Sony announces 2015 home and portable audio ranges

Sony has announced an extensive line-up of new audio products for both in the home and on the go.   The home audio products — new sound bars, wireless speakers, and audio/video receivers  —  have prioritised high-resolution audio, multiroom connectivity and expanded music streaming capabilities. For example the range will offer Google Cast and Spotify Connect. The new Google Cast platform allows you to control music directly from music streaming apps like Deezer, Rdio, Pandora and Google Play Music. To cater to growing consumer demand for multiroom audio, a complete home sound system can be set up and controlled throughout multiple rooms with the Sony app SongPal.   “Imagine stepping into your home and being greeted by your favourite music being streamed seamlessly throughout every room. With a touch of a button, you can access a world of music options and control all the connected speakers within in your home,” said Abel Makhraz, head of video, sound & tablet, Sony Australia & New Zealand.   For inside or outside the home Sony has announced a range of portable wireless speakers. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours with Bluetooth and NFC to stream music from your smartphone or tablet.

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.

Control4 Brings 4K Ultra HD to the Smart Home With New 4K Media Distribution Solutions

Control4 Corporation is now bringing 4K Ultra HD content distribution to smart homes across the world by providing fully HDCP 2.2 compliant 4K UHD audio and video matrix switches for home automation installations. 4K UHD is the new standard for high-definition video, and is redefining the home entertainment experience for consumers by providing four-times the resolution of standard 1080P HD video content. Available for order today, the new line of Control4® 4K UHD Matrix Switches provides the ability to distribute 4K content, including copy-protected content, to every room in the Control4 Smart Home without the need for additional hardware or software.   “We are committed to delivering on the promise of 4K by offering compelling video distribution solutions to homeowners who expect the very best in entertainment,” said Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. “Our recent acquisition of Leaf, the Australia-based provider of audio/video distribution products, helped us get to market faster with a comprehensive media distribution solution that is truly 4K-ready today.”

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.

ISC West 2015 is underway in Las Vegas!

ISC West is the largest physical security show in North America featuring over 1,000 exhibitors in one place over a 3 day period.  ISC West is the security industry’s premier launching pad for new products, solutions and technologies.  26,000 security professionals attend the show to view the 10,000+ products featured on its show floor and attend business critical education sessions on the newest technologies in security.    As a media partner for ISC West 2015 HomeToys.com will be bringing all the industry news and exciting new products to our eMagazine to help our readers make sense of the massive event.     Check out our  Special ISC West Tradeshow Report  and our special  ISC West Newspage  for Exhibitor news and announcements.  

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.

Amazon's Smart-Home Hub Has Been Here All Along

Wednesday, owners of the Amazon Echo—a voice-activated Bluetooth speaker still only available for purchase by invitation—received an email detailing their little black cylinder’s newfound powers. In addition to streaming music from the cloud, telling you the weather, and tapping into Wikipedia to help settle bets, Echo now supports products from WEMO and Philips Hue. In other words, you can now bark at your speaker to dim the lights.   The products Echo now plays nice with include the WeMo Switch and Insight Switch, which you plug into an outlet to give you limited control over your appliances; Light Switch, which does the same for, well, lights; and a stack of smart bulbs from Philips Hue.   Set-up seems fairly simple. As long as your smart home products are on the same Wi-Fi network as your Echo and you’ve identified them appropriately in their respective apps, you simply need to say “Alexa, discover my appliances.” (Alexa is the name of Echo’s AI personality.) Once discovered, they’re at your literal beck and call.

ABB, Robert Bosch & Cisco eyeing smart home software

ABB, Robert Bosch GmbH and Cisco Systems Inc have joined hands in an international joint venture called mozaiq operations GmbH to develop and operate an open-software platform for smart homes.   The platform promises to unify today's standalone solutions for home automation and offer interoperability across devices.     It is claimed the platform, to be developed by mozaiq operations, would bring the Internet of things, services and people into consumers' homes, making it easy and secure for a wide range of products to communicate with each other.    Consumers will be able to seamlessly and intuitively tailor their appliances and devices, regardless of brand, to deliver an unprecedented level of control, comfort and significantly improve energy efficiency, it is claimed. 

Internet of Things Relay For Home Automation Using Arduino

Makers, developers and hobbyists who enjoy making projects from home automation using different Arduino microcontrollers, Raspberry Pi mini PCs or anything else that can connect to the Internet of Things.   Maybe interested in a new IoT relay that has been created by Team IoT to allow you to easily connect devices and boards to mains voltages to create the perfect home automation systems.   The IoT relay project is currently over on the Kickstarter crowd funding website looking to raise $8,750 in pledges to make the jump from concept to production and is currently priced at just $20 per relay. Watch the video below to learn more about this new relay and how it may help you expand the functionality of your projects using Arduino microcontrollers.   “Imagine the applications:  A smart fish tank.  DIY home automation. Industrial control. Wireless remote lighting.  Home theater.  Security. This is the Internet of Things. You can build almost anything imaginable with an Arduino.  But how do you hook it up?  A $60 WiFi plug?  No thanks.     Enter the IoT relay.  It’s an easy, affordable way to control the Internet of Things from your DIY circuit.   Connect to any micro or WiFi adapter. It’s simple — only two wires. The high-voltage switching is done inside the box.  Just hook it up and plug in.

ZigBee Alliance and Thread Group Collaborate to Aid Development of Connected Home Products

The ZigBee Alliance (www.ZigBee.org) and the Thread Group (www.threadgroup.org) today announced they are collaborating to enable the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks. By working together, ZigBee and Thread can jointly provide an interoperable solution to help streamline product development and ultimately improve the consumer's experience in the connected home.  The ZigBee Cluster Library standardizes application level functionality for a wide variety of devices used in smart homes and other markets. Thread is a wireless networking protocol that can support multiple low-bandwidth, IP-based application protocols to provide secure and reliable networks, simple connectivity and low power in the home. Both organizations remain committed to their independence while cooperating to benefit their respective members.    "Application level standardization is necessary to provide truly interoperable products to consumers," said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance. "We believe this agreement will deliver value to product developers searching for another solution for connectivity in the smart home."   

SmartThings delays its next-gen smart home products

From PCWorld: SmartThings, the home automation company Samsung Electronics acquired last August, has delayed the launch of its new home hub and sensors to the third quarter, as it works to improve performance and stability.   Even though the products have been built and are currently being tested, SmartThings felt it necessary to postpone the launch from the second quarter to what will most likely be the third quarter, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday.   One of the goals with the new hub is to improve stability compared to its current offering, and this seems to be taking longer than originally thought. The company has been performing lots of additional testing to address many recent disruptions users have experienced, it said.   When they work, the SmartThings hub and connected sensors can be used to control lights, thermostats, doors and warn about things such as water leaks. However, users of the current hub have been suffering from device control and connectivity issues and apps that don’t execute properly, leaving them unable to fully control their homes. The company’s status website lists six incidents between just March 23 and 31.

Myfox To Bring DIY Security From France

Joseph Palenchar for Twice:   A wireless do-it-yourself home-security system that Myfox will bring to the U.S. late in the second quarter or early third quarter will detect and deter intruders before they enter the house, the French company said. Unlike other DIY security systems that use indoor motion sensors to detect intruders, the Myfox system uses wireless sensors, or IntelliTags, attached to doors and windows to analyze door and window vibrations that indicate a break-in, the company said. The sensors, which run on a single AA battery, differentiate normal events such as door knocking from doors and windows being pried open. When a break-in is attempted, the sensor sends a wireless 915MHz RF signal to a hub, which triggers a battery-operated siren via RF and uses Wi-Fi to send alerts via broadband modem to cellphones. Multiple family members or friends can receive notifications and get monitoring rights. The company, founded in 2005, also offers an optional Wi-Fi security camera, which can be used as a standalone surveillance device. The $299 Myfox Home Alarm system, which can be monitored and controlled via Android and iOS smartphones, will be Apple HomeKit-enabled and will be certified as Works With Nest. 

Logitech's Harmony smart home hub adds voice controls through Ubi and Ivee

From Jared Newman for TechHive:  Logitech is continuing its quest to control your entire smart home by linking up with a couple of voice-activated computers.   If you own one of Logitech’s Home Hubs, you can now control all your connected home devices by voice with either a wall-mounted Ubi computer or an Ivee smart alarm clock. Both devices connect to Logitech’s Hub through Wi-Fi, delivering commands that would otherwise require Logitech’s Harmony remote control or mobile app.   Ubi and Ivee can already control a fair number of smart home products on their own, but Logitech’s big pitch its ability to string multiple commands into “Harmony Activities.” For example, you could tell Ubi to “watch a movie” and have the TV and sound system turn on, while dimming your Philips Hue connected lightbulbs. Or, you could tell Ivee to make sure your smart lock is engaged and all the lights are off as you get into bed.

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