Google has Nest, Apple has HomeKit and Samsung has…SmartThings, we’re hearing. The deal was completed for around $200 million dollars, though it might have been less according to one source. SmartThin gs is in the home automati on space , and allows you to connect devices like lights and doorlocks to a system controlled by your mobile phone. It has raised over $1 5 million from investors including Greylock, Highland Capital, First Round Capital, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund, David Tisch, A-Grade Investments, CrunchFund* and Box Group. Samsung most likely bought the startup to get out ahead of Google’s Nest efforts. With this buy, Samsung obtains a mature home automation platform that just needs some marketing help. And Samsung has a hefty marketing budget. The larger arena at work here is the millions of connected devices that will populate our world — commonly referred to as the internet of things. In a nearly inevitable future where every device in our home has a live connection to the web, and can be controlled by our devices, device manufacturers are the ones most uniquely poised to offer holistic solutions to consumers.
Recognizing the need for a new and better way to connect products in the home, seven companies today announced that they've joined forces to form the Thread Group (www.threadgroup.org) and develop Thread, a new IP-based wireless networking protocol. The charter of the Thread Group is to guide the adoption of the Thread protocol. Thread Group founding members consist of industry-leading companies including Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, Freescale® Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM. While currently available 802.15.4 networking technologies have their own advantages, each also has critical issues that prevent the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) from being realized. These include lack of interoperability, inability to carry IPv6 communications, high power requirements that drain batteries quickly, and "hub and spoke" models dependent on one device (if that device fails, the whole network goes down). With Thread, product developers and consumers can easily and securely connect more than 250 devices into a low-power, wireless mesh network that also includes direct Internet and cloud access for every device.
From CNet. Perhaps the most overwhelming thing about the smart home revolution is the fact that so many of these new gadgets come with their own separate apps and control hubs. If you buy more than one or two, you'll end up needing a whole bookcase to store all of the blinking control centers plugged into your router, not to mention the fact that your various automation rules and schedules will probably be scattered across several different apps and websites. Wasn't home automation supposed to make things easier? It's a reality that's created a bit of a jump ball in home automation: whichever hub can best consolidate all of these smart devices into a single, dependable system -- complete with a killer app -- is going to be positioned especially well as the connected home continues to move into the mainstream. With several multipurpose smart hubs already out there, and even more coming on the horizon, here are the ones we've been keeping tabs on.
Powered by the new Niles Auriel software and app, the MRC-6430 is the first-in-its-class multi-room audio chassis that integrates multi-room audio and home theater control in a way that is both simple for the installer to set up and easy for the homeowner to enjoy. "With Auriel and the MRC-6430 we are making multi-room audio simpler than ever to install and use," Yann Connan, Core Brands' Director, Audio Segment, said today. "The number one concern for buyers is that multi-room audio controllers are complicated, so we developed the Auriel software to show them just how accessible it can be. With any smartphone, tablet or Niles in-wall touch panel, users can now quickly select what source they want to play and in which rooms they want it to play. We had the system integrators in mind as well, with the flexibility to include both IP and IR controlled devices, complete GUI generation and six routable IR outputs for external component control. Auriel is wizard-based to reduce installation and set-up time to a fraction of other multi-room systems." The Niles MRC-6430 multi-room audio controller delivers its amazing sound throughout the home using an intuitive user interface with options that include a handheld remote, a seven-button keypad, a choice of touch panel devices and of course smartphones, tablets and personal computers. The MRC-6430 makes it possible to listen to any source, in any room, at any time - even if someone is already listening to something different in another room. This means mom and dad can relax with smooth jazz in the kitchen while guests enjoy classic rock in the living room and the kids sing along to top 40 hits in the backyard, and each group can change their own volume and skip tracks right from their smartphone.
Home automation and connected objects seem to be the rage these days. We’ve seen efforts from companies like Philips, GE, and Nest, and now it looks like a device called Clime hopes to preside over that. As you can see in the image above, the device is tiny and looks a bit like a piece of candy. However what’s under the hood is an array of environmental sensors that will be able to measure things such as humidity, temperature, light, and even movement. The company claims that the device will have a battery life of 1.5 years, meaning that you will be able to deploy them in and out of your house without worrying about it running out of juice in the near future. While the company has been a little vague about the potential use of Clime, its website hints at home automation. Like we said due to the device’s range of sensors, you will be able to place it all over your house, so for example you could leave it outside and when its temperature sensor detects a rise in temperature, it will adjust your home’s thermostat to make it colder. Also with a light sensor, we can only imagine that when Clime detects that it is dark outside, it will turn on the lights in your house. This might come in handy during thunderstorms where it can get dark outside, or it can adjust itself to summer where it gets darker later, or winter where it gets darker earlier.
INSTEON, creators of the world's best-selling home automation and control technology, today announced that its connected home devices are now available in Microsoft retail stores. Previously, INSTEON announced its all-new apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 and product availability on MicrosoftStore.com. In its continuing commitment to provide choice, value and service for its customers, Microsoft stores will offer three unique INSTEON kits -- a Starter Kit, Home Kit and Business Kit -- and five standalone devices, including the INSTEON Leak Sensor, Open/Close Sensor, LED Bulb, On/Off Module and Wireless Wi-Fi Camera. Prices will range from $29.99 to $79.99, with kits starting at $199. Microsoft employees will also be trained to help assist customers with questions regarding setup. "Since launching INSTEON on MicrosoftStore.com, we have seen a lot of interest from Microsoft customers in our connected products," said Joe Dada, CEO, INSTEON. "Now that we are making those same products available to Microsoft retail customers, we are confident that our products will be equally as popular in stores." The INSTEON family of devices turns any home into a connected home. INSTEON users are able to set up lighting scenes, schedule lights to automatically turn on and off, and monitor their homes via wireless cameras from any mobile device. INSTEON kits and modules allow users to receive instant notification alerts when doors and windows are opened or closed, or when there is a water leak in the home. INSTEON provides all of this and more via a free app with no monthly fees.
To make smart home products more accessible and less confusing for the mass market, Home Depot has teamed up with Quirky-owned Wink to create a line of connected devices that are centralized into one place: The Wink Hub. This $49 hub contains all the techy goodness that puts your “dumb” products on the Web with popular connection protocols: ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, to name a few. All the user has to do is set up the hub, purchase a Wink-certified product and scan the barcode of the item to connect it to your home network. The current Home Depot-Wink line works with a ton of popular home improvement brands, such as Chamberlain (garage door openers), Honeywell (thermostat), Rheem (water heater) and GE (lighting and kitchen appliances). Once connected, all the devices are controllable from within the Wink app. Users can set up timers, alerts, proximity settings and shortcuts. The app is available in both iOS and Android, with added compatibility for Android Wear. The Wink Hub connects to your home network without requiring Ethernet, so you can place it anywhere around the house. We stopped by the companies’ “Wink House” set up today and the app worked as advertised. The option to set up a one-click shortcut for various settings (such as Sleep to turn all the blinds and lights off and lock doors) is useful truly automating your home from a touch of a finger. It only takes about a second for the command to register from the app to seeing things in action, such as the lights changing colors or the garage door closing.
Home audio isn't what it used to be -- for many people, it means internet-savvy speakers everywhere instead of a conventional stereo in the den. Pioneer and Onkyo are clearly aware that they need to adapt, as they've just started the process of combining their home theater units with a mind toward modernization. The two will "cope" with the shift in music playback trends through the strengths of their brand names and "superior technologies;" a private equity firm is also taking a controlling stake in Pioneer's home electronics division, so there will be cash available to expand the business. It's still early going, so just what this alliance will do to embrace internet audio isn't clear. However, it's safe to say that they'll be doing more than rolling out the occasional wireless adapter or smartphone dock.
Nest Labs, makers of the Nest Learning Thermostat and Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, announced on Tuesday that it will be opening its smart home platform to third-party developers and partners, which includes parent company Google. In a post to Nest's official blog, cofounder Matt Rogers said the Nest Developer Program will allow other smart home product makers and app developers to connect with the Nest smart thermostat to make whole-home automation a reality. Instead of sifting through proprietary apps and settings panels, the open API should allow for personalized, automated experiences. For example, a connected Jawbone UP24 band can sense when its user wakes up, signaling Nest to turn on the lights and warm the house. As noted by The Wall Street Journal , parent company Google has already integrated with Nest to expand Google Now's functionality to support temperature adjustments. Of course, with the opening of Nest's platform, the firm must share a certain amount of information gathered by its devices, something that doesn't sit well with privacy advocates. More specifically, Google's views on user data harvesting as applied to the company's huge targeted ad business made critics uneasy when Nest Labs was purchased by the search giant for $3.2 billion in January.
Serial tech entrepreneur Ben Kaufman — the founder of Quirky, a New York-based startup that helps turn tech ideas into real products, and the popular Mophie iPhone case — is getting into the smart home space. Kaufman is launching a separate standalone operation called Wink that will bring smart household items — think web-connected lights, refrigerators, thermostats and so on — onto a small network that can be controlled and monitored with just one app. This means you can lock the front door, close the blinds and lower the temperature all within the Wink app. The move was first reported by the New York Times. "Quirky is an invention company that's powered by the community, so we've been following the trends they uncover for us," Kaufman told Mashable. "We started to recognize that about 20% of idea submissions had to do with the connected world, and that's when we started to take this really seriously." Quirky originally built Wink for the company's collaboration with General Electric, but after prototyping the concept and showing it to retail partners, the company realized it could be a powerful tool in the connected world. In November, Quirky quietly created Wink as a standalone business with its own office and leadership team. While about five employees moved over to Wink from Quirky, it also hired about 30 additional staffers.
Earlier this week, the company launched new tech accelerator in Seattle through a partnership with American Family Insurance for startups related to the connected home. Oddly enough, this is the first U.S. accelerator program Microsoft has announced since it launched its Ventures program last year. Applications to join the program are open from now until July 21, and the accelerator will run from August to December of this year. Unlike other accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, Techstars, and others, Microsoft doesn’t demand equity stakes in firms that join the program — but it does reserve the right to become early investors should they see potential in a given startup. That being said, however, American Family Insurance is offering a $25,000 equity investment to participating startups looking for extra funding.
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Let the battle rage on! In this corner, the seasoned smart thermostat veteran, Google’s Nest, is ready to take on a new competitor. And seeing as this smart thermostat is coming from Honeywell, this is sure to be a good brawl. Plus, this battle goes back to 2012 when Honeywell claimed Nest infringed on several patents. Check mate. Honeywell has decided to release its own smart thermostat, the $279 Lyric, as part of its Lyric home automation device line. It will be available in August from Lowe’s. So what makes Honeywell’s Lyric smart thermostat so special? It uses geofencing technology to sense when users are home or away and will adjust the temperature. This is all via the user’s smartphone. Say you’re on your crowded, sweaty train back home from work and you’re counting down the minutes until you walk into your cool home. Thanks to the Lyric smart thermostat, your home will adjust a couple degrees when the thermostat senses you’re nearby. Talk about efficient! Nest does not possess this feature. Yet. The Lyric also costs about $50 more than the Nest, but this might be a worthy price to pay for such a feature.
oort Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Create a True Smart Home by Connecting All Intelligent Devices
oort, the smart home solution that lets users create their own Internet of Things system to make life more comfortable, today launched a Kickstarter campaign for the first complete universal Bluetooth Smart system. In just seconds, oort can be paired with any compatible Bluetooth device, regardless of the manufacturer, and controlled from a single app on iOS or Android. "Consumers are reluctant to create a smart home because current technology doesn't let them control a whole Internet of Things from just one app on devices they already own" Gartner has estimated that there are more than 2.5 billion connected devices today, with more than 30 billion expected by 2020. The challenge is that there are currently several competing wireless communications protocols for the Internet of Things that are not interoperable with end user devices out-of-the-box. To create a simple and easy experience for consumers, oort's solution uses wireless communications that are based on Bluetooth low energy. As the standard is now supported by all iOS 7+ and Android 4.3+ devices, oort can be controlled by smartphones and tablets owned by the majority of consumers and will be interoperable with a wide range of beacons and sensors. oort's technology will let users interact with any Bluetooth low energy device with a standard GATT profile, regardless of manufacturer, to enable consumers to create custom Internet of Things ecosystems. Examples of oort compatible devices include a wide range of connected devices, including beacons, wall sockets, light bulbs, power strips, lamps and smart sensors that measure air quality, temperature, soil humidity, noise and more.
Vivint™ unveiled Vivint Sky, the next generation of Vivint's intelligent home experience. Vivint Sky introduces powerful cloud technology and smart learning capabilities that take the home to the next level of intelligence. "Vivint Sky transforms the home automation experience by providing an unprecedented level of control over the home" Vivint sky enables customers to control their lights, thermostat and door locks, as well as monitor high-definition video feeds and more from any smartphone, laptop or tablet. At the center of the new system is the Vivint SkyControl panel, which features proprietary cloud technology that learns from homeowners' behaviors and makes intelligent suggestions to add new levels of convenience and control over the home. For instance, Vivint's automatic HVAC control will take cues from homeowners' daily patterns and make guided decisions to help increase the home's energy efficiency. The Vivint SkyControl panel serves as the hub of the experience, orchestrating a variety of home automation products, such as door locks, window and door sensors, motion detectors, connected power outlets and more. Using data from its sensors and communication from its powerful cloud technology, Vivint Sky is able to learn from homeowners' behaviors and make intelligent suggestions in a conversational, helpful tone. These suggestions add new levels of convenience and control over the home, helping provide improved protection and monitoring.
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