Mobile World Congress 2016 is underway!

Despite a slow start due to the transportation strike, MWC is quite abuzz. We’ve already seen exciting product announcements, the opening keynote, and some great demonstrations in every hall. Mobile World Congress, or MWC, is an annual gathering for the mobile industry and related industries, organised by the GSMA, and held in Barcelona, Spain, the Mobile World Capital.

MWC offers a world-class exhibition, award-winning conference programme, and outstanding networking opportunities. With 94,000+ attendees, MWC offers the  opportunity to do more business in four days than in a month’s worth of meetings or in a year’s worth of travel, because everyone who is part of the industry is in Barcelona for MWC.

In short: if you’re in mobile, or an industry that supports mobile, or are looking to make contacts in the mobile industry, you simply have to attend MWC in 2016.  Check out the MWC Blog for updates.

Sigma Designs Announces Break-Through Z-Wave® UL Component Recognition

Sigma Designs, Inc.®, a leading provider of intelligent system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for Smart TV and Internet of Things (IoT) for Smart Home, today announced their Z-Wave modules models ZM5101, ZM5202, and ZM5304 with protocol SDK version 6.60 have been evaluated to UL's standards for home security, enabling new applications for professional security sensors and other devices in the multi-billion dollar home security business in the US. 

Professional security sensors such as door and window and motion sensors make up the majority of security devices in the home, which are estimated to represent installation of about 20 million units per year. These devices typically utilize non-standard one-way radios operating at 300/400 MHz frequencies. Since these devices use one-way communication, their effective security and reliability can be compromised. The number one problem faced by security companies is false alarms, which represent more than 50% of the service calls they receive, creating a substantial cost impact. One-way sensors simply cannot evaluate a false alarm. Since Z-Wave is a true two-way network technology, it can identify the actual sensors and be requested to re-check conditions multiple times to reduce these false alarms. Migrating to state-of-the-art two-way sensors will improve the overall security and reliability of security systems and will also represent a substantial competitive advantage for Z-Wave.  Full Press Release:

Bluetooth Gateway Smart Starter Kit navigates home automation

Alun Williams for  Low-power Bluetooth comms are a well-established known entity, but with the increasingly prevalence of all things IoT, are you aware of how to interface them to the Internet, Web and Clouds? It can be done in various ways and the Bluetooth SIG is aiming to simplify or clarify the path with itsGateway Smart Starter Kit.

This is the boast:  This kit shows you how to move data from all of your Bluetooth sensors into the cloud without a mobile device while giving you the ability to control all of them from one place.

The guide shows how to connect Bluetooth devices or sensors to the web using Bluetooth GAP/GATT RESTful APIs, using a Bluetooth gateway on a Raspberry Pi board. Further, it shows how to communicate and control these devices from the Web.  Cont'd...

Smart Love: The Future Smart Home Promises to Help Us Unplug

Julia Allison for Huffington Post:  Could a smart thermostat reduce the divorce rate? Could a connected fridge be the key to unlocking relationship woes? According to the findings of a new survey commissioned by Intel, a quarter of Americans believe it can. The report goes on to hint that in the future, the all encompassing phrase "IoT" won't just stand for the Internet-of-Things, it will herald in a new terminology, built around the idea of the "Intimacy-of-Things." In other words, things (and their endless maintenance) would no longer block, but actually aid our intimacy.

For anyone who shares domestic duties with a partner (and that's most of us), we quickly realize that the constant maintenance required due to the wear and tear of the things we own often leads to wear and tear on our romance. Very few people find it sexy to argue over household chores. The American dream of owning a home comes with a little nightmare, the often-overwhelming amount of time, energy and cash it takes to maintain that home. Light bulbs burn out, furnaces strain and dishwashers leak. Home sweet home doesn't always ring true when our homes seem to be where our to-do lists go to multiply.  Cont'd...

U.S. Intelligence Head Suggests Agents Might Use Smart Home Tech for Spying

Patrick Sisson for Curbed:  The Internet of Things and smart home technology promise a more wired, intelligent, and—as product designers suggest—responsive environment. But, according to a Guardian story, those internet-connected appliances may also provide information to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In testimony to the Senate yesterday on threats facing the nation, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers that agents might take advantage of this new generation of home technology.

"In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials," he was quoted as saying.

Many security experts have warned about the potential security implications of the Internet of Things and smart home devices, but Clapper's statement was one of the most direct by the leader of an intelligence agency.  Cont'd...

1.4 Million App Developers Are Building For The Smart Home

David Bolton for ConnectedWorld:  App developers who are already invested in the Internet of Things are more likely to build apps for the smart home over other usages.

A recent report by VisionMobile [PDF] said that out of the 4.5 million people identified as IoT developers in 2015, 1.4 million were focused on smart home apps. According to VisionMobile’s IoT Megatrends 2016 report, there are seven distinct IoT areas that app developers work in—smart home, retail, industrial, wearables, smart city, medical and connected car—with the opportunities offered by connected homes a clear favorite.

Retail IoT apps, wearables and industrial versions attract around one million app developers each, while the connected car is of interest to 700,000 people. People have become used to the concept of IoT and recent research by Gartner said that there could be as many as 700 million smart homes by 2020. Cont'd...

Best home theater in a box: Take the guesswork out of pairing a surround-sound system with your TV

Theo Nicolakis for TechHive:  An HTIB contains everything you need for the audio element of a true home theater system. They typically include five speakers (right, left, and center speakers for the front of the room, left and right surround channels for the rear sides of the room, and a subwoofer for deep bass and low-frequency effects), precut cables, and an A/V receiver that ties the entire system together, much like the conductor in a symphony.

We evaluated three HTIB systems, on its own merits. The one that’s exactly right for you will require you to balance your wants, needs, and must-haves. Since our primary consideration was performance in a home-theater setting, Onkyo’s $899 HT-S7700 is our top pick, because it’s the only one of the three systems to support the immersive audio technology Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos supports height as well as surround channels. Onkyo also did the best job of balancing features and performance, and it was the easiest system to set up.  Full Review:

What it's like to spend a year with an app-powered security camera

Alex Heath for TechInsider:  For about a year I've been using Canary's all-in-one home security system to monitor my apartment. I live in New York City, and it's already saved me from a possible rat infestation.

Canary bills itself as an all-in-one home security system for $200 and no required monthly fees. The New York startup's sleek, cylindrical piece of hardware features a 1080p video camera with infrared night vision and a motion detector. It also has a (quite loud) siren and the ability to detect the room temperature and air humidity.

Where Canary really shines is its mobile app, which lets you look through the device's camera from anywhere via your home internet connection. You can't pan or zoom as you watch, but the camera's wide-angle lens should capture most of any room you place it in.  Cont'd...

Control4 Acquires Pakedge Device & Software

Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ:CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announced the acquisition of Pakedge Device & Software, Inc., a leader in advanced networking products and cloud network-management services for both wireless and wired networking solutions for the connected home and business.
"The connected consumer, connected home, and connected business opportunity is expanding along with the complexities of supporting thousands of different devices and services in homes and business around the world," said Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. "By embracing networking as an expanded core-competency, integrating it tightly with our entertainment and automation capabilities, and delivering a single cloud-based reporting and management solution, Control4 will be able to harness the expanding opportunity, bring more simplicity to the complicated, and increase satisfaction for our end customers."   Full Press Release... 

Amazon Is Winning the Smart Home Race -- and Nobody Is Noticing

From MotleyFool:  Amazon first targeted the smart space with the Echo -- a multifunction home speaker that, while initially suffering criticism around its practicality (not unlike the Fire Phone), acts more like a capable virtual assistant with each software release. Alexa, the artificial intelligence built by Amazon to power Echo, can stream music from various services, update your calendar, or pull sports scores and restaurant recommendations for you.

But the Echo's fastest-growing use case is as a voice-activated hub to control your smart home. What makes it stand out from the competition is Alexa's powerful voice recognition capabilities -- something Amazon has worked very hard to make best in class, and for good reason.

Voice has already become the simplest method for running common smartphone tasks -- setting quick reminders or asking for directions without unlocking and navigating the device. It's the most natural and reflexive human medium for communication; untethered and hands free, voice doesn't require you to set down your bags, wash your hands, or jumble through your pockets to use your phone.  Cont'd...

AUDIOFluance Announces Fi70, First Wireless Speaker With Dual 8″ Woofers

ByJustin Jelinek for Techaeris:  Fluance continues to raise the bar on audiophile-quality wireless speakers. They started with theirbookshelf Fi30, and later upgraded that to the Fi50. They’ve recently announced their Signature Series floor speakers, a pair of powerhouse speakers. Today, Fluance has announced a new wireless Bluetooth speaker, the Fluance Fi70. The Fi70 is sure to start a conversation before silencing that conversation with powerful music.

Based on what we’ve seen from Fluance, I’m confident the Fi70 is going to sound fantastic, but even more so, anyone who sees it is sure to comment on its looks first. This is a uniquely shaped speaker, but it’s got more than enough power that people shouldn’t focus on its looks for too long.

The Fi70 is the first wireless speaker with dual 8″ woofers, meaning this thing is going to move some air for sure. Backing up those 8″ woofers are 5” woven glass fiber midrange drivers and 1” neodymium tweeters. Couple all of those speakers with a 280 watt amplifier, and you’ve got yourself a party waiting to happen. You can read more about the Fluance Fi70 in the full press release below, or you can head directly over to and order one of your very own for $499.  Cont'd...

The Next Stop in Home Security: A Lightbulb With a Memory

EVA RECINOS for PSFK:  Smart technology in the home can make things more convenient—but it can also make homes safer. ComfyLight hopes to make use of this potential, creating a lightbulb that discourages burglars .

The wireless lightbulb screws on like a regular bulb. It syncs with an app on user’s phone and begins keeping track of regular movements. When a user walks into a room, the system automatically switches lights on and then turns them off when the user leaves.

As co-founder Stefanie Turber explains on ComfyLight’s Kickstarter video, the lighting system “acts like you’re home by turning the light on and off and it recognizes unexpected movements at your place.”

Once a user leaves his-her home and activates security mode, ComfyLight simulates the user’s patterns of movement and switches lights on and off to mirror them. While away from home, users can keep track of activity through an app on your phone—and see if ComfyLight detected something unusual.  Cont'd...

Control4 Rolls Out New Line of Smart Home Solutions Starting at $600 MSRP

 Control4 Corporation, a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announces and ships its EA Series, a new line of entertainment and automation controllers, which represents the next generation platform for smart home innovation, featuring high-resolution audio, high-performance automation, and Control4's broad interoperability. 
With three separate models, the Control4 EA Series is designed and priced to deliver exceptional automation power, reliability, and high-impact entertainment experiences for any single-room or whole-home project. The new line is powered by the Control4 Operating System which manages entertainment sources from hundreds of the world's leading brands, streams popular music services, and controls and automates lighting, security systems, thermostats, door locks, cameras, and more, all with a single remote or app.   Full Press Release:

From NetworkWorld - Interview with the creators of EZ-Wave, a Z-Wave hacking tool

The synopsis for Breaking Bulbs Briskly by Bogus Broadcastsmentions the promise of smart energy and building automation, as well as the many unintended vulnerabilities that are introduced in the rush to bring IoT devices to market. The researchers believe “the ability to physically damage hardware by abusing network access is particularly interesting.” I agree.

Frustrated by the “lack of functionality in current Z-Wave hacking tools,” ShmooCon presenters Joseph Hall and Ben Ramsey created and released a new, open source EZ-Wave tool. Not only did the duo discuss how to use the tool for pen-testing Z-Wave wireless automation networks, they also discussed “a rapid process for destroying florescent lights.” They added, “Once access is gained to an automated lighting system, regardless of the protocol used, we  demonstrate how to destroy florescent lamps rated for 30K hours within a single night of abuse.” Full Article:

A Disappointing Consumer Electronic Show (CES) For Home Automation

Mike Krell for Forbes:  Ultimately, my problem and disappointment with the CES home automation offerings this year was the fact that there were too many undifferentiated products and not enough simple solutions.

It seemed that most companies wanted to focus on their single use product or application, and I’ve got to say, I was underwhelmed—especially with the differentiation from product to product. How much differentiation can there be in a doorbell or lock? Don’t get me wrong; I saw a few unique things. However, my belief is that 5 years from now all home automation products will be pretty much the same, and the products won’t address what the consumers really want. Why? Because it’s not about the products.

Consumers today may be thinking of just buying a product such as a doorbell, lock or camera, but when you talk to most people, what they want is to use technology to change or enhance their lifestyles. Consumers want to use technology to make their lives simpler and easier. I like to call these lifestyle solutions “scenes”. Scenes are derived from the way we (want to) live.   Cont'd...

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