Best Buy is rolling out home-automation departments to more than 400 stores this fall. The “Connected Home” sections are expected to be in place by Thanksgiving and will feature more than 100 products from established vendors and startups. The assortment will include security cameras and monitoring service from Dropcam; smart thermostats from Nest and Honeywell; smart lighting from Philips/Hue; smart locks from Kwikset; garage door accessories from Chamberlain; and wireless on-off switches from Belkin WeMo. The departments will also spotlight networking equipment (routers, modems and range extenders), plus TV, Internet, phone and security services from cable companies, DirectTV and ADT.
HomeKit support in the Apple TV is yet another sign that the company's streaming set-top box is likely to become Apple's official hub for a connected home. AppleInsider first predicted in June that Apple wouldn't likely begin selling "iLight" or "iLock" products, instead leaving those efforts to third-party developers and hardware makers. Of course, HomeKit support in the Apple TV paves the way for future models to expand further upon this functionality. For example, a new microphone-equipped Apple TV with always-on "Hey Siri" support could be used to turn off the lights downstairs and raise the temperature when you go to bed, playing nicely with a wide range of different smart-home accessory makers. The Apple TV is long overdue for an update, last having seen a minor, silent hardware refresh in January of 2013 with a redesigned CPU. The hardware is essentially the same as the model released in March 2012.
he Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) today unveiled five cutting-edge technologies that will significantly impact the CE industry during the opening session "Five Disruptive Techs to Watch" at CEA's Innovate! Conference being held this week in Phoenix, AZ. The session, moderated by CEA Senior Vice President of Communications and Strategic Relationships Jeff Joseph, included The Envisioneering Group's Richard Doherty; Disruption Corp.'s Paul Singh; and CNET Reviews Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Turrentine. Based on CEA's annual publication, Five Technology Trends to Watch, the session introduced each of the five topics with man on the street videos of consumers filmed on the National Mall in Washington, DC to gauge their familiarity with the five technology trends. The 2015 edition highlights Big Data, the rise of the machines (Internet of Things, robotics and driverless cars), digital health and the quantified self, entertainment and immersive content including augmented reality, and business models in the innovation economy. Geared toward industry professionals, this publication provides in-depth analysis of each trend and outlines related issues and market forecasts for the coming year. Each section also explores consumer perspectives, partnerships and key players.
"Internet of things" standards groups are rallying the troops for efforts to make thermostats, door locks, sensors and other connected devices find each other and share information. On Thursday, the Open Interconnect Consortium announced it has gained 27 new members, including Cisco Systems, Acer, chip maker Mediatek and home IoT hub maker SmartThings, since the group was founded in July. The group's founding members include Intel, Samsung Electronics and Dell. The OIC also named the people on its board of directors, which will be led by Jong-Deok Choi, the deputy head of Samsung's Software R&D Center. The group says its mission is to ensure that devices such as wearables, remote controls, appliances and handsets can easily communicate and exchange information regardless of operating system, form factor or service provider. Member companies will contribute open-source code to build up the technology to make this possible, the group says. It plans to initially develop standards for discovery, connectivity and device authentication. But the OIC isn't the only organization pushing for a common approach in this area. On Tuesday, the Thread Group, backed by Google's Nest Labs business as well as ARM Holdings and other founding companies, opened up its membership and laid out plans to certify Thread products starting next June. Connectivity is also a focal point for Thread, which is developing a networking software stack.
DIY security supplier Swann Security is expanding into DIY home automation with the launch of SwannOne, a security-focused home-automation system controlled from apps. The system uses such wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave to monitor and control home systems. The pricing of the products and optional service plans were not disclosed. The SwannOne system is built around a hub that connects wirelessly to multiple products, including the SoundView Camera with Wi-Fi. It features encrypted HD video streaming, motion detection, night vision, and optional cloud-storage service plans to store audio and video for the past seven or 30 days. With a service plan offering audio analytics, the camera’s built-in microphone detects and identifies sounds such as breaking glass, car alarms, a baby’s cry or gun shots, and also notifies users.
Rheem, one of the leading manufacturers of water heaters in the U.S., has just launched a Wi-Fi module for electric and gas water heaters that lets you monitor the performance of the device, control its energy usage and be warned about leaks or other potentially costly malfunctions. Part of its new EcoNet Home Comfort technology that will control all Rheem HVAC and water heating devices, the Wi-Fi Module for Water Heaters is a good example of the unification of green technology and home automation industries. But, the control possible using Rheem's free EcoNet app is the best example to date of the intersection of energy savings with home automation. Responsible for up to 18% of a home's energy use, a water heater just sits there 24/7, heating and reheating water to a set temperature. With the Wi-Fi water module attached, it can now be programmed from your smartphone. Using the Rheem app to set schedules based on your lifestyle and usage needs -- and being able to quickly change things on the fly -- the module makes it possible to save energy without inconveniencing you. So if you have it programmed to cool down during the day while you’re at work, but then unexpected get the day off, you can override your normal schedule in a snap. Heading out of town? Remotely set the water heater to vacation mode, preventing it from heating and reheating water that's not going to be used.
Amazon.com Inc will boost staffing at its secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware unit by at least 27 percent over the next five years as it tests Internet-connected "smart" home gadgets such as a one-button device to order supplies. This expansion comes as Lab126 tests connected-home devices that could open up a new front in its war against Goog l e Inc and App le Inc , two people familiar with Lab126's activities said recently. The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media. Technology companies see Internet-connected dishwashers, thermostats and other household devices that can "talk" to one another as ways to fuel demand for products and services. But skeptics say many of these devices cost too much for most consumers and could take years to go mainstream. Amazon is testing a simple wi-fi device that could be placed in the kitchen or a closet, allowing customers to order products like detergent by pressing a button, one of the people said. Lab126 is also interested in wearable devices, the other person said. Both sources stressed that such devices may never come to market.
Wink, the company that connects you with all of the smart products in your home, today announced Relay. Replacing a light switch, Relay conveniently controls and monitors your connected home from one central location. Relay brings all of the convenience of your smart home to your wall, so that you can keep your phone in your pocket. This Wi-Fi-connected control pad acts as a command center by interacting with more than 100 products from 15 trusted brands that already work with Wink. Relay is available today for presale on Amazon for $300.00. "Done right, the smart home connects you to what you want, when you need it...bringing conveniences of safety, security, and automation. That doesn't mean you should have to see your work email when you lock your door," says Brett Worthington, VP/GM of Wink. "Relay allows you to have control of your home without having to look at your phone." DIYers can install Relay by replacing any light switch. Once installed, Relay will automatically connect with all Wink App Ready products, from light bulbs to garage door openers, as well as Wink App Compatible products that use the Wink HUB to connect. Watch Relay in action here. Relay's 4.3" multi-touch LCD display makes it easy to monitor everything in one place. The two mechanical buttons act as replacement light switches, perfect for controlling smart bulbs, or they can be programmed to turn other smart home products on or off with a single click.
Another day, another smart home company is coming alive. But this latest one, Leeo, has some pretty big names behind it–including the main people responsible for creating products like Beats headphones and the video game Guitar Hero as well as executives from CIA-backed big data company Palantir and robotics company RoboteX. And after a year and a half in stealth mode, Palo Alto-based Leeo has already amassed a team of 60 employees and $37 million in venture capital from Formation 8, Visionnaire Ventures and German utility giant E.ON . What exactly does this smart home startup do that’s getting so much money and talent? Well, Leeo isn’t ready to talk about specific products it’s coming out with yet, but the company’s explanation of how it’s approaching the industry is a bit different than other smart home companies. From the very beginning, Leeo is focusing on working with hulking incumbents like telecommunication companies and utilities to help roll out services onto the company’s smart home product line. That will make Leeo a bit of a mix between an enterprise and consumer product company.
Logitech announced it is bringing its expertise and leadership in universal remotes to the home control market with new home automation product compatibility and four new products. The new Harmony® Living Home lineup gives you easy access and control over a wide library of entertainment and home automation devices, all from one centralized control system. "Harmony led the path for simplifying home entertainment, and now we've taken that expertise to also simplify home automation," said Chad Thompson, senior director of worldwide marketing and product management. "As more connected devices such as the Nest Learning Thermostat™, Philips® hue lights and August™ Smart Locks come to market and enter the home, there's more of a need than ever before for a centralized way to simply control all of the home's devices - the Harmony Living Home lineup does just that." With just a few easy steps your remote, tablet or smartphone can now control your TV, set-top box, speakers, lighting, thermostat, door locks, window shades and other popular devices. Plus, you can easily combine multiple devices into Activities to trigger at once so you can power on your TV, dim your lights, adjust the temperature and open your window shades all at the same time. You can start an Activity with one touch of your remote or mobile device, automatically on a custom schedule, or by passing a sensor. You can even trigger Activities from the Harmony Mobile App when you're not at home.
CEDIA EXPO 2014 showed steady growth in attendance and exhibitor participation. More than 480 exhibitors and 18,500 attendees from 82 countries participated in the 2014 event in Denver. Professional and overall attendance both grew by 3%, and the overall exhibitor footprint also saw growth with a 14% increase in the square footage of the show floor. “CEDIA EXPO continues to be a vital venue for home technology decision makers to connect and experience the latest and greatest the industry has to offer,” said Don Gilpin, CEDIA Executive Director and COO. “Not only did attendees see where the industry is going on the show floor, they also saw it in the classroom. CEDIA EXPO offered 110 training sessions, 48 of which were new, offering attendees avenues to stay up to date on the skills they need to remain competitive in the industry. From product launches and demos to networking and training events, CEDIA EXPO 2014 proved to be a fantastic success." Attendees remained consistent in their professional development with CEDIA training and this year’s certification offerings. All CEDIA Certification exam sessions sold out and 40+ training classes were sold out.
The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) recognized the outstanding work of its members at the annual Electronic Lifestyles® Awards Celebration Saturday night. The honorees included over 40 winning projects in the Designer Awards competition, 11 Manufacturers' Excellence Awards winners, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and this year's top volunteers. Also at this year's Awards Celebration, CEDIA paid special recognition to the founding members of the association as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration. The Designer Awards competition, which honors the best projects completed by home technology professional members in the past year, featured winners in such categories as Best Integrated Home, Best Media Room, Best Hidden Installation, and Best Home Theater. The Designer Awards winners were determined by a panel of expert judges that included home technology professionals, architects, and interior designers. Also recognized were the three winners in the CEDIA/HGTVRemodels.com People's Pick Awards, which were voted on by visitors to HGTVRemodels.com. The Manufacturers' Excellence Awards honorees included 10 Best New Product winners, one Sustainable Lifestyle Product Innovation winner, and three inductees into the Product Hall of Fame. The winners were selected by a panel of home technology professional judges. The full list of award winners can be viewed at here . For all the News and announcements from this years show make sure to check out our SPECIAL CEDIA NEWSPAGE & Check out our Special CEDIA Tradeshow Report.
CEDIA 2014 is underway in Denver, Colorado with training sessions beginning on September 10th and the Show room floor opening up on the 11th. This years show used the slogan "Hyper-Change" to signify the ongoing evolution of the residential AV market and promises to showcase "New Products, New Innovations and New Demands." Showcasing a full spectrum of the Home Technology trends that are relevant today and tomorrow CEDIA 2014 hosted thousands of visitors browsing the booths of nearly 500 exhibitors. As well over 100 courses will be offered that cover home automation, home theater, audio video, systems integration and networking. As usual HomeToys.com is on hand to see what was what at this years show. Stay tuned for our Special CEDIA Tradeshow Report. For all the News and announcements from this years show make sure to check out our SPECIAL CEDIA NEWSPAGE.
Companies are starting to pick sides in the home automation race, and Sony just made its choice. The company announced at the IFA conference in Berlin this week that it is joining Qualcomm 's AllSeen Alliance, a coalition of tech and consumer companies utilizing Qualcomm's open-source AllJoyn home automation platform. Sony's move means there's yet another company pushing an alternative home automation platform to Apple 's forthcoming HomeKit. Qualcomm has collected an impressive group of peers for its home automation platform, including Microsoft , LG, Panasonic , Haier, Sharp , and about 60 other companies. And while Sony's move won't derail Apple's HomeKit plans , the growing number of companies joining the AllJoyn proves just how heated this competition is becoming. AllJoyn -- like many other open-source home automation platforms -- enables third-party devices to easily connect to each other, communicate with other devices, and pair together for combined automation.
Want proof that the smart home is big? Check out the whopper private equity investment that KKR has made in Savant. Savant said it has raised $90 million from its founder Robert Madonna and affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR). The round will help Savant navigate a space where it has played for years but is suddenly seeing an influx of competitors at both the low and high end. Savant is a bit unusual in that it’s designed for luxury homes and professional installers. The company uses Apple hardware and has built software that models itself on Apple’s ease of use and attractiveness. Touches such as taking a picture of your living room and then programming that picture to act as the touch screen for your home controls are an example of how friendly the Savant experience is. You just touch the lamp in your picture and it turns on. It’s fun. In the last year Savant has taken its high-end ethos and moved closer to the DIY market with a cheaper product called the Savant Smart Series. Instead of running on a Mac Mini it uses a Linux server stored in a closet or cabinet somewhere. That cheaper product will still run you around $1,600 for the basic set up.
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