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...

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...

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...

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...

CastleOS Announces the First Windows 10 Smart Home Hub

CastleOS announces the upcoming CastleHUB will be the first Windows 10 smart home hub, featuring voice control with Cortana and the Kinect.

Using Cortana on Windows 10, or the Kinect for far-field control in a room, you can speak to your home! Actions as common as turning on lights, setting moods with color changing bulbs, controlling entertainment systems, adjusting heat and air conditioning, locking doors, monitoring security, watering the lawn, or even feeding the family pet are all possible by voice control and with the CastleOS app. The power of CastleOS with Windows 10 enables everyone to enjoy the highest level of true independent living in their own home, even if they are physically unable to use a mobile app or light switch!  Cont'd...

Quirky's Ben Kaufman steps down as CEO

Sarah Tew for CNET:  Ben Kaufman is stepping down as CEO of Quirky, the New York-based developer of crowd-sourced inventions Kaufman founded in 2009. The company announced the move via blog post on Friday, citing an "ongoing strategy to focus efforts and resources on Wink," its smart home-centric subsidiary.

That strategy marks a shift from reports earlier this year that Quirky was looking to sell Wink off to the highest bidder. Those efforts were reportedly put on hold in April after a botched security update locked many customers out of their Wink Hubs, the central communications device in Wink's smart home platform. Kaufman, however, confirmed that selling Wink was still a possibility in an interview with Fortune last month.  Cont'd...

Ecovent Closes $6.9 Million in Funding to Bring Room-by-Room Temperature Control and Comfort to Homeowners

Ecovent, the maker of the only intelligent home zoning system that delivers complete room-by-room climate control, today announced that it has closed a $6.9 million Series A funding round led by Emerson Climate Technologies, a business segment of Emerson (NYSE:EMR). The round includes participation from Tamarisc and Blue Fog Capital. 
Ecovent started the year being named Automation Product of the Year at CES 2015, and has struck a chord with consumers, bringing in more than $1 million in pre-orders. Ecovent is transforming the home by giving consumers control over their comfort in every room. Ecovent's advanced system of wireless vents and sensors intelligently diagnose the factors impacting room temperature and automatically adjust airflow into each room to achieve the perfectly desired temperature. With Ecovent, homeowners have the ability to control the temperature of each room individually through an app, saving energy and money by heating and cooling only the rooms that need conditioning instead of the entire home. 
"Today's cars allow passengers and drivers to set individual temperatures, yet most homes have only one adjustable zone, and it's time to change that," said Dipul Patel, CEO and co-founder of Ecovent. "We developed the Ecovent system to give people room-by-room temperature control in any home - automatically. It's incredibly exciting to have the support of an industry titan like Emerson to help us bring Ecovent to a larger audience as we change the way homeowners experience comfort in their homes."   Full Press Release:
 

PEEK INSIDE HONDA'S RADICALLY EFFICIENT, ENERGY-PRODUCING SMART HOME

By Jenny McGrath for DigitalTrends:  Last March, Honda showed off its state-of-the-art smart home, which is so energy efficient it actually produces more energy than it uses. But it wasn’t just a slick showpiece. For the last nine months, the Bennett/O’Hara family has been living in the Honda Smart Home on the University of California campus in Davis, and they like it so much, they’ve decided to extend their stay another year.

You can’t really blame them. It’s 1,944 square feet, runs on solar energy and battery power, and it doesn’t even need air conditioning. Everything from the lights to themusic is controlled through an iPad app. The blinds and lights are programmed to open and close automatically. Because its plans are all open-source and it produces more energy than it uses, it’s an excellent potential model for future California homes, because all new houses there will have to be net zero beginning in 2020.

If it seems odd for a car company to get involved in home automation, it’s because Honda is actually looking at the bigger picture. Honda and UC Davis researchers are looking at how devices work together, and how they can influence climate change, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The dishwasher is from Bosch and KitchenAid made the refrigerator, but the energy management system is Honda’s. The company also wanted someone in the family to drive about 30 miles per day, testing its electric Fit and accompanying charging equipment.  Cont'd...

Swann Enters the Connected Home Market with SwannOne

The SwannOne system begins with the SwannOne Smart Hub and iOS or Android app for easy control and endless applications. Then add on the SwannOne SoundView Camera to monitor and record what’s happening in your home. There is even a tamper detection feature which sends an alert to your phone if an intruder attempts to break or move the camera.

Built-in microphones are smart enough to analyze certain sounds like breaking glass, baby cries, car alarms, and even gunshots. It will only send a notification for major noise disturbances, and not innocent ones like a dropped wine glass on your kitchen tile. SwannOne also listens and protects the home from smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide threats by hearing the alarms going off, and launching an alert. If the user is not reachable, SwannOne can even connect with emergency services via an optional professional security monitoring service.

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