How to Invest in Smart Home Technology

Greg Miller, Senior Analyst for Wall Street Daily:  Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve discussed the promises and perils of the Smart Home, as well as why this segment is on the cusp ofbreaking into the mainstream.  Naturally, it’s time to ask: “How can I profit from this?”

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.  Ideally, there would be one or two tickers predicted to soar from the rising Smart Home trend, but there isn’t such a company out there yet.  However, there are still ways to participate in the upcoming boom.  It will require some creativity and careful investing, specifically in companies with small current exposure to the area.  Here are some guidelines for investing in the Smart Home – and for avoiding expensive mistakes.  Cont'd...

Comcast and Alarm.com to acquire smart home company Icontrol

Harrison Weber for VentureBeat:  Comcast and security company Alarm.com have entered into agreements to acquire and divvy up Icontrol, an 11-year-old Internet of Things and home security company founded in Palo Alto and now based in Austin, Texas.

Comcast previously invested an undisclosed sum into Icontrol and relies on the company’s tech to power parts of its connected home and home security platform.

In this multi-part deal, Comcast says it’s buying Icontrol’s Converge platform and wholesale business, which “powers the Xfinity Home touch-screen panel and back-end servers, allowing them to communicate with and manage security sensors in the home, as well as supporting home-automation devices like cameras and thermostat.”  Cont'd...

Opinion Article: Apple HomeKit: More Home Automation Waste

John C. Dvorak, Opinion Article for PCMag:  Home automation has been on the back burner for decades, and is something Icomplain about at least once a year. It was in the news again after Apple's WWDC this week, when observers looking to squeeze some news out of the long keynote seized on news about HomeKit.  This led me to the HomeKit homepage, which finally answered all my "what is it good for?" questions. Absolutely nothing!

Let's amuse ourselves with Apple's assertions. First, we are told to be on the lookout for the HomeKit seal of approval logo (above) for any sort of device we want to use within a HomeKit microcosm.

This ensures interoperability and security. Apple is using all sorts of proprietary protocols for these devices to protect users against house hacks that I've described in the past, where devices are controlled by smirking jokers on the net.  Cont'd...

Why Apple wants to be the smart home's nerve center

Lora Kolodny for TechCrunch:  On Monday, Apple announced that it would make an app called Home available to users soon, allowing them to connect and control all of their HomeKit-enabled smart home devices from their iPads, iPhones or even Watches.

Per an earlier TechCrunch report live from the event, the Home app will let users control a Fantasia-like orchestra of smart gadgets from one place, including everything from smart doorbells and locks, to thermostats, light bulbs, humidifiers and entertainment systems.

And the app will let users engage Siri to tweak the settings on those devices, of course.

But why is Apple intent on becoming a universal remote, or a nerve center, for the smart home?

Frankly, consumers are not yet buying IoT devices and services with the fervor hoped for by consumer electronics and appliance brands.  Cont'd...

How to Choose the Safest IoT Device for your Home

Alexandra Gheorghe for MacWorld:  Growth in the consumer market for Internet of Things gadgets is accelerating at an impressive speed, and forecasters predict 25 billion devices will be online by 2020. Thus, users can choose from a wide array of products available on the market.

On Amazon.com, for instance, around 400 search results relate to smart thermostats. But which product is best? After filtering the huge list by price and reviews, you are left with a handful of good options. Maybe some are more visually appealing than others, so, you select those that fit the aesthetics of your home. But where does security fit in? Is it among your top three selection criteria?

Unfortunately, most users prefer convenience over security. This known tradeoff is also partially due to the lack of standardization. There is no “security star” rating for consumer IoT devices. Needless to say, most consumers don’t have the tools and skills needed to differentiate products based on their security posture.

Such a system seems difficult to implement at this stage of IoT development.  Cont'd...

TAYLOR MORRISON SCALES A SMART HOME SOLUTION TO PRODUCTION BUILDING

Kayla Devon for BuilderOnline:  The Interactive Home is Taylor Morrison’s trademarked term for its smart home offering, which its Houston division first launched with Legrand, an electrical and home automation product manufacturer, in 2012. Last year the company started to look for a better solution that could work across all its product lines. Legrand ultimately won the contract once again because of its newly updated Intuity Home Intelligence platform and the vendor’s experience with Taylor Morrison.

Jim Ellison, VP of sales and marketing for Taylor Morrison’s Houston division, says the company wanted the ability to scale the smart home solution to its various price points from $190,000 to over $1 million. According to Legrand, the Intuity Home Intelligence system is meant to bring home automation to the masses, by being scalable to both a consumers’ and a home builders’ needs and price points.  Cont'd...

Netatmo Connect launches to make its smart home tech smarter

Michael Sawh for Wareable:  Good news Netatmo fans, the smart home company has announced a new Connect platform that will allow developers to tap into its connected kit, including the Welcome indoor camera, thermostat and weather station.

Hot on the heels of Nest's decision to expand its Works with Nest program, the French company also wants to bring smart home tech closer together and this is definitely a step in the right direction.

The platform is broken down into three programmes all of which will enable connected objects, services and apps to hook up with Netatmo products.

First up is Netatmo Weather, where developers can take advantage of weather data measured by global Netatmo weather stations to provide users with a accurate local forecasts. Next is Smart Home, where interactions can be created between Netatmo products and other connected tech. Lastly, there's the opportunity to develop for Enterprise with the hope of helping customers to analyse energy consumption.  Cont'd...

CEDIA DEVELOPS HOME TECHNOLOGY CERTIFICATE PROGRAM FOR COLDWELL BANKER REAL ESTATE

RealEstateRama:  CEDIA and Coldwell Banker Real Estate have collaborated to offer a home technology certificate program to Coldwell Banker Real Estate independent agents. The newly developed curriculum, which will be taught by CEDIA representatives, will help agents better represent the value of home technology. “Home technology is a source of convenience, security, and comfort in homes across the United States, with almost half of all Americans previously sharing with us that they either already own or plan to invest in home technology by the end of 2016,” said Budge Huskey, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. “We believe it is imperative for our affiliated agents to learn about home technology and engage with the professionals who install it.Partnering with CEDIA to provide this course was an easy choice and we’ve already seen a great amount of excitement from our agents surrounding this new offering.”  Full story.

Nest open-sources its home automation network protocol, Thread

Ken Yeung for VentureBeat:  Nest has released an open-sourced version of its Thread protocol, making its home automation network technology more broadly available to developers. The introduction of OpenThread is expected to give parties interested in working with open-source technology all the benefits of building on Thread — allowing them to continue innovating without dealing with the current limitations of the protocol.

This project is the company’s first open-source initiative.

Created by Nest, Samsung, ARM, Atmel, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm Technologies, and Texas Instruments, Thread was intended to be the standard for connected home devices and apps. When it was announced in 2014, the protocol was described as providing a common network language that products like smart thermostats and smoke alarms could use to talk with each other.  Cont'd...

​Thread, ZigBee, Z-Wave: Why smart home standards matter

Dan Sung for Wareable:  Wi-Fi has proved to be a really effective way of getting our laptops, our tablets, our phones and even our TVs and stereo systems to talk to the internet but it's not working for the smart home.

The Internet of Things has more subtle needs than these big-batteried, regularly charged or permanently powered items, and clunky old Wi-Fi can't handle the pressure of getting scores of small sensors talking.

You might have heard of names ZigBee, Z-Wave and, more recently, Thread but what do they do? And should be you considering them when planning your smart home? Read on to find out.

Why standards matter:  Let's say you fill your home with connectable devices. They're sitting there - your washing machine, your door lock, your toasted sandwich maker or whatever - and they're bursting with notifications to send to you and to each other.  Cont'd...

5 misguided reasons for asking wireless carriers to manage smart home networks

Ira Brodsky for ComputerWorld:  Last week, a guest editorial by Jerome Rota of Greenwave Systems titled, “How to Bring the ‘Internet of Things’ to Life” appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rota suggested that wireless operators should manage smart home networks using spectrum acquired in the FCC’s 600 MHz auction. This is a bad idea for several reasons.

1.   “Today a smart home nearly requires an IT specialist.”

The first products based on new technology are often difficult to set up and manage. Mr. Rota’s solution -- having wireless carriers perform these tasks -- could short-circuit the development of more user-friendly products and would saddle consumers with unnecessary monthly fees.  Cont'd...

Samsung Smart Home flaws let hackers make keys to front door

Dan Goodin for ArsTechnica:  Computer scientists have discovered vulnerabilities in Samsung's Smart Home automation system that allowed them to carry out a host of remote attacks, including digitally picking connected door locks from anywhere in the world.

The attack, one of several proof-of-concept exploits devised by researchers from the University of Michigan, worked against Samsung's SmartThings, one of the leading Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for connecting electronic locks, thermostats, ovens, and security systems in homes. The researchers said the attacks were made possible by two intrinsic design flaws in the SmartThings framework that aren't easily fixed. They went on to say that consumers should think twice before using the system to connect door locks and other security-critical components.  Cont'd...

Build A Twitter-Based Home Automation System With A Raspberry Pi

Thorin Klosowski for LifeHacker:  The Pi is hard wired into a home automation board that controls a fan, light, AC and the temperature. It’s then controlled over Twitter direct messages so it’s super easy to check the status or flip the toggle on any of the connected devices. The Twitter link is a pretty handy way to get around some of the programming requirements that would otherwise be required here, so it’s worth taking a look at how it’s done here if you’re making your own home automation controller. Head over to ARM Tutorials for the guide.  

Vivint Smart Home announces $100 million investment

Karissa Neely for Daily Herald: In its first round of venture capital funding, Vivint Smart Home, the Provo-based leading provider of smart home technology and services, announced a $100 million equity investment co-led by tech investor Peter Thiel and investment firm Solamere Capital.

The strategic investment will help fuel Vivint’s rapid growth and product innovation as it extends its preeminent position in the growing smart home market.

A venture capitalist and entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, Thiel is known for backing transformational technology companies, and was the first outside investor in Facebook and is one of the largest shareholders of Airbnb.

“For Peter and Solamere to place their confidence in Vivint as the smart home leader is a huge validation of what we have built and where we are headed,” said Todd Pedersen, founder and CEO of Vivint Smart Home, in a press release. “The fact that they are investing in our future demonstrates their passion for our business and their vision for this industry. We look forward to working together to redefine the home experience.”  Cont'd...

Thington, A New Super-Angel-Backed IoT Startup

Mike Butcher for TechCrunch:  Now, a San Francisco-based company, founded by Dopplr founder Matt Biddulph and ex-Yahoo Brickhouse Head of Product Tom Coates is building out a new consumer-facing product that combines Smart Home technology with their expertise in location, social networks and the web of data.

They previously formed Product Club as a way to find a product to build, while doing some consulting along the way. Now they are launching their new startup: Thington.

To do it they have raised Angel funding from some pretty well known tech people and investors,  including Ray Ozzie, Stewart Butterfield, Eric Wahlforss, Joi Ito, Marko Ahtisaari, Saul Klein, Loic Le Meur, Matt Rolandson and Samantha Tripodi. Terms were undisclosed.

“We’re making a better user interface and service layer that is respectful to manufacturers and open and we’re trying to be a couple of generations beyond what other people are doing,” says Coates.  Cont'd...

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