Comcast completes acquisition of Icontrol's IoT and home security arm

Tas Bindi for ZDNet:  Comcast has completed its acquisition of Icontrol Networks' Converge business, which creates Internet of Things (IoT) and connected home security solutions. Converge already powers Comcast's XFinity Home, in that it allows Comcast to communicate with and manage security sensors that are part of Xfinity Home, and also supports home-automation devices like cameras and thermostats. While the terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Comcast SVP and XFinity Home general manager Daniel Herscovici explained in a blog post that the acquisition will give the company full control over Icontrol's research and development roadmap. Specifically, it will allow the company to accelerate the pace of XFinity Home's development, especially in the area of connected home security.   Cont'd...

Smart home opportunity in its infancy

Simon Quicke for Computer Weekly Microscope:  If anyone in the channel was worried that they were missing out on a booming smart home market then they can sleep more easily knowing that the Uk is in its infancy when it comes to connected homes. Some of the distributors are positioning themselves ready for the uptake of services to control features likes security and heating but according to Gartner things are still at an early stage. The assessment of the market from the analysts means that the channel still has the time to develop skills and vendor relationships in the smart home area. Gartner estimates that current adoption rates are around the 10% mark.   Cont'd.. .

The connected home window is open, but for how long?

Paul Lalancette Opinion piece for RCR Wireless News:  The potential for “connected homes” enabled by the internet of things to become a major market opportunity is no longer in doubt. The benefits for consumers, such as controlling energy costs, increasing security and having a home that learns how to behave according to personal preferences, are too promising. Offering these services represents an enormous opportunity for communications service providers, but it is not a forgone conclusion they will lead in the arena. CSPs can play a central role in delivering an easy to use yet valuable experience to consumers in managing their connected homes. The number of devices and services operating across different and fragmented platforms for the connected home is holding back its widespread adoption. For the connected home to make the jump from being used by early adopters to being commonplace, the experience has to evolve to be far more seamless than it is today. This is the window that is open for CSPs to step up and bring a truly integrated consumer experience to the connected home. But it may not be for long.   Cont'd...

In The Smart Home, Whoever Owns The Hub May Own Retail Too

Nikki Baird for Forbes:  According to our research at Retail Systems Research, retailers are very bullish on the future of the Internet of Things, or IoT. They are most excited about opportunities to interact with consumers via their mobile phones and even consumers’ own IoT devices (think wearables). For them, IoT is not about saving money. It’s about driving customer experience. But what they are ignoring is how the IoT ecosystem looks set to evolve. Retailers will in no way be at the center of the IoT ecosystem. Just look at smart home technology: connected refrigerators, lights, ceiling fans, curtains, door locks – you name it – all increasingly connect to some management framework for all of those devices. Think “operating system for the smart home,” even though it’s a little more sophisticated than that.   Cont'd...

Gilbert apartment complex joins 'smart home' movement, experts question if trend will take off

Farai Bennett, Cronkite News via AZCentral:  The apartments at Vistara at San Tan Village look like many other “luxury” units available in the Valley, with their granite countertops and walk-in closets. But step inside one of the Gilbert complex’s apartments, and you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and play music with just the press of a button. The 366-unit complex has partnered with Clare Controls to make the apartments “smart.” The complex is marketing its apartments as the first in Arizona to offer this kind of technology. It’s part of the “smart home” trend the public may recognize through consumer products such as Amazon’s Echo and Wink Hub 2.   Cont'd...

Smart Home Automation & Monitoring Devices to Exceed 770m by 2021, Realising 1000% Growth

A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that smart home automation and monitoring devices will grow to over 770 million globally by 2021, representing an eleven-fold rise from just 68 million estimated in 2016. The new research, Smart Home Markets: Entertainment, Monitoring, Automation, Health, Metering, Appliances 2017-2021, found that increasing adoption of platform evangelism and openness to partnerships is boosting third party development of devices, especially in developed markets. Indeed, North America, Far East & China and West Europe will account for almost 75% of all households adopting the technology in 2021.  Subscription Services Lose Traction,   Cont'd...

Voice calling could soon come to smart home speakers

Business Insider:  Smart home speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home have been thus far positioned as novelty personal assistants, but this could soon change. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Amazon and Google are looking to integrate a voice-calling feature to the speakers, adding valuable functionality for users and giving the tech giants more insight into users' home lives. If the companies manage to launch the feature, it would impact not just the smart home experience, but the mobile one as well.   Cont'd...

Dyson invests in AI-enabled smart home technology

Grace Bowden for Retail Week:  Dyson has launched a new research and development facility in Singapore dedicated to integrating artificial intelligence technology into its products. The electricals brand, which opened its first UK retail store last July, has invested $412m (£331.7m) in the research facility, which opened this month. The brand’s new facility, called the Technology Centre, features working labs where research and development teams will focus on expanding the use of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices across the business’ product range, as well as developing its use of AI. Speaking at the launch event, founder James Dyson said: “Almost every product can benefit from AI – lighting, purification, cleaning — everything that you see in a room needs artificial intelligence.”   Cont'd...

Why Vivint Smart Home Is One Of The Most Innovative Companies Of 2017

Fast Company:   The company's device-subscription packages are opening the door to the connected home of the future. "We’re taking what’s very complicated and simplifying it for the consumer," says Vivint Smart Home cofounder and CEO Todd Pedersen. The Provo, Utah–based company solves the most common problems with intelligent appliances—namely that they’re often difficult to set up and don’t play nice with any other internet-connected devices—by approaching smart-home technology as a subscription-based service. A lot of companies develop a single product, Pedersen says, "but if you try to add additional services and products to your home, they’re completely uncoordinated." Instead, Vivint’s 1.2 million customers sign up for packages that include the installation of hardware (both its own and that of other companies, such as Nest); 24/7 tech support; repair services; and the seamless coordination of everything—from doorbell cameras to thermostats­­—via the Vivint app. Last year, this strategy increased annual revenue by roughly 15%, to more than $650 million.   Cont'd...

Amazon rolls out free smart-home consultations

Ángel González for Seattle Times:  In a bid to spread the gospel of home automation, Amazon.com has rolled out free consultations from in-house experts that help customers build out a connected home.  The Smart Home Consultation advisers come to consumers’ homes to demonstrate smart home products, including the hugely popular Echo line of devices, and make personalized recommendations on what gadgets to buy. The service is now available in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Jose, Calif.  The service comes amid a big push by Amazon to give Alexa, its voice-activated digital assistant, an edge in a brewing war among tech companies for dominance in the artificial-intelligence market. Cont'd...

Brilliant uses voice and touch commands to control your smart home

Dean Takahashi for VentureBeat:  Is the smartphone on its way out? San Mateo, Calif.-based Brilliant Home Technology announced that it has created the Brilliant Control, a smart lighting solution that gives anyone in the house the ability to access music, climate control, and other common smart home devices with just a simple touch or voice command. No smartphone is required. The Brilliant Control aims to replace existing light switches with a device that responds to both touchscreen and voice commands. Brilliant Control is available for preorder starting at under $200 at www.brilliant.tech. The device has a 5-inch touchscreen with 1080p resolution.   Cont'd...

Year-Over-Year Home Automation Revenue Grew Over 50 Percent

According to global information provider, The NPD Group, annual 2016 U.S. dollar sales of home automation products experienced growth of 57 percent versus 2015. Security and monitoring products continued to lead the category, making-up over 60 percent of dollar share. Smart entry devices, such as smart doorbells, saw an increase in dollar and unit sales of 171 percent and 206 percent, respectively, when compared to the year prior, according to NPD's Retail Tracking Service.  While awareness levels of many smart home devices have fluctuated, smart doorbells are an item within the smart entry space that saw growing awareness and ownership. Smart doorbell awareness increased four percentage points, and ownership increased two percentage points, according to the Connected Home Automation Report from NPD's Connected Intelligence.  Networked video cameras continue to be the most common component of today's smart home, as nearly one-third of smart homes have this feature installed. In fact, over the last year consumer demand for multi-packs of IP cameras has increased 129 percent in U.S. dollar sales versus 2015*.   Full Press Release:

Inside Tim Cook's Apple HomeKit-equipped smart home

Neil Hughes for AppleInsider:  During his company's quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday, Cook revealed to analysts and the media that he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. "This level of home automation was unimaginable just a few years ago, and it's here today with iOS and HomeKit," he said. While Cook didn't single out any accessories or products in detailing his routine, Apple's secure authentication for HomeKit gives the company strict control over approved accessories, providing consumers with a relatively small set of options. As of the end of 2016, there were about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available. As such, we can likely narrow down the HomeKit accessories Cook is using in his own home. Here are our recommendations on how you can get a HomeKit experience on par with the head of Apple.  Cont'd...

Apple strategy in 'smart home' race threatened by Amazon

Stephen Nellis for Reuters:   In less than a year, Amazon's combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant has come close to delivering on the elusive promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words. Yet Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) surprise success sets up a long-term battle with Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) and Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O) for primacy in the connected household. And the contours of that competition are following a classic tech industry dynamic. Amazon is pursuing an open-systems approach that allows quick development of many features, while Apple is taking a slower route, asserting more control over the technology in order to assure security and ease-of-use. The strategic importance of the "connected home" niche looms large: Amazon wants a way to own its customer interactions -mainly shopping online - without an Apple phone or a Google Web browser as an intermediary.  Apple needs to keep the iPhone at the center of customers’ lives, and has built a whole home automation architecture, called Homekit, into its smartphone.   Cont'd...

51% Would Trade Smart Home Device Data For Cost Savings

Chase Martin for IoT Daily:  When it comes to smart home devices, consumers seem to be open to sharing control and data if it means saving money. U.S. homeowners are interested in measuring and monitoring activities in the home, especially energy usage, and would share their data to receive a discount, according to new research from Parks Associates. More than a third (36%) of households said the idea of a system that monitors or manages energy usage in their home is very appealing. Slightly more (37%) said a security monitoring system is very appealing and almost as many (35%) said the same about a safety monitoring system, according to Parks Associates.   Cont'd...

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