Flex to Bring the Intelligence of Things 'Home' with Wink Acquisition

Flex , the sketch-to-scale™ solutions company that designs and builds intelligent products for a connected world, has entered into an agreement to acquire Wink, the smart home platform that enables smart products to work together seamlessly, and connect and communicate globally.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Flex will enhance its strategy of driving the Intelligence of Things™, and helping the world Live smarter™. Wink improves the functionality and usefulness of disparate devices in the home by allowing them to communicate with each other, while enhancing usability through a shared common interface in the Wink mobile app.

Flex has been a strategic partner to Wink, serving as their primary supplier of hardware and firmware, including the Wink HUB and Wink Relay, which include core IP developed within Flex. After the acquisition, Wink will remain a separate entity and corporation, with its own management structure for day-to-day activities and operations. Flex will look to leverage Wink's platform and provide current and future Flex customers with improved connectivity in a rapidly expanding open ecosystem. Full Press Release:

Rent a smart home? Some multi-family buildings are going automated

By Jenny McGrath for Digital Trends:  When we put together our list of smart-home gadgets that are good for apartment dwellers and renters, a lot of light bulbs, locks, and switches made the list. Wiring and affixing things to the wall just isn’t worth the hassle when you’ll be moving out in a year or two — or when you risk the wrath of a landlord.

But lots of tenants would like the option of smartening up their homes, even if they are just temporary homes. A few multi-family dwellings actually want in on making buildings more energy efficient or solving some common headaches that come with balancing security and convenience (think key fobs to enter a locked entrance).

StratIS makes app-based tech for apartments, dorms, and hotels that helps property managers control energy, automation, and security. They can use special tablets to oversee a bunch of properties, while those living there can use a smart thermostat without having to buy it themselves and uninstall it when moving out.  Cont'd...

Could This Single Device Protect Your Smart Home?

Joseph Bernstein for BuzzFeed News:  Sense is a smart router combined with software that sits on top of and monitors all of the connected devices in your house. It reads all the traffic coming into those devices in real time and analyzes it using F-Secure’s cloud security network, “an analytics engine and information repository for malware and a variety of other digital threats.”

When Sense detects unwanted or malicious traffic — say, a botnet trying to connect to your smart television — it simply blocks it.

By drawing all of the IoT devices in the home into one protected network, Sense presents a remarkably elegant solution to a problem the cybersecurity world has been worrying about for a long time.  Cont'd...

Study - Smart Home Technology Will Have Greater Impact Than Wearables

New GfK research shows that half of US consumers believe smart home technology will have a major impact on their lives – a higher level than wearables or cloud computing and equal to mobile payment systems.

The study, which covered seven countries, asked consumers to choose which of 11 leading-edge technologies – from 3D printing to augmented/virtual reality to Internet of Things -- would be important to their lives. (Respondents could choose as many technologies as they wished.)

In the US, 51 percent of consumers picked smart home, versus 50% for mobile payments – a statistical tie; these compare to global levels of 54% for mobile payments and 51% for smart home. (The global figures cited here represent five of the seven countries in the full survey – US, UK, Germany, Brazil, and South Korea; data for China and Japan will be released later.)

Four in ten (42%) US consumers cited wearables – significantly higher than the global score of 33% -- while cloud computing came in at 41%.

Full Press Release:

Slick New Wireless Speakers Reimagine Your Home Audio Setup

TIM MOYNIHAN for Wired:   Libratone is reimagining what a home-audio setup should be in the modern world. Portable wireless speakers aren’t just a handy vacation accoutrement; Libratone thinks they’re also the cornerstone of our future home systems. The company is clearing its entire slate of products and replacing them with their next-generation Zipp and Zipp Mini speakers, which support everything from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi to DLNA to AirPlay to Spotify Connect. They’re nice-looking wireless speakers with great sound blasting out of them in every direction, and they get up to 10 hours of battery life.

The Zipp and Zipp Mini aren’t just grab-and-go portable speakers—although the Zipp Mini’s small size, strong sound, carrying strap, and washable cover lend themselves to that scenario. With its new speakers, Libratone is intent on creating a wireless multi-room sound system for modern living, built for open floor plans and rooms with several purposes. It wants to make a system that’s just as modular as a loft without being overly complex.  Cont'd...

China and India driving $3T consumer electronics boom, smart home devices growing fastest

MICHAEL DE WAAL-MONTGOMERY for VentureBeat:  Populous countries in Asia Pacific — most notably China and India — are leading a nearly $3 trillion boom in the consumer electronics market between now and 2020, with smart home devices growing the fastest of any segment, according to a new report by Future Market Insights that came out Thursday.

Top players in the space include Apple (with its new Apple TV push), Samsung (with its SmartThings Hub announced earlier this year), HP (which just split into two companies this month), LG, Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Hitachi.

Basically, we’re talking about any smart device (so most likely Internet-connected) that makes life easier for the average consumer in their home.

Nest’s smart thermostat and smoke detector are probably classic examples of the segment, which the report says is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 percent.  Cont'd...

Sentri Home Security And Automation Hub Up For Pre-Order

Anthony Karcz for Forbes:  Quick, how many connected devices do you have in your house? Do you have a smart thermostat or LED bulbs? How do you control them, via various different apps on your phone? What about when you’re gone and your phone is with you? What do you do then?

Sentri is a new company on the scene that has an answer to all of these questions. Coming off a successful Kickstarter campaign, they are offering a home-automation hub and security camera to help everyone in your household control your smart devices and keep them safe. Compatible with Nest, Philips Hue, and WeMo switches (for now, more partners will be announced in the future), Sentri provides easy access to your smart home via a 10-inch touchscreen.  Cont'd...

Apple TV review: Big steps forward, but not a revolution

Susie Ochs for MacWorld:  Apple finally updated its Apple TV set-top box, which had remained virtually unchanged for years, since going 1080p in 2012. The new version is faster, easier to use, and less frustrating, at least most of the time. What it isn’t is a revolution—everything Apple added already existed in its competitors.

An App Store and a microphone-equipped remote for voice search are both excellent features to have, and they bring the Apple TV closer to the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. But Apple still has a ways to go. The Remote app for iOS doesn’t work with this new model, for example, so we’re back to entering passwords one letter at a time by clicking with the remote—that’s actually a step backward from where we were. You still can’t enter your cable-provider credentials in one place and see a list of all the network apps you could log into. Without categories in the App Store, you can’t even find a list of all the games.  Cont'd...

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X explained

Theo Nicolakis for TechHive:  Have you ever seen a presentation explaining the difference between the second and third dimensions? If you were to step into a 2D world, it would be like living inside a piece of paper—an entire universe completely flat in its existence. Objects could exist only on a single plane, left, right, straight ahead, or behind. In mathematical terms, you would have only an X axis and a Y axis. In a 2D world, the concepts of “up” or “down” do not exist. There is no Z axis.

Jump back over to the third dimension and you’ll encounter an entire world of sights and sounds above and below in addition to all around. Step into a 3D world and you’ll immediately feel as though things are more realistic, more natural, more true-to-life. Imagine how difficult it would be to explain to a person living in a 2D world what the 3D world looks like, feels like, and sounds like.  Cont'd...

Utah Jazz home arena renamed to 'Vivint Smart Home Arena'

The name for the 19,911-seat facility, formerly known as Energy Solutions Arena, will be the Vivint Smart Home Arena. The arena hosts about 1.8 million guests and more than 100 sports and entertainment events each year. The basketball court is named for Larry H. Miller, who spearheaded the construction of the building 25 years ago.

“The Utah Jazz and the arena are proud to have Vivint as our new naming rights partner,” said LHMSE President Steve Starks. “Vivint is a long-time supporter of the Jazz, is a Utah-based company, and has a deep commitment to the community and our fans. These were all qualities we looked for when we began this process. ”

Headquartered in Provo, Utah, Vivint creates innovative smart home products and services. With Vivint, homeowners can automate, control and monitor their homes from any smart device. The company’s smart home platform includes door locks, lights, a thermostat and an intelligent doorbell camera, among others. Vivint has more than one million customers and 8,000 employees throughout the United States and Canada. Forbes recently named the company to its list of “America’s Best Employers.”  Full Press Release:

Sonos To Open Up API To Simplify Integration With Smart Home Systems

Wireless multiroom-audio pioneer Sonos will open up its API to make it easier for home-automation suppliers to integrate with Sonos speakers and soundbars without having to reverse-engineer Sonos software.  But Sonos isn’t saying when.

The “next big thing for us” will be “opening aspects of our platform so other companies [home-automation suppliers] can work with it,” Michael Papish, platform strategies director, told TWICE during the CEDIA Expo.

Sonos wants to provide home-automation users with “the right amount of control without compromising sound quality and ease of use,” he said, without saying when the API would be available.

For years, home-automation suppliers have reverse-engineered Sonos technology to create applications enabling their home-automation systems to control Sonos systems, and Sonos “won’t cut them off,” Papish said. But when Sonos makes software updates, the reverse-engineered solutions “might not work,” he said. Creating a “standardized protocol” will prevent that problem, he said.  Cont'd...

Linux's domination of home automation gizmos continues

Eric Brown for Linux Gizmos:  The Linux-dominated home automation business is still a fragmented free-for-all, but it’s also beginning to consolidate, with far fewer startups in 2015 compared to recent years.
This month we saw several major product announcements from established players related to Linux. First, Google’s Nest Labs announced the first device partners for its Weave home automation protocol using the Thread networking standard. Now Samsung, which began shipping its first Linux-based SmartThings hub last month, released a $249 sensor kit built around the hub. Meanwhile, in the larger Internet of Things world that includes industrial, as well as home automation, the Linux Foundation’s AllSeen Alliance announced a new certification program and security stack. In addition, Amazon unveiled an AWS IoT cloud platform available with starter kits based on Linux hacker boards .  Cont'd...

Lowe's: Consumers Prefer Home Improvement Stores for Smart Home Products

Today, Iris by Lowe's released the results of its annual Smart Home Survey, revealing that when it comes to shopping for smart home products, home improvement stores (either in-store or online) were rated the No. 1 place Americans are most likely to buy. When asked why they would choose a home improvement store, most say it's because it is a retailer they can trust (55 percent) that has knowledgeable staff (40 percent) and a variety of available products (48 percent). 
The 2015 Smart Home Survey, conducted online in August by Harris Poll on behalf of Iris, Lowe's Smart Home Business Unit, polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18+ and examined Americans' attitudes toward and experiences with smart home products, homing in on the driving factors behind their purchasing and use preferences. Results from this year's study indicate that when it comes to purchasing considerations, cost of equipment and monthly fees as a deciding factor has decreased (down from 56 percent in 2014), though it's still the most commonly cited (43 percent). Ease of use is the second most important deciding factor (19 percent, up from 13 percent in 2014), followed by energy and efficiency features (15 percent) such as home temperature control and automated lighting.   Full Press Release:
 

CEDIA Announces 2015 Best New Product Award Winners

CEDIA has announced the winners of the 2015 Best New Product awards. The winning products were selected by a panel of home technology professional judges and were selected for the innovation they represent and the value they provide to both the integrator's business and the end user.  This year's honorees are:

Digital Projection - INSIGHT 4K Dual-LED

D-Tools, Inc. - System Integrator 2015 (SI 2015) featuring Mobile Install

DynaQuip Controls - WaterCopPRO Integrated

Future Automation - HSE - Large Motorised Wall Mount

IC Realtime - C720 360-degree x 360-degree 4K Virtual PTZ Camera

ihiji, Inc. - ServiceManager

Kaleidescape, Inc. - Strato Movie Player

Savant - Savant App

Séura - Storm Outdoor TV

Sonance - DSP Amplifiers with SonARC

August Unveils New Products and Services to Transform Home Access

August Home, Inc., today announced August Access, a first-of-its-kind platform that provides secure, trusted home access via the August Smart Lock for top service providers, including home repair, delivery, shipping, cleaning, elderly care, dog walking, among others. To enable this, the company unveiled a new line of products: the August Smart Lock - HomeKit enabled, the August Smart Keypad, and the August Doorbell Cam.

August’s goal has always been to build products and services that enable people to monitor and manage entry into their homes from wherever they are, making life simpler and more secure. These new products, along with August Access, create a cohesive system that revolutionizes the way people interact with their homes, removing the barriers that currently exist with home delivery services and overall access, while providing total visibility, control, and increased security to the front door.

Full Press Release:

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