These Lego-Like Batteries Plug In To Store Solar Power At Home

Adele Peters for Co-Exist:  Less than a year after Tesla unveiled its Powerwall battery for storing electricity at home, a startup has designed a much cheaper alternative that you can plug in yourself, without an electrician.

The modular batteries, called Orison, can be hung on the wall or set on the ground to double as an LED lamp. If you want more power, you just add the units together.

"Think of Orison like Legos," says co-founder and CEO Eric Clifton. "The 2.2 kilowatt-hour unit is really just one piece, so you can actually add as many as you need." The 2.2 kilowatt-hour version is as large as the company could make one unit and keep it under 40 pounds, so it could be easily shipped and moved.

With one unit, if your power went out in a storm, you could keep an energy-efficient refrigerator running for about two days. If you want to back up everything in your house, you'd connect a long series of batteries together.

For someone with solar panels on the roof, the batteries can store power to use at night. Right now, most people can sell extra solar power back to the grid when they're not using it, but many state laws are about to change so people will make less money. Batteries can help solar homeowners save money by making use of the power they've generated.  Cont'd...

How Do You Sell Lots Of Smart Home Gear? Scare Off A Burglar, Natch

Michael Wolf  for Forbes:  Being a startup in the smart home industry can be tough. Not only is there lots of competition, but usually you have to spend lots of time and money educating the consumer about what your product does.

Smart home gear tailored towards home security has it a little easier, since most consumers understand that security keeps bad guys away. But when your product is a sub-$100 device with no 24/7 monitoring like the big boys, you then have to spend much of your time creating a compelling message that your low-cost gear can do the job.

This was the challenge faced by Korner, a Seattle startup that makes a patented, ultra-low-cost security sensor. The device, which comes in packs of three for $98, can be stuck on any window or door and sounds an alarm when it senses movement. This sounds great but, if you’re like me, you wonder if putting your safety and security in the hands of such a low cost system is a good idea.  Cont'd...

Amazon just made another really smart home product

Tim Stenovec for Business Insider:  There are plenty of dumb uses of "smart" technology.Toothbrushes, slow-cookers, anddog collars are just a few, to say nothing of far more expensive products like fridges.

But on Monday, Amazon actually released a "smart" product that is incredibly useful: a $45 water pitcher from the king of water filtration products.

If you've ever owned a Brita pitcher filtration system, which filters tap water, then you may know where this is going. 

The water filter monitors how much water has been filtered, and will automatically order a new filter when it gets close to the time you should replace it. By the time the filters is used up, a new filter will already be shipped to you.

But the genius here is that apart from the initial setup, you don't actually have to do anything. Ever!  Cont'd...

Webcast - Terminating Larger Size Cables with Platinum Tools Connectors

With the recent increase in popularity of Category 6A cables, cabling-system installers are now working more and more frequently with dramatically increased cable sizes. Terminating these larger-size cables to standard connectors, which are optimally designed for smaller cables, can be a challenge. New connectors and solutions have been developed to solve the termination and workmanship issues that arise when installers terminate larger-size cables.

This webcast seminar will cover the following termination practices and principles:

  • Terminating Category 6A cable to Category 6A shielded connectors
  • Terminating Category 5e and Category 6 cable to Category 6 shielded connectors

Sponsored by Honeywell and Platinum Tools, the seminar will use Honeywell’s Category 5e, 6 and 6A cable as well as Platinum Tools’ Category 6 and 6A shielded connectors to demonstrate cable preparation and termination techniques. The demonstrations will provide step-by-step instructions on completing the termination of these larger-size cables.  View Webcast:

CoeLux: Artificial Sunlight

What is CoeLux?

CoeLux is an optical system based on nano technology to artificially reproduce the natural light and visual appearance of the sun and sky. CoeLux offers a breakthrough opportunity for indoor architecture by creating the sensation of infinite space... (product website)

Competition for Alexa? LG Uplus announces new voice-controlled smart home gadgets

Ry Crist for CNET:  With the success of the Amazon Echo, the online mega-retailer's increasingly popular smart speaker, it was inevitable that we'd start seeing competitors begin to emerge, just as it's inevitable that tech journalists will begin making cheesy "is there an Echo in here?" jokes as it happens. So, let's just get this out of the way.  Is there an Echo in here?

It seems like there might be. LG Uplus, a South Korean cellular carrier that's a subsidiary of LG, is rolling out a pair of voice-activated smart home products, including an always-on, always-listening smart speaker that boasts the same sort of far-field voice recognition technology as the Amazon Echo. Dubbed the IoT Hub, the device will let users control connected lights, thermostats, locks and more using basic voice commands. It even has a colorful (and familiar-looking) ring of LED lights up on top.

Device no. 2 is the tvG Woofer Set Top Box. It's essentially a thin pedestal packed with a four-channel speaker, two subwoofers, and microphones designed to hear you no matter where you are in the room, regardless of background noise. You'll slip it under your television set, then pipe your home entertainment audio through it. If you want to search for something to watch, you'll be able to do so using voice commands.  Cont'd...

Touchless gesture control upgrades at #MWC2016

By Mellisa Tolentino for SiliconAngle:  At Mobile World Congress, Elliptic Labs AS introduced a new way for consumers to interact with smart home devices. Forget about voice control, think Jedi powers. The company’s new EASY IoT (Internet of Things) software introduces touchless gesture control to your connected home devices such as smart thermostats, kitchen appliances, lighting controls, and security systems to name a few. It uses ultrasound technology to control gadgets with conductor-like ease.
At MWC, Elliptic Labs will demonstrate how EASY IoT works on a connected lamp, smoke detector, and wireless speaker. EASY IoT will be offered to mobile manufacturers in hopes of building in the technology for as many core devices as possible. The more ubiquitous EASY IoT, the broader its market reach. This tactic relies heavily on willing business partners and will require transparent methods for sharing data sets and open source technology. This would ideally result in consumer adoption through necessity instead of heavy marketing and backward integration.  Cont'd...
 

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 ElectronicsWeekly.com:  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...

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