Not trying to outdo Comcast, this Philly start-up finds its own home-automation niche

Diane Mastrull for Philly.com: Moorman and Buchert decided that multifamily residences represented a vast opportunity in the IoT -Internet of Things - and launched StratIS (for Strategic Implementation and Support), a software company in East Falls, in June 2015.

A look inside the 2017 HGTV Smart Home in Scottsdale

12 News Arizona:   With an audio system wired into every room, a security system that can monitor for pipe leaks, and outlets with USB ports built in, the HGTV Smart Home 2017 is not your grandma's house. The fully wired, 3,300-square-foot home is located right in the Valley, in north Scottsdale.  HGTV representatives say they chose Scottsdale -- "The West's Most Western Town" -- for its combination of tech and culture, as well as opportunities for year-round family fun. Designer Tiffany Brooks says she took her cues for the house from the desert landscape -- using natural materials like stone, wood, leather and glass, as well as incorporating antique tribal pieces and work from local artists.   Full Article and Video:

Can your smart home be used against you in court?

Brian Heater for TechCrunch:  On a November, 2015 morning in Bentonville, Arkansas, first responders discovered a corpse floating in a hot tub. The home’s resident, James Andrew Bates, told authorities he’d found the body of Victor Collins dead that morning. He’d gone to bed at 1 AM, while Collins and another friend stayed up drinking. This past December, The Information reported that authorities had subpoenaed Amazon over the case. The police were considering Bates a suspect in what they suspected was a murder after signs of a struggle were found at the scene. They hoped his Echo might hold some insights into what happened the night before. Amazon initially pushed back against the request, citing First Amendment protections, but ultimately conceded when Bates agreed to allow the information to be handed over to police. While Amazon’s fight has been rendered moot, this case lays groundwork for some tough and important conversations to come, raising a slew of fascinating questions around the technologies.   Cont'd...

Comcast completes acquisition of Icontrol's IoT and home security arm

Tas Bindi for ZDNet:  Comcast has completed its acquisition of Icontrol Networks' Converge business, which creates Internet of Things (IoT) and connected home security solutions. Converge already powers Comcast's XFinity Home, in that it allows Comcast to communicate with and manage security sensors that are part of Xfinity Home, and also supports home-automation devices like cameras and thermostats. While the terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Comcast SVP and XFinity Home general manager Daniel Herscovici explained in a blog post that the acquisition will give the company full control over Icontrol's research and development roadmap. Specifically, it will allow the company to accelerate the pace of XFinity Home's development, especially in the area of connected home security.   Cont'd...

Nest is working on at least 3 new smart-home gadgets right now - here's what we know

Antonio Villas-Boas for Business Insider:  Nest, the struggling connected-smart-home company bought by Google's parent company, Alphabet, in 2014, will expand its range of smart-home products with new and updated devices you can control from apps on your mobile devices, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Those new products include a home-security alarm system with window and door sensors, a key fob for arming and disarming your alarm, and a smart doorbell with a camera. The news comes after a tumultuous period at Nest, during which the cofounder and CEO, Tony Fadell, resigned amid criticism of his management style and a lack of new products. The new products would give Nest a more complete presence in the smart-home ecosystem, instead of forcing users to mix devices from a variety of companies.   Cont'd...

Extra security for your Nest Account.

From Nest:  Here's how it works: the first time you sign into your Nest Account after activating two-factor authentication, you'll type in your email and password as always, but then you'll get a text with a verification code. Enter the code and you're set. To turn on two-factor authentication, go to the Nest app, tap the menu icon on the top left, then go to the category Account Security. You'll see an option there to activate "2-step verification." After you've turned it on, you'll need to sign in again. It takes a minute or two for our customers, but for hackers working from computers all over the world, things get a whole lot harder.

Smart home opportunity in its infancy

Simon Quicke for Computer Weekly Microscope:  If anyone in the channel was worried that they were missing out on a booming smart home market then they can sleep more easily knowing that the Uk is in its infancy when it comes to connected homes. Some of the distributors are positioning themselves ready for the uptake of services to control features likes security and heating but according to Gartner things are still at an early stage. The assessment of the market from the analysts means that the channel still has the time to develop skills and vendor relationships in the smart home area. Gartner estimates that current adoption rates are around the 10% mark.   Cont'd.. .

The connected home window is open, but for how long?

Paul Lalancette Opinion piece for RCR Wireless News:  The potential for “connected homes” enabled by the internet of things to become a major market opportunity is no longer in doubt. The benefits for consumers, such as controlling energy costs, increasing security and having a home that learns how to behave according to personal preferences, are too promising. Offering these services represents an enormous opportunity for communications service providers, but it is not a forgone conclusion they will lead in the arena. CSPs can play a central role in delivering an easy to use yet valuable experience to consumers in managing their connected homes. The number of devices and services operating across different and fragmented platforms for the connected home is holding back its widespread adoption. For the connected home to make the jump from being used by early adopters to being commonplace, the experience has to evolve to be far more seamless than it is today. This is the window that is open for CSPs to step up and bring a truly integrated consumer experience to the connected home. But it may not be for long.   Cont'd...

Cobalt Robotics Introduces a (Mostly) Autonomous Mobile Security Robot

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Today, Cobalt Robotics (a startup based in Palo Alto, Calif.) is announcing an autonomous mobile robot designed for indoor security applications that can "work alongside human guards to provide better security than people can do alone." The key realization here is that security guards spend the vast majority of their time doing almost nothing, and even in a worst case scenario (like someone trying to break in, or a fire or other serious problem), their primary responsibility is making the right phone call as quickly as possible as opposed to dealing with the situation directly.   Full article:

Now Shipping: Luxul Epic 4 Routers

Luxul, a leading provider of networking solutions for professional installers, has announced today the availability of its new Epic 4 routers. The first in the Epic series, Epic 4 routers offer advanced capabilities above and beyond the traditional router.  In addition to being high-performing commercial-grade routers, the Epic series offers a platform for optimizing the user experience in smart homes, workplaces, retail establishments and more. This experience is delivered through Luxul and third-party applications running on the Epic platform. The first of these offerings is enhanced content filtering from Router Limits, with remote management tools from Domotz to follow in Q2. Additional applications, including Ihiji's remote network management tools and Luxul's award-winning Roam-Assist™ wireless controller technology are on the way. Any of these advanced features can be implemented at the integrator's discretion, making Epic routers an outstanding platform for delivering world-class support and services to their customers, along with the perfect solution upon which to build recurring revenue.   Full Press Release:

Gilbert apartment complex joins 'smart home' movement, experts question if trend will take off

Farai Bennett, Cronkite News via AZCentral:  The apartments at Vistara at San Tan Village look like many other “luxury” units available in the Valley, with their granite countertops and walk-in closets. But step inside one of the Gilbert complex’s apartments, and you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and play music with just the press of a button. The 366-unit complex has partnered with Clare Controls to make the apartments “smart.” The complex is marketing its apartments as the first in Arizona to offer this kind of technology. It’s part of the “smart home” trend the public may recognize through consumer products such as Amazon’s Echo and Wink Hub 2.   Cont'd...

TrackNet Launches Tabs™ IoT Home and Family Monitoring Solution for Busy Families

The Tabs hub provides Wi-Fi coverage over an entire residence and Tabs sensor coverage over entire neighborhoods with significant benefits not only to consumers but also to operators and service providers deploying Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). For operators and service providers, the Tabs hub installed within customers' homes accelerates and scales LPWAN deployments much faster than a solely tower-based approach, easily provides deep indoor coverage and significantly reduces the network deployment capital and operation expense.  Each Tabs solution starts with a wireless hub, which provides the Tabs sensor coverage over an entire neighborhood or high-rise development, delivering immediate benefit to the consumer. Each solution further includes a Tabs extender, which is a Tabs sensor hub but not a full Wi-Fi router, to ensure coverage over the locations most frequented by families such as school, day-care, or a friend's house.  As more users install Tabs hubs and extenders, they collaborate to build or improve network coverage over an entire city or region, giving the users additional benefit for locating children, pets, elderly or things.    Full Press Release:  

Smart Home Automation & Monitoring Devices to Exceed 770m by 2021, Realising 1000% Growth

A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that smart home automation and monitoring devices will grow to over 770 million globally by 2021, representing an eleven-fold rise from just 68 million estimated in 2016. The new research, Smart Home Markets: Entertainment, Monitoring, Automation, Health, Metering, Appliances 2017-2021, found that increasing adoption of platform evangelism and openness to partnerships is boosting third party development of devices, especially in developed markets. Indeed, North America, Far East & China and West Europe will account for almost 75% of all households adopting the technology in 2021.  Subscription Services Lose Traction,   Cont'd...

Voice calling could soon come to smart home speakers

Business Insider:  Smart home speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home have been thus far positioned as novelty personal assistants, but this could soon change. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Amazon and Google are looking to integrate a voice-calling feature to the speakers, adding valuable functionality for users and giving the tech giants more insight into users' home lives. If the companies manage to launch the feature, it would impact not just the smart home experience, but the mobile one as well.   Cont'd...

Can A Smart Home Replace Security Guards and Video Camera Surveillance?

Craig Bretzlaff for IoT Evolution:  All homeowners are concerned about protecting their property against burglars and break-ins, especially those in the luxury market. Home automation is quickly becoming a reality, allowing individuals to control certain aspects of their home through the simple click of a button on an internet-connected device. Since security guards and video camera surveillance can significantly increase security overhead, smart homes can offer a way to lower those costs while still maintaining a keen eye on one’s property. What is a smart home? A smart home is a home that is equipped with devices that can transmit data. These devices can control lights, electricity, and locking systems - which can be accessed remotely from an internet connected device, like a cellphone or tablet. The home automation market is predicted to grow, with experts putting its market value well over $10 billion by 2020 (Source). The ability for technology to integrate naturally within a home may seem strange now - like an amenity only applicable to multi-million dollar mansions -  but in a decade the IoT technology will likely become standard in many middle-class homes.   Cont'd...

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