It is CES week in Las Vegas.

International CES 2015; Bringing more than 3,500 exhibitors to unveil new technologies across 1.9 million net square feet to well over 160,000 visitors in Las Vegas this week. New this year is something called the Smart Home Marketplace, a 25,000 square-foot exhibitor area dedicated to smart home tech. Think stuff like customized security monitoring and home automation -- and beyond. Major exhibitors will include companies like ADT, Bosch Honeywell, Lowe's and Logitech.   The HomeToys Team we'll be busy posting news and product announcements related to the "Smart Home" from this years show which you can view on our CES 2015 Newspage .   Make sure to check out our CES 2015 Tradeshow report for more great products rolled out at this years show.

CES 2015: the year of the connected home?

The drive to create smarter and more efficient homes increases daily, and next month's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is expected to be packed with connected objects and devices that are intended to deliver energy savings or greater automation.   But will 2015 be the year of the connected home, or will these products remain consigned to a niche section of the high-income market?   Connected home devices include home automation devices (such as smart thermostats and WiFi-enabled lightbulbs), home monitoring devices (such as a connected security camera that broadcasts to a person’s device), and home security devices (such as a security camera that connects to a central monitoring station).   All of these categories have grown in the last year, but a recent survey of 6,500 consumers in the US and Germany by analysts at Gartner showed that only 16 per cent of US online households own a connected home device, while Germany has less than 10 per cent of online households with a connected home device.   Moreover, the majority of current spending on connected home devices and services comes from high-income households, and the bulk of that spending has been on devices and services relating to security – such as alarm systems – rather than more advanced connected home devices, such as remote activation of smart products.  Cont'd...  

D-Link's latest smart home hub lets you add devices with a scan

D-Link has found the sweet spot between low-priced, but low-quality smart home systems (from the likes of Archos) and pricey security systems. It's now planning on opening up its system to many more accessories, judging by the DCH-G020 connected home hub that just passed through the FCC. The system will likely bow next month at CES 2015, but the US wireless regulator has revealed quite a bit, including manuals and photos. The hub will control Z-Wave (low-power RF) as well as WiFi devices, meaning it'll work with third-party alarms, detectors and cameras on top of existing D-Link WiFi cameras and accessories. For the first time, D-Link is also set to release new Z-Wave sensors, several of which are shown in the diagram above. The hub will work with WiFi and Z-Wave devices at the same time and connect with a WiFi router. The whole thing is controlled by a smartphone, which you can use to add devices either manually or by scanning their QR codes. From there, you'll get the usual scheduling and notification options. There's no word on pricing or availability yet, of course, but it looks like an interesting option for folks torn between cheaper WiFi and mainstream Z-Wave systems. Either way, expect a parade of similar devices to appear in less than two weeks at Las Vegas.

Home Automation at CES: What to Expect

This year's Consumer Electronics Show is set to start in just a few short weeks, allowing companies to show off their newest and best products.   A big focus at CES in 2015 will be home automation, with connected devices becoming and more and more popular.   There are a number of categories set to be shown off at CES. First of all, there will be an abundance of multipurpose sensors, meaning sensors that can do more than just sense motion. These sensors will be able to detect things like noise, for example.   There will also be a number of connected devices that are made to help users sleep. These devices will be able to analyze sleep patterns, such as the Beddit, which analyzes sleep and wakes the user up when, according to their sleeping pattern, it's most healthy to wake up.   The next home automation category that will be popular at CES this year is cameras, which will be able to do more than just film. There will be a number of facial recognition products, which will be connected for things like home security. We will also see devices such as cameras, which will also be able to perform acoustical analysis, essentially meaning that they will be able to recognize specific sounds and noises.   A number of companies will be coming out with touchscreen devices that live on our walls. These will be able to control different aspects of the smart home, from heating, to even water flow.   The smart home as a service is set to be a big part of CES 2015. SHaaS services are essentially services that help make everything in the smart home work together. This is an important part of the smart home, especially with so many devices being introduced.   Cont'd...  

Interactive Displays Are Growing

Interactive LED displays are giant circuit boards filled with super-bright LEDs that respond in a complex and subtle fashion to stimulus provided by human interaction.

Electronic Locks

Controlling all the home automation from the front door is really all about the convenience of being able to set-up the home right at the home's entry point.

LUCIS Technologies Introduces NuBryte, a Smart Home Lighting and Safety Console to Make any Home a Smart Home

LUCIS Technologies today unveiled a cloud-based smart home lighting and safety console, NuBryte, for all of a household’s connected needs such as automated lighting, home safety, and energy management. Users simply need a screw driver and basic wiring skills to replace any light switch with the NuBryte console, immediately transforming their home into a smart home. When installed, people can control and protect their home via a touch screen control pad, or the free NuBryte iPhone app. The standalone system also provides easy-to-understand energy reporting, which helps people reduce energy usage and save money.   NuBryte’s integrated home security system – quickly becoming one of the central components of a smart home or building – interrupts intruders with flashing lights, and alerts users via their phones, allowing them to also activate the system’s built-in camera to quickly take action. NuBryte currently provides a family calendar, intercom communications, gives weather updates and alerts, and features an open API to support complementary features from other sources.

A new home for the smart home at CES 2015

Smart-home products were on broad display at various venues across Las Vegas at CES 2014. At this coming show, the smart home gets its own dedicated exhibit space as part of a new convention area in the Sands Hotel dubbed Tech West. We'll still be running all over town to meet with various other smart-home vendors, but having an official, Consumer Electronics Association-sanctioned home at the show is at least one indicator of this smart-home category's proliferation this past year.   Scan the exhibitor list for the smart-home section at Tech West and some notable vendors stand out among the 62 listed currently. German-appliance maker Bosch is the chief sponsor. You'll also find Honeywell, ADT, Big Ass Fans, Kwikset Kevo tech-provider Unikey and First Alert showing off connected-household products.   While the companies on that list have put out some interesting devices and services over the last year or so, some larger names in the smart-home space are either showing their wares elsewhere, or they're not listed as official exhibitors at all.   Cont'd....

OpenMotics improves home automation

OpenMotics is an open source home automation hardware and software system that offers features like switching lights and outputs, multi-zone heating and cooling, power measurements, and automated actions. The system encompases both open source software and hardware. For interoperability with other systems, the OpenMotics Gateway provides an API through which various actions can be executed. The project first started 10 years ago with basic hardware modules for switches and outputs. Since then the number of modules has increased to create an extensible full-featured home automation system. The modules include a Gateway module that is the heart of the system which drives all other modules. An Input module for reading the status of the switches. An Output module that toggles lights, outlets or other devices. And others like a Dim Control module, a Sensor module and a Power module for measuring the power consumed by each appliance in your home.   Two years ago we decided to open source the software running on the Gateway module, all firmware running on the other modules and the schematics and PCBs (printed circuit boards) for all modules. The choice to open source the project was very conscious—at OpenMotics we believe there are three fundamental problems with the existing commercial home automation offerings.   Cont'd...  

LOWE'S EXEC: Here's The Real Reason People Will Start Caring About Smart Home Gadgets

From thermostats that can automatically adjust the temperature in your home to light bulbs that change color depending on the music you're listening to, the market is getting flooded with home automation tech right now. But convenience and novelty alone won't convince everyday consumers to spend extra money on Internet-enabled household appliances. According to Kevin Meagher, the general manager of Lowe's smart home division, there's one critical reason smart home technology will take off with consumers: safety. Speaking at Business Insider's annual Ignition conference, Meagher cites devices like smart smoke detectors that issue you notifications if the battery is about to die . "Connectivity brings a new dimension [to safety]," he said. Imagine a stove that could automatically turn off when it's not in use. Devices like this could be especially ideal for assisted living situations, since the gadgets would be capable of shutting down automatically to avoid dangerous situations. "When you've got an 80-year-old parent living on their own, what do they need a smart stove for?" Meagher said. "Every day of the week I'd pay [extra] for a smart stove that would switch things off."

Priorities for Managed Service Gateways in the Fiber-Connected Home

Moving forward, data will be an increasingly precious commodity, leveraged by innovative companies to provide personalized services to consumers.

2014 In Review

Here are some of the more popular and interesting articles and developments from the past year.

How Small Businesses Can Use Smart Technology

Home automation technology doesn't only save business owners time and money. It also helps boost their reputation as tech savvy, environmentally friendly organizations.

New Insteon Home-Automation Hub Goes To $39

Home-automation supplier Insteon is out to grab market share with the launch of a new flagship hub with an introductory price of only $39, compared with its predecessor’s $129.  It’s promoted as the lowest-priced hub on the market. It’s also free with select kits that include home-automation devices, such as light switches and smart plugs.    The company didn’t say how long the introductory price would last.    Despite the lower price, the new hub adds such key enhancements as a 50 percent increase in wireless range, field upgradability, easier setup and a status screen that displays live updates of connected-device status. The hub is also smaller than its predecessor. The company didn’t specify a range.    “We’ve demolished barriers in order to reach the broadest customer demographic,” said CEO Joe Dada.    Insteon’s hub connects to more than 200 Insteon-brand devices, including lamp dimmers, thermostats and LED bulbs. The products use dual-band wireless RF and powerline technology for redundancy to ensure control signals reach all connected devices in a home. Products are monitored and controlled from iOS, Android and Windows smartphone and tablet apps and from computers.

NUZii Smart Life Is A Self-learning Home Automation And Cloud Storage System

Anyone looking to increase their online privacy and keep their files, documents and media safer but also accessible through a cloud storage solution, may be interested in the new system called NUZii.   NUZii has been designed by a company of the same name and has taken to Kickstarter to raise the necessary $65,000 to help the cloud storage and home automation system make the jump into the manufacturing stage.   Its creator explain a little more bout their new cloud storage solution and home automation device :   “The NUZii is the World’s First Smart Life Platform. By combining a powerful cloud storage solution, a self-learning home automation system and internet security with one unified interface, we re-imagined how the Internet of Things should be.   NUZii has a very advanced yet easy-to-use cloud storage system. It backs up your content from all of your devices so that you can access them from anywhere. You can also share your files instantly and securely with anyone, which means you don’t have to wait to upload 100 holiday photos before sharing them.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Smart Bulbs are out there and they can do far more then just provide light. Speakers, projectors, wi-fi extenders and more. The standard light socket that is wired up and ready to go in nearly every home in North America is now providing an easy and affordable option for home owners and renters alike to enter into the world of the "Smart Home". Here is a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options out there, and this list is just the beginning. In this ongoing article we hope to continue to add to and grow this list, so stay tuned!