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...

Mattel's Aristotle Connects Wired Child, Smart Home

Elaine Low for Investors.com:  Alexa, play digger, digger," the redheaded, still-learning-to-speak toddler in the video appears to tell a small electronic device on a bedside stand. The family's new Amazon.com (AMZN) Echo Dot, one of the more popular voice recognition personal assistant devices, replies: "You want to hear a station from porn detected, porno ring tone, hot chick amateur girl …" Frantic relatives scramble to shut off the device as it veers into some highly NSFW (not safe for work) language. The now-viral video is a prime example of how cutting-edge language recognition tools fail when faced with kid-speak. Toy maker Mattel (MAT) recognized the failure as an opportunity: a market niche for a kid-focused, parent-controlled smart speaker amid a growing connected-home market.   Cont'd...

It's a year of integrations at CES 2017

Jenny McGrath for DigitalTrends:  This year, at CES 2017, companies already have their door locks or cameras on the market - and if they don't, they're just partnering with other companies who already make those things. It's a year of integrations at CES 2017. Airmega, a smart air purifier that debuted last year, announced its integration with Amazon's Alexa. Users can now turn on or off the device with their voice, or ask their Echo or Dot for an update on the air quality. Lutron's big announcement wasn't a new dimmer or shades but its integration with SmartThings and expanded capabilities with Nest via the Alphabet-owned company's camera. Garage-door-opener maker Chamberlain used CES to tell customers it will make products that work with Apple's HomeKit starting in July of this year.   Cont'd...  

A smart home scoreboard for CES 2017

Rich Brown for CNet:  How about a good, old-fashioned technology arms race? You could just buy a smart light bulb set, but for a lot of consumers (reportedly more than 5 million of you, as of November 2016), it's Amazon's voice-activated Alexa that will be the entry point for controlling devices around your home. Along with Amazon, Apple continues to grow its Siri-powered HomeKit smart home system. Google has also entered the fray with its own blandly named smart home AI, Google Assistant, which featured prominently in Google's Echo-imitating Google Home speaker in November 2016. That's a lot of industry power competing to put a virtual assistant in charge of your home, and that's why our scoreboard for tracking new smart home devices announced at CES 2017 is focusing on voice control.   Full Article:

The Weird and Wonderful Smart Home Tech of 2016

John Elliot for Mansion Global:  Next week entrepreneurs, developers and enthusiasts will descend on Las Vegas for a first look at the latest smart home technology at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, which begins on Jan. 3. But before we fully embrace 2017 and the endless smart home product possibilities it will present, we’re taking a look back at a few of the more under-celebrated (some might say “strange”) devices of the past year. These products all purport to solve a problem plaguing the masses, and while they may miss that mark, they are still intriguing and entertaining, if not entirely applicable to everyday life.   Full article:

With smart home security the defining factor, Zmodo adds devices and features

Bruce Brown for DigitalTrends:  Zmodo has added more devices and tighter integration and control to its smart home monitoring product lineup. Called Total Smart Home Vision, the company stresses the priority of bank-level security while adding more devices and making it easier for customers to design and control their own smart home configurations. Zmodo started by adding more devices to its existing lineup of Wi-Fi-connected monitoring devices that include the Torch camera-equipped smart door light, Pivot temperature, and humidity sensing 360-degree panning camera, Greet smart doorbell and camera, Replay multiple camera recording system, and the Beam combination Wi-Fi range extender, night light, and smart home hub. The comprehensive list of new devices will include smart thermostats and vents, curtain controls, gas and carbon monoxide sensors, garage door openers, irrigation systems, and wireless cameras.   Reflecting its roots as a monitoring company, the Total Smart Home Vision is secured from home devices to cloud storage by AES 256-bit bank-level encryption accessible only by your personal account.   Cont'd...

LG Pushes Smart Home Appliances To Another Dimension With 'Deep Learning' Technology

Press Release:   To advance the functionality of today's home appliances to a whole new level, LG Electronics (LG) is set to deliver an unparalleled level of performance and convenience to the home with deep learning technology to be unveiled at CES® 2017. LG deep learning technology will allow home appliances to better understand their users by gathering and studying customers' lifestyle patterns over time. This process never ends and improves over time to provide customers with new solutions to everyday problems.  "Deep learning technology is the next phase in the evolution of smart appliances, and as an industry leader, we have the responsibility of being an early mover," said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG Electronics and Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. "But even more important than what appliances are capable of will be how companies behave when entrusted with data. At LG, we believe performance and convenience do not mean having to sacrifice security and privacy. They can and should exist simultaneously." Full Press Release:  

Comcast wants in on your smart home. Here's how it'll get there

Roger Cheng & David Priest for CNet:  When Fraser Stirling was 16, his father asked him what he wanted to study in school. His answer: industrial design. His father, who's been an assistant principal and a soccer coach, wasn't pleased. "[He] said that was not a proper job for a man in his house," Stirling recalled in a thick Scottish accent. "He wanted me to get a job where I could actually make some money." Twenty years later, Stirling is in charge of designing products for the unlikeliest of companies: Comcast. Yes, the nation's largest cable company, known for delivering "The Walking Dead" to your TV and making you wait hours for a repair technician, is (kinda) entering the hardware business. Comcast has unveiled its first family of products specifically designed by the company to serve its Xfinity Home business.   Cont'd...

Go Green… Save Money?

Sure, it's good for the planet. But smart home energy management can save you money in some unexpected ways.

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