Atari now makes smart home products

Jacob Kastrenakes  for The Verge:  Someday soon, you may be able to buy a network-connected dog collar made by Atari.  Atari announced today that it's partnering with Sigfox to get into the Internet of Things business. Together, they intend to create connected home, pet, lifestyle, and safety products. Work on the new products will begin sometime this year; there's no date yet for when they'll begin to roll out or exactly what products we might see.

While it may sound strange to hear that Atari, the classic video game company, is now making smart home products, it's not quite as weird as it sounds. That's because Atari isn't necessarily going to be all that involved in the development of these new devices. Instead, Atari is going to be the brand name under which Sigfox will create and sell its own IoT products, offering it better name recognition with consumers.  Cont'd...

TAYLOR MORRISON SCALES A SMART HOME SOLUTION TO PRODUCTION BUILDING

Kayla Devon for BuilderOnline:  The Interactive Home is Taylor Morrison’s trademarked term for its smart home offering, which its Houston division first launched with Legrand, an electrical and home automation product manufacturer, in 2012. Last year the company started to look for a better solution that could work across all its product lines. Legrand ultimately won the contract once again because of its newly updated Intuity Home Intelligence platform and the vendor’s experience with Taylor Morrison.

Jim Ellison, VP of sales and marketing for Taylor Morrison’s Houston division, says the company wanted the ability to scale the smart home solution to its various price points from $190,000 to over $1 million. According to Legrand, the Intuity Home Intelligence system is meant to bring home automation to the masses, by being scalable to both a consumers’ and a home builders’ needs and price points.  Cont'd...

Netatmo Connect launches to make its smart home tech smarter

Michael Sawh for Wareable:  Good news Netatmo fans, the smart home company has announced a new Connect platform that will allow developers to tap into its connected kit, including the Welcome indoor camera, thermostat and weather station.

Hot on the heels of Nest's decision to expand its Works with Nest program, the French company also wants to bring smart home tech closer together and this is definitely a step in the right direction.

The platform is broken down into three programmes all of which will enable connected objects, services and apps to hook up with Netatmo products.

First up is Netatmo Weather, where developers can take advantage of weather data measured by global Netatmo weather stations to provide users with a accurate local forecasts. Next is Smart Home, where interactions can be created between Netatmo products and other connected tech. Lastly, there's the opportunity to develop for Enterprise with the hope of helping customers to analyse energy consumption.  Cont'd...

Survey: 48 percent of utility executives believe the smart home will revolutionize the industry

Antenna, a public relations agency focused on energy and smart technology companies, today announced new survey results that found nearly half of surveyed utility executives believe the smart home will revolutionize the utility industry. This surging optimism for the smart home represents a departure from the industry's traditional skepticism of new technologies, while also putting the utility industry at odds with a more cautious view of the smart home currently held by consumers.

"Antenna's research confirms that many in the utility industry now believe in the transformative power of the smart home to remake the grid for the better," said Antenna Vice President Matt Stewart. "However, there's a clear disconnect between utility visions of roses and rainbows and their customers' more frustrating early-adopter experiences. Antenna is honored to work with dozens of innovative companies across energy and smart technology to help bridge this critical gap and move the energy market forward."   Full Press Release:

CEDIA DEVELOPS HOME TECHNOLOGY CERTIFICATE PROGRAM FOR COLDWELL BANKER REAL ESTATE

RealEstateRama:  CEDIA and Coldwell Banker Real Estate have collaborated to offer a home technology certificate program to Coldwell Banker Real Estate independent agents. The newly developed curriculum, which will be taught by CEDIA representatives, will help agents better represent the value of home technology. “Home technology is a source of convenience, security, and comfort in homes across the United States, with almost half of all Americans previously sharing with us that they either already own or plan to invest in home technology by the end of 2016,” said Budge Huskey, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. “We believe it is imperative for our affiliated agents to learn about home technology and engage with the professionals who install it.Partnering with CEDIA to provide this course was an easy choice and we’ve already seen a great amount of excitement from our agents surrounding this new offering.”  Full story.

Google announces Google Home smart hub and upgraded Assistant voice engine

Ryan Whitwam for Extreme Tech:  Google has let Amazon basically own the connected home assistant market for the last year and a half with the Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. Now, Google is leveraging its extensive natural language processing engine to launch Google Home, a connected hub that brings voice commands to your house. Google has also been working on making its system of voice commands more conversational, which it now calls Google Assistant.

Google has had voice search capabilities built into Android phones for years at this point. You can even trigger searches with the “OK Google” hotword. However, this is connected to your phone, which is a personal device with your own apps, settings, and data. A home assistant like the newly announced Google Home (and Amazon Echo) is intended to provide voice features to anyone in the family from anywhere in a room.  Cont'd...

Smart-home technology must work harder to create smarter consumers

Robert S. Marshall for TechCrunch:  Attendees of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year were confronted with a head-spinning volume of smart-home devices. From $5,000 refrigerators that can communicate when you’re running low on milk and eggs, to the ability to control lights, locks and thermostats from your mobile app or TV screen, these products and technologies all show very nicely — until the point when consumers are left to calculate when their smart-home investments will translate into cost savings, energy efficiency and enhanced convenience.

Really smart companies and entrepreneurs have built impressive pieces of the smart-home puzzle, but these pieces have not been connected yet in a way that has, to date, empowered a smarter consumer.

Parks Associates home energy management data released in March 2016 show 70 percent of households with smart-energy devices report saving money due to reduced energy consumption. However, the research firm noted challenges for vendors selling smart-energy devices based on cost savings, as 83 percent of U.S. broadband households do not know the price they are paying for electricity.  Cont'd...

Nest open-sources its home automation network protocol, Thread

Ken Yeung for VentureBeat:  Nest has released an open-sourced version of its Thread protocol, making its home automation network technology more broadly available to developers. The introduction of OpenThread is expected to give parties interested in working with open-source technology all the benefits of building on Thread — allowing them to continue innovating without dealing with the current limitations of the protocol.

This project is the company’s first open-source initiative.

Created by Nest, Samsung, ARM, Atmel, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm Technologies, and Texas Instruments, Thread was intended to be the standard for connected home devices and apps. When it was announced in 2014, the protocol was described as providing a common network language that products like smart thermostats and smoke alarms could use to talk with each other.  Cont'd...

​Thread, ZigBee, Z-Wave: Why smart home standards matter

Dan Sung for Wareable:  Wi-Fi has proved to be a really effective way of getting our laptops, our tablets, our phones and even our TVs and stereo systems to talk to the internet but it's not working for the smart home.

The Internet of Things has more subtle needs than these big-batteried, regularly charged or permanently powered items, and clunky old Wi-Fi can't handle the pressure of getting scores of small sensors talking.

You might have heard of names ZigBee, Z-Wave and, more recently, Thread but what do they do? And should be you considering them when planning your smart home? Read on to find out.

Why standards matter:  Let's say you fill your home with connectable devices. They're sitting there - your washing machine, your door lock, your toasted sandwich maker or whatever - and they're bursting with notifications to send to you and to each other.  Cont'd...

Home automation start-up iGloo to raise $7m and hit US after wowing Microsoft

Yolanda Redrup for Financial Review:  An Australian start-up that has developed an app to enable old household appliances to be upgraded for home automation systems, will expand to the US and raise $7 million after impressing executives at tech giant Microsoft. 

iGloo uses Bluetooth technology to enable home heating systems, lights, blinds and other appliances to be controlled by a mobile app. Its development has been buoyed by support from Microsoft after a local executive saw co-founders Kaye Priest and David Cowie presenting it at the Melbourne Home Show two years ago.

The business is now readying to raise $7 million in capital, $5 million of it from the United States, which it intends to get under way once it has established a US office this month.

"Microsoft invited us to their headquarters in Seattle last year and facilitated a meeting between us and the largest manufacturer of gas fires in the United States," Ms Priest told The Australian Financial Review.  Cont'd...

Bowers and Wilkins sells to a tiny home automation startup

Billy Steele for enGadget:  Bowers & Wilkins has been cranking out solid audio gear for the better part of three decades, but it's being acquired by a company that's only been around since 2014. Eva Automation, a Silicon Valley startup founded by former Facebook CFO (and San Francisco 49ers co-owner) Gideon Yu, is the new owner of the audio brand. Little is known about the company other than its 40-person staff has the somewhat vague mission of "making products that will change how people interact and think about the home." Although it has been around for two years, Eva Automation hasn't released any products yet.

The most obvious question is why a trusted name in audio would sell to such a young company. Well, Bowers & Wilkins CEO Joe Atkins hinted at a sale last year before talks with Eva began. Atkins also admitted that the company doesn't have the know-how to build audio gear that leverages the cloud, despite a range of devices that allow users to play music with features like AirPlay. We'll have to wait a while to see any new products, as Yu says the first new gear is planned for mid-2017. Perhaps Amazon's Echowill see some competition next summer.  Cont'd...

5 misguided reasons for asking wireless carriers to manage smart home networks

Ira Brodsky for ComputerWorld:  Last week, a guest editorial by Jerome Rota of Greenwave Systems titled, “How to Bring the ‘Internet of Things’ to Life” appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rota suggested that wireless operators should manage smart home networks using spectrum acquired in the FCC’s 600 MHz auction. This is a bad idea for several reasons.

1.   “Today a smart home nearly requires an IT specialist.”

The first products based on new technology are often difficult to set up and manage. Mr. Rota’s solution -- having wireless carriers perform these tasks -- could short-circuit the development of more user-friendly products and would saddle consumers with unnecessary monthly fees.  Cont'd...

Samsung Smart Home flaws let hackers make keys to front door

Dan Goodin for ArsTechnica:  Computer scientists have discovered vulnerabilities in Samsung's Smart Home automation system that allowed them to carry out a host of remote attacks, including digitally picking connected door locks from anywhere in the world.

The attack, one of several proof-of-concept exploits devised by researchers from the University of Michigan, worked against Samsung's SmartThings, one of the leading Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for connecting electronic locks, thermostats, ovens, and security systems in homes. The researchers said the attacks were made possible by two intrinsic design flaws in the SmartThings framework that aren't easily fixed. They went on to say that consumers should think twice before using the system to connect door locks and other security-critical components.  Cont'd...

Build A Twitter-Based Home Automation System With A Raspberry Pi

Thorin Klosowski for LifeHacker:  The Pi is hard wired into a home automation board that controls a fan, light, AC and the temperature. It’s then controlled over Twitter direct messages so it’s super easy to check the status or flip the toggle on any of the connected devices. The Twitter link is a pretty handy way to get around some of the programming requirements that would otherwise be required here, so it’s worth taking a look at how it’s done here if you’re making your own home automation controller. Head over to ARM Tutorials for the guide.  

Vivint Smart Home announces $100 million investment

Karissa Neely for Daily Herald: In its first round of venture capital funding, Vivint Smart Home, the Provo-based leading provider of smart home technology and services, announced a $100 million equity investment co-led by tech investor Peter Thiel and investment firm Solamere Capital.

The strategic investment will help fuel Vivint’s rapid growth and product innovation as it extends its preeminent position in the growing smart home market.

A venture capitalist and entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, Thiel is known for backing transformational technology companies, and was the first outside investor in Facebook and is one of the largest shareholders of Airbnb.

“For Peter and Solamere to place their confidence in Vivint as the smart home leader is a huge validation of what we have built and where we are headed,” said Todd Pedersen, founder and CEO of Vivint Smart Home, in a press release. “The fact that they are investing in our future demonstrates their passion for our business and their vision for this industry. We look forward to working together to redefine the home experience.”  Cont'd...

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