Vivint Smart Home announces $100 million investment

Karissa Neely for Daily Herald: In its first round of venture capital funding, Vivint Smart Home, the Provo-based leading provider of smart home technology and services, announced a $100 million equity investment co-led by tech investor Peter Thiel and investment firm Solamere Capital.

The strategic investment will help fuel Vivint’s rapid growth and product innovation as it extends its preeminent position in the growing smart home market.

A venture capitalist and entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, Thiel is known for backing transformational technology companies, and was the first outside investor in Facebook and is one of the largest shareholders of Airbnb.

“For Peter and Solamere to place their confidence in Vivint as the smart home leader is a huge validation of what we have built and where we are headed,” said Todd Pedersen, founder and CEO of Vivint Smart Home, in a press release. “The fact that they are investing in our future demonstrates their passion for our business and their vision for this industry. We look forward to working together to redefine the home experience.”  Cont'd...

Logitech's Harmony app will let you control your smart home from your Android TV

Micah Singleton for The Verge:  Logitech wants you to be able to control your smart home from any device, including your TV. The company has released a version of its Harmony remote app for Android TVs. The app, which is in beta, is designed to work with Sony's Android TVs, but will also work with the Nexus Player.

If your smart home is controlled via a Logitech Harmony Hub, you can control just about everything including your lights, thermostat, blinds, and home entertainment system through a nice tile layout straight from your TV. You can download the Harmony for TV app from the Play Store today. And if you don't own a Sony TV and would still like to use the app, Android Police has an APK that can help with that.

Thington, A New Super-Angel-Backed IoT Startup

Mike Butcher for TechCrunch:  Now, a San Francisco-based company, founded by Dopplr founder Matt Biddulph and ex-Yahoo Brickhouse Head of Product Tom Coates is building out a new consumer-facing product that combines Smart Home technology with their expertise in location, social networks and the web of data.

They previously formed Product Club as a way to find a product to build, while doing some consulting along the way. Now they are launching their new startup: Thington.

To do it they have raised Angel funding from some pretty well known tech people and investors,  including Ray Ozzie, Stewart Butterfield, Eric Wahlforss, Joi Ito, Marko Ahtisaari, Saul Klein, Loic Le Meur, Matt Rolandson and Samantha Tripodi. Terms were undisclosed.

“We’re making a better user interface and service layer that is respectful to manufacturers and open and we’re trying to be a couple of generations beyond what other people are doing,” says Coates.  Cont'd...

IHS: Smart home market to present challenges for security companies moving forward

SOURCE: SECURITYINFOWATCH.COM:  Security companies have played a pivotal role in the proliferation of smart home technology from the very beginning, however, these same firms will find themselves challenged in the coming years as several industry developments stand poised to disrupt the market’s status quo, according to a new research note from IHS Technology.

“Moreover, security companies will be challenged in 2017, when UL-compliant Z-wave sensors hit the market. (UL has approved the latest Z-Wave protocol for UL 1023 compliance, which means Z-Wave detectors can soon be used for professional alarm installations.) This milestone is significant, because most existing intruder alarms use one-way radios operating at 300/400 megahertz (MHz),” wrote Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Technology, in the research note. “In order to remain competitive in 2016 and 2017, dealers and service providers need to consider flexible billing models as well as DIY installation with professional monitoring.”  Cont'd...

Smart-Home Suppliers Grow Selections & Connections

Joseph Palenchar for TWICE:  Smart-home suppliers are positioning themselves to get the most out of the market’s growth potential by expanding system capabilities, entering new niches and expanding their product selections.

Companies are also making their products more attractive to consumers by making them interoperable with other suppliers’ products.

The growth potential was underscored by a Parks Associates survey that found almost 20 percent of U.S. broadband households own at least one smart-home device, and a lot more consumers want them. About 49 percent of all broadband households plan to buy a smart-home product in the next 12 months, Parks found. Among consumers who own a security system, that percentage jumps to 65 percent.

“Security households, rather than being content with their current system, have a proclivity to add more smart features to their home,” said Parks president Stuart Sikes.

Here’s what suppliers are doing to leverage demand:  Full Article:

What happens in Zoe stays in Zoe - the privacy-oriented smart home hub

Christian de Looper for DigitalTrends:  The concept of the smart home is well and truly taking off, however there are a few things still holding it back. The smart home hub, for example, is still finding its place — we’ve seen the TV and other devices used used as a hub, but no market consensus has been reached. Not only that, but the more privacy-conscious among us are concerned about the fact that smarthome hubs are constantly beaming your own personal data to and from the cloud.

Zoe, from a company called Protonet, is aimed at changing that.

Zoe is designed to serve as the center for your smart home. The hub itself bears a simple design that can be customized to fit your décor. It is also aimed at being able to connect to every smart home product you might buy, supporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and even devices that connect through the cloud.  Cont'd...

Teaako raises $1.8M for smart-home light switches

Taylor Soper for GeekWire:  Seattle-based Deako has raised $1.8 million to help fuel growth of its smart-home light switch product.
The 15-person company raised the fresh cash from a mix of angel investors and micro-VCs, and has reeled in $3.3 million to date. It develops simple switches that let people control lights in their house by either touch or a smartphone app.

Deako’s customers are not home-buyers but rather home-builders and their electricians, who install the product in new homes.

“It’s difficult for people to swap out their existing bulbs,” Deako CEO and co-founder Derek Richardson told GeekWire. “We thought it would be best if a home or apartment already has our product when they move in. Our vision is that everyone should be able to benefit from a smart-home, and the best way to do that is for products to be pre-installed when you move in.”  

Richardson said the idea to launch Deako about one year ago came about after he bought a new house and needed to swap out the light switches. He did research around in-home smart lighting and “everything was ugly, expensive, and complicated.”  Cont'd...

Fallout From Nest's Revolv Debacle Could Hurt Smart Home Technology Adoption

William Craig for The Street:  Consumers who are considering whether to purchase smart home technology are likely to be turned off by recent controversy about the Revolv device, and companies involved in the so-calledInternet of Things need to consider how this event will affect adoption of their technology. 

In case you missed it, here's what happened. Revolv was a start-up that made an electronic hub that allowed users to control lights and appliances in their homes using a smartphone app. Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Nest bought Revolv in October 2014. Next month, it will shut down the cloud-based service necessary for the Revolv devices to function. People who plunked down the $300 to buy a Revolv will be left with a very expensive paperweight. It's one thing to end support and updates, but this is a complete shutdown of a product people paid for.

To add further insult to consumers, buyers of the Revolv smart home hub were offered a lifetime subscription when the product first came out. The Revolv device stopped being sold two years ago after Nest acquired Revolv. While it makes sense to cut off services to an obsolete product that isn't bringing in money, this is a troubling sign from the fledgling smart home industry.  Cont'd...

John Lewis launches smart home department

Ecommerce News:  The Internet of Things is wildly popular among consumers. UK department store chain John Lewis has now launched a new smart home department to showcase all kinds of gadgets that should make the consumer’s life at home more convenient.

John Lewis launched a 93 square meter department dedicated to gadgets, such as an oven that can be turned on from the office or a bedside device that measures the quality of sleep. According to the department store chain, it’s the largest fixed retail offering dedicated to smart home technology in the UK.  

John Lewis decided to open the new department after an 81 percent increase in sales of smart home products in the past year at the British store. Also, 18 times more people searched its website for smart home products in 2015, compared to the previous year.  Cont'd...

Amazon Lead The Home Automation Market By Selling 3 Million Echo Devices

By: John Dewey for TechNewsToday:  Amazon has been making huge strides ever since it launched the popular speaker, Echo. A market research firm, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), revealed yesterday that the e-commerce giant has sold almost 3 million Echo speakers since its launch, as reported by GeekWire.

The online retail giant launched Amazon Echo in 2014. The company initially launched the device on an invite-only basis but it was made available for the general public in June 2015. In addition, the sales of the device slowly increased as the word spread out among consumers about its abilities such as it can control the lights or thermostat of any connected house.

According to CIRP, the awareness about the device among customers has doubled in the last year. Moreover, the market research firm based its conclusions on the survey of 2000 consumers in the US who bought the Echo via the company’s website.  Cont'd...

Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

The Register:  Google Nest is set to brick $300 Revolv home automation hubs after buying out staff and abandoning the project.

The software giant acquired Revolv for its talent in October 2014 and next month will drop support for the smaller company's smart home device.

The decision means that as of May 15th the Revolv hub become paperweights.

A statement on Revolv's site informs customers that their devices are no longer covered by warranties.

Nest execs say in a statement only that Revolv was "a great first step" but that Works with Nest is a "better solution" demanding of its resources.

Chief executive Arlo Gilbert of Texas-based app developer Televero and Revolv customer says the home automation company's move is a "pretty blatant f**k you" to buyers.

"On 15 May, my house will stop working; my landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working," Gilbert says.  Cont'd...

9 Ways to Make Your Smart Home More Secure

STACEY HIGGINBOTHAM for PCMAG:  Security is set to become the hot button issue in the smart home this year, as more connected devices come online and more hackers attempt to infiltrate corporate and consumer networks through connected gadgets. The FBI even issued a warning about connected home products.

The concerns about security and the smart home are well-founded. Several devices from connected cameras to smart home hubs have been hacked. Even light bulbs aren't immune.

A survey issued by Intel on Thursday found that 77 percent of those asked believe smart homes will be as common in 2025 as smartphones are today, but 66 percent are also very concerned about smart home data being hacked by cybercriminals.

The looming threat of the hacked home is why the Atlantic Council worked with three security researchers to issue nine recommendations to make the smart home more secure. The report is a collaboration between the Atlantic Council think tank and I Am The Cavalry, a independent security research group. I Am The Cavalry has issued a framework for securing connected cars and connected medical devices.  Cont'd...

Yonomi CEO on why smart home hubs will be obsolete

Lily Prasuethsut for Wareable:  The Internet of Things is a burgeoning industry that seemed like it was going to take off several years ago, but the hubbub has since died. That doesn't mean the interest is gone though - rather no one really knows what to do with all their smart devices. 

Take for example, Apple HomeKit or Nest, or Samsung's SmartThings platforms. They're all ready and available - but not quite. Most products still require you to download third party apps just to connect to HomeKit in order to use Siri.

Essential reading: Follow Our quest to build the ultimate smart home

Physical hubs are available but that means you'll need yet another piece of hardware in your already crowded smart home. Essentially, there's no glue holding these products together - at least not one that's good enough to overcome the saturated market.

That's where Yonomi comes in. The app wants to quiet the smart home static by bringing in one simple system so all of your gadgets have their own place to call home. We spoke with Yonomi co-founder and CEO Kent Dickson to figure out why there's no solid platform, and learned how the company plans on changing the smart home space.  Cont'd...

5 open source home automation tools

Jason Baker for OpenSource.com - The Internet of Things isn't just a buzzword, it's a rapidly expanding reality.

With an ever-expanding number of devices available to help you automate, protect, and monitor your home, it has never before been easier nor more tempting to try your hand at home automation. Whether you're looking to control your HVAC system remotely, integrate a home theater, protect your home from theft, fire, or other threats, reduce your energy usage, or just control a few lights, there are countless devices available at your disposal.

But at the same time, many users worry about the security and privacy implications of bringing new devices into their homes. They want to control who has access to the vital systems which control their appliances and record every moment of their everyday lives. And understandably: In an era when even your refrigerator could now be a smart device, don't you want to know if you fridge is phoning home? Wouldn't you want some basic assurance that, even if you do give a device permission to communicate externally, that it is only accessible to those who are explicitly authorized?  Cont'd...

The Mess at Nest Echoes the Mess in the Smart Home

Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  In January 2014, Google (now under the parent umbrella corporation Alphabet) said it would purchase Nest for $3.2 billion, which validated the hopes and dreams of hundreds of startups that were also building connected products for the consumer home.

After the deal was announced, the VC world went mad searching for investments, while larger companies searched for potential acquisition targets. At industry events that year, everyone I ran into with a connected product or a KickStarter was in talks to sell out or score more funds.

But two years later, the reality has set in as entrepreneurs in the space are dealing with a skeptical customer base and the challenges of seeing their grand vision for a connected home get mired in rival standards. Meanwhile, economic concerns are leading tech companies to prepare for everything from a nuclear winter to a mild recession.  Cont'd...

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