Revolv Raises $4M for 'Universal Remote' to Control Smart Homes

Smart-home technologies that control lights, thermostats, the locks on doors and more were sold as futuristic luxuries just a few years ago. Now, they are proliferating and entering the mainstream market at more affordable prices. A Boulder, Colo., startup called Revolv raised $4 million in seed financing to become the “universal remote,” or gateway, that homeowners can use to control them all. Foundry Group led the round, joined by American Family Insurance and other angel investors. The company is the third smart-home device maker to score institutional capital within the past two weeks: August Home Inc. raised $8 million led by Maveron for Bluetooth-controlled locks, and Quirky Inc. raised $79 million from investors including General Electric to make more “connected-home” gadgets. A spate of other smart home tech ventures–such as Ambient Devices, Doorbot, Dropcam, Nest Labs, Sonos and SmartThings– raised seed and venture capital earlier. Other smart home tech businesses have turned to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, IndieGogo and Dragon Innovation for nondilutive capital.

Build a Cheap Home Automation System in 10 Minutes with Ninja Blocks

Home security and automation are rarely mentioned in the same sentence as the word cheap, but it's totally possible if you're willing to do a few things yourself. We checked out a $200 DIY kit called Ninja Blocks, and were able to get a home automation and security system up and running in about 10 minutes.P What You'll Get Ninja Blocks are an open-source home automation system that allow you to connect a variety of sensors to the internet. Ninja Blocks are essentially the brain behind that home automation system, and you can connect sensors and peripherals to it easily. Basically, Ninja Blocks are kind of an If This Then That  for the physical world. In a way, they're similar to the Belkin W eMo , but Ninja Blocks have a lot more options for triggers, and support the WeMo if you already have one. Once everything is set up, all your gadgets and home monitors will be connected to the internet and visible from your smartphone or PC. You'll be able to monitor the temperature in your home, turn on lights, check out web cams, toggle motion sensors, and pretty much anything else you can think of in regards to home security or automation. If you have anything with a sensor, actuator, or gadget that uses RF signals or Wi-Fi, chances are that you can connect it to a Ninja Block. You can even add to it with your own Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or BeagleBone projects.P

Home Automation Startup August Raises $8 Million From Maveron To Make Smart Locks Mainstream

Home automation startup August is getting ready to start shipping its first product to consumers early next year. But first, it’s raised a bit more cash to add personnel and ramp up production of its mobile-operated smart lock. August raised $8 million in a funding round led by Maveron, with participation from Cowboy Ventures, Industry Ventures, Rho Ventures, and SoftTech VC. The new round brings total funding raised to $10 million, and previous investors include Matt Mullenweg, Mark Pincus, David Dolby, and Scott Belsky, among others. Along with the funding, Maveron partner David Wu will be joining August’s board of directors. Bringing Maveron on board makes sense, as the VC firm focuses exclusively on consumer-facing companies, with other investments such as eBay, Zulily, Groupon, and Shutterfly. Wu, who joined Maveron in 2012, had personally invested in companies like Practice Fusion, Sociable Labs, Postmates, Beautylish, and Taulia, and sites on the board of Line2 and SeatMe. With the new funding, August is getting ready to start shipping its first product, the August Smart Lock. The lock, which was designed by Yves Behar, enables homeowners and renters to access their homes or send virtual keys to others via mobile app. The August smart lock uses Bluetooth technology to enable users to automatically unlock a door when they are nearby, and it also has a feature called Everlock that can automatically lock a door behind you.

Black Friday deals vs. Cyber Monday deals: What to buy, when

Sometimes shopping during Black Friday can feel like betting on a prize fight. You plunk down all your money on a great pair of shoes on Black Friday, only to see their price get knocked down during a Cyber Monday blowout. But how can a shopper know what kinds of unadvertised, winning sales are just around the corner? On everyone's mind this season is the question of whetherThanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday — or the span of time in between these holidays — will be the best time to shop for the specific items they want.   If you're tired of feeling like you've got long odds for finding the best Black Friday deals, then look no further. We studied the DealNews archives for the past two Black Friday seasons and found the best items to buy on each day throughout the shopping weekend. And while trends can always change, and "off" deals can still pop up at any given time, it's still wise for a shopper to be aware of these general rules of thumb while crafting the perfect personalized Black Friday shopping game plan. Full Article:

Leviton's OmniPro ll Helps Provide Enhanced Access for Assisted Living Residents

The system provides residents and caregivers access to the complex and their apartment through their iPhone using the Snap-Link app.

Data Apocalypse

Today's advanced BD preservation media delivers a data life of 50 years or more without constant media migration or requiring power (except when read/written) or AC, delivering piece of mind and savings.

Staples Launches Staples Connect to bring Connected Home to the Mass Market

Staples is moving into this space because they see the big trends moving this way as well - pervasive broadband, consolidated wireless standards, and apps everywhere.

Two Residential Automation Examples By Leviton

Wijk en Aalburg, The Netherlands and Warwick Square, Central London

APPLE GRANTED AUTOMATION PATENT

Apple has been granted a patent for a home automation system to connect the many devices found in the average household. Although this patent is aimed at the home market initially, much like the iPad, which was launched as a consumer device, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see this technology make its way into the pro AV world.   With the adoption of the iPad into many pro-AV installations around the world, the consumer electronics giant has already made a significant move into the sphere of where traditional control systems products from the likes of AMX and Crestron already sit.   This move would only increase Apple’s presence in the pro AV sector further. The patent uses data from an iPhone/iPad to determine the user's location and perform the actions of a normal control system i.e. turn on lights, turn off air conditioning.  The technology works in a similar fashion to the Reminders iOS app, but will extend its usage to control the home or office environment, rather than provide location-based memos, as it does at present.

Revolv Begins Shipping Smart Home Solution Just in Time for the Holidays

Revolv Inc. today announced it has begun shipping its highly anticipated Smart Home Solution to its pre-order customers. The Revolv Smart Home Solution unifies premium, off-the-shelf smart home automation devices such as the Sonos HiFi wireless speakers, Philips Hue wireless lighting, Yale automated locks, Insteon home control devices, Belkin WeMo and popular automated thermostats. Today, consumers can order the Revolv Hub for $299. With the Revolv Smart Home Solution, consumers have the freedom to mix and match wireless devices and appliances in their home to achieve a new level of lifestyle automation right from their smartphone. Revolv automates daily life routines around time, GPS proximity, sensor triggers such as motion in the home, and on-demand commands set by the user. Its proprietary GeoSense technology automatically activates connected devices when the user reaches a certain geo-radius to and from their home.  The Revolv hub includes an unprecedented 7 wireless radios speaking 10 different languages, supporting many of the most popular connected home devices available today. Hundreds more devices will be compatible with the Revolv Solution in the coming months, eventually covering 95% of commercially available devices, making it the most universal solution on the market.

Analysts Project Bluetooth® Smart Technology to Lead Home Automation Market

The Bluetooth SIG, along with several key analysts, predicts the Home Automation market will be the next to turn to Bluetooth Smart. ABI Research forecasts Bluetooth Smart technology will experience the highest growth in the smart home market, reaching over 133 million units shipped by 2018.  Bluetooth Smart technology already has a significant foothold in the smart home, making it possible for locks, lights, thermostats and many more home products to connect to the Bluetooth ecosystem. Apple, Microsoft and Android offer native support for Bluetooth Smart at the operating system level, making tens of millions of phones, tablets and PCs ready to connect with these new home appcessory devices. Doors with locks from August, Goji, Lockitron and UniKey Kwikset Kevo can be locked and unlocked using a smartphone as the key. The dimming and color hues on light bulbs (Bluetooth Bulb and zSmart), temperature (Emerson Blue Wireless Easy Install from White-Rodgers) and even outlet plugs that estimate electricity cost (Stick-N-Find's MeterPlug) can be monitored and controlled via Bluetooth Smart.  "The Smart Home has been the next big thing for years, but to take it from niche to mainstream you need a standardized wireless technology to connect locks, lights and thermostats to the phones, tablets and PCs that consumers already have - that technology is Bluetooth Smart," said Suke Jawanda, Bluetooth SIG CMO. "Not only does Bluetooth allow for integrated solutions from service providers like cable and mobile companies, but it also gives consumers the options to bring their device of choice into the Smart Home. We are still in the early stages of a truly connected living room, but Bluetooth Smart puts us all, OEMs, service providers and consumers, on the right path to Smart Home reality." 

Apple Patents Home Automation Technology That Adjusts Settings Based On Device Location

Apple has just been granted a new patent (via AppleInsider) which describes a very comprehensive system for controlling connected home devices. The elaborate setup would make it possible for Apple to use location data fed from things like your iPhone and iPad, as well as use of credit cards or RFID badges to inform automated systems of a user’s whereabouts, and do things like turn on or off power, climate control, lights and more. The system described works very much like geo-fencing does currently with Apple’s own native Reminders app on iOS: Once a user exits or enters a pre-determined location, other actions are triggered. Instead of simply alerting someone of something they wanted to remember, however, the system described can essentially turn an entire household or office off and on, and prepare it for comfortable human occupancy.   It’s a little more complex than simple geo-fencing, however. The patent describes an information-gathering system that would be able to incorporate not only where a user is and where they’re going, but also what activities they’re engaging in along the way. This would make their location predictions more accurate, since they could include estimates about when exactly someone will arrive. The location data is either polled at regular intervals from devices like iPhones, gathered from fixed remote devices like keycard receivers, or when trigger events communicate with software on iOS or Mac devices, such as when they connect to a specific cell tower.  

38% of U.S. broadband households willing to purchase connected home energy management products

Parks Associates today announced smarthome research showing 38% of U.S. broadband households are willing to purchase at least one smart home energy management (HEM) product. Over 25% are willing to purchase two or more, including lighting controls, appliance switches, and thermostats that can be controlled remotely, but only 1% are interested exclusively in HEM products. Safety offerings such as detectors and call buttons are the most popular smarthome products.  Parks Associates' fifth-annual Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer will be held February 15-17, 2014, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. The event features early sponsorship support from Speed Wire, Alarm.com, ecobee, Lowe's, People Power, Percepscion, PlanetEcosystems, Qualcomm, Schneider Electric, and Technicolor and a keynote from Stuart Lombard, President and CEO, ecobee.  "Nearly 40% of U.S. broadband households are interested in purchasing energy management products for the home, but in most cases, they want these products within a broader offering of smarthome products," said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. "At 2014 Smart Energy Summit, we will analyze strategies from utilities and telco/cable provider strategies, consumer engagement, partnership opportunities, and the impact of connectivity and big data on demand response (DR) and energy efficiency programs." 

Information Overload

More Data Doesn't Make Better Decisions, it Just Takes Longer

Panasonic officially quits plasma TVs

We (engadget) may compare Panasonic to the character of Michael Myers way too often, but this Halloween the analogy is particularly relevant given news the company is officially killing plasma TV production. Manufacturing of plasma panels will end in December this year, earlier than the most recent rumor suggested, with the last remaining factories going dark in March 2014 at the same time sales efforts will cease. It's a strategic decision to free up resources, the firm claims, citing low demand for plasma and the impact of LCD development as reasons for its exit. "Severe price competition" as a result of the Lehman Brothers collapse way back in 2008 is also blamed, so when you're left wanting the warm glow of new Panasonic plasma next year, you know who to shake an angry fist at.

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