses come to life with Internet-connected thermostats, lights, door locks, doorbells, garage door openers, cameras and sensors, whether they are made by Vivint or one of its partners.  Cont'd...

5 hot home theater trends

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY:  If you don’t know where to start, the following are five trends to consider before your summer Netflix binge session.  4K with HDR:  There’s two things you need to know about 4K TVs.

For one, they look spectacular, due to the fact these televisions deliver four times the resolution of 1080p HD TV – instead of 2 million little dots (“pixels”) that make up the image, we’re talking more than 8 million. There’s so much detail in the picture it’s almost like being there.

Secondly, thanks to falling prices and more 4K content than ever before, there’s never been a better time to invest in 4K TV (otherwise known as “UHD” or “Ultra High Definition”).  Cont'd...

Wink will add Uber, Fitbit, and IFTTT to its smart home controller

Business Insider:  Wink’s smart home controller, known as the Relay, received an update that integrates services from Uber and Fitbit, as well as the capability to communicate with other devices over the If This Then That (IFTTT) protocol, reports PC Mag.

The Relay is a touchscreen device installed on the wall that controls smart home devices connected by Wink. The update will allow users to see how many steps they have taken that day by tapping into their Fitbit data, and allow users to order Uber rides through their controller.

Integrating the IFTTT communication protocol will allow the Wink Relay to send one-time commands to other smart home devices that support the protocol. Users can create specific "recipes" with the protocol to automate specific tasks.  Cont'd...

Smart Home Products: Only 30% Of Consumers Even Know Where To Get Them

Chuck Martin for IOT Daily:  Some serious marketing dollars may have to be spent just to get consumers aware of smart home products and how to go about getting one.

Most consumers don’t know where to turn to buy smart home products or services, that is, if they even know about them.

The reality is that smart home devices are relatively new and not likely to be on the average person’s radar until they need or want a particular new or replacement device for their home.

And when someone decides they want a so-called smart home device, many don’t know where to turn at that point, based on a new study.

Fewer than a third (30%) of households are familiar with where to buy smart home products or services, according the study by Parks Associate

And of those, fewer than half (40%) prefer to buy the smart products at retail outlets, particularly home improvement stores.

But there still is a gap between stores selling smart products and consumers acquiring them.  Cont'd...

Is DIY smart home tech hobbled by poor app functionality?

Cate Lawrence for ReadWrite:  In Argus Insights’ newest “Smart Home 360” report, it’s clear there’s a strong distinction between consumer perception of the apps associated with the most popular Smart Home Service Providers and MSOs (Multiple System Operators) and the apps coming with Do It Yourself (DIY) devices.

Argus Insights found that — from over 56,000 app and device reviews — ADT andSuddenlink are the least liked of MSOs and service providers and their associated apps saw a drop in both the tone and volume of feedback over the last month, an indication that frustrated users could be moving to other providers.

This is consistent with previous research that demonstrates a high degree of satisfaction by customers in DIFM (“Do it for me”) installations.

However, Vivint’s Sky app, Cox Communications Homelife app, Xfinity Home app and Alarm.com app all trended up — an impact of both new releases and subscriber growth.  Cont'd...

How to Invest in Smart Home Technology

Greg Miller, Senior Analyst for Wall Street Daily:  Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve discussed the promises and perils of the Smart Home, as well as why this segment is on the cusp ofbreaking into the mainstream.  Naturally, it’s time to ask: “How can I profit from this?”

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.  Ideally, there would be one or two tickers predicted to soar from the rising Smart Home trend, but there isn’t such a company out there yet.  However, there are still ways to participate in the upcoming boom.  It will require some creativity and careful investing, specifically in companies with small current exposure to the area.  Here are some guidelines for investing in the Smart Home – and for avoiding expensive mistakes.  Cont'd...

Comcast and Alarm.com to acquire smart home company Icontrol

Harrison Weber for VentureBeat:  Comcast and security company Alarm.com have entered into agreements to acquire and divvy up Icontrol, an 11-year-old Internet of Things and home security company founded in Palo Alto and now based in Austin, Texas.

Comcast previously invested an undisclosed sum into Icontrol and relies on the company’s tech to power parts of its connected home and home security platform.

In this multi-part deal, Comcast says it’s buying Icontrol’s Converge platform and wholesale business, which “powers the Xfinity Home touch-screen panel and back-end servers, allowing them to communicate with and manage security sensors in the home, as well as supporting home-automation devices like cameras and thermostat.”  Cont'd...

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