92% of Security Installers/Integrators See Home Automation as a Future Revenue Generator

Adam Bannister for IFSEC Global:  Polling the views of hundreds of installers, IFSEC Global found that 92% saw the ‘smart home’ – whereby lighting, heating, alarms and other household functions are interconnected and remotely controlled via smartphone or PC – as a potential area for diversification.

No surprise, then, that almost as many – 88% – would be more likely to attend IFSEC International if a dedicated home automation zone were introduced.

“In the top end of the market, people are spending hundreds of thousands on smart home technology,” write one installer who completed the survey. “There are a few cheap end products out there, but the most important factor here is that products can be retro-fitted and not too expensive.

“It would be great to see a security system that integrates as one package.  As far as we are aware this does not exist. We’ve been trying to push the home automation side, but are still seeking the right product.”

A similar proportion – 86% – would visit if an area dedicated to ‘smart buildings’ – essentially the same concept applied to commercial premises – area were launched.

Which is indeed what is happening, on both fronts: for the first time IFSEC International will feature a dedicated Smart Zone for its 2016 edition, comprising a replica ‘smart home’ fitted out with the latest home automation innovations from top exhibitors including Y3K, Lilin and Control 4.  Cont'd...

Smart Home Device Buyers Want Support

By Aaron Baar for MediaPost:  Although they have been tagged as one of the bright spots for the coming year in the consumer electronics sector, makers of smart home devices need to be concerned about user-friendliness if they want them to truly take off.


According to a survey conducted by support.com, which provides tech support and support center services, nearly a third (31%) of smart home system owners struggle with the complexity of setup. In addition, 43% of potential smart home device buyers are concerned about how complex setting up the system might be. 

“Complexity is starting to impede adoption,” Alex Polous, Support.com’s vice president of marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “If we want to increase adoption, we need to look at the user experience and not just the flashy features.”

Still, 37% of current smart home device owners installed the devices themselves, and 61% want to attempt to fix the issues on their own. Providers, then, should offer an array of support options for different customers and for different stages of ownership, he says.  Cont'd...

Making Sense of Smart Home Tech at CES 2016

Dan Tynan for Yahoo Tech:  The problem with smart home technology in 2016 isn’t a lack of intelligence; it’s a failure to communicate.

As more  new ‘smart’ devices appear — and we saw a passel of them at CES 2016, from smart showers to beds, belts, blenders, toothbrushes and more — the same stumbling blocks remain. All of them will talk to your smartphone, but most of them won’t talk to each other.

To get the most Jetsons-like experience from your smart home, different devices need to speak the same language. If you want your smart bed to notice when you are awake, open your smart blinds, tune your smart audio system to Morning Edition, and tell your smart coffee maker to start brewing, all of these devices need to be communicating on the same radio frequency using the same protocols.

At the moment, though, there are more than half a dozen smart home protocols — like Apple Homekit, Samsung’s Smart Things, Google’s Brillo, Lowe’s Iris, and AllJoyn, as well as old standbys like Zigbee and Zwave. And that’s just a partial list.  Cont'd...

CES 2016 - Smart Homes of the Future

Harriet Taylor for CNBC:  High tech is coming, again, to your home.  Tech companies and appliance makers are showing off their latest lines of connected devices promising to make consumers' lives better, safer and happier at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Much has been made about the market opportunity underlying smart homes, but consumers are not yet convinced. The Consumer Technology Association acknowledges this, forecasting that sales of wearable devices will be quadruple sales of smart home devices in 2016, reaching 38 million and 9 million units sold, respectively.

One difference, compared to CES in years past, is that companies are putting less effort into becoming the de facto platform for your entire house, and more into delivering specific products.  Cont'd...

Lowe's to add emergency dispatch service for Iris DIY smart-home systems

Stephen Lawson for CIO:  Smart-home gadgets look cool, but the services connected to them may be more valuable to many owners in the long run. Home-improvement chain Lowe's plans to make more of those services available to do-it-yourselfers.
By the middle of this year, owners of Lowe's Iris home gadgets will be able to buy professional monitoring, including dispatching of first responders in case of emergency. It will cost US$19.99 per month and will become available in select markets as licensing allows.

Security and life safety are two of the big reasons consumers are buying into the Internet of Things. Broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast install smart-home systems built around things like connected burglar alarms. For example, AT&T's website advertises professionally monitored home security and automation systems starting at $39.99 per month with a two-year contract.  Cont'd...

CES 2016: LG And Samsung battle for smart home leadership

By ROB ENDERLE for TechSpective:  LG and Samsung are planning to do battle for control of your home at CES. Samsung is bringing its acquired SmartThings technology to TVs to provide a central hub from which your home can be controlled. LG just announced it is going to showcase its Smarthome Hub at CES as well. Each idea has its merits and problems, but I think LG is closer to what we initially need than Samsung is. Let me explain.

Right now the concept of the Smart Home is a mess and it has been a mess ever since X10 went to that technology graveyard in the sky. We have a bunch of warring “standards” that don’t interoperate, mixed conformance with the standards that do exist, and the end result is that when you buy into a smart home solution, chances are you will be creating an insane stupid house that constantly doesn’t do what you paid a ton of money to get it to do.

Currently we have 4 major legacy smart home platforms: X-10 which started it all back in the 1970s but is mostly gone today, ZigBee and Z Wave which are alliances, and Insteon which is tied directly to one company. Recently a 5th joined this group called Alljoyn which was created by Qualcomm the most powerful player in the smartphone world. With smartphones becoming the most likely controller for the new smart home, there was a chance that this alliance could do what the others had not–create something that actually works.  Cont'd...

5 Ways Smart Home Gadgets Can Leave You Vulnerable

Jess Bolluyt for CheatSheet:  All kinds of creative tech companies, large and small, are building interesting smart home devices. While they promise to make your house or apartment smarter, more energy-efficient, and more closely tailored to your needs and preferences, they have a few drawbacks, most notably that many of them aren’t as secure as you’d hope.

As Bitdefender recently noted in a post for Mashable, users want exciting tech products on fast timelines, which leaves designers and developers scrambling to offer ever-more-capable devices on shortening development cycles. That “rush to market” can result in poorly-constructed software, and unfortunately, the first thing to go is often proper consideration for security. Devices from smart TVs to thermostats to routers have all been found to neglect basic security measures. While we’re just as excited about the prospect of using technology to make our homes smarter and more capable, it’s important to be aware of the ways that Internet of Things devices can compromise your security.  Cont'd...

One-Third Of Homes Primed For Smart-Home Technology

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Smart-home technology is used by 21 percent of all U.S. households, and another 36 percent are viable future customers, a Strategy Analytics analysis concluded.

The research and consulting company also surveyed online households about what they’d be willing to pay for and found the list topped by devices that allow for remote or automatic water shut-off if a leak is detected. That’s followed by devices that automatically adjust lights and thermostats based on who is home, a panic-button feature that turns on all lights in the house, remote monitoring and control of door locks, and motion-sensing camera s with visual notification.  Cont'd...

Home Automation Protocols: What Technology is Right for You?

From ElectronicHouse:  There are a wide variety of technology platforms, or protocols, on which a smart home can be built. Each one is, essentially, its own language. Each language speaks to the various connected devices and instructs them to perform a function.

Choosing a smart home protocol can be tricky business. Obviously, you want one that will support a large number of devices, as well as one that offers the best possible device interoperability (the ability for devices to talk to each other). But there are also other factors to consider, such as power consumption, bandwidth and, of course, cost.

Following is an overview of some of the most popular home technology platforms on the market. While not intended to be the “be-all, end-all” treatise on which protocol is best for your smart home project, it’s a great place to start.  Cont'd...

Open source HomeBridge links 3rd-party smart home devices like Nest to Apple's HomeKit

By Blair MacGregor for AppleInsider:  Homebridge is currently available on GitHub,and works by emulating the iOS HomeKit API through user-contributed modules called Plugins. Each plugin corresponds with a different manufacturer, with the list including smart home titans Nest and Sonos, as well as lesser known manufacturers like Indigo Domotics, Netatmo and Wemo.

Both the Homebridge database as well as the Plugins can be installed through a command line prompt as global NPM modules and are compatible with Linux-based systems as well as the Raspberry Pi. 

The most obvious use case for using Homebridge to connect with HomeKit is integration with Siri, allowing a user to use voice commands (e.g. "Siri, unlock the front door") for a variety of tasks. 

While third-party apps like Home or MyTouchHome have been available for some time, Apple has yet to release an app that functions as a central hub to control multiple HomeKit-connected smart devices, which makes a project like this necessary for those who don't want to wait for Apple. However, some smart home manufacturers like Phillips have introduced devices like the Hue Bridge, which enables users of Phillips' own line of smart light bulbs and accessories to connect their system to HomeKit.   Cont'd...

Consumers Aren't Buying the Smart Home, But Insurers Are

By Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  The industry has stalled. But while consumers are scratching their heads, property and casualty insurers have been testing connected doorbells, water sensors, smoke detectors and dozens of other devices. On the life insurance side, wearables and other devices are also in the R&D labs, although that’s less of a focus for this story, since consumers have tended to adopt wearables more readily than the connected home concept.

On the P&C side, State Farm is launching a program that will give an all-in one connected security device called the Canary to first responders soon. Last month, American Family created an innovative program with connected doorbell provider Ring, that offered customers a discount if they bought the device, but also would reimburse your deductible if someone managed to break in. American Family also subsidizes the cost of a Nest Protect smoke alarm. USAA has backed a connected car startup called Automatic, while Progressive  PGR 0.10%  has already teamed up with Zubie, another connected car device maker, to deliver discounts on auto insurance for drivers who share data.

For insurance firms, the decision to back these startups can range from helping to prevent losses, which can boost profits, and helping make the insurer a more positive and proactive presence in people’s lives. Ryan Ryst, director of innovation at American Family, says that in creating programs around connected devices, an insurance company has a chance to remind people that insurers are acting to protect policy holders.  Cont'd...

Home Automation Market Poised to Grow to US$ 21.0 Bn Globally by 2020

Zion Research has published a new report titled “Home Automation (Luxury, Mainstream, DIY (Do It Yourself) and Managed) Market by Networking Technology (Wired, Power-line, Computing Network and Wireless) for Lighting, Safety and security, HVAC, Entertainment and Other (Robotics and Heath care) Applications – Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast, 2014 – 2020”. According to the report, global home automation market was valued at around USD 5.0 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach USD 21.0 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of around 25% between 2015 and 2020.

Home automation is the residential extension of building automation. Home automation is all about automation of the home and household activity. Key aspects involved in home automation includes centralized control of lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), appliances, security locks of gates and doors and other systems, to provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security. Home automation for the elderly and disabled can provide increased quality of life for persons who might otherwise depends upon someone else for their day to day activity.  Cont'd...

Target Updates Smart Home Store

By: Christopher Caen, Theory Associates for Twice:  When Target opened its Open House in San Francisco earlier this year, it signaled that the world of smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT) was finally exiting the hobbyist stage.

As these products are entering the consumer mainstream, Target realized that it needed a different retail presence and a higher touch to explain the benefits of these innovative new products. The Open House was the result, a retail destination that was part consumer experiment and part mad laboratory for these new devices, with interactive tables, a mock home installed in the middle of the store with connected products in place, and a data-driven tracking system to watch where people went within the house and which items caught their attention.

That data has led to the latest reset of the store, with Christmas right around the corner. As Target has figured out more of what is pulling in consumers, and what they are interested in, the store and the product selection has shifted. For instance, with the importance of common platforms that allow different devices to talk to one another, there is now a lab area where visitors can get a better understanding of the ecosystems that tie these products together.  Cont'd...

Belkin Is on a Mission to Fix WeMo's Buggy Smart Home Software

By Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  The WeMo line of devices has been around since 2012, and has expanded gradually to include outlets, light switches, light bulbs, as well as a line of sensors that was shown at CES, the consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas last January but are still not out yet. However, WeMo products have a huge and glaring problem. The software running them is terrible. It has been beset by security issues, customer complaints, and generally can drive a user batty.
However, that’s about to change. Taylor said last week that the WeMo team has been focused on repairing the software and that in January WeMo’s users should expect an update. This means that daylights savings time won’t break all your schedules as sometimes happens. Or adding something to your Wi-Fi network won’t inexplicably confuse every WeMo device in the house. Or that one day your WeMo products will just decide that they no longer want to respond to their product names. Every WeMo user has a story, and like Tolstoy, every WeMo user is unhappy in their own way.  Cont'd...

Smart home solutions helped to drive double-digit growth in home security over past two years

A new Parks Associates report finds smart home offerings have helped revitalize the residential security industry, as the number of households with monitored security rose over 15% in the past two calendar years. The New Face of Home Security - 2015 Edition reports approximately 21 million U.S. homes have professionally monitored security, with another 1.5 million with monitoring in a second home. 
"By the end of 2015, nearly six million professionally monitored homes will also have smart home control as part of their security system," said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls & Energy, Parks Associates. "Smart home is firmly entrenched as part the U.S. security industry, thanks to both push and pull factors. Companies such as Vivint, AT&T, and ADT have been aggressive in offering smart home features with their systems, while security owners are open to new technologies. Security households are 150% more likely than non-security households to state that they keep up with technological innovations and like to own the latest devices."   Full Press Release.
 

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