UPDATE - Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

In this ongoing article we will take a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options that are available now. Updated 10/29/15

Utah Jazz home arena renamed to 'Vivint Smart Home Arena'

The name for the 19,911-seat facility, formerly known as Energy Solutions Arena, will be the Vivint Smart Home Arena. The arena hosts about 1.8 million guests and more than 100 sports and entertainment events each year. The basketball court is named for Larry H. Miller, who spearheaded the construction of the building 25 years ago.

“The Utah Jazz and the arena are proud to have Vivint as our new naming rights partner,” said LHMSE President Steve Starks. “Vivint is a long-time supporter of the Jazz, is a Utah-based company, and has a deep commitment to the community and our fans. These were all qualities we looked for when we began this process. ”

Headquartered in Provo, Utah, Vivint creates innovative smart home products and services. With Vivint, homeowners can automate, control and monitor their homes from any smart device. The company’s smart home platform includes door locks, lights, a thermostat and an intelligent doorbell camera, among others. Vivint has more than one million customers and 8,000 employees throughout the United States and Canada. Forbes recently named the company to its list of “America’s Best Employers.”  Full Press Release:

Linux's domination of home automation gizmos continues

Eric Brown for Linux Gizmos:  The Linux-dominated home automation business is still a fragmented free-for-all, but it’s also beginning to consolidate, with far fewer startups in 2015 compared to recent years.
This month we saw several major product announcements from established players related to Linux. First, Google’s Nest Labs announced the first device partners for its Weave home automation protocol using the Thread networking standard. Now Samsung, which began shipping its first Linux-based SmartThings hub last month, released a $249 sensor kit built around the hub. Meanwhile, in the larger Internet of Things world that includes industrial, as well as home automation, the Linux Foundation’s AllSeen Alliance announced a new certification program and security stack. In addition, Amazon unveiled an AWS IoT cloud platform available with starter kits based on Linux hacker boards .  Cont'd...

Lowe's: Consumers Prefer Home Improvement Stores for Smart Home Products

Today, Iris by Lowe's released the results of its annual Smart Home Survey, revealing that when it comes to shopping for smart home products, home improvement stores (either in-store or online) were rated the No. 1 place Americans are most likely to buy. When asked why they would choose a home improvement store, most say it's because it is a retailer they can trust (55 percent) that has knowledgeable staff (40 percent) and a variety of available products (48 percent). 
The 2015 Smart Home Survey, conducted online in August by Harris Poll on behalf of Iris, Lowe's Smart Home Business Unit, polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18+ and examined Americans' attitudes toward and experiences with smart home products, homing in on the driving factors behind their purchasing and use preferences. Results from this year's study indicate that when it comes to purchasing considerations, cost of equipment and monthly fees as a deciding factor has decreased (down from 56 percent in 2014), though it's still the most commonly cited (43 percent). Ease of use is the second most important deciding factor (19 percent, up from 13 percent in 2014), followed by energy and efficiency features (15 percent) such as home temperature control and automated lighting.   Full Press Release:
 

August Unveils New Products and Services to Transform Home Access

August Home, Inc., today announced August Access, a first-of-its-kind platform that provides secure, trusted home access via the August Smart Lock for top service providers, including home repair, delivery, shipping, cleaning, elderly care, dog walking, among others. To enable this, the company unveiled a new line of products: the August Smart Lock - HomeKit enabled, the August Smart Keypad, and the August Doorbell Cam.

August’s goal has always been to build products and services that enable people to monitor and manage entry into their homes from wherever they are, making life simpler and more secure. These new products, along with August Access, create a cohesive system that revolutionizes the way people interact with their homes, removing the barriers that currently exist with home delivery services and overall access, while providing total visibility, control, and increased security to the front door.

Full Press Release:

Savant unveils The Savant Remote, combining the convenience of a universal remote with the power of home automation

Users can control over 380,000 of today's most popular entertainment devices and switch easily between their favorites. The high-resolution touchscreen eliminates the need for extra buttons by elevating additional controls when necessary. Control happens wirelessly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi without requiring any line of sight between the Remote and your entertainment system.

Homeowners can also use the Savant Remote to control their lights with the new Savant Lamp Control, creating instant ambiance in any room with a tap.

Voice commands offer another simple method of control. Users can simply say "FOOD NETWORK" to watch their favorite channels, or "APPLE TV" when they want to browse for a new movie. Homeowners can also use voice controls to activate their own Savant scenes, like "RELAX," which could cue up a mellow Sonos playlist and dim the lights, or "GOODNIGHT," which would turn everything off.

Personalized profiles give every family member their own remote experience, with all their favorite channels and scenes just a tap or voice command away—while limited-access profiles let guests enjoy the benefits of Savant when they're visiting.  Full Press Release:

Comcast's home automation app links with Nest, Lutron and more

By Dan Herscovici, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Xfinity Home in Home:  Xfinity Home customers are now able to control the August Smart Lock, Chamberlain MyQ garage controller, and the Lutron Caséta wireless light controller and dimmer directly through the Xfinity Home app on both iOS and Android devices. In addition, Xfinity Home now works with the Nest LearningThermostat.
Over the past few months, our team has been working on a Software Development Kit (SDK) that makes it easier than ever before for partners to integrate their smart devices into the Xfinity Home ecosystem. This includes a testing and certification program to ensure all hardware that integrates with Xfinity Home meets key levels of quality, compatibility and security. Smart devices that have gone through our process will be certified under the "Works with Xfinity Home" program and will eventually include branding that makes it easy for customers to identify compatible smart home devices when shopping online and in retail stores.  Cont'd...

Logitech Harmony adds even more home automation control

By Alan Buckingham for BetaNews:  Home automation is a catch phrase these days, though some of it is not quite ready for prime time. But things are improving all the time with new products being released at a rapid rate. Logitech's Harmony brand of remote controls has been at the forefront of controlling these devices.

Now, after adding things like the Nest thermostat, the company is announcing compatability with even more devices. This time around it's adding ZigBee and Z-Wave.

"Harmony Hub Extender also allows your Harmony Hub to join as another controller to existing Z-Wave networks. Popular Z-Wave networks that have been tested" include Wink, Pulse, Vera and Nexia. The hub also works with Schlage and other door locks, among other devices.

'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...

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...

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...
 

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