What happens in Zoe stays in Zoe - the privacy-oriented smart home hub

Christian de Looper for DigitalTrends:  The concept of the smart home is well and truly taking off, however there are a few things still holding it back. The smart home hub, for example, is still finding its place — we’ve seen the TV and other devices used used as a hub, but no market consensus has been reached. Not only that, but the more privacy-conscious among us are concerned about the fact that smarthome hubs are constantly beaming your own personal data to and from the cloud.

Zoe, from a company called Protonet, is aimed at changing that.

Zoe is designed to serve as the center for your smart home. The hub itself bears a simple design that can be customized to fit your décor. It is also aimed at being able to connect to every smart home product you might buy, supporting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and even devices that connect through the cloud.  Cont'd...

Teaako raises $1.8M for smart-home light switches

Taylor Soper for GeekWire:  Seattle-based Deako has raised $1.8 million to help fuel growth of its smart-home light switch product.
The 15-person company raised the fresh cash from a mix of angel investors and micro-VCs, and has reeled in $3.3 million to date. It develops simple switches that let people control lights in their house by either touch or a smartphone app.

Deako’s customers are not home-buyers but rather home-builders and their electricians, who install the product in new homes.

“It’s difficult for people to swap out their existing bulbs,” Deako CEO and co-founder Derek Richardson told GeekWire. “We thought it would be best if a home or apartment already has our product when they move in. Our vision is that everyone should be able to benefit from a smart-home, and the best way to do that is for products to be pre-installed when you move in.”  

Richardson said the idea to launch Deako about one year ago came about after he bought a new house and needed to swap out the light switches. He did research around in-home smart lighting and “everything was ugly, expensive, and complicated.”  Cont'd...

Fallout From Nest's Revolv Debacle Could Hurt Smart Home Technology Adoption

William Craig for The Street:  Consumers who are considering whether to purchase smart home technology are likely to be turned off by recent controversy about the Revolv device, and companies involved in the so-calledInternet of Things need to consider how this event will affect adoption of their technology. 

In case you missed it, here's what happened. Revolv was a start-up that made an electronic hub that allowed users to control lights and appliances in their homes using a smartphone app. Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Nest bought Revolv in October 2014. Next month, it will shut down the cloud-based service necessary for the Revolv devices to function. People who plunked down the $300 to buy a Revolv will be left with a very expensive paperweight. It's one thing to end support and updates, but this is a complete shutdown of a product people paid for.

To add further insult to consumers, buyers of the Revolv smart home hub were offered a lifetime subscription when the product first came out. The Revolv device stopped being sold two years ago after Nest acquired Revolv. While it makes sense to cut off services to an obsolete product that isn't bringing in money, this is a troubling sign from the fledgling smart home industry.  Cont'd...

John Lewis launches smart home department

Ecommerce News:  The Internet of Things is wildly popular among consumers. UK department store chain John Lewis has now launched a new smart home department to showcase all kinds of gadgets that should make the consumer’s life at home more convenient.

John Lewis launched a 93 square meter department dedicated to gadgets, such as an oven that can be turned on from the office or a bedside device that measures the quality of sleep. According to the department store chain, it’s the largest fixed retail offering dedicated to smart home technology in the UK.  

John Lewis decided to open the new department after an 81 percent increase in sales of smart home products in the past year at the British store. Also, 18 times more people searched its website for smart home products in 2015, compared to the previous year.  Cont'd...

Amazon Lead The Home Automation Market By Selling 3 Million Echo Devices

By: John Dewey for TechNewsToday:  Amazon has been making huge strides ever since it launched the popular speaker, Echo. A market research firm, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), revealed yesterday that the e-commerce giant has sold almost 3 million Echo speakers since its launch, as reported by GeekWire.

The online retail giant launched Amazon Echo in 2014. The company initially launched the device on an invite-only basis but it was made available for the general public in June 2015. In addition, the sales of the device slowly increased as the word spread out among consumers about its abilities such as it can control the lights or thermostat of any connected house.

According to CIRP, the awareness about the device among customers has doubled in the last year. Moreover, the market research firm based its conclusions on the survey of 2000 consumers in the US who bought the Echo via the company’s website.  Cont'd...

Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

The Register:  Google Nest is set to brick $300 Revolv home automation hubs after buying out staff and abandoning the project.

The software giant acquired Revolv for its talent in October 2014 and next month will drop support for the smaller company's smart home device.

The decision means that as of May 15th the Revolv hub become paperweights.

A statement on Revolv's site informs customers that their devices are no longer covered by warranties.

Nest execs say in a statement only that Revolv was "a great first step" but that Works with Nest is a "better solution" demanding of its resources.

Chief executive Arlo Gilbert of Texas-based app developer Televero and Revolv customer says the home automation company's move is a "pretty blatant f**k you" to buyers.

"On 15 May, my house will stop working; my landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working," Gilbert says.  Cont'd...

9 Ways to Make Your Smart Home More Secure

STACEY HIGGINBOTHAM for PCMAG:  Security is set to become the hot button issue in the smart home this year, as more connected devices come online and more hackers attempt to infiltrate corporate and consumer networks through connected gadgets. The FBI even issued a warning about connected home products.

The concerns about security and the smart home are well-founded. Several devices from connected cameras to smart home hubs have been hacked. Even light bulbs aren't immune.

A survey issued by Intel on Thursday found that 77 percent of those asked believe smart homes will be as common in 2025 as smartphones are today, but 66 percent are also very concerned about smart home data being hacked by cybercriminals.

The looming threat of the hacked home is why the Atlantic Council worked with three security researchers to issue nine recommendations to make the smart home more secure. The report is a collaboration between the Atlantic Council think tank and I Am The Cavalry, a independent security research group. I Am The Cavalry has issued a framework for securing connected cars and connected medical devices.  Cont'd...

Yonomi CEO on why smart home hubs will be obsolete

Lily Prasuethsut for Wareable:  The Internet of Things is a burgeoning industry that seemed like it was going to take off several years ago, but the hubbub has since died. That doesn't mean the interest is gone though - rather no one really knows what to do with all their smart devices. 

Take for example, Apple HomeKit or Nest, or Samsung's SmartThings platforms. They're all ready and available - but not quite. Most products still require you to download third party apps just to connect to HomeKit in order to use Siri.

Essential reading: Follow Our quest to build the ultimate smart home

Physical hubs are available but that means you'll need yet another piece of hardware in your already crowded smart home. Essentially, there's no glue holding these products together - at least not one that's good enough to overcome the saturated market.

That's where Yonomi comes in. The app wants to quiet the smart home static by bringing in one simple system so all of your gadgets have their own place to call home. We spoke with Yonomi co-founder and CEO Kent Dickson to figure out why there's no solid platform, and learned how the company plans on changing the smart home space.  Cont'd...

5 open source home automation tools

Jason Baker for OpenSource.com - The Internet of Things isn't just a buzzword, it's a rapidly expanding reality.

With an ever-expanding number of devices available to help you automate, protect, and monitor your home, it has never before been easier nor more tempting to try your hand at home automation. Whether you're looking to control your HVAC system remotely, integrate a home theater, protect your home from theft, fire, or other threats, reduce your energy usage, or just control a few lights, there are countless devices available at your disposal.

But at the same time, many users worry about the security and privacy implications of bringing new devices into their homes. They want to control who has access to the vital systems which control their appliances and record every moment of their everyday lives. And understandably: In an era when even your refrigerator could now be a smart device, don't you want to know if you fridge is phoning home? Wouldn't you want some basic assurance that, even if you do give a device permission to communicate externally, that it is only accessible to those who are explicitly authorized?  Cont'd...

The Mess at Nest Echoes the Mess in the Smart Home

Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  In January 2014, Google (now under the parent umbrella corporation Alphabet) said it would purchase Nest for $3.2 billion, which validated the hopes and dreams of hundreds of startups that were also building connected products for the consumer home.

After the deal was announced, the VC world went mad searching for investments, while larger companies searched for potential acquisition targets. At industry events that year, everyone I ran into with a connected product or a KickStarter was in talks to sell out or score more funds.

But two years later, the reality has set in as entrepreneurs in the space are dealing with a skeptical customer base and the challenges of seeing their grand vision for a connected home get mired in rival standards. Meanwhile, economic concerns are leading tech companies to prepare for everything from a nuclear winter to a mild recession.  Cont'd...

Report: Google builds an Amazon Echo alternative while Nest turns to security

Jared Newman for TechHive:  Google and Nest reportedly have a bunch of new smart home products in the works, but there may not be much collaboration happening between the two Alphabet subsidiaries.

On the Google side, the search giant may be working on a competitor to Amazon’s Echo connected speaker, according to The Information (via The Verge). The story reveals no details about the product, but it seems like an obvious fit for Google, which has already made voice controls a centerpiece of its Android Wear smartwatch platform. A device that answers Internet queries and controls other smart home products could very well tie into Google’s broader efforts to create a new platform for the Internet of Things.

Earlier this month, Recode reported that Nest had explored its own Echo-like product. But Nest ultimately abandoned the plans, partly out of concerns that an always-listening virtual assistant with ties to Google might freak people out. The Information now reports that Nest wanted to be involved with Google’s connected-speaker efforts, but was rebuffed.

Where does that leave Nest? The company may now be turning its attention to home security, with three projects in development. Cont'd...

URC to Launch HomeSet at ISC 2016, Targeting Security Dealers with Home Automation

From CEPro:  Popular provider of custom-oriented audio, video and smart home technology, URC will launch new system at ISC West 2016 ‘specifically for the home security channel.' Is Vera by MiOS the new partner?

URC is a longtime provider of universal remote controls for the masses, and in the past decade has become a major force in the custom home automation market. But the company’s audio, video and smart-home control systems have been marketed almost exclusively to A/V and automation specialists.

That’s about to change at ISC West 2016 next month, when the company will introduce HomeSet, “an exciting product line specifically for the home security channel,” according to URC’s exhibitor profile.

The description reads in full:  URC, leader in smart home automation, introduces the HomeSet control system. Leveraging a rich heritage in control technology, URC has developed this exciting product line specifically for the home security channel. It’s complete and provides the conveniences your customers demand including integration with Sonos and Nest products.  Full article:

Got an old phone? Make it into a home security camera.

Valentina Palladino for Ars Technica:  Smart security cameras are one of the easiest ways to start transforming your normal home into a connected home. Everyone knows about Alphabet's Nest cam, but there are plenty of other cameras to consider from companies including Samsung, D-Link, and Canary. However, you don't have to drop $200 on a bulbous eye-looking camera if you don't want to—there are apps for that. Numerous Android and iOS apps claim to use your old smartphone's cameras to replicate the features of these dedicated cams, letting you check in from your current smartphone whenever you want.

These security apps have nearly the same features as regular smart cameras but are free to download and require no extra hardware. Even older phones are powerful enough to be repurposed. That doesn't mean the apps are quite as good as purpose-built security cameras, though. We looked into the differences between home security cameras and their smartphone equivalents (specifically the apps Manything and Alfred) to see if one method of monitoring your home is better than the other.  Cont'd...

Why The Amazon Echo Is The iPhone Of The Smart Home

Michael Wolf for Forbes:  If you’re like me, remembering how different using a mobile phone was back in 2006 is getting increasingly difficult. That’s because today we live in a world so completely transformed by the iPhone, it seems as if it’s always been that way.

But looking back, things were indeed very different. If you used a smartphone at all back then (something the vast majority of consumers did not), chances are it was a Blackberry. If you tried to use the Internet on your phone, you might remember the “mobile Internet” experience, such as it was, was pretty horrible. Most consumers at the time still used basic feature phones, and industry analysts predicted that smartphone adoption would grow, but not at nearly the eye-popping rate we would soon see in the age of the iPhone.

As we now know, the transformative nature of the iPhone quickly changed nearly every assumption we had about mobile phones and, as a result, had a ripple effect that resulted in nearly every company in mobile (and pretty much every industry) changing their own approach to the market.

In many ways, I think the the Amazon Echo is an equally transformative product for the smart home. Whether it’s how early Echo owners are interacting with their device or its how Amazon itself is rewriting the rules of competition,  the two products share a number of industry-disrupting similarities.  Cont'd...

Qolsys Security and Smarthome Platform Approved for Alarm Capital Alliance Dealer Program

Qolsys, provider of best-in-class residential security and smarthome solutions, announced today that its home security and smart home platform has been approved for distribution in the Alarm Capital Alliance (ACA) Dealer Program. This approval allows ACA dealers to offer the most advanced technology to their customers and expands the reach of the Qolsys IQ Panel platform into new residential markets. 
"We've been very impressed with the advanced technology and continuous innovations that Qolsys has brought to the home security industry," said Amy Kothari, President and CEO of ACA. "After offering the IQ Panel solution in a few of our 'My Alarm Center' branches for more than a year, we've been able to deliver attractive features while achieving increased RMR and customer satisfaction. We are pleased to roll this out to our dealer network."   Full Press Release:

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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!