SHENANDOAH HOMES TO OFFER HOME AUTOMATION AS A STANDARD IN ALL NEW HOMES

Kayla Devon for BuilderOnline:  Another builder has stepped up to offer home automation features as standard assets in new homes, challenging other local builders to do the same.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Shenandoah Homes announced a partnership with a local Raleigh provider, Anuva Automation, which manufactures the TiO line of home automation products. Shenandoah Homes, which has control of over 1,000 lots in the area, intends to offer customers a standard package that includes lighting, thermostat and security control, with the additional options for more lighting, smart door locks and garage door control, and audio features.

“Home automation is an area of importance of what home buyers are looking for and would expect in any new home,” David Stallings, president and owner of Shenandoah Homes, said in a statement about the new offering.  Cont'd...

Your smart home could help "bring the internet to its knees," expert says

Melanie Ehrenkranz for Tech.Mic:  Last week, a distributed denial of service attack took down Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and oh so much more. The hackers remain at large, but the root of the hack is clear: tens of millions of insecure IoT devices attacked by a massive botnet. 

"This could mean everything from camera systems, to power company self-reading meters, to smart lightbulbs," Radware vice president of security solutions Carl Herberger said in an email Monday. 

The devices that were vulnerable to hackers during last week's attack were mainly DVRs and security cameras, but any device connected to the internet is a potential target: lightbulbs, webcams, toasters, coffeemakers, thermostats, televisions, shower heads, connected locks — and the list goes on.   Cont'd...

Apple Wants to Get Inside Your House Before You Buy It

Prashant Gopal for Bloomberg:  In a darkened master bedroom, David Kaiserman stood in shirtsleeves next to a turned-down king bed. “Good morning, Siri,” he said to the iPad in his hand, and the lights went on while the blackout shades retracted. 

“Your home is ready to rise and shine,” the virtual assistant replied.  Inside this four-bedroom stucco house in Alameda, California, Kaiserman, president of the technology division at construction company Lennar Corp., was pitching a vision of a home controlled via iPhone or iPad.

Tap your phone, and AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blasts. Tap again, and the bath runs at a blissful 101 degrees. Sweet, right? Of course, your dad might view it as a bit over the top. All told, $30,000 worth of gadgets and gizmos were on display here, many run with Apple’s free HomeKit app.   Cont'd...

7 ways to keep your smart home from being hacked

Kari Paul for MarketWatch:  As the recent announcement that 500 million Yahoo email accounts were hacked shows, emails and passwords are never fully safe. On a daily basis, hackers use strategies like phishing scams to steal usernames and passwords, posing as a bank or other legitimate establishment to trick users. Consumers should be wary of any email asking for personal information and always check the sender address to be sure it’s based at the website the sender claims to be (like an @paypal.com email address versus a deceptively similar location like @paypal.co or @paypalhelp.com). No measure will guarantee users won’t be hacked (email addresses can even be spoofed, and there are ways to check for this by tracing IP addresses). But a number of actions can be taken to lower the risk of hacking and secure your home.  Cont'd...

Smart Linux Home Hubs Mix IoT with AI

Eric Brown for Linux.com:  Industrial, rather than home, applications will likely dominate the Internet of Things (IoT) market in the years to come. Yet, in the early going, the home automation market has had the greatest visibility. And it hasn’t always been pretty.

Despite steady growth, retail sales have yet to achieve inflated expectations. Too many companies promised and failed to deliver interoperability with a growing catalog of often buggy smart home products. The lack of essential applications, complex installation, and in many cases, high prices, have also conspired against the segment.

Yet the smart home segment appears to be rebounding with the help of maturing technology and IoT interoperability standards. There is particular interest in connecting voice-enabled AI assistants with the smart home in products such as Amazon’s Echo.  Cont'd...

Why Insurance Companies Want to Subsidize Your Smart Home

Stacey Higginbotham for MIT Technology Review:  Insurers such USAA and American Family have lately begun offering to strike a high-tech bargain: wire your home with Internet-connected devices such as a new thermostat, and get a discount on your home insurance policy in return.

Offers like that could speed up the adoption of smart gadgets, revamp the insurance business, and transform how we manage our homes. In the future, your insurer might call a plumber before a pipe bursts, for example. But the data needed to help prevent leaks or burglaries will also introduce new risks, such as vulnerabilities to data loss or ransomware.  Cont'd...

Can Google Catch Up to Amazon and Win the Smart Home Race?

Mathew Ingram for Fortune:  Google is famous for coming to the market late. The search-engine business was well established before it arrived, and yet the company managed to take the lead. It now dominates the category. But can it do the same thing in the smart home?

The web giant is expected to launch a standalone device called simply Google Home on Tuesday, a device that it hopes will become the centerpiece of the smart home, and provide some strong competition for the well-established Amazon Echo. But it will be an uphill battle.  Cont'd...

Step Up Your Smart-Home Security Now

NATHAN OLIVAREZ-GILES for The Wall Street Journal:  Connected cameras and other smart-home devices promise a Jetsons-esque future. But as a recent hijacking of more than 100,000 networked cameras and DVRs demonstrates, they also provide fertile ground for hackers.

“You should make the assumption that anything that’s internet accessible is hackable. If it has a camera or a mic built in, it can be taken over,” said Kenneth White, a security researcher and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project, a nonprofit that promotes cybersecurity.

To protect yourself, you have to have the right perspective. “You need to take this seriously, but not be afraid of it either,” he said. Once you accept that hacking happens, embrace the security at your disposal. Here are some easy tips to help you step up your smart-home defenses:  Cont'd...

Amazon Will Let the Mailman Unlock and Enter Your Smart Home

Mike Brown for Inverse:  Amazon is trialing a new technology that would allow delivery personnel to enter your smart home unaided, dropping off packages and hopefully not eating any grapes on the way out. It’s all thanks to two startups Amazon is reportedly partnering with two startups: Garageio, which makes smart garage doors, and August Home, which makes smart locks. The companies are working with the retail giant to give consumers the option at the checkout of granting one-time access to the delivery address.

A report from The Information, which revealed the initiative, explained that the feature could be useful for people concerned with leaving valuable packages on doorsteps. The service could also cut down on waste packaging, as Amazon could cut down on protection necessary for leaving parcels exposed to the elements. Although it’s not clear at this stage when the service will become widely available, Amazon has conducted a small series of tests in the Seattle area.  Cont'd...

Houzz: Consumers Embracing Smart Home Technology

MEGAN SALZANO for HomeWorld Business:  Houzz’s recent home trends survey identified a growing consumer awareness and integration of smart home technology when it comes to home renovations and remodeling.

The survey revealed that 45% of renovating homeowners are incorporating smart technology, systems or devices into their home that can be monitored or controlled via smartphone, tablet or computer. Houzz’s 2016 U.S. Smart Home Trends Survey of nearly 1,000 homeowners in the midst of, planning, or who have recently completed a home renovation project, was conducted in collaboration with CEDIA.

According to the survey, renovated homes are more than twice as likely to include a smart system or device than before the renovation, 51% versus 20%, respectively. In terms of connected product category, the survey showed 25% of homeowners are installing smart devices for security and safety, 18% for entertainment, 14% for climate control and 12% for lighting. It also showed that 30% of upgraded smart home systems or devices can be controlled via a central hub and 26% include voice-controlled features.  Cont'd...

Will Hackers Outsmart the Smart Home? Why Security Needs to Happen at the Design Level

ABI Research:  The advent of home automation and rapid rise of smart home connected devices is seeing some vendors and new startups scramble to become a part of the movement, with ABI Research forecasting 360 million smart home device shipments by 2020. But many companies are leaving major security flaws in the wake of their hurried attempts to penetrate the market, producing products riddled with bugs and unpatched vulnerabilities. Ignoring cybersecurity at the design level provides a wide open door for malicious threat actors to exploit smart home products.

“We see an alarming increase in ransomware in smart TVs and IP cameras, code injection attacks, evidence of zero-day threats, and password eavesdropping for smart locks and connected devices,” says Dimitrios Pavlakis, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “The current state of security in the smart home ecosystem is woefully inadequate. Smart home device vendors need to start implementing cybersecurity mechanisms at the design stage of their products.”

Numerous attack vectors have been identified in popular smart home communication protocols, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi. Many companies are creating and selling easy-to-tamper smart locking systems, easy-to-hack sensor systems, and products that host a plethora of software vulnerabilities.  Cont'd...

The Apple Home arrives next week but it won't change the smart home market as we know it

BI Intelligence:  At its September event, Apple announced a new iPhone 7, equipped with faster processing, a better camera, and added features.

Additionally, the tech giant announced that iOS 10, the next version of its iPhone operating system, will be available for download on September 13. This means Apple Home will become a native app available on compatible iPhones with iOS 10 onSeptember 13.

The Home app, which manages compatible devices, is the final and central part of the Apple smart home ecosystem. The app is built off the Apple HomeKit developer framework, which was released in 2014, and it aims to conquer technological fragmentation within the smart home ecosystem.

When testing the new system, BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, found that many of the devices were simple plug-and-play devices.  Cont'd...

Mark Zuckerberg made a smart home AI and it's almost finished

JACOB KLEINMAN for TechnoBuffalo:  Back in January, Mark Zuckerberg announced that his personal challenge for the year would be to develop an artificial intelligence capable of controlling his house similar to J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man. Now the Facebook CEO says he’s almost ready to show off the new AI.

“I hope to have a demo, hopefully next month,” he said during a Facebook Town Hall Q&A session broadcast live from Rome on Monday, August 29.

Zuckerberg’s AI is capable of controlling the house, including connected lights and thermostat. It was developed with help from Facebook engineers and uses voice recognition along with face recognition software. So it can do things like open the gate to his house without needing to receive a specific command first.  Cont'd...

Bosch shoulders into the smart home with three new products and IFTTT

Andrew Gebhart for CNet:  Back in 2014, Bosch introduced the Home Connect app with the intention of making it an all encompassing solution. At this year's IFA trade show in Berlin, the German company is bringing that dream closer to fruition.

Bosch showed off three new products and announced integration with online rules platform IFTTT at this morning's press conference. It shows the company's intention to make a concerted push into the smart home with its own products, while allowing the system to remain open to wider integration.  Cont'd...

Lowe's integrates Amazon Alexa into its smart home hub to control lights, temperature with voice commands

Nat Levy for GeekWire:  Lowe’s is the latest company to take advantage of Alexa, the digital brain that powers Amazon Echo.

The home improvement giant earlier this week began rolling out voice-integrated skills for Iris, its smart home system. The new skills allow users to control Iris devices throughout the house with the sound of their voice. That means users can now say things like, “Alexa, set the temperature to 72 degrees,” or “Alexa, turn on the ceiling fan.”

Lowe’s makes a host of smart products under its Iris division, and not all of them are Alexa-integrated yet. For now it’s mostly thermostats, fans and light switches.  Cont'd...

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