Now, several companies are trying to make home automation easy by creating technologies that allow software and services that connect the disparate gadgets and get them to perform several tasks together — such as opening the front door, turning on the lights and firing up the stereo when you pull into the driveway.
One of those companies is a startup called Revolv. The company makes a single small box, called a hardware hub, which is designed to control all the devices in a home, whether they use common wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or relatively obscure ones, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave.
"Our hardware hub has seven different radios,” said Revolv co-founder Mike Soucie. "It can talk to all these devices, depending on what language they speak." This could include thermostats, locks, security cameras, garage-door openers and even those automated drapes.
One neat feature on the hardware hub is its ability to use a single smartphone app in place of the individual apps for each connected device, such as a wireless lock or a Sonos streaming music player.
But Revolv takes its hardware hub one step further by incorporating Geosense technology. Through the home Wi-Fi network, the hardware hub connects to the company's cloud service to automate tasks based on your location.
HouseLogix, a Pennsylvania-based provider of advanced hardware and software products for home control, today announces the release of VoicePod®, its patented wireless speech control device for home automation systems. VoicePod adds both voice recognition and speech synthesis capabilities to popular home control systems such as Control4. Users simply say "Hello VoicePod" from anywhere in a room to activate VoicePod and then issue voice commands such as "turn on the lights", "secure the house", "good morning" and "listen to music". Utilizing embedded speaker-independent voice recognition technology that requires no web access, VoicePod instantly interprets speech commands for voice control of TV, music, thermostats, lighting, shading, door locks, cameras and more.
VoicePod provides many handy voice control features that add speed, convenience and safety to everyday living. For example, users can select TV channels simply by speaking a channel name.
Hands-free control of thermostats is also supported. Users can even ask VoicePod questions such as "what is the house status?" or "what is the weather forecast?" and VoicePod verbally delivers the requested information. VoicePod can also speak in response to any event, alerting users to security concerns such as open garage doors or unusual temperatures or weather conditions.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® announced today that it is forming the R7.8 Working Group 2 to develop a new standard to enable home electronics to communicate energy use data to smart energy management systems and apps. The new standard will be called CE-Energy Usage Information (CE-EUI) and will conform to the North American Energy Standards Board Energy Usage Information (NAESB -EUI) model, which forms the basis for the national Green Button initiative.
“Product manufacturers already understand how much energy a device will use during operation, based on its design,” said Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research and standards at CEA. “By programming that information into the device and enabling the device to calculate how much energy it uses over time, manufacturers can help homeowners accurately capture the data for their energy management systems and applications.”
The standard will be compatible with the new Green Button “Download My Data” and “Connect My Data” initiatives. Green Button defines how consumers and authorized third-party services can access a history of their home’s total energy usage and cost based on smart meter readings. By enabling each device to report its own energy usage, consumers will be able to see the energy each CE-EUI-compliant device consumes and make better informed decisions. The standard will be network agnostic, operating over networks, such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, ZigBee and Z-Wave, that are an existing part of the home ecosystem.
In its 8th year, InfoComm China 2013 continues to grow, drawing 19,431 attendees, a 20-percent increase compared with the 2012 show, to the China National Convention Center in Beijing.
The three-day annual pro audiovisual show, held in early April, has grown so much since its inception that next year it will fill the entire CNCC, according to show organizers.
"We are really thrilled by this year's success, as it once again proved companies in China are recognizing the importance of pro AV in providing a competitive edge to their businesses,” said Richard Tan, the show’s general manager.
He added, “The potential for sustainable growth in the Chinese AV market is enormous! Through InfoComm China, our exhibitors will share their expertise of the application of pro AV technology and innovations to help more companies achieve breakthroughs in their businesses."
The show, organized by InfoCommAsia Pte Ltd. And InfoComm International, expanded from four halls to six this year, with a gross exhibition area of nearly 35,000 square meters hosting more than 300 exhibiting companies.
According to exhibitors, the show’s success was twofold; the huge growth of China’s pro AV market, as well an increase in targeted marketing and public relations for the show.
TiO is a new approach to home automation, one driven by an “outside in” philosophy that focuses on the customer experience, according to the company. TiO home automation solutions will provide professional integrators with an easy-to-install, elegant home automation solution that offers powerful features, maximum flexibility and a new pricing model that will allow home automation to reach a broad base of consumers.
“TiO is driven by our vision to provide homeowners with an experience that seamlessly captures their mood and provides them with comfort and peace of mind,” said Mike Anderson, president and CEO of ACTP. “TiO is unlike any other home automation system because it truly allows the customer to control how the system interacts with their daily life. We’ve designed the TiO system to be simple and intuitive enough for the consumer to perfectly match their moods and create satisfying and powerful experiences in their home. We want to deliver a solution that adapts to the customer instead of asking the customer to adapt to the system.”
TiO systems will run on Android-enabled devices, allowing users to better utilize the world’s most popular mobile platform. Each system will be easily configured by a professional integrator via the convenience of an Android tablet.
Ninja Blocks look a fair bit different than they used to, however -- the 3D-printed case has been traded up for something that looks a lot more like a final, saleable product. In fact, it looks a little like a router or an external hard drive, albeit one with color-changing ninja eyes. The company was also talking up the home automation possibilities of its platform a bit more than the straightforward sensor pitch. In a buzz phrase, the company is calling this "home automation for hackers."
Using the Ninja Rules app, you can turn lights and appliances on and off, get alerts for things like your wash and monitor your home, without writing code -- of course, knowing how helps. The whole platform is extremely open to users, and inside the case, you'll find a Beagle Bone and Arduino board, both accessible by pulling at the handy "Hack Me" tag that hangs on its side. The base system will run you $199. More information can be found in a video after the break.
After years of steady but low growth the commercial building automation systems (BAS) market is experiencing a rapid period of change and investment. Traditionally, growth and adoption has been closely tied to new building completion but new entrants and new connectivity are driving greater investment. Over the next five years the building automation services market will grow to $43 billion, up from $35 billion this year.
Two key factors are driving a new round of growth. Greater environmental and financial demands have raised the appeal of reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings and the benefits for optimizing building automation systems. In addition, a new level of connectivity that stretches the reach of BAS's from new sensors and actuators through to cloud application management and data analysis.
"This is a market long dominated by a handful of major players who deploy and manage commercial building management systems," says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research. "Now these players are developing new ways to integrate and compete with a host of new service offerings."
It’s a portable socket that gets its power from the sun rather than the grid. You plug into a window instead of into the wall. It’s easy.
That was the whole point, according to the designers, Kyohu Song and Boa Oh: “We tried to design a portable socket, so that users can use it intuitively without special training,” they write.
It is really simple. The portable socket attaches to a window like a leech to human skin. On its underside, it has solar panels:
The solar panels suck energy from the sun. The charger converts that energy into electricity. You plug in to the charger.
Even better, the charger stores that energy. After five to eight hours of charging, the socket provides 10 hours of use. You can pop it off the window, stick it in your bag, and use it to charge up your phone with solar energy, even if you’re sitting in a dark room.
At a special listening and audition event today, Sony Electronics introduced its 2013 Home Audio product lineup, highlighting the STR-DN1040 Audio/Video Receiver and the HT-CT660 Soundbar. Available in June, both products boast of Sony's legendary commitment to quality sound, and are packed with connectivity and accessibility features. Both the STR-DN1040 receiver, priced at $599, and the HT-CT660 soundbar, priced at $399, will be available at Sony Stores and http://store.sony.com, as well as retailers nationwide.
"Our rich audio legacy leads consumers to expect continued innovation and performance from Sony audio products," said Neal Manowitz , director of Sony Electronics' Home Audio group. "The newest AV receiver in our line has the simplest, most user-friendly interface, which when combined with a world first and only AVR feature set of built-in Wi-Fi, AirPlay and Bluetooth connectivity, raises the bar with respect to usability, and does so with knockout sound performance. Likewise, the new soundbar extends the Sony line and brings theater-like, high-definition sound to any room in the house, with Bluetooth ease and convenience."
The company is entering the home automation space — launching its Digital Life initiative in 15 markets beginning Friday. Kevin Peterson, senior vice president of AT&T Digital Life says the IP-based system will make customers' lives easier by simplifying home management — allowing for customizable features accessible from any PC or mobile device.
The idea, which has been under development for over a year now, is for AT&T to offer pre-packaged bundles and monitoring of your home automation. The company wants to create that system for you by letting you shop for what you want — either online or in a retail location — and offering certified specialists to install the sensors and equipment.
There are different packages to choose from, depending on your needs. A camera package, for instance, will let you view video from inside or outside your home. The energy package controls your thermostat and lights while a water-detection package can check for water in your basement and alert you or turn it off.
Many open source home automation projects have relied on driving proprietary devices, but the newly created Open Home Control project aims to change that by creating a framework for hardware devices that can be integrated with open sourced home automation platforms such as the respected openHAB software.
The home automation system will provide a framework for creating a large network of different devices that offer AES-256 data encryption and can resend data packets when transmission is disrupted. Devices in the network will use Atmel microcontrollers such as the ATMega168 in combination with HopeRF wireless transceivers on 868MHz. Firmware for the system is developed in C and compiled with the GCC compiler. WinAVR is the chosen development environment, although compiling under Linux also appears to be possible. Design guidelines on the site give further information about the hardware and firmware.
The project is still young, but a handful devices are already available: a base station to act as a master control for the OHC network, a temperature and humidity sensor, a remotely switchable power socket, and a dimmer designed to work with specialised Osram fluorescent tube power supplies. The number of available devices is set to increase along with the growing community of contributors the project hopes to attract.
The project's software is available from its GitHub repository and is licensed under the GPLv3. Hardware and schematics are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0) licence.
With only 18 employees, Zonoff, a Malvern-based startup (Pennsylvania) managed to raise $3.8 million to continue the development of their comprehensive software that helps you, the consumer, control your home electronic systems, with a single app installed on your iPhone or iPad. Basically, Zonoff provides a simple solution in terms of home connectivity, suggesting that their service – a platform which includes a home, cloud and an app software is enough to control electronic devices wirelessly and make them communicate one with another.
The home software: This is the core of Zonoff’s advanced technology, being able to turn any “always-on” device into a home controller. That means that a simple electronic item, like your Blu-ray player for instance, becomes a smart one…and therefore, understands your commands.
The cloud software: We’re already used to cloud solutions, so this is not a new approach, but definitely an indispensable one. The cloud software “enables remote access and device management”. The idea was to give the costumers the possibility to interact with their homes, away from home.
The app software: It runs on smartphones and other mobile devices. With an user-friendly interface, the app allows you to set the clock alarm, turn on the lights and so on, changing once and forever the way we interact with our homes.
The cutting-edge home automation technology was first introduced to the public in January, during CES 2013.
CEA's 11th Annual 'State of the Builder' Study Finds Strong, Stable Market for Installed Home Technologies
The overall growth of the home technology market remained consistent from 2011 to 2012, demonstrating home technology has a strong, stable foothold, according to new findings in the 11th Annual State of the Builder Technology Market Study released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®.
Technology installations in new homes reached or exceeded 2008 levels, providing more evidence that the market for built-in home technologies is well on the road to recovery. Structured wiring remains the most common installed technology (70 percent), followed by monitored security (44 percent) and home theater pre-wire systems (27 percent).
“These installed technology trends signify that some home technologies have made the transition from luxuries to standard options,” said Chris Ely, senior manager of industry analysis, CEA.
Home technologies have become valuable marketing tools for new homes. Builders say they continue to find that marketing these technologies is important; close to half of builders surveyed (49 percent) said they find it much more or somewhat more important to market these technologies today.
Coming soon are two fresh bundles bearing the Harmony name: the Ultimate and Smart Control. At the heart of both is the Smart Hub, a palm-sized box somewhat similar to the Harmony Link. It receives commands from remotes via RF, or from smartphone apps via WiFi, and in turn, broadcasts its own orders to your A/V setup using IR and Bluetooth. It's especially useful for those wanting to hide their kit away in cabinets, as it translates inputs into IR signals that'll bounce around those secluded spaces. Optional extender nodes will also pipe IR into other nearby recesses.
To do that though, the Hub needs instructions, which is where remotes and apps come in. The new Ultimate remote (aka the Touch Plus) is last year's Touch remote with a few refinements, including the addition of a trigger-like nub on the underside to improve grip. It uses IR, Bluetooth or RF (to the Hub) to control up to 15 devices, and is programmed using Logitech's software for PCs that pulls settings from a database of 225,000 home entertainment products. The Ultimate's 2.4-inch touchscreen serves as a number pad, a favorite channel list for easy hopping, and is the home of one-touch "activities," which are basically macros for issuing multiple commands. Set up an activity for "Play Xbox," for example, and in one touch it'll turn on your console, switch your TV to the correct source, select the right channel on your amp, and so on. It'll even tell Philips' connected Hue lightbulbs to set a mood. Jump on past the break for more.
Vienna-based Alarm.com, the purveyor of home automation technology, is trying to position itself as a kind of operating system for the home. It has begun allowing other companies to plug their technology into its system in the same way software developers create applications for Microsoft or Apple computers, tablets and phones.
Alarm.com announced its initial partnerships last week at the International Security Conference in Las Vegas. Homeowners that use LiftMaster electric garage door openers and Lutron lights and window shades will be able to control them using the Alarm.com Web site and app.
Jay Kenny, vice president of marketing, said Alarm.com’s Platform Connect allows the company to quickly expand the number of products a homeowner can automate and control using the company’s system.
“The more applications that they can draw to that platform the greater the value, in the same way the Apple app store draws applications from all sorts of developers and that brings greater value to that platform,” said Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research.
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