Wireless Multiroom Audio: Room For More?

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Sales growth is slowing in wireless multiroom audio even as more companies enter a market whose top brand – Sonos — enjoys almost a 90 percent dollar share of the market at the retail level.

So you’d think the market would be in the midst of a shakeout, shrinking margins, and a downward spiral in average selling prices. But you’d be wrong, at least for now.

Some audio suppliers see ASPs and retail-level margins holding steady or rising as high-performance audio brands begin to play in a market established by Sonos 10 years ago. And they aren’t too worried yet about slowing growth because the household penetration rate is still very low. Only 2 percent, or 3 million, of the country’s 116 million households have wireless multiroom-audio speakers, according to estimates from Yamaha, which entered the market in August.  Cont'd...

Connected home centre stage at IFA

Ciara O'Brien for The Irish Times:  The connected home may be nothing new, but at this year’s IFA consumer electronics exhibition, it seemed as if every manufacturer was keen to push its smart home credentials.

From Samsung and Intel to Panasonic and Sony, the big electronics companies joined smaller startups in jumping firmly on board the smart home band wagon.

Smart locks that keep out intruders but can be opened with your smartphone, smart cameras that watch your every move, and smart appliances that can be activated via your home network could all be part of your future home. Smart kettles and coffee makers that can be programmed through your phone, ovens where you can monitor the contents on a livestream and fridges that you can peek inside with cameras when you’re out of the house were just some of the inventions that are hoping to make our lives easier on display at IFA in Berlin.

Samsung announced that it would be getting into the connected home, with a starter kit dubbed Smart Things. The line includes a central hub that connects everything from electrical sockets and sensors, and links in with your home router to put your home online.  Cont'd...

Top 18 Home Automation Companies Who Will Run Your Home

Murray Newlands for Huffington Post:  The home automation space is poised to continue growing in 2015 and beyond. There are more companies and investors behind these companies that want entry into your home to make it smarter, more energy-efficient, safer, comfortable, and cost-effective. Here are the top 18 in-home automations across all segments, including hubs, security devices, energy-saving devices and monitors, appliance controls, and systems, which you should consider for your home:

Apple and HomeKit: From your phone and tablets to your television and computer, to your entire home, Apple plans to control just about everything in your life. Its HomeKit home automation system is a hub that will give connectivity to all automation in your home, including numerous home automation products from other companies. You can use Siri to give it voice commands, and it will include its AppleTV in the hub along with virtual rooms.
Google and Nest: Google's acquisition of Nest and Dropcam provides it with a full feature hub and additional security and energy-efficiency features in addition to the overall smart home command center. Google also plans to add voice command to its overall solutions. The Nest thermostat has already been named as the best thermostat solution on many home automation technology lists.
Samsung and SmartThings: Named as the best smart home hub by CNet, Samsung's SmartThings provides a whole home solution that also is intended to eventually connect to all of Samsung's home appliances as well as tablets and smartphones. It is admired for its low-entry price point and user-friendly implementation and overall use.  Cont'd...

LG Smart Sensor Can Turn Your Low-Tech Appliances To Smart Home Appliances

By Alexandra Burlacu, Tech Times:  The Smart ThinQ Sensor is designed to work with traditional, low-tech home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and others, turning them into smart appliances or, as LG puts it, making them "smart-aware."

Once attached to home appliances, this circular Smart ThinQ Sensor gets feedback such as temperature or vibration and transmits its readings to the Smart ThinQ app on the user's smartphone.

LG offers examples to illustrate how this will work out when paired with existing home appliances. Attached to a traditional washing machine, for instance, the Smart ThinQ device can sense when the machine completes a laundry cycle, sending a notification to the user's smartphone. Attached to a refrigerator, it can send the user a notification when a food item is approaching its expiration date. Connected to an air conditioner or some other such appliance, the Smart ThinQ allows users to remotely control the appliances via the smartphone app.  Cont'd...

Google's new Wi-Fi router sleek, but has a few hiccups

Most people don’t think about their home Wi-Fi router unless they are (A) installing it, or (B) undergoing severe digital withdrawal because the Internet is down and they need to hit reset.

But Google wants you to think about its new OnHub home Wi-Fi router all the time. The Mountain View tech giant designed OnHub to be proudly displayed out in the open next to your kid’s photos, not hidden in a dark, dusty spot under a desk.

Is that a reason to spend $199 on an OnHub, which goes on sale online Monday, if you don’t need a new router? Probably not. But if you are looking to upgrade a worn-out device, Google’s first entry into the router race is a compelling choice.

Not to be overlooked, the OnHub is also Google’s answer to Apple’s equally designer-friendly AirPort Extreme Base Station. With both companies battling for an early lead in the emerging market for smart-home devices, having a router that’s the center of it all could become a key beachhead.

Philips Just Made It Stupid Simple To Install Smarthome Lighting

Mark Wilson for FastCompany:  A lot of intelligent people believe that a platform like Apple’s HomeKitwill be the way we control the smart home of the future. But I'd bet on it looking a lot more like the new wireless dimming kit from the Philips Hue line—subtle technology that eliminates the need for electricians and apps at the same time.

Each kit runs $40, and it includes a white Hue bulb and a dimming remote. All you have to do is screw in the bulb to install it—and up to ten others can piggyback on this same network. The remote uses theZigBee radio protocol to control them in tandem, and it promises to last a minimum of three years, or 50,000 uses, before it needs its battery replaced.

Better still? This remote fits into a sticky base plate that adheres to your wall and looks like any standard light switch. In other words, rather than hiring an electrician to wire up the connection, or googling how to install dimmers without electrocuting yourself, Hue’s new kit allows you to install home lighting as easily as duct taping a switch to a wall.  Cont'd...

Nest Labs preparing to launch second generation smart thermostat

By David Curry, ITProPortal:  Arguments could be made for a new device, but Nest has been quickly approaching a second version of its smart thermostat. The company’s premiere product in many circles, it has won countless awards for its intelligent design and software tuning system.

Nest will enhance the wireless capabilities of the second smart thermostat, alongside updating the service to offer more potential savings. The design should stay around the same as it is now, no need to change what isn’t broken.

There have been rumours of an audio product and Google Glass in the pipeline. We do not think either of these products will be coming this year. Instead, Nest is focused on updating its product line to make everything fresh.

Tour of 1985 Home Automation System with Touchscreen

Avboden has a home automation system from 1985, and he recently created this video to show people how it worked. 

Samsung's new SmartThings hub will ship in September

Mikael Ricknäs:  Samsung-owned SmartThings’ new home automation hub is on the home stretch after problems with stability and performance caused a delay earlier this year.

SmartThings, which was acquired by Samsung in August last year, said in March it needed more time and had to push the launch of the hub from the second to the third quarter.  

The company said on Monday that the Samsung SmartThings Hub will be available for purchase in early September, and is available for pre-order for $99 on the SmartThings shop, on the Samsung.com store or on Amazon.com.

The SmartThings Hub and connected sensors can be used to control the lights, thermostats and doors, and warn about things such as water leaks. It works with ZigBee and Z-Wave radios.  Cont'd...

Google Launches OnHub, A Souped-Up WiFi Router And Smart Home Hub

Aaron Tilley for Forbes:  Although many details about the product aren’t entirely clear yet, there are some other interesting things going on inside the router. In addition to the 13 WiFi antennas, OnHub will also come with Bluetooth and ZigBee radios to connect with smart home devices. The ZigBee radio is using the Weave communication protocol, which is designed by Google-owned Nest. Nest uses Weave to connect up its own smart home products. Essentially, OnHub could work as a smart home hub.

OnHub also has a speaker built into it. No details on what kind of quality these speakers are. At this time, the speaker is mostly intended to aid in the setup process, said a TP-Link spokeswomen. But a speaker just for assisting in the setup process seems unlikely. Google could potentially integrate OnHub with its voice-enabled intelligent personal assistant Google Now.  Full Article:

Build a simple home security system using Raspberry Pi

By Lory Gil for Liliputing:  Want to set up a home security system, but don’t want to pay a monthly fee to a security company? Techradar has a detailed do-it-yourself project for a connected alert system using Raspberry Pi.

While it might not have all the bells and whistles you’d get with a professional system, with some basic parts and a little coding, you can set it up an infrared sensor that will send you a text message when movement is detected. Plus, you can include a camera to take a snapshot and 10-second video so that you’ll know if your cat or a cat burglar tripped the sensor.

The project requires a few special items, in addition to the Raspberry Pi. You will need a passive infrared sensor (PIR) and the Pi Camera. You will also be installing Python and creating a few codes of text to activate the system.  Cont'd...

Apple Said to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 as Negotiations Stall

By  Peter Burrows, Lucas Shaw and Gerry Smith for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. customers waiting for the company to revolutionize live television as it did for music and phone service will have to keep waiting, at least until next year.

The company wanted to introduce this year a live TV service delivered via the Internet, but is now aiming for 2016, said people familiar with Apple’s plans. Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. are progressing slowly, some of the people said. Apple also doesn’t have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Without enough content deals in place, Apple has scrapped plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, which would have coincided with the beginning of the new network TV season, the people said. The Cupertino, California-based company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, said the people, but customers -- for now, at least -- will need a cable or satellite TV subscription or an antenna to watch live network television.  Cont'd...

Here Comes Another Home-Automation Platform

Joseph Palenchar for Twice.com:  Smart-house platform provider ROC-Connect has entered the North American market following last year’s launch in Europe and Latin America and has turned to the former VP/general manager of Lowe’s smart-home division to lead the rollout. The ex-Lowe’s executive is Kevin Meagher, tapped by ROC as senior VP of business development. He developed Iris, the smart-home platform exclusive to Lowe’s. ROC will offer turnkey solutions to manufacturers, retailers, service providers such as telcos and utilities, health-care facilities and insurance providers. The solutions will deliver “all your company needs to create a smart-home solution for your customers,” the company’s website says. ROC offers a multi-radio gateway/hub intended for DIY installation in the home along with Cloud services. System monitoring and control is available through an app for iOS and Android devices and from web browsers. Cont'd...

Will future homes feature built-in recycled water systems?

Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter:  A small group gathered on a recent afternoon outside a $1 million model home on Cloudbreak Lane here. The five-bedroom house offered a Mediterranean tile roof, teal-green shutters and arched entryway. Designer touches inside included a walk-in pantry, motion-sensing faucets and optional oversized wine cabinet.

But it was a plain, gray metal box on the side of the house that grabbed the most attention. Avery Kintner, a green building consultant, brought a group of students from University of California, San Diego, to see the box's secrets.

The 5-foot-wide container held pipes, filters, a tub and other mechanics. It's a system designed to help the future residents of this house survive the ongoing drought and any future ones.

The structure takes leftover water from the house's showers, sinks and laundry and filters it, then returns it to irrigate the front landscaping. The complex under construction, a development from KB Home called "Sea Cliff" is the first in the state built with so-called graywater piping in all houses.  Cont'd...

Universal Electronics makes smart home bid with Ecolink acquisition

By Ben Munson for CEDMagazine:  Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) is strengthening its position in the smart home market by acquiring Ecolink Intelligent Technology, a wireless home security and automation specialist.

UEI is spending about $12.4 million in cash and incentive-based considerations over the next five years to acquire Ecolink’s assets.

Those assets include over 25 issued and pending patents, related intellectual property and Ecolink’s smart home, wireless security and home automation business.

Ecolink will become a wholly owned subsidiary of UEI and continue being operated and marketed under the Ecolink name.

For Ecolink, the acquisition likely means a significant boost in market penetration.

For UEI, the purchase means a stronger foothold in the smart home/home automation market that’s becoming part of many cable companies’ and telco’ businesses.  Cont'd...

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