Troubled Lockitron turns the corner with the introduction of its new smart lock, Bolt

From AppAdvice.com:  While the crowdfunding craze has helped to create a number of successful iOS accessory companies, there have also been more than a few spectacular failures. But Lockitron falls somewhere in between.   The company arrived on the scene all the way back in 2012 with its unique (at the time) smart and app-enabled deadbolt that cost $179. Flooded by a more-than-expected number of preorders, the company was unable to keep up with demand as the original Lockitron was plagued with hardware and software issues.   But the company has just introduced a new lock version named Bolt. There are some major differences compared to the original model.   Most importantly, the new version is retailing for just $99, which is significantly less than other competitors like the Kwikset Kevo and August Smart Lock. Purchasing the optional $77 bridge will allow users to control the lock from anywhere.   And instead of a fitting on top of your current deadbolt, the Bolt replaces it completely.

Building an Apple-powered smart home? Here's how non-HomeKit devices could work

From Jared Newman, MacWorld:  Your Apple-powered smart home of the future needn't be limited to the HomeKit ecosystem, but venturing outside will bring some restrictions.   HomeKit is Apple's upcoming framework for smart home devices such as lightbulbs, door locks, garage door openers, and thermostats. Many of these devices will connect directly to users' iPhones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi—no separate hub device required—for unified voice control through Siri. They'll also be able to connect with an Apple TV, allowing for Siri voice controls when users are away from home.   Apple will also let users connect devices that aren't approved under the the Made for iPhone (MFi) program, using a separate bridge device that hooks them into HomeKit. This will allow companies like Insteon to make their existing range of smart home devices compatible with Apple's framework, even if they use alternative networking protocols such as ZigBee or Z-Wave.   But according to 9to5Mac's sources, these non-MFi devices won't have the same capabilities as products built with HomeKit in mind.   Cont'd...

URC to Combine Total Control and ccGEN2

From Residential Systems:    URC made a surprising announcement today in response to dealer and distributor requests and discussions. The Harrison, NY, manufacturer is combining its two control systems lines, Total Control and ccGEN2, converging the software in the next two weeks. The move is intended to “make things easier on products, purchasing, training, programming, and marketing,” according to Cat Toomey, URC director of marketing.   “On our recent fall tour of a few thousand dealers, we realized clearly we are making things harder than they need to be and we should course correct some things,” Toomey stated. “It’s a significant change but one that is a good one for the business and the dealers to get, sell, and program URC product, better, faster, and easier.”   Regarding the ccGEN2 and Total Control announcement, Toomey explained that because ccGEN2 and Total Control have had different programming software, new drivers get added at different times and ccGEN2 dealers lose access to URC music and amp sources.

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...  

Solar Energy Becoming a Key Component in the Connected Home

Some of the most important innovations happening in energy today are happening far from the national media headlines. But these small changes will go a long way to making power more reliable, competitive, and local, with solar energy playing a central disruptive role that could dominate energy in the next century. One of those moves happened yesterday, when  SunPower  bought a $20 million stake in Tendril and agreed to license its Energy Services Management Platform software. Here's what the deal means over the next few years. At its core, Tendril is essentially an energy data company. It collects and analyzes data about consumers' energy usage patterns, primarily learned from partnerships with utilities. SunPower can use this data in its installations to optimize a home's renewable energy consumption, provide stored energy when it's needed, adapt to changing policies for solar, and even improve sales by finding its ideal customers. You can think of SunPower's capabilities with Tendril as a piece of the home of the future. SunPower will provide local energy production with solar panels, and with energy storage and connected devices SunPower can intelligently plan energy production and consumption based on consumers' desires. If a consumer wants to consume as little energy as possible the system can be set for that, just as it could be set to consume as much of your own energy production, or optimize for cost if there are rewards for sending energy to the grid at peak times. All of this will work in the background, similar to a car's eco mode, but it'll work to make energy more dynamic and controllable for consumers.

Nortek Inc. announced that its Linear subsidiary has been renamed Nortek Security & Control

Nortek Inc. (Nasdaq: NTK) announced today that its Linear LLC subsidiary has been renamed Nortek Security & Control, LLC. Linear, 2GIG and GoControl will be the subsidiary's cornerstone brands, each targeting key markets. Strongly positioned with product portfolio synergies and the ability to cross-pollinate technology across the broader Nortek family, Nortek Security & Control provides a broad range of smart home solutions to OEMs, telecoms, major retailers, managed service providers, security dealers, custom installers and DIY consumers.  "Nortek's Linear business has been transformed during the past few years, as we have become a market leader not only in the security industry but the broader home control and automation sector, as well," said Nortek President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Clarke. "Linear's legacy includes 50 years as a pioneer in the wireless access control market and industry-leading capabilities in the design, engineering and manufacturing of sensors and connected devices. Our 2013 acquisition of 2GIG Technologies accentuated these strengths by bringing us more brands and capabilities, as well as complete solutions for the broader home automation space." 

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