Are Retailers Eyeing The Market For Smart Home Installation Services?

From Michael Wolf for Forbes.com: Today, Forbes and others reported on a massive new funding round for a Lowe’s-backed startup Porch.com to the tune of $65 million.  While Porch.com founder says he still controls the company, there is no doubt Lowe’s sees Porch.com as an important weapon in its expansion into the local installer services economy.   But the most interesting part about the Porch.com deal for me was thinking about how this nationwide network of local installers could help another Lowe’s strategic initiative – Lowe’s Iris – get traction.  Iris is the company’s smart home platform, which is the centerpiece of Lowe’s effort to put itself in control of a growing market that we at NextMarket forecast to be worth $7.8 billion in the US alone by 2019.   Smart home savvy readers are probably asking, “isn’t Lowe’s Iris a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) product?” It’s intended to be, but let’s be honest: DIY is the smart home industry’s big lie, since getting mass-market adoption will likely require a light-service channel to help Grandpa, Mom or even me install that new intelligent wall switch or smart water valve without electrocuting myself or flooding the house. Cont'd...

Xiaomi Unveils Smart Home Suite With Security Features

Xiaomi Corp. unveiled a new product called the Smart Home Suite with a group of four components that offer security features as it broadens its range of devices that can be controlled by mobile phone. The suite includes a human motion sensor, and a pair of door and window sensors that can be used for home security, Xiaomi President Bin Lin said today at the GeekPark Innovation Festival in Beijing. The company will start a consumer test of the product Jan. 26, he said. “In the past, motion sensors were very complicated and large in size, so that if you wanted a system you needed professional installation,” Lin told the conference. “For this suite, there is not a single nail or wire. These components are all very simple.” Xiaomi in less than five years has grown to become the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor and, at $45 billion, the most-valuable technology startup. Now, Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun is pushing into Web-enabled devices for the home even as it challenges Samsung Electronics Corp. and Apple Inc. (AAPL) at the higher end of the mobile-device market.

It is CES week in LThe Smart Home Nudges Manufacturers Toward Sustainability

From Jennifer Tuohy for The Triple Pundit: From lock manufacturers to heating and air conditioning companies, the smart home space is disrupting legacy industries. Big names in consumer products with decades of experience behind them have been caught off-guard by Kickstarter-powered startups and Silicon Valley CEOs.   The Nest Learning Thermostat, which debuted in 2011, was the first product to show what a nimble young company with high-tech brainpower behind it (in this case, two of Apple’s bright minds) could do to a space that many thought was set in stone. It took a little under five years, but the legacy companies are catching up — Honeywell launched its Nest alternative, the Lyric, late last year.   Is it too little, too late? Not at all. Don’t discount benefit of the decades of experience that legacy companies like Honeywell bring to the table. Bear in mind, Honeywell actually had a round thermostat first, in 1953.   As I discussed in my last article for Triple Pundit, this type of disruption drives development by forcing the big companies back to the drawing board to hopefully come up with even better products — ones that will save consumers even more money, use even less energy and lead us toward greater sustainability. Nowhere is this more relevant right now than in the smart home space.

NEEO, the Thinking Remote That Controls All Your Devices, Launches on Kickstarter

NEEO is a smart system that enables you to take control of all the devices in your home from one place. No more switching from one remote to another or from one app to another. There are two parts to NEEO, the brain and remote. The brain communicates with your devices and the remote recognises your touch and instantly displays your favourite media and settings.  Unlike other smart home systems, the NEEO brain features antennae to support the seven major home automation standards. There are tens of thousands of devices in the unique database that NEEO has built from scratch. This allows full control for Apple TV, Sonos, Nest, HUE and many other devices, dating back over the past 10 years, right out of the box.    Raphael Oberholzer, CEO and Co-founder of NEEO, explains: "Average remotes are inconvenient especially when you have one for every device and we have seen little innovation in that field in the past decades. We created NEEO so you can control all your devices instantly and with minimum effort so you're not jumping from remote to remote or app to app. To make it even more effortless we have designed NEEO so it recognizes you when you pick it up to give the ultimate personal experience. "   

WeMo's CES 2015 Lineup Prefaces Big Advances For Home Automation

Belkin’s WeMo home automation gadgets started off pretty modest in scope, but over the past few years they’ve launched more and more WeMo devices, first on their own and later with partners who have far more experience in specific verticals. This year at CES, WeMo expanded its LED smart lighting lineup with bulbs from OSRAM Sylvania and TCP. It also debuted new home sensors, which can help homeowners setup their system to better automate their smart connected appliances and accessories.   The WeMo lineup includes a keychain sensor, window and door open/shut sensors, alarm, motion and water flow sensors. Altogether they can help do anything from triggering different activities when specific individuals arrive or leave the home, enhance home security, or even monitor your entire home’s water usage with an easy-to-install flow sensor that can detect usage by different faucets, toilets and taps throughout your house.   WeMo’s model is smart: partner with the experts, and focus on the connected elements that make everything smart. Compared to others who work on the device with a more holistic approach in-house, however, the connected features of some of these partner appliances, like the Belkin WeMo-enabled Crockpot, can feel somewhat limited. But the new sensor suite should help coordinate things and build in a whole lot more genuine automation.

Shipments of Lighting Controls for Residential Applications Are Expected to Total Nearly 1.1 Billion through 2023

A recent report from Navigant Research analyzes the global market for residential energy-efficient lighting and lighting controls, including global market forecasts for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent lighting through 2023.  The market for residential energy-efficient lighting is in the midst of a transformation, particularly as prices for LEDs decrease and new lighting technologies emerge. Many residential applications center on LEDs that are connected, allowing for the remote control of and interaction between devices. Click to tweet: According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide shipments of residential lighting controls are expected to total nearly 1.1 billion worldwide from 2014 through 2023.    "The home energy management and home automation movements are ramping up, and smart lighting plays an important role in both," says Jesse Foote, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. "Residential consumers are finding that connected lighting is a convenient way to manage energy and to also tie in elements of safety, security, and functionality - sometimes with just a couple swipes of a smartphone." 

It is CES week in Las Vegas.

International CES 2015; Bringing more than 3,500 exhibitors to unveil new technologies across 1.9 million net square feet to well over 160,000 visitors in Las Vegas this week. New this year is something called the Smart Home Marketplace, a 25,000 square-foot exhibitor area dedicated to smart home tech. Think stuff like customized security monitoring and home automation -- and beyond. Major exhibitors will include companies like ADT, Bosch Honeywell, Lowe's and Logitech.   The HomeToys Team we'll be busy posting news and product announcements related to the "Smart Home" from this years show which you can view on our CES 2015 Newspage .   Make sure to check out our CES 2015 Tradeshow report for more great products rolled out at this years show.

CES 2015: the year of the connected home?

The drive to create smarter and more efficient homes increases daily, and next month's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is expected to be packed with connected objects and devices that are intended to deliver energy savings or greater automation.   But will 2015 be the year of the connected home, or will these products remain consigned to a niche section of the high-income market?   Connected home devices include home automation devices (such as smart thermostats and WiFi-enabled lightbulbs), home monitoring devices (such as a connected security camera that broadcasts to a person’s device), and home security devices (such as a security camera that connects to a central monitoring station).   All of these categories have grown in the last year, but a recent survey of 6,500 consumers in the US and Germany by analysts at Gartner showed that only 16 per cent of US online households own a connected home device, while Germany has less than 10 per cent of online households with a connected home device.   Moreover, the majority of current spending on connected home devices and services comes from high-income households, and the bulk of that spending has been on devices and services relating to security – such as alarm systems – rather than more advanced connected home devices, such as remote activation of smart products.  Cont'd...  

D-Link's latest smart home hub lets you add devices with a scan

D-Link has found the sweet spot between low-priced, but low-quality smart home systems (from the likes of Archos) and pricey security systems. It's now planning on opening up its system to many more accessories, judging by the DCH-G020 connected home hub that just passed through the FCC. The system will likely bow next month at CES 2015, but the US wireless regulator has revealed quite a bit, including manuals and photos. The hub will control Z-Wave (low-power RF) as well as WiFi devices, meaning it'll work with third-party alarms, detectors and cameras on top of existing D-Link WiFi cameras and accessories. For the first time, D-Link is also set to release new Z-Wave sensors, several of which are shown in the diagram above. The hub will work with WiFi and Z-Wave devices at the same time and connect with a WiFi router. The whole thing is controlled by a smartphone, which you can use to add devices either manually or by scanning their QR codes. From there, you'll get the usual scheduling and notification options. There's no word on pricing or availability yet, of course, but it looks like an interesting option for folks torn between cheaper WiFi and mainstream Z-Wave systems. Either way, expect a parade of similar devices to appear in less than two weeks at Las Vegas.

Home Automation at CES: What to Expect

This year's Consumer Electronics Show is set to start in just a few short weeks, allowing companies to show off their newest and best products.   A big focus at CES in 2015 will be home automation, with connected devices becoming and more and more popular.   There are a number of categories set to be shown off at CES. First of all, there will be an abundance of multipurpose sensors, meaning sensors that can do more than just sense motion. These sensors will be able to detect things like noise, for example.   There will also be a number of connected devices that are made to help users sleep. These devices will be able to analyze sleep patterns, such as the Beddit, which analyzes sleep and wakes the user up when, according to their sleeping pattern, it's most healthy to wake up.   The next home automation category that will be popular at CES this year is cameras, which will be able to do more than just film. There will be a number of facial recognition products, which will be connected for things like home security. We will also see devices such as cameras, which will also be able to perform acoustical analysis, essentially meaning that they will be able to recognize specific sounds and noises.   A number of companies will be coming out with touchscreen devices that live on our walls. These will be able to control different aspects of the smart home, from heating, to even water flow.   The smart home as a service is set to be a big part of CES 2015. SHaaS services are essentially services that help make everything in the smart home work together. This is an important part of the smart home, especially with so many devices being introduced.   Cont'd...  

LUCIS Technologies Introduces NuBryte, a Smart Home Lighting and Safety Console to Make any Home a Smart Home

LUCIS Technologies today unveiled a cloud-based smart home lighting and safety console, NuBryte, for all of a household’s connected needs such as automated lighting, home safety, and energy management. Users simply need a screw driver and basic wiring skills to replace any light switch with the NuBryte console, immediately transforming their home into a smart home. When installed, people can control and protect their home via a touch screen control pad, or the free NuBryte iPhone app. The standalone system also provides easy-to-understand energy reporting, which helps people reduce energy usage and save money.   NuBryte’s integrated home security system – quickly becoming one of the central components of a smart home or building – interrupts intruders with flashing lights, and alerts users via their phones, allowing them to also activate the system’s built-in camera to quickly take action. NuBryte currently provides a family calendar, intercom communications, gives weather updates and alerts, and features an open API to support complementary features from other sources.

A new home for the smart home at CES 2015

Smart-home products were on broad display at various venues across Las Vegas at CES 2014. At this coming show, the smart home gets its own dedicated exhibit space as part of a new convention area in the Sands Hotel dubbed Tech West. We'll still be running all over town to meet with various other smart-home vendors, but having an official, Consumer Electronics Association-sanctioned home at the show is at least one indicator of this smart-home category's proliferation this past year.   Scan the exhibitor list for the smart-home section at Tech West and some notable vendors stand out among the 62 listed currently. German-appliance maker Bosch is the chief sponsor. You'll also find Honeywell, ADT, Big Ass Fans, Kwikset Kevo tech-provider Unikey and First Alert showing off connected-household products.   While the companies on that list have put out some interesting devices and services over the last year or so, some larger names in the smart-home space are either showing their wares elsewhere, or they're not listed as official exhibitors at all.   Cont'd....

OpenMotics improves home automation

OpenMotics is an open source home automation hardware and software system that offers features like switching lights and outputs, multi-zone heating and cooling, power measurements, and automated actions. The system encompases both open source software and hardware. For interoperability with other systems, the OpenMotics Gateway provides an API through which various actions can be executed. The project first started 10 years ago with basic hardware modules for switches and outputs. Since then the number of modules has increased to create an extensible full-featured home automation system. The modules include a Gateway module that is the heart of the system which drives all other modules. An Input module for reading the status of the switches. An Output module that toggles lights, outlets or other devices. And others like a Dim Control module, a Sensor module and a Power module for measuring the power consumed by each appliance in your home.   Two years ago we decided to open source the software running on the Gateway module, all firmware running on the other modules and the schematics and PCBs (printed circuit boards) for all modules. The choice to open source the project was very conscious—at OpenMotics we believe there are three fundamental problems with the existing commercial home automation offerings.   Cont'd...  

LOWE'S EXEC: Here's The Real Reason People Will Start Caring About Smart Home Gadgets

From thermostats that can automatically adjust the temperature in your home to light bulbs that change color depending on the music you're listening to, the market is getting flooded with home automation tech right now. But convenience and novelty alone won't convince everyday consumers to spend extra money on Internet-enabled household appliances. According to Kevin Meagher, the general manager of Lowe's smart home division, there's one critical reason smart home technology will take off with consumers: safety. Speaking at Business Insider's annual Ignition conference, Meagher cites devices like smart smoke detectors that issue you notifications if the battery is about to die . "Connectivity brings a new dimension [to safety]," he said. Imagine a stove that could automatically turn off when it's not in use. Devices like this could be especially ideal for assisted living situations, since the gadgets would be capable of shutting down automatically to avoid dangerous situations. "When you've got an 80-year-old parent living on their own, what do they need a smart stove for?" Meagher said. "Every day of the week I'd pay [extra] for a smart stove that would switch things off."

New Insteon Home-Automation Hub Goes To $39

Home-automation supplier Insteon is out to grab market share with the launch of a new flagship hub with an introductory price of only $39, compared with its predecessor’s $129.  It’s promoted as the lowest-priced hub on the market. It’s also free with select kits that include home-automation devices, such as light switches and smart plugs.    The company didn’t say how long the introductory price would last.    Despite the lower price, the new hub adds such key enhancements as a 50 percent increase in wireless range, field upgradability, easier setup and a status screen that displays live updates of connected-device status. The hub is also smaller than its predecessor. The company didn’t specify a range.    “We’ve demolished barriers in order to reach the broadest customer demographic,” said CEO Joe Dada.    Insteon’s hub connects to more than 200 Insteon-brand devices, including lamp dimmers, thermostats and LED bulbs. The products use dual-band wireless RF and powerline technology for redundancy to ensure control signals reach all connected devices in a home. Products are monitored and controlled from iOS, Android and Windows smartphone and tablet apps and from computers.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

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This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

INTRODUCING THE SIMPLEST WAY TO CONTROL YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE YOUR VOICE. Imagine this... We've all been there-walking through the door into a dark house, arms full. Wouldn't it be nice to tell your house to offer a helping hand? Now you can. A simple voice command-such as "Alexa, turn on Welcome"-lights up the hallway and kitchen, fires up your favorite Pandora station, while the door locks itself behind you. This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.