Thermostat Maker Ecobee Launches Home Automation API

You may never need rise from the couch or get out of bed again. Home automation is becoming increasingly popular with apps that control ceiling fans, sprinkler systems, garage doors, kitchen appliances, you name it. Along that line of thinking, temperature control company Ecobee has just released a public API that lets third-party apps read, update and poll information about its home thermostats. The Toronto-based company develops a range of wifi-enabled thermostats for residential and commercial markets. Its API focuses on the company’s line of Smart thermostats, intended for home use. By releasing an open API, Ecobee is betting developers will use it to create a range of home solutions that bring homeowners more choice, comfort, energy savings and peace of mind. The company already offers a suite of mobile apps that control its Smart thermostats from anywhere, but Ecobee believes the RESTful API, which returns JSON, will feed a new level of innovation. “Ecobee’s API platform enables an active community of forward thinkers to build the next generation of connected home applications. Our customers will benefit from a wide range of convenient solutions that will simplify their lives,” said Stuart Lombard, the company’s president and CEO. Partners currently working on apps for the Ecobee platform include Mi Casa Verde, Smart Things, The UBI, Earth Networks, Integral Analytics, Auto Grid, Energy Sherlock, MMB Research Solutions.

iControl Networks Launches New Self-Installable Smart Home and Lifestyle Solution

 iControl Networks  announced iControl Touchstone™, a new self-installable, self-managed smart home solution for broadband service providers focused on lifestyle services. iControl Touchstone is powered by iControl's award-winning OpenHome™ software platform, and offers a connected home experience that consumers can install and manage themselves. iControl Touchstone will be initially deployed across the U.S. by Comcast as Xfinity Home Control. iControl Touchstone enables service providers to offer consumers a full range of innovative home management and monitoring services. As a self-installable solution, it opens the door for new distribution opportunities, including online and retail, which are desirable alternatives for broadband service providers seeking an initial go-to-market offering. iControl Touchstone provides innovative home monitoring, comfort, control, automation and energy management, and can be assembled and installed by the end-user, eliminating the need for a professionally trained technician. iControl Touchstone allows customers to: Stay connected to their homes  with live video feed and event-driven video capture via in-home cameras, enabling them to see what’s happening while they’re away. Remotely control and manage their homes  with the power to turn on/off lights and appliances and adjust thermostat temperature via the web or mobile applications. Customize their systems  by scheduling personalized, automated alerts, for example, to confirm when the kids arrive home from school, which generate email and text alerts with optional photo/video clip. Go green  with energy-saving thermostat, lighting and small appliance control and automation.

The latest installer products from InfoComm 2013

With over 950 exhibitors, it is impossible to cover each manufacturer. This is the "must" show of the year and I suggest you get your reservations for the 2014 show.

Notes From InfoComm 2013

There is no better venue to keep up with the latest audio visual technology than at the InfoComm 2013 Show.

InfoComm 2013 Tradeshow Report

For well over a decade HomeToys.com has been covering InfoComm and bringing all the industry news and exciting new products to our eMagazine to help our readers make sense of the massive event. Here we have compiled a list of some new product releases from this years show.

Infocomm 2013 Special News Report

Here is our news report with press releases and announcements from the show.

Running Interference - Not all Projector Screens are Created Equal

The BIG screen experience from a front projector is so much more impressive and enjoyable than even the largest plasma or LCD TV at literally a fraction of the cost but not all projector screen materials are designed for peak performance consistent with current digital projection technologies.

Customer Service Has to Be Real and Responsive

For many companies, having a strong customer relationship isn't part of the deal. Fortunately a few firms get it and those are the ones you go back to again and again because they have real people who know the only person who counts in the relationship is ...YOU. The others? Talk to the ball!

Microsoft working on home automation for the Xbox 720

It is being reported that Microsoft has acquired home entertainment and automation startup R2 Studios, by the Wall Street Journal. Started in 2011, this Silicon Valley company recently launched applications that allow for users to control multiple aspects of their home from smartphones. Could this mean that Microsoft is getting closer to the Xbox being the central piece in the living room that controls all facets of the home? It sure looks like it with this news. The acquisition sees the small team joining Microsoft’s Xbox division, and Microsoft will retain rights to some of the patents that R2 Studios owns, which relate to controlling electronic devices. With home automation becoming a growing trend in the U.S. today, the next Xbox could very well have the ability to control multiple facets of the homes that they are used in, and take an even further step away from being a video game console. The Xbox 360 saw a huge swing in its userbase utilzing the console for digital downloads and streaming video options found on the Xbox Live dashboard. The only commercial application that R2 Studios has released to this point is a $99 application that lets users control lighting, thermostats, security systems, and other products via Android devices.

News from InfoComm 2013

With InfoComm 2013 wrapping up, we saw hundreds of press releases and product announcements coming out of this years show. Check out our InfoComm 2013 Newspage for some of the interesting news from this years show. Stay tuned for our InfoComm 2013 reports to see the key new products introduced at this years event.

InfoComm 2013 underway in Orlando.

Every summer, the best and brightest of the professional audiovisual communications industry gather at InfoComm to learn new skills, discover innovative solutions, network with each other and celebrate their successes. They come to Collaborate, Communicate and Connect. Attracting more than 925 exhibitors and 35,000 attendees from over 90 countries, InfoComm is the largest pro AV show in the world. This years show took place n us June 8-14, 2013 (exhibits, June 12-14), at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. For well over a decade HomeToys.com has been covering InfoComm and bringing all the industry news and exciting new products to our eMagazine to help our readers make sense of the massive event. Make  sure to check out our special  InfoComm 2013 Newspage  for Exhibitor news.

WiSee Gesture Recognition System for Home Automation Works Without Cameras, Specialty Sensors

Home automation, gesture control, and smart sensors have the potential to help disabled people and aging folks lead independent lives. Smart floors, cameras, body-worm devices, and motion sensors are some of the ways that people can be monitored inside their own home, but each has its drawbacks. They require a lot of investment and home rewiring, can affect personal privacy, or simply demand too much attention from their users. Researchers at University of Washington have taken a different approach, harnessing the potential of at-home wireless networks to deduce what the people inside are doing. The system uses traditional wireless routers to detect changes in reflected WiFi signals, which turn out to have characteristic signatures that can be identified and correlated with specific gestures. Here’s a video from UW demonstrating the functionality of the WiSee:

RaspLogic brings drag-and-drop programming to Raspberry Pi for home automation

RaspLogic aims to provide a simple, affordable, method of implementing home automation, using the Raspberry Pi as the platform, and supplying an intuitive drag-and-drop interface for setting up logic and feedback loops: "The software is written in C# language on .NET so it works on any operating system. However, to take one example, say you want your MP3 player to start playing when you get up in the morning, you need some reference on a common platform and Raspberry Pi is the only one common platform where people can do this without spending too much money. For $25 you can have a common platform that’s already distributed in every place around the world." - Dario Tolio, RaspLogic At its simplest, RaspLogic could enable the automation of outside lights or a sprinkler system, but it could also be used for more complex operations, such as sending you an SMS or email alert when someone rings your doorbell, and allowing for a virtual conversation with your visitor from wherever you are, or setting up irrigation rules that are weather-dependent (i.e. if there's rain in the forecast, don't water today).

SmartThings opens developer and inventor toolkits for home automation platform

As we’ve recently and frequently discussed, home automation and the Internet of Things is taking off at a fast pace. One of the companies that’s pioneering the new technology is SmartThings, who announced today at the AllThingsD: D11 conference that they are publicly rolling out their developer and inventor toolkits. SmartThings crowd-funded their operation in 2012 through Kickstarter, raking in over $1.2 million, well beyond their $250,000 goal. They used all that cash to bolster the number of “things” linked to the platform, allowing the SmartThings hub to connect to and control door locks, thermostats, humidity sensors, IR remotes, power outlets, light switches, presence sensors, and any number of additional functions provided by the available accessories. Out of the box, the SmartThings platform can already do things like alert you when you leave windows open and it starts to rain using a humidity sensor, or automatically adjust the thermostat, turn off the lights, and close the garage door when you leave the house. The developer and inventor toolkits open up the platform even further to functionalities limited only by the creativity and inventiveness of its users. While transparency is always a great benefit, perhaps the best part of an open platform is the ability to leverage the collective talent and resources of a huge user base.

The Future of Digital Signage

As advertising and technology converge, digital signage will develop in significance as a must-have component of integrated marketing campaigns.

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