Android inventor's Echo competitor will choreograph your home

Andrew Gebhart for CNet: Essential Home -- a countertop smart speaker that has a lot in common with the Amazon Echo and the Google Home.

Microsoft is planning to turn Windows 10 PCs into Amazon Echo competitors

Tom Warren for The Verge: Microsoft has been working on a new HomeHub feature for Windows 10 to better compete with devices like Amazon's Echo.

The only way to save the smart home hub is to kill it

David Priest for CNet: Commentary: Are smart home hubs the VCRs of a Blu-ray age?

Can your smart home be used against you in court?

Brian Heater for TechCrunch:  On a November, 2015 morning in Bentonville, Arkansas, first responders discovered a corpse floating in a hot tub. The home’s resident, James Andrew Bates, told authorities he’d found the body of Victor Collins dead that morning. He’d gone to bed at 1 AM, while Collins and another friend stayed up drinking. This past December, The Information reported that authorities had subpoenaed Amazon over the case. The police were considering Bates a suspect in what they suspected was a murder after signs of a struggle were found at the scene. They hoped his Echo might hold some insights into what happened the night before. Amazon initially pushed back against the request, citing First Amendment protections, but ultimately conceded when Bates agreed to allow the information to be handed over to police. While Amazon’s fight has been rendered moot, this case lays groundwork for some tough and important conversations to come, raising a slew of fascinating questions around the technologies.   Cont'd...

In The Smart Home, Whoever Owns The Hub May Own Retail Too

Nikki Baird for Forbes:  According to our research at Retail Systems Research, retailers are very bullish on the future of the Internet of Things, or IoT. They are most excited about opportunities to interact with consumers via their mobile phones and even consumers’ own IoT devices (think wearables). For them, IoT is not about saving money. It’s about driving customer experience. But what they are ignoring is how the IoT ecosystem looks set to evolve. Retailers will in no way be at the center of the IoT ecosystem. Just look at smart home technology: connected refrigerators, lights, ceiling fans, curtains, door locks – you name it – all increasingly connect to some management framework for all of those devices. Think “operating system for the smart home,” even though it’s a little more sophisticated than that.   Cont'd...

Microsoft takes aim at Amazon's Echo with Windows 10 HomeHub feature

Tom Warren for The Verge:  Microsoft is planning to build a HomeHub feature into future Windows 10 updates to better compete against devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the feature is currently in the planning stages, and the software maker is expected to introduce a “HomeHub” in updates due in 2017 and 2018, and not the upcoming Creators Update. Windows Central reports that the feature will “crush” Google Home and Amazon Echo, but The Verge understands that HomeHub is designed to be a service and feature that will run on any Windows 10 PC and turn it into a machine where Cortana can be summoned from the lockscreen to provide useful information. Windows Central previously reported that the HomeHub was a voice-activated speaker that was supposed to be unveiled at Microsoft’s Surface hardware event back in October. Those reports were inaccurate, but Microsoft is planning a software feature with the same name.   Cont'd...

Smart Linux Home Hubs Mix IoT with AI

Eric Brown for Linux.com:  Industrial, rather than home, applications will likely dominate the Internet of Things (IoT) market in the years to come. Yet, in the early going, the home automation market has had the greatest visibility. And it hasn’t always been pretty. Despite steady growth, retail sales have yet to achieve inflated expectations. Too many companies promised and failed to deliver interoperability with a growing catalog of often buggy smart home products. The lack of essential applications, complex installation, and in many cases, high prices, have also conspired against the segment. Yet the smart home segment appears to be rebounding with the help of maturing technology and IoT interoperability standards. There is particular interest in connecting voice-enabled AI assistants with the smart home in products such as Amazon’s Echo.   Cont'd...

Logitech's Harmony app will let you control your smart home from your Android TV

Micah Singleton for The Verge:  Logitech wants you to be able to control your smart home from any device, including your TV. The company has released a version of its Harmony remote app for Android TVs. The app, which is in beta, is designed to work with Sony's Android TVs, but will also work with the Nexus Player. If your smart home is controlled via a Logitech Harmony Hub, you can control just about everything including your lights, thermostat, blinds, and home entertainment system through a nice tile layout straight from your TV. You can download the Harmony for TV app from the Play Store today. And if you don't own a Sony TV and would still like to use the app, Android Police has an APK that can help with that.

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...

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...

Sentri Home Security And Automation Hub Up For Pre-Order

Anthony Karcz for Forbes:  Quick, how many connected devices do you have in your house? Do you have a smart thermostat or LED bulbs? How do you control them, via various different apps on your phone? What about when you’re gone and your phone is with you? What do you do then? Sentri is a new company on the scene that has an answer to all of these questions. Coming off a successful Kickstarter campaign, they are offering a home-automation hub and security camera to help everyone in your household control your smart devices and keep them safe. Compatible with Nest, Philips Hue, and WeMo switches (for now, more partners will be announced in the future), Sentri provides easy access to your smart home via a 10-inch touchscreen.   Cont'd...

Comcast's home automation app links with Nest, Lutron and more

By Dan Herscovici, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Xfinity Home in Home :  Xfinity Home customers are now able to control the August Smart Lock, Chamberlain MyQ garage controller, and the Lutron Caséta wireless light controller and dimmer directly through the Xfinity Home app on both iOS and Android devices. In addition, Xfinity Home now works with the Nest LearningThermostat. Over the past few months, our team has been working on a Software Development Kit (SDK) that makes it easier than ever before for partners to integrate their smart devices into the Xfinity Home ecosystem. This includes a testing and certification program to ensure all hardware that integrates with Xfinity Home meets key levels of quality, compatibility and security. Smart devices that have gone through our process will be certified under the "Works with Xfinity Home" program and will eventually include branding that makes it easy for customers to identify compatible smart home devices when shopping online and in retail stores.   Cont'd...

Logitech Harmony adds even more home automation control

By Alan Buckingham for BetaNews:  Home automation is a catch phrase these days, though some of it is not quite ready for prime time. But things are improving all the time with new products being released at a rapid rate. Logitech's Harmony brand of remote controls has been at the forefront of controlling these devices. Now, after adding things like the Nest thermostat, the company is announcing compatability with even more devices. This time around it's adding ZigBee and Z-Wave. "Harmony Hub Extender also allows your Harmony Hub to join as another controller to existing Z-Wave networks. Popular Z-Wave networks that have been tested" include Wink, Pulse, Vera and Nexia. The hub also works with Schlage and other door locks, among other devices.

Quirky Files For Bankruptcy, Selling Off Smart Home Platform Wink To Highest Bidder

Abigail Tracy for Forbes:  Launched in 2009, the New York-based Quirky quickly grabbed the attention of investors with its unique business model of connecting inventors with manufacturers to bring products to market. Based on votes sourced from its online community, Quirky would pick pitched products on a weekly basis to manufacture and distribute. In eight rounds, the startup managed to raise an impressive $185 million in funding before it encountered a series of setbacks and flops—the most notable of which was a failed update to Quirky’s smart home system, Wink. Quirky’s problems came to a head when its founder Ben Kaufman stepped down as CEO at the end of July after six years at the helm. According to the company’s bankruptcy announcement, Quirky has entered into an agreement with Flextronics International USA Inc., to sell off its Wink smart home brand at a purchase price of $15 million—unless it is presented with a higher offer. The bankruptcy filing will not affect the day-to-day operations of the Wink brand.   Cont'd...

Apple Reveals Future 'Home Automation Hub' for Apple TV in 'Siri Remote' Trademark Filing

When launching the reinvented Apple TV device last week Apple noted that the all-new Apple TV was built from the ground up with a new generation of high-performance hardware and introduced an intuitive and fun user interface using the 'Siri Remote™.' Well, the trademark symbol presented beside 'Remote™' may be a little premature as Apple just filed for this trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Although the filing was made public today, the actual date is noted as being September 9, 2015, the day that the Siri Remote was officially launched during Apple's Hey Siri San Francisco event. One more thing: Apple hints in their trademark filing that Apple TV will become the hub for home automation as we predicted back in 2014. Apple's idea of a home automation system may have humbly started with an Apple patent application filed back in January 2010 regarding a smart-home energy management dashboard system. Then came word that Apple was about to introduce a new smart home platform during their 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). That became reality with the introduction of Apple's new HomeKit that revealed "Siri Integration" as noted as the last point of the slide presented below from WWDC 2014. In a Patently Apple special report covering Apple's WWDC event specifically on HomeKit, the following was stated: …it's very possible that Apple could be thinking of integrating their new Home App right into Apple TV and finally bringing to market a true in-home digital hub that we've been waiting for. Is it a pipedream? Only time will tell.   Cont'd...  

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