This Is Microsoft's Big Secret Windows 10 Feature

John Patrick Pullen for Time:  When Microsoft announced this week that Windows 10 would be available July 29, Start Button devotees the world over rejoiced. But the return of everyone’s favorite app launcher is just one of many new features rolled into the forthcoming operating system. The biggest and most exciting element added to Windows computers is one that went largely unmentioned: smart home control. Microsoft announced last November Windows 10 would pack a technology called AllJoyn. An open source framework that encourages devices to be interoperable, AllJoyn was developed by the AllSeen Alliance, a group of more than 150 companies including the likes of Electrolux, Honeywell, LG, and Qualcomm that have banded together to make an open standard for Internet of Things (IoT) devices to speak to each other. “AllJoyn technology is like dial-tone for things,” says Philip DesAutels, a senior director of IoT at The Linux Foundation. What he means is this new protocol harkens back to how when you bought something to plug into your home’s phone jack — an answering machine, a cordless phone, a fax — it would just work. The idea behind AllJoyn is that whatever smart home products you buy, no matter the manufacturer or which wireless method they use to connect, when they get plugged in, they are detected and connected to all the other AllJoyn devices on the network.   Cont'd...

First Apple HomeKit-Certified Smart Home Devices Launch

Aaron Tilley for Forbes:  Five startups are announcing the launch of the very first HomeKit-certified devices today. HomeKit is Apple’s standard for how third-party smart home gadgets connect in iOS.   These five HomeKit-compliant devices include: Ecobee’s $250 WiFi-connected thermostat. Elgato’s line of sensors that collect data on air quality, humidity, air pressure, temperature as well as energy and water consumption. iHOME’s smart plug that allows users to turn on and off appliances wirelessly. Lutron’s bridge device that connects the HomeKit standard with its connected lighting system. Insteon’s bridge device that connects its massive catalogue of existing home automation devices with HomeKit. Each of these device makers had to go through Apple’s MFi (“Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad”) program to achieve certification. Apple requires device makers to install an authentication chip in their product as well as go through extensive usability testing to make sure the products live up to Apple’s lofty standards.

IKEA's Building a Super Cheap and Versatile Smart Home System

Adam Clark Estes for Gizmodo:  Smart lighting systems like Philips Hue are futuristic and awesome and, typically, expensive. But IKEA wants to offer this type of technology to the masses. The Swedish flatpack furniture empire is developing an entire smart home system, and it looks futuristic and awesome and, you guessed it, cheap. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. IKEA’s been inching into the home electronics business very deliberately, and it’s only natural that it would want to upend the burgeoning smart home market. Creating with a connected lightbulb system makes good sense. We already saw IKEA’s affordable, motorized sit/stand desk last fall. Then, came IKEA’s versatile and customizable wireless charging system that hit stores this spring. But next fall, the so-called Home Smart II Lighting Collection will take things to a new level. At least, IKEA says it’s going to do this. I recently visited IKEA’s headquarters in Älmhult, where the company was showing off all kinds of new goodies, from vegetarian meatballs to couches made out of paper. At an event that I can only describe as a science fair for furniture, I learned a little bit about how the new lighting system will work. Since I didn’t test the products themselves, I’ll offer you IKEA’s description of the system, which is being developed in collaboration with Frog Design.   Cont'd...

Google is trying to solve the smart home's biggest problem

By Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:  The promise of the smart home is a world of appliances that anticipate your needs and do exactly what you want them to at the touch of a button, but that vision devolves into chaos when none of those devices can actually talk to each other. That's more or less the state of the smart home today, but now Google is trying to offer a solution. At its developers conference this afternoon, Google announced two pieces of software for the smart home and the broader collection of connected devices around us, increasingly known as the internet of things. Those two pieces are Brillo, an operating system, and Weave, a common language for devices to talk to one another. And importantly, Weave doesn't have to run on Brillo — so appliance manufacturers can theoretically add it on to their existing products. With Weave, Google is creating a "common language" that devices can use to talk about things like locking a door, taking a photo, or measuring moisture. Google will keep adding more functions as it thinks of them, and developers will be able to submit their own functions, which Google will vet and potentially add in. Weave devices are even required to go through a certification program to ensure that they work properly.

A new "Home" app from Apple could make smart homes easier for users.

By Adriana Lee for ReadWrite:  Since Apple announced its HomeKit smart home initiative last year, it's been mostly quiet about just how iPhones and other Apple gadgets will wrangle those connected devices. Now, however, the company may have a fancy new app in the works—complete with virtual rooms, a clever and apparently easy-to-grasp metaphor for running a smart home.   Apple’s approach, according to a 9to5Mac report, will be to launch a new "Home" app for controlling smart-home gadgets—think smart locks, sensors, garage openers, thermostats, lights, security cameras and other connected appliances. The Home app will sort gadgets by function and location into a visual arrangements of virtual rooms   The goal is to simplify the otherwise bewildering task of finding, adding and controlling smart devices and appliances from Apple and other companies.

Samsung wants everyone to build smart home gadgets on its new platform

From Josh Lowensohn for The Verge: If you plan on building or buying a connected gadget in the immediate future, Samsung wants to be inside of it. Today the company announced Artik, a collection of small system-on-chips designed to power everything from wearable devices to home appliances. The Artik line is made up three different sizes, what Samsung is calling the Artik 1, 5, and 10. The one is the tiniest of the bunch, measuring at 12mm by 12mm, and runs off a coin cell battery for what Samsung says is "several weeks." It has Bluetooth LE, an accelerometer, a 9-axis motion sensor, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, and a cost of less than $10. Samsung envisions companies using it for Bluetooth tags (like Tile), location beacons, and wearables. The larger Artik 5 (which is a little larger than a quarter) is like a small computer, and adds Wi-Fi, ZigBee wireless, and onboard 720p video decoding. Samsung says a good use case of the Artik 5 would be something like on-board chips for drones. Lastly, the Artik 10 — which is the most like a small computer and will run about $100 — adds more storage, 1080p video decoding, and a 1.3GHz Octa Core processor, all things Samsung says will be useful for media hubs, home servers, and personal cloud storage devices.

CSR and Avi-on Labs Add Simple, Seamless Whole-Home Control to GE Branded Lighting

  CSR plc announced that it has worked with Avi-on Labs to provide Bluetooth® Smart mesh connectivity in a new GE branded line of smart lighting from Jasco Products. These lighting and home control products, which are expected to appear in major retail stores this year, use CSR’s Bluetooth® Smart solution - CSRmesh™ - to allow an almost unlimited number of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices to be simply networked together and controlled directly from a “smart” switch or dimmer, a smartphone or a tablet.   “CSRmesh has the potential to disrupt the smart lighting market by eliminating the complex setup, pairing, and use of an access device, such as a router, needed with other connectivity solutions available today,” said Cameron Trice, CEO of Jasco Products. “By combining CSRmesh with Avi-on Labs’ software and support we are able to offer a lighting product line that offers an unrivalled user experience and secure connectivity to customers through our major retail partners. Working with CSR and Avi-on allowed us to get to market fast to meet growing consumer demand for these types of smart devices.”   The GE branded Jasco Products range will include “smart” switches, dimmers, an outdoor timer and a smart plug which will give consumers on/off control of virtually any standard home device or appliance.

FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge Participant Survives Avalanche

FIBARO, a leading European manufacturer of wireless, intelligent home automation systems, announced that the main participant in the FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge Powered by Z-Wave, Mariusz Malkowski, has been rescued from the mountain and is now home with his family in New Jersey, USA.   Malkowski Helped People Trapped Under The Snow   Malkowski was about two weeks into his ascent when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing avalanche hit. He miraculously survived the avalanche, uninjured, and was able to help people who were trapped under the snow and save lives. FIBARO arranged to have him airlifted off the mountain on Monday via helicopter. He was brought to New Delhi for a short stopover, after which he was able to catch a flight for the 15-hour trip back to the U.S.   “I feel so fortunate to have survived such a horrible tragedy,” Malkowski said. “Obviously, there were thousands of people that weren’t so lucky. The devastation there is overwhelming. Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal and their families.”

Comcast Home Automation System Opens Up

Joseph Palenchar for TWICE:  Comcast is opening up its monitored-security/home-automation system to operate with devices from a wide variety of home-automation brands. The company’s Xfinity Home system has been available with a variety of unbranded devices such as smart plugs, smoke detectors, security cameras, light switches, door/window detectors, motion detectors and a water-leak detector, a spokesperson said. An Xfinity thermostat and a smart door lock from Kwikset have also been available. Consumers will be able to buy the products from Comcast or from CE retailers, a spokesperson said. Later this year, Comcast will release a software development kit (SDK) and a certification program so home-automation suppliers can offer products that work with Xfinity Home.

Marvell Unveils Industry-Leading ZigBee Wireless Microcontroller SoC to Advance Smart Home and IoT Innovations

Marvell announced its next-generation industry-leading 88MZ300 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless microcontroller system-on-chip (SoC), the newest member of Marvell's wireless microcontroller family of Internet of Things solutions. The high-performance, low-power, cost-effective SoC offers superior radio frequency (RF) performance that more than doubles the transmission range and reduces power consumption by 50 percent over Marvell's previous generation 88MZ100 SoC, while maintaining the least amount of external components due to the high integration in silicon. Together with its support for open standards, including the upcoming ZigBee 3.0 and Thread protocols, the 88MZ300 SoC, along with a ZigBee to Wi-Fi bridge reference design and an ecosystem of hardware manufacturers and system integration partners, it enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to rapidly bring new, innovative IoT applications to market. The 88MZ300 SoC is sampling now. "Marvell continues to demonstrate innovation in home automation, connected lighting and IoT with its 88MZ300 ZigBee wireless microcontroller which leads 802.15.4 technology in both performance and cost," said Philip Poulidis, Vice President and General Manager, Mobile and Internet of Things Business Units at Marvell. "Along with Kinoma and Marvell's recently announced Smart Home Cloud Center™, the 88MZ300 delivers a total solution for home automation and IoT markets. We look forward to the range of exciting new product opportunities that will be possible with the deployment of the 88MZ300."

Smart Home Automation System Revenues to Hit US$34 Billion in 2020, Says ABI Research

Global revenues from smart home automation systems will grow at a 21% CAGR between 2015 and 2020, according to ABI Research. North America will account for the lion’s share of the smart home automation system revenues in 2020, contributing close to 46% globally, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific.   “Smart home automation system revenue was primarily driven by mass consumer adoption of smart home security systems but the market is also witnessing strong revenue growth from the adoption of smart plugs and smoke and air quality monitors,” says Senior Analyst Adarsh Krishnan.   Regional differences are also reflected in device adoption. In 2014, North America and Western Europe witnessed increased adoption of security cameras, especially those with embedded motion sensors which were used not only for home security but also indoor activity tracking. In China, due to increasing concern about air quality, environmental sensors are gaining popularity. To augment growing domestic demand, in 2014, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, and Baidu announced their entry into the smart home market with air quality monitors.

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.

Wink's Outage Shows Us How Frustrating Smart Homes Could Be

THIS PAST SATURDAY, one in four people who had come to rely on Wink as the brains behind their smart home set-up found their connected devices suddenly lobotomized. Devices connected to the Wink Hub couldn’t access the internet, meaning that they could no longer be controlled via app, and wouldn’t execute their pre-programmed rituals. Simply put, nothing worked.   In an emailed statement, Wink confirmed that the cause of the outage was a “misconfiguration” of a security measure it had implemented previously. Several Wink Hub units couldn’t be fixed remotely, and those users will either have to try to repair their own using Wink-provided instructions, or mail them in for a replacement. Around 10 percent of Wink users are still without service, and the Hub has been pulled from shelves until further notice.  But Wink’s weekend failure reminds us that the smart home of the future won’t be immune from the testiness that plagues any technology. In fact, those common, unavoidable flailings will be even more frustrating. Nearly a year ago, Mat Honan wrote The Nightmare on Connected Home Street, a glimpse at the inevitable dystopia caused by hooking up our households and everything within them to the internet sewage pipe. We’re not nearly at the full-fledged horror stage, but incidents like the weekend Wink stink are the foundation on which our frustrating smart home future will be built.   Cont'd..

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.

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.

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