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...

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...

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:  

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...

6 New Routers That Can Handle All Your Smart Home Needs

Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:   Routers, those typically ugly-looking devices that provide Wi-Fi, have long been a weak link in home network security. Hackers can take advantage easy-to-guess passwords and lax manufacturing standards by an industry that has long focused on price over security, asdetailed Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal. Homeowners, for their part, haven’t exactly focused on network security either. Many have no idea what routers do and instead rely on their Internet service provider to include them in their modems. When ISPs started charging monthly rental fees of $4 to $7 for modems, some consumers started buying their own home networking gear. But most people still shop based on price. Even those looking for high-end features don’t have much to choose from. Most routers come with only a limited number of extras.  That is changing though.   Cont'd...

92% of Security Installers/Integrators See Home Automation as a Future Revenue Generator

Adam Bannister for IFSEC Global:  Polling the views of hundreds of installers, IFSEC Global found that 92% saw the ‘smart home’ – whereby lighting, heating, alarms and other household functions are interconnected and remotely controlled via smartphone or PC – as a potential area for diversification. No surprise, then, that almost as many – 88% – would be more likely to attend IFSEC International if a dedicated home automation zone were introduced. “In the top end of the market, people are spending hundreds of thousands on smart home technology,” write one installer who completed the survey. “There are a few cheap end products out there, but the most important factor here is that products can be retro-fitted and not too expensive. “It would be great to see a security system that integrates as one package.  As far as we are aware this does not exist. We’ve been trying to push the home automation side, but are still seeking the right product.” A similar proportion – 86% – would visit if an area dedicated to ‘smart buildings’ – essentially the same concept applied to commercial premises – area were launched. Which is indeed what is happening, on both fronts: for the first time IFSEC International will feature a dedicated Smart Zone for its 2016 edition, comprising a replica ‘smart home’ fitted out with the latest home automation innovations from top exhibitors including Y3K, Lilin and Control 4.   Cont'd...

Smart Home Device Buyers Want Support

By Aaron Baar for MediaPost:  Although they have been tagged as one of the bright spots for the coming year in the consumer electronics sector, makers of smart home devices need to be concerned about user-friendliness if they want them to truly take off. According to a survey conducted by support.com, which provides tech support and support center services, nearly a third (31%) of smart home system owners struggle with the complexity of setup. In addition, 43% of potential smart home device buyers are concerned about how complex setting up the system might be.  “Complexity is starting to impede adoption,” Alex Polous, Support.com’s vice president of marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “If we want to increase adoption, we need to look at the user experience and not just the flashy features.” Still, 37% of current smart home device owners installed the devices themselves, and 61% want to attempt to fix the issues on their own. Providers, then, should offer an array of support options for different customers and for different stages of ownership, he says.   Cont'd...

Making Sense of Smart Home Tech at CES 2016

Dan Tynan for Yahoo Tech:  The problem with smart home technology in 2016 isn’t a lack of intelligence; it’s a failure to communicate. As more  new ‘smart’ devices appear — and we saw a passel of them at CES 2016, from smart showers to beds, belts, blenders, toothbrushes and more — the same stumbling blocks remain. All of them will talk to your smartphone, but most of them won’t talk to each other. To get the most Jetsons-like experience from your smart home, different devices need to speak the same language. If you want your smart bed to notice when you are awake, open your smart blinds, tune your smart audio system to Morning Edition, and tell your smart coffee maker to start brewing, all of these devices need to be communicating on the same radio frequency using the same protocols. At the moment, though, there are more than half a dozen smart home protocols — like Apple Homekit, Samsung’s Smart Things, Google’s Brillo, Lowe’s Iris, and AllJoyn, as well as old standbys like Zigbee and Zwave. And that’s just a partial list.   Cont'd...

CES 2016 - Smart Homes of the Future

Harriet Taylor for CNBC:  High tech is coming, again, to your home.  Tech companies and appliance makers are showing off their latest lines of connected devices promising to make consumers' lives better, safer and happier at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Much has been made about the market opportunity underlying smart homes, but consumers are not yet convinced. The Consumer Technology Association acknowledges this, forecasting that sales of wearable devices will be quadruple sales of smart home devices in 2016, reaching 38 million and 9 million units sold, respectively. One difference, compared to CES in years past, is that companies are putting less effort into becoming the de facto platform for your entire house, and more into delivering specific products.  Cont'd...

Lowe's to add emergency dispatch service for Iris DIY smart-home systems

Stephen Lawson for CIO:  Smart-home gadgets look cool, but the services connected to them may be more valuable to many owners in the long run. Home-improvement chain Lowe's plans to make more of those services available to do-it-yourselfers. By the middle of this year, owners of Lowe's Iris home gadgets will be able to buy professional monitoring, including dispatching of first responders in case of emergency. It will cost US$19.99 per month and will become available in select markets as licensing allows. Security and life safety are two of the big reasons consumers are buying into the Internet of Things. Broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast install smart-home systems built around things like connected burglar alarms. For example, AT&T's website advertises professionally monitored home security and automation systems starting at $39.99 per month with a two-year contract.   Cont'd...

CES 2016: LG And Samsung battle for smart home leadership

By ROB ENDERLE for TechSpective:  LG and Samsung are planning to do battle for control of your home at CES. Samsung is bringing its acquired SmartThings technology to TVs to provide a central hub from which your home can be controlled. LG just announced it is going to showcase its Smarthome Hub at CES as well. Each idea has its merits and problems, but I think LG is closer to what we initially need than Samsung is. Let me explain. Right now the concept of the Smart Home is a mess and it has been a mess ever since X10 went to that technology graveyard in the sky. We have a bunch of warring “standards” that don’t interoperate, mixed conformance with the standards that do exist, and the end result is that when you buy into a smart home solution, chances are you will be creating an insane stupid house that constantly doesn’t do what you paid a ton of money to get it to do. Currently we have 4 major legacy smart home platforms: X-10 which started it all back in the 1970s but is mostly gone today, ZigBee and Z Wave which are alliances, and Insteon which is tied directly to one company. Recently a 5th joined this group called Alljoyn which was created by Qualcomm the most powerful player in the smartphone world. With smartphones becoming the most likely controller for the new smart home, there was a chance that this alliance could do what the others had not–create something that actually works.   Cont'd...

5 Ways Smart Home Gadgets Can Leave You Vulnerable

Jess Bolluyt for CheatSheet:  All kinds of creative tech companies, large and small, are building interesting smart home devices. While they promise to make your house or apartment smarter, more energy-efficient, and more closely tailored to your needs and preferences, they have a few drawbacks, most notably that many of them aren’t as secure as you’d hope. As Bitdefender recently noted in a post for Mashable, users want exciting tech products on fast timelines, which leaves designers and developers scrambling to offer ever-more-capable devices on shortening development cycles. That “rush to market” can result in poorly-constructed software, and unfortunately, the first thing to go is often proper consideration for security. Devices from smart TVs to thermostats to routers have all been found to neglect basic security measures. While we’re just as excited about the prospect of using technology to make our homes smarter and more capable, it’s important to be aware of the ways that Internet of Things devices can compromise your security.  Cont'd...

One-Third Of Homes Primed For Smart-Home Technology

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Smart-home technology is used by 21 percent of all U.S. households, and another 36 percent are viable future customers, a Strategy Analytics analysis concluded. The research and consulting company also surveyed online households about what they’d be willing to pay for and found the list topped by devices that allow for remote or automatic water shut-off if a leak is detected. That’s followed by devices that automatically adjust lights and thermostats based on who is home, a panic-button feature that turns on all lights in the house, remote monitoring and control of door locks, and motion-sensing camera s with visual notification.   Cont'd...

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