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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Royal Philips announced that at LIGHTFAIR International 2014 it will highlight state-of-the art Connected Lighting systems available for the home and outdoor applications, as well as preview the company's breakthrough Connected Lighting systems for offices and retail. In a Connected Lighting system, light points merge with a building's or city's IT network, allowing the lighting system to act as an information pathway. Comprehensive lighting management software can deliver targeted, intelligent illumination, reducing cost by providing the right light at the right place at the right time, as well as enabling users to tailor the lighting system to their preferences via mobile apps. Lighting points can also transmit their location information to smart devices so that downloaded apps can provide location-based services.
Philips Connected Lighting systems allow actionable data collected from sensors in intelligent luminaires to be made available to facility or city managers, who can then use the data for informed business decisions and greater customer insight. For indoor systems, an integrated view of a building's occupancy patterns and energy usage optimizes the distribution of resources, resulting in unprecedented levels of energy and operational efficiency. Moreover, the Philips systems demonstrate the company's commitment to delivering hybrid, customer-centric solutions that encompass both Philips and non-Philips products, non-LED luminaires, a range of power and data options, including Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), wireless communications, standard and digital dimmers and lighting controls.
Leading home automation, entertainment and control technology manufacturer, Core Brands, LLC, a Nortek company (NSDQ: NTK) today announced a major upgrade of its award-winning ELAN® Control Platform for residential and commercial markets. This new Linux-based platform delivers better performance, easier installation, broader device compatibility, and greater scalability. The ELAN Control Platform provides a foundation for Core Brands’ highly competitive connected home ecosystem and continues to build its single source solution for customers in its dealer network.
“This is the most significant engineering effort in ELAN’s 25 year history. Our team has invested heavily to re-architect the ELAN Control Platform and make it the preeminent platform for the next-generation connected home,” said Joe Roberts, Vice President of Products and Marketing, Core Brands. “The ELAN Control Platform is a cornerstone in our strategy to delight our dealers and their clients with innovative and integrated products backed by best-in-class service and support.”
This platform provides expansion of ELAN® products and applications in the market, from new entry-level consumer solutions to large customer and commercial installations. It also expands the range of opportunities for Core Brands’ portfolio of smart “Internet of Things” products that can be attached to the platform and be controlled, automated and monitored by ELAN. Attached categories include speakers, multi-room audio, power conditioners, smart-plugs, cameras, access products like gates and garage door openers and more, including from Core Brands’ own market leading brands such as SpeakerCraft®, Niles®, Sunfire®, Panamax®, Furman® and Xantech®, and others.
We are now hearing word from Financial Times that Apple is looking to enter the home automation space with a “Smart Home” initiative that will kick off next month at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The details of Apple’s system were first revealed in a patent filing last year, but the time is now for Apple to introduce the functionality according to Financial Times.
HARMAN to Acquire AMX - Technology Leader in Video Switching and Enterprise Control and Automation Solutions
Harman International Industries, Incorporated (NYSE:HAR), the premier infotainment and audio group, today announced it has signed an agreement with The Duchossois Group, Inc. and its affiliates to acquire AMX LLC for US$365 million. AMX is the leading provider of enterprise control and automation systems and audio and video switching and distributing solutions. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals.
Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, AMX’s hardware and proprietary software solutions simplify the way people interact with technology and are implemented worldwide throughout a variety of enterprises and venues such as conference rooms, hotels, classrooms, network operation / command centers, entertainment venues and broadcast facilities. AMX employs more than 600 people across its operations in 19 locations worldwide.
If you have AirPlay or any other kind of wireless home network audio setup, you’ll no doubt be aware there’s a delay. You click play, there’s a few seconds of silence, and then the music starts. This is ordinarily fine, because we don’t usually need things to be real-time, but that’s not the case when you’re trying to broadcast live music within a home or building, or when you’re trying to watch a movie and the audio isn’t syncing correctly.
New Kickstarter project Brick & Bullet wants to offer no-latency audio streaming to consumers, using the Ethernet AVB standard and its new hardware to provide instant playback. The project is the creation of John Gildred, founder of AVB.io, and it’s making its debut at SF’s Maker Faire this weekend.
Brick & Bullet compares to a traditional AirPlay setup using an Airport Express router. It’s a much better system, and one that could solve a lot of the annoying issues that come up when you try to extend AirPlay beyond its intended purposes using aftermarket software like Airfoil. OS X has support for AVB out of the box, too, so it works instantly with Mac computers running Mavericks.
Microsoft announced a partnership with Insteon today, along with some big plans to fully incorporate the popular home automation network into its ecosystem. Starting June 1, an enhanced version of the Insteon app with exclusive features will be made available for Windows Phone 8 devices, along with any tablet, laptop, or desktop running Windows 8.1.
The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) is a nonprofit trade group dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and sponsor to TiECON, the annual conference for entrepreneurs from technology companies, venture capital firms, and service providers, released an infographic that highlights industry insights and predictions on the Top 5 Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for 2014 (full infographic below).
According to the infographic, the Top 5 most influential IoT technologies this year are smartwatches, health and fitness tracking, connected retail, virtual and augmented reality, and the automated home.
The automated home market is expected to reach revenues of $35.6 million by 2016, reports TiE, as more consumers leverage technology to help them save on utility bills. A homeowner can expect to save up to 20 percent in their home costs per year, an average of about $1,154 annually.
One of the most widely adopted home automation systems available today is temperature control, with popular products including the Nest smart learning thermostat and Belkin’s WeMo line of home automation solutions.
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