What Exactly Is Amazon's Smart Home Strategy?

Michael Wolf for Forbes:   If you were hoping for a straightforward, ‘here’s our smart home’ announcement from Amazon, you’re out of luck. And unlike others in the space, Amazon’s efforts so far can’t really be summed up easily in a sentence or two. Instead, they’ve put together what appears to be a hodgepodge of random efforts that, at first blush, are difficult to distill down into a cohesive strategy.   But once you start looking more closely and begin to connect dots, a potentially interesting plan begins to emerge, one completely different than any of the company’s peers...   One thing Amazon is notably not doing is creating a separate piece of purpose built smart home hardware to connect a bunch of smart home devices and radios. In other words, they’re not doing a hub.   Instead, they’ve opted to focus on creating a control layer for your smart home in the Echo that gives them the ability to innocuously gather usage data about your smart home.

Silvair Control wireless remote lends smart home control

Seed Labs, the IoT company empowering the world’s leading manufacturers of appliances, devices and electronics to create the truly smart home, has introduced Silvair Control. The world’s first fully configurable, gesture-driven, wireless controller that lets customers manage their everyday appliances whether that be lamps, shades, and garage doors or other household and commercial products. Silvair Control is a Bluetooth® Smart-based device that can easily be configured with your smartphone or tablet to control. It doesn’t need any hard wiring or even a plug, its battery lasts up to 8 years and magnetic mounting allows customers to use it at any space. The control is part of Silvair Mesh where software-defined sensors and controllers can be seamlessly connected to products appliances and adjusted to customers needs providing with an easy and unmatched management capabilities.

ISC West 2015 is underway in Las Vegas!

ISC West is the largest physical security show in North America featuring over 1,000 exhibitors in one place over a 3 day period.  ISC West is the security industry’s premier launching pad for new products, solutions and technologies.  26,000 security professionals attend the show to view the 10,000+ products featured on its show floor and attend business critical education sessions on the newest technologies in security.    As a media partner for ISC West 2015 HomeToys.com will be bringing all the industry news and exciting new products to our eMagazine to help our readers make sense of the massive event.     Check out our  Special ISC West Tradeshow Report  and our special  ISC West Newspage  for Exhibitor news and announcements.  

A First Look At Home Automation On The Apple Watch

Now, we have a first look at how PEQ will handle home automation using the Apple Watch, and it’s a sensible approach: They’re simply moving those function blocks from the iPad screen to your wrist. Instead of several tiles on the screen at once, there’s only one at a time, which the user can swipe through. short list of the most important stuff. So why is this better than just using PEQ on that iPhone living in your pocket? One of PEQ's designers, argodesign founder Mark Rolston, contends that glancing at your wrist is a step less friction than pulling a phone from your pocket. And living in his own hyperconnected smarthome, managed by his iPad and iPhone, has taught him this. "It’s just accessibility," Rolston explains. "A recurring scenario for me is, I walk out the back door, and I might have some lights still on, and as soon as I walk away, I pull up on my phone [to check]. We used to have this routine, asking, ‘Did you leave the light on? Run upstairs and see if you left the light on!’ We don’t do that anymore." And to Rolston, the ability to look at his wrist rather than check his phone to answer that basic question, "did you leave the lights on," is the paradigm shift at play.

Amazon's Smart-Home Hub Has Been Here All Along

Wednesday, owners of the Amazon Echo—a voice-activated Bluetooth speaker still only available for purchase by invitation—received an email detailing their little black cylinder’s newfound powers. In addition to streaming music from the cloud, telling you the weather, and tapping into Wikipedia to help settle bets, Echo now supports products from WEMO and Philips Hue. In other words, you can now bark at your speaker to dim the lights.   The products Echo now plays nice with include the WeMo Switch and Insight Switch, which you plug into an outlet to give you limited control over your appliances; Light Switch, which does the same for, well, lights; and a stack of smart bulbs from Philips Hue.   Set-up seems fairly simple. As long as your smart home products are on the same Wi-Fi network as your Echo and you’ve identified them appropriately in their respective apps, you simply need to say “Alexa, discover my appliances.” (Alexa is the name of Echo’s AI personality.) Once discovered, they’re at your literal beck and call.

ABB, Robert Bosch & Cisco eyeing smart home software

ABB, Robert Bosch GmbH and Cisco Systems Inc have joined hands in an international joint venture called mozaiq operations GmbH to develop and operate an open-software platform for smart homes.   The platform promises to unify today's standalone solutions for home automation and offer interoperability across devices.     It is claimed the platform, to be developed by mozaiq operations, would bring the Internet of things, services and people into consumers' homes, making it easy and secure for a wide range of products to communicate with each other.    Consumers will be able to seamlessly and intuitively tailor their appliances and devices, regardless of brand, to deliver an unprecedented level of control, comfort and significantly improve energy efficiency, it is claimed. 

ZigBee Alliance and Thread Group Collaborate to Aid Development of Connected Home Products

The ZigBee Alliance (www.ZigBee.org) and the Thread Group (www.threadgroup.org) today announced they are collaborating to enable the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks. By working together, ZigBee and Thread can jointly provide an interoperable solution to help streamline product development and ultimately improve the consumer's experience in the connected home.  The ZigBee Cluster Library standardizes application level functionality for a wide variety of devices used in smart homes and other markets. Thread is a wireless networking protocol that can support multiple low-bandwidth, IP-based application protocols to provide secure and reliable networks, simple connectivity and low power in the home. Both organizations remain committed to their independence while cooperating to benefit their respective members.    "Application level standardization is necessary to provide truly interoperable products to consumers," said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance. "We believe this agreement will deliver value to product developers searching for another solution for connectivity in the smart home."   

Survey Finds the Technology of Tomorrow Helps Many Smart Homes Sell Faster Today

As smart home technology plays a larger role in real estate, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today released a survey uncovering what smart features home buyers are looking for when purchasing a home and how those features impact a home's sale. Coldwell Banker Real Estate also announced a list of 25 smart home products and systems in the categories that matter most to home buyers.   Smart home appliances and technology are becoming more mainstream in homes throughout the country. Products and features once reserved for only the highest priced properties are now found in homes across the United States at various price points. The proliferation of this technology is not only changing the way Americans live, it's also changing their tastes and expectations when shopping for real estate -- so much so that making your home "smart" may be smarter than you think.   According to the survey, home buyers are most interested in smart home technology for the following categories:   Security (65 percent of sales associates agree) Temperature control (57 percent) Safety (48 percent) Lighting (46 percent) Entertainment (42 percent) Appliances (23 percent)  

Google's new patent is full of ideas for smart home gadgets

From DigitalTrends:  Nest and Dropcam are just the beginning for Google’s entrance into the smart home, according to a patent filed in September 2014 called “Security Scoring in a Smart-Sensored Home.”   Published yesterday, the patent deals with connected devices that “communicate with each other and/or with a central server or a cloud-computing system to provide any of a variety of useful home security objectives.” It’s not surprising, given that Nest and its “Works with Nest” developer program recently made the smart thermostat and smoke-and-CO2-detectors play with August smart locks, Philips Hue light bulbs, and Withings sleep system. But the patent shows Google is planning on doing more than operating in conjunction with third-party smart devices: It just may start cranking out its own.   There are a few drawings and mentions of smart products Google doesn’t yet make, including smart plugs, wall switches, nightlights, and connected doorbells and doorknobs. Then there’s a smart alarm clock that wakes you up earlier when the roads will be icy or an accident is tying up traffic. But it goes beyond just connecting everything in your home; Google wants to tie the community together, too. A burglary three houses down would cause your lights to flick on and your smart lock to engage.    

RadioShack will close over 1,700 stores following bankruptcy filing

From Emily Gera for Polygon:  Long-running electronics company RadioShack, which filed for bankruptcy last week, will see the closure of 1,784 stores across North America by March 31, the company confirmed in court documents.   RadioShack plans for the closures to come in three waves, the first of which will be completed by Feb. 17 and see the closure of 162 stores. The second will see 986 stores closed by Feb. 28, followed by a final purge of 636 stores by the end of March.   Despite filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, some stores will continue to exist. RadioShack operates 4,485 stores across the U.S. and it was reported General Wireless had plans to purchase between 1,500 and 2,400 stores. As part of an agreement with wireless service provider Sprint, 1,750 RadioShack stores will also be transformed into a combination Sprint/RadioShack retailer.   According to the Delaware court filing, RadioShack representatives said the company had $1.2 billion in assets and $1.38 billion in debt.

Nortek Inc. announced that its Linear subsidiary has been renamed Nortek Security & Control

Nortek Inc. (Nasdaq: NTK) announced today that its Linear LLC subsidiary has been renamed Nortek Security & Control, LLC. Linear, 2GIG and GoControl will be the subsidiary's cornerstone brands, each targeting key markets. Strongly positioned with product portfolio synergies and the ability to cross-pollinate technology across the broader Nortek family, Nortek Security & Control provides a broad range of smart home solutions to OEMs, telecoms, major retailers, managed service providers, security dealers, custom installers and DIY consumers.  "Nortek's Linear business has been transformed during the past few years, as we have become a market leader not only in the security industry but the broader home control and automation sector, as well," said Nortek President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Clarke. "Linear's legacy includes 50 years as a pioneer in the wireless access control market and industry-leading capabilities in the design, engineering and manufacturing of sensors and connected devices. Our 2013 acquisition of 2GIG Technologies accentuated these strengths by bringing us more brands and capabilities, as well as complete solutions for the broader home automation space." 

Parks Associates: 62% of Consumers Unfamiliar with Smart Home Products or Services

Parks Associates reports that approximately two-thirds of U.S. broadband households are unfamiliar with smart home products or services. Further, few consumers know what smart home devices and services are, who sells them, or where to buy them. New research, IoT for Smart Home Devices and Controllers, published by Parks Associates with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, analyzes the results of a Q2 2014 survey of 10,000 U.S. broadband households. The results include recommendations for the connected home industry, analysis of consumer demand for smart home products, and strategies to raise awareness of smart home devices and their sales channels. “Today, smart home service providers control almost every aspect of their offerings while consumers make only one choice - the service provider,” said Tricia Parks, CEO and Founder, Parks Associates. “Deploying open solutions that give consumers a degree of control over their ecosystem represents a major competitive element and an opportunity to increase revenue and business opportunities for software, hardware, and service players. However, consumers have to know where to find these devices, so these companies also need better promotion of their sales channels.”

CEA Examines the Future of Consumer Technology in Five Technology Trends to Watch

he Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) today unveiled five cutting-edge technologies that will significantly impact the CE industry during the opening session "Five Disruptive Techs to Watch" at CEA's Innovate! Conference being held this week in Phoenix, AZ. The session, moderated by CEA Senior Vice President of Communications and Strategic Relationships Jeff Joseph, included The Envisioneering Group's Richard Doherty; Disruption Corp.'s Paul Singh; and CNET Reviews Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Turrentine.  Based on CEA's annual publication, Five Technology Trends to Watch, the session introduced each of the five topics with man on the street videos of consumers filmed on the National Mall in Washington, DC to gauge their familiarity with the five technology trends. The 2015 edition highlights Big Data, the rise of the machines (Internet of Things, robotics and driverless cars), digital health and the quantified self, entertainment and immersive content including augmented reality, and business models in the innovation economy.    Geared toward industry professionals, this publication provides in-depth analysis of each trend and outlines related issues and market forecasts for the coming year. Each section also explores consumer perspectives, partnerships and key players.   

CEDIA EXPO SHOWS STEADY GROWTH

CEDIA EXPO 2014 showed steady growth in attendance and exhibitor participation. More than 480 exhibitors and 18,500 attendees from 82 countries participated in the 2014 event in Denver.  Professional and overall attendance both grew by 3%, and the overall exhibitor footprint also saw growth with a 14% increase in the square footage of the show floor. “CEDIA EXPO continues to be a vital venue for home technology decision makers to connect and experience the latest and greatest the industry has to offer,” said Don Gilpin, CEDIA Executive Director and COO. “Not only did attendees see where the industry is going on the show floor, they also saw it in the classroom. CEDIA EXPO offered 110 training sessions, 48 of which were new, offering attendees avenues to stay up to date on the skills they need to remain competitive in the industry. From product launches and demos to networking and training events, CEDIA EXPO 2014 proved to be a fantastic success." Attendees remained consistent in their professional development with CEDIA training and this year’s certification offerings. All CEDIA Certification exam sessions sold out and 40+ training classes were sold out.

CEDIA ANNOUNCES 2014 ELECTRONIC LIFESTYLES® AWARDS WINNERS

The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) recognized the outstanding work of its members at the annual Electronic Lifestyles® Awards Celebration Saturday night. The honorees included over 40 winning projects in the Designer Awards competition, 11 Manufacturers' Excellence Awards winners, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and this year's top volunteers. Also at this year's Awards Celebration, CEDIA paid special recognition to the founding members of the association as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration.  The Designer Awards competition, which honors the best projects completed by home technology professional members in the past year, featured winners in such categories as Best Integrated Home, Best Media Room, Best Hidden Installation, and Best Home Theater. The Designer Awards winners were determined by a panel of expert judges that included home technology professionals, architects, and interior designers. Also recognized were the three winners in the CEDIA/HGTVRemodels.com People's Pick Awards, which were voted on by visitors to HGTVRemodels.com. The Manufacturers' Excellence Awards honorees included 10 Best New Product winners, one Sustainable Lifestyle Product Innovation winner, and three inductees into the Product Hall of Fame. The winners were selected by a panel of home technology professional judges.  The full list of award winners can be viewed at  here . For all the News and announcements from this years show make sure to check out our  SPECIAL CEDIA NEWSPAGE    & Check out our  Special CEDIA Tradeshow Report.

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