Nest open-sources its home automation network protocol, Thread

Ken Yeung for VentureBeat:  Nest has released an open-sourced version of its Thread protocol, making its home automation network technology more broadly available to developers. The introduction of OpenThread is expected to give parties interested in working with open-source technology all the benefits of building on Thread — allowing them to continue innovating without dealing with the current limitations of the protocol.

This project is the company’s first open-source initiative.

Created by Nest, Samsung, ARM, Atmel, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm Technologies, and Texas Instruments, Thread was intended to be the standard for connected home devices and apps. When it was announced in 2014, the protocol was described as providing a common network language that products like smart thermostats and smoke alarms could use to talk with each other.  Cont'd...

​Thread, ZigBee, Z-Wave: Why smart home standards matter

Dan Sung for Wareable:  Wi-Fi has proved to be a really effective way of getting our laptops, our tablets, our phones and even our TVs and stereo systems to talk to the internet but it's not working for the smart home.

The Internet of Things has more subtle needs than these big-batteried, regularly charged or permanently powered items, and clunky old Wi-Fi can't handle the pressure of getting scores of small sensors talking.

You might have heard of names ZigBee, Z-Wave and, more recently, Thread but what do they do? And should be you considering them when planning your smart home? Read on to find out.

Why standards matter:  Let's say you fill your home with connectable devices. They're sitting there - your washing machine, your door lock, your toasted sandwich maker or whatever - and they're bursting with notifications to send to you and to each other.  Cont'd...

5 misguided reasons for asking wireless carriers to manage smart home networks

Ira Brodsky for ComputerWorld:  Last week, a guest editorial by Jerome Rota of Greenwave Systems titled, “How to Bring the ‘Internet of Things’ to Life” appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rota suggested that wireless operators should manage smart home networks using spectrum acquired in the FCC’s 600 MHz auction. This is a bad idea for several reasons.

1.   “Today a smart home nearly requires an IT specialist.”

The first products based on new technology are often difficult to set up and manage. Mr. Rota’s solution -- having wireless carriers perform these tasks -- could short-circuit the development of more user-friendly products and would saddle consumers with unnecessary monthly fees.  Cont'd...

Samsung Smart Home flaws let hackers make keys to front door

Dan Goodin for ArsTechnica:  Computer scientists have discovered vulnerabilities in Samsung's Smart Home automation system that allowed them to carry out a host of remote attacks, including digitally picking connected door locks from anywhere in the world.

The attack, one of several proof-of-concept exploits devised by researchers from the University of Michigan, worked against Samsung's SmartThings, one of the leading Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for connecting electronic locks, thermostats, ovens, and security systems in homes. The researchers said the attacks were made possible by two intrinsic design flaws in the SmartThings framework that aren't easily fixed. They went on to say that consumers should think twice before using the system to connect door locks and other security-critical components.  Cont'd...

Build A Twitter-Based Home Automation System With A Raspberry Pi

Thorin Klosowski for LifeHacker:  The Pi is hard wired into a home automation board that controls a fan, light, AC and the temperature. It’s then controlled over Twitter direct messages so it’s super easy to check the status or flip the toggle on any of the connected devices. The Twitter link is a pretty handy way to get around some of the programming requirements that would otherwise be required here, so it’s worth taking a look at how it’s done here if you’re making your own home automation controller. Head over to ARM Tutorials for the guide.  

Vivint Smart Home announces $100 million investment

Karissa Neely for Daily Herald: In its first round of venture capital funding, Vivint Smart Home, the Provo-based leading provider of smart home technology and services, announced a $100 million equity investment co-led by tech investor Peter Thiel and investment firm Solamere Capital.

The strategic investment will help fuel Vivint’s rapid growth and product innovation as it extends its preeminent position in the growing smart home market.

A venture capitalist and entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, Thiel is known for backing transformational technology companies, and was the first outside investor in Facebook and is one of the largest shareholders of Airbnb.

“For Peter and Solamere to place their confidence in Vivint as the smart home leader is a huge validation of what we have built and where we are headed,” said Todd Pedersen, founder and CEO of Vivint Smart Home, in a press release. “The fact that they are investing in our future demonstrates their passion for our business and their vision for this industry. We look forward to working together to redefine the home experience.”  Cont'd...

Thington, A New Super-Angel-Backed IoT Startup

Mike Butcher for TechCrunch:  Now, a San Francisco-based company, founded by Dopplr founder Matt Biddulph and ex-Yahoo Brickhouse Head of Product Tom Coates is building out a new consumer-facing product that combines Smart Home technology with their expertise in location, social networks and the web of data.

They previously formed Product Club as a way to find a product to build, while doing some consulting along the way. Now they are launching their new startup: Thington.

To do it they have raised Angel funding from some pretty well known tech people and investors,  including Ray Ozzie, Stewart Butterfield, Eric Wahlforss, Joi Ito, Marko Ahtisaari, Saul Klein, Loic Le Meur, Matt Rolandson and Samantha Tripodi. Terms were undisclosed.

“We’re making a better user interface and service layer that is respectful to manufacturers and open and we’re trying to be a couple of generations beyond what other people are doing,” says Coates.  Cont'd...

IHS: Smart home market to present challenges for security companies moving forward

SOURCE: SECURITYINFOWATCH.COM:  Security companies have played a pivotal role in the proliferation of smart home technology from the very beginning, however, these same firms will find themselves challenged in the coming years as several industry developments stand poised to disrupt the market’s status quo, according to a new research note from IHS Technology.

“Moreover, security companies will be challenged in 2017, when UL-compliant Z-wave sensors hit the market. (UL has approved the latest Z-Wave protocol for UL 1023 compliance, which means Z-Wave detectors can soon be used for professional alarm installations.) This milestone is significant, because most existing intruder alarms use one-way radios operating at 300/400 megahertz (MHz),” wrote Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Technology, in the research note. “In order to remain competitive in 2016 and 2017, dealers and service providers need to consider flexible billing models as well as DIY installation with professional monitoring.”  Cont'd...

Smart-Home Suppliers Grow Selections & Connections

Joseph Palenchar for TWICE:  Smart-home suppliers are positioning themselves to get the most out of the market’s growth potential by expanding system capabilities, entering new niches and expanding their product selections.

Companies are also making their products more attractive to consumers by making them interoperable with other suppliers’ products.

The growth potential was underscored by a Parks Associates survey that found almost 20 percent of U.S. broadband households own at least one smart-home device, and a lot more consumers want them. About 49 percent of all broadband households plan to buy a smart-home product in the next 12 months, Parks found. Among consumers who own a security system, that percentage jumps to 65 percent.

“Security households, rather than being content with their current system, have a proclivity to add more smart features to their home,” said Parks president Stuart Sikes.

Here’s what suppliers are doing to leverage demand:  Full Article:

What happens in Zoe stays in Zoe - the privacy-oriented smart home hub

Christian de Looper for DigitalTrends:  The concept of the smart home is well and truly taking off, however there are a few things still holding it back. The smart home hub, for example, is still finding its place — we’ve seen the TV and other devices used used as a hub, but no market consensus has been reached. Not only that, but the more privacy-conscious among us are concerned about the fact that smarthome hubs are constantly beaming your own personal data to and from the cloud.

Zoe, from a company called Protonet, is aimed at changing that.

Zoe is designed to serve as the center for your smart home. The hub itself bears a simple design that can be customized to fit your décor. It is also aimed at being able to connect to every smart home product you might buy, supporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and even devices that connect through the cloud.  Cont'd...

Fallout From Nest's Revolv Debacle Could Hurt Smart Home Technology Adoption

William Craig for The Street:  Consumers who are considering whether to purchase smart home technology are likely to be turned off by recent controversy about the Revolv device, and companies involved in the so-calledInternet of Things need to consider how this event will affect adoption of their technology. 

In case you missed it, here's what happened. Revolv was a start-up that made an electronic hub that allowed users to control lights and appliances in their homes using a smartphone app. Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Nest bought Revolv in October 2014. Next month, it will shut down the cloud-based service necessary for the Revolv devices to function. People who plunked down the $300 to buy a Revolv will be left with a very expensive paperweight. It's one thing to end support and updates, but this is a complete shutdown of a product people paid for.

To add further insult to consumers, buyers of the Revolv smart home hub were offered a lifetime subscription when the product first came out. The Revolv device stopped being sold two years ago after Nest acquired Revolv. While it makes sense to cut off services to an obsolete product that isn't bringing in money, this is a troubling sign from the fledgling smart home industry.  Cont'd...

Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

The Register:  Google Nest is set to brick $300 Revolv home automation hubs after buying out staff and abandoning the project.

The software giant acquired Revolv for its talent in October 2014 and next month will drop support for the smaller company's smart home device.

The decision means that as of May 15th the Revolv hub become paperweights.

A statement on Revolv's site informs customers that their devices are no longer covered by warranties.

Nest execs say in a statement only that Revolv was "a great first step" but that Works with Nest is a "better solution" demanding of its resources.

Chief executive Arlo Gilbert of Texas-based app developer Televero and Revolv customer says the home automation company's move is a "pretty blatant f**k you" to buyers.

"On 15 May, my house will stop working; my landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working," Gilbert says.  Cont'd...

9 Ways to Make Your Smart Home More Secure

STACEY HIGGINBOTHAM for PCMAG:  Security is set to become the hot button issue in the smart home this year, as more connected devices come online and more hackers attempt to infiltrate corporate and consumer networks through connected gadgets. The FBI even issued a warning about connected home products.

The concerns about security and the smart home are well-founded. Several devices from connected cameras to smart home hubs have been hacked. Even light bulbs aren't immune.

A survey issued by Intel on Thursday found that 77 percent of those asked believe smart homes will be as common in 2025 as smartphones are today, but 66 percent are also very concerned about smart home data being hacked by cybercriminals.

The looming threat of the hacked home is why the Atlantic Council worked with three security researchers to issue nine recommendations to make the smart home more secure. The report is a collaboration between the Atlantic Council think tank and I Am The Cavalry, a independent security research group. I Am The Cavalry has issued a framework for securing connected cars and connected medical devices.  Cont'd...

5 open source home automation tools

Jason Baker for OpenSource.com - The Internet of Things isn't just a buzzword, it's a rapidly expanding reality.

With an ever-expanding number of devices available to help you automate, protect, and monitor your home, it has never before been easier nor more tempting to try your hand at home automation. Whether you're looking to control your HVAC system remotely, integrate a home theater, protect your home from theft, fire, or other threats, reduce your energy usage, or just control a few lights, there are countless devices available at your disposal.

But at the same time, many users worry about the security and privacy implications of bringing new devices into their homes. They want to control who has access to the vital systems which control their appliances and record every moment of their everyday lives. And understandably: In an era when even your refrigerator could now be a smart device, don't you want to know if you fridge is phoning home? Wouldn't you want some basic assurance that, even if you do give a device permission to communicate externally, that it is only accessible to those who are explicitly authorized?  Cont'd...

Report: Google builds an Amazon Echo alternative while Nest turns to security

Jared Newman for TechHive:  Google and Nest reportedly have a bunch of new smart home products in the works, but there may not be much collaboration happening between the two Alphabet subsidiaries.

On the Google side, the search giant may be working on a competitor to Amazon’s Echo connected speaker, according to The Information (via The Verge). The story reveals no details about the product, but it seems like an obvious fit for Google, which has already made voice controls a centerpiece of its Android Wear smartwatch platform. A device that answers Internet queries and controls other smart home products could very well tie into Google’s broader efforts to create a new platform for the Internet of Things.

Earlier this month, Recode reported that Nest had explored its own Echo-like product. But Nest ultimately abandoned the plans, partly out of concerns that an always-listening virtual assistant with ties to Google might freak people out. The Information now reports that Nest wanted to be involved with Google’s connected-speaker efforts, but was rebuffed.

Where does that leave Nest? The company may now be turning its attention to home security, with three projects in development. Cont'd...

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