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...

Amazon, Intel Partner to Advance Smart Home Tech

ANGELA MOSCARITOLO for PCMag:  From Amazon Echo and the Nest Learning Thermostat to Philips Hue light bulbs and the August Smart Lock, there are already loads of gadgets on the market that can make your home a little smarter. Now, two tech giants — Amazon and Intel — are coming together to "advance the Smart Home ecosystem and extend natural language capabilities to consumers everywhere."

The companies on Thursday unveiled two new technology initiatives to further that mission. For starters, they're working together on Intel-based smart speaker reference designs that will feature Amazon Alexa. The new designs are meant to "help hardware manufacturers accelerate their development of voice-enabled devices with the Intel platform and Alexa Voice Services," Intel and Amazon said. Developers and manufacturers should be able to check out the designs at some point in the first quarter of 2017.  Cont'd...

Top 10 Smart Home Technologies for Older Homeowners

Claims Journal:  Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, wireless doorbell cameras, and keyless entry are among the top 10 smart home technologies for homeowners age 50 and older, according to new research from The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab.

“Smart home technology can make life easier for people of all ages, but it can be especially beneficial to those ages 50 and older as their lifestyles change,” said Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence. “Keyless entry is convenient for active households, especially if there are multiple generations living under one roof. Wireless doorbell cameras can provide safety and peace of mind to families who travel or to individuals who live alone.”  Cont'd...

Safety and Home/Away Use Cases Dominate Smart Home Interoperability Matrix

Parks Associates:  New research from Parks Associates finds smart home solutions that coordinate safety and home/away event scenarios could help a device manufacturer create cross-platform brand loyalty similar to Apple's dominance in CE device ecosystems. The IoT research firm finds U.S. consumers are more likely to own multiple CE products from Apple than from any other CE brand, with loyalty based largely around its mobile platforms. The emerging smart home markets do not have a dominant cross-platform player yet and represent an opportunity to establish a new population of brand loyalists. 
"Apple has built a strong base of brand loyalists—82% of Mac users who purchased a smartphone chose an iPhone. By comparison, only 38% of non-Mac users who bought a smartphone chose an iPhone," said Brett Sappington, Senior Research Director, Parks Associates. "But cross-platform loyalty is difficult to achieve. Beyond Apple, ecosystem-based thinking among U.S. consumers is not natural; manufacturers must bridge this gap through product development and marketing that emphasize brand-specific benefits in use cases that apply across computing, mobile, and entertainment platforms.   Cont'd...
 

China's LingLong launches DingDong smart home speaker

BBC News:  A Chinese firm has unveiled the country's first voice-activated smart home speaker - its answer to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home.

The DingDong, by technology company Beijing LingLong, uses voice interaction to do tasks such as playing music and switching on home appliances.

The device is said to understand Mandarin, Cantonese and basic English.

A study by Juniper Research suggests China's smart home market could be worth $22.8bn (£18.3bn) by 2018.

Beijing LingLong is owned by Chinese online retailer JD.com - which is selling the DingDong for 698 yuan ($100, £81).  Cont'd...

COMMODORE HOME - YOUR SMART HOME FOR 1983

Brian Benchoff for Hackaday:  The Internet of Things is a horrific waste of time, even though no one knows exactly what it is. What would make it better? Classic Commodore gear, of course. Now you can run your smart home with a Commodore 64 and Commodore Home, the newest smart home framework from [retro.moe].

Commodore Home comes with the standard smart home features you would expect. The home lighting solution is a dot matrix printer, a few gears, and string tied to the light switch. Activate the printer, and the lights turn on and off. Brilliant. Multiple light switches can be controlled by daisy chaining printers.

Security is important in the smart home, and while the intruder alarm isn’t completely functional, future versions of Commodore Home will dial a modem, log into a BBS, and leave a message whenever an authorized person enters your home.  Cont'd...

The smart home could soon be running on its own.

Alfred Ng for CNet:  Legrand sees a future where your smart home learns based on your habits and behaviors -- even knowing when to turn on the lights for your 3 a.m. bathroom run.

The French-based electrical equipment company hopes to make smart homes autonomous, where shades open and the coffee maker gets started before you wake up. Like iOS's automated traffic helper, that uses your frequent locations and tells you how long your commute will be, Legrand wants to use the same data, but apply it to your alarms.  Cont'd...

Wirebutter Advanced Home Automation Powerboard

Julian Horsey for GeekyGadgets:  Anyone looking to add a little more advanced home automation to their living quarters might be interested in a new advanced piece of hardware called the Wirebutter, which has been specifically designed for Internet of things applications and home automation.

Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the new system which has been designed by Anthony Salerno based in Melbourne Australia.

Wirebutter has this week been launched by a Kickstarter to raise the funds it requires to go into production. The project has pledges starting from as little as AUD $65 for earlybird backers. Article:

 

Why iRobot's Colin Angle thinks the smart home starts with a robot vacuum

Matthew Lynley for TechCrunch:  Robots — and the smart home in general — are a hot topic, and it’s one where an enormous amount of investment is happening right now. There are many companies like Nest and Ring that are trying to target segments of the home in the hopes of making everything smarter.

But it’s easy to forget that the home is still a physical space, and in order for everything to work together, it has to understand what that looks like. And iRobot, the makers of a robot vacuum cleaner, have been trying to crack that problem for more than 20 years. Until robots can figure that out, and talk to each other, it’s going to be an uphill battle to build a truly smart home, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2016.

“In the virtual world, it’s very easy to understand everything about the environment because it’s inside the computer,” Angle said. “If you have a simulated room you’re inside the computer. You know precisely where things are. In the robot industry, we almost dislike simulations because they are doomed to succeed.  Cont'd...

SHENANDOAH HOMES TO OFFER HOME AUTOMATION AS A STANDARD IN ALL NEW HOMES

Kayla Devon for BuilderOnline:  Another builder has stepped up to offer home automation features as standard assets in new homes, challenging other local builders to do the same.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Shenandoah Homes announced a partnership with a local Raleigh provider, Anuva Automation, which manufactures the TiO line of home automation products. Shenandoah Homes, which has control of over 1,000 lots in the area, intends to offer customers a standard package that includes lighting, thermostat and security control, with the additional options for more lighting, smart door locks and garage door control, and audio features.

“Home automation is an area of importance of what home buyers are looking for and would expect in any new home,” David Stallings, president and owner of Shenandoah Homes, said in a statement about the new offering.  Cont'd...

Apple Wants to Get Inside Your House Before You Buy It

Prashant Gopal for Bloomberg:  In a darkened master bedroom, David Kaiserman stood in shirtsleeves next to a turned-down king bed. “Good morning, Siri,” he said to the iPad in his hand, and the lights went on while the blackout shades retracted. 

“Your home is ready to rise and shine,” the virtual assistant replied.  Inside this four-bedroom stucco house in Alameda, California, Kaiserman, president of the technology division at construction company Lennar Corp., was pitching a vision of a home controlled via iPhone or iPad.

Tap your phone, and AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blasts. Tap again, and the bath runs at a blissful 101 degrees. Sweet, right? Of course, your dad might view it as a bit over the top. All told, $30,000 worth of gadgets and gizmos were on display here, many run with Apple’s free HomeKit app.   Cont'd...

Beyond Thermostats: Ecobee Dreams Of Being A Billion-Dollar Smart Home Giant

Jared Newman for FastCompany:  For the last nine years, Ecobee hasn't strayed from being a maker of smart thermostats.

Unlike rival Nest, Ecobee never built its own smart home platform, and hasn't expanded into new product categories. The $170 Ecobee3 Lite, announced last week, is the company's first new hardware in two years, and it's just a budget variant of the existing Ecobee3, ditching room sensor support while knocking down the price by $80.

So far, the singular focus has served Toronto-based Ecobee well. Thermostats are the most popular type of self-installed smart home devices, according to The NPD Group, and Ecobee—whose revenues have been doubling every year—is not far behind Nest in sales. Ecobee hopes to reach first place in 2017.  Cont'd...

3,200 Connected Home Devices At Best Buy

Chuck Martin for IoTDaily:  Any consumers who go shopping specifically for a smart, connected home device this holiday season are going to face a bewildering assortment.

The number of products ranging from smart appliances and home control systems to smart security systems and streaming media devices is now in the thousands at Best Buy alone, according to a new study.

The study on consumer attitudes toward smart appliances is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 consumers each in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, conducted by Futuresource Consulting.

Researchers counted more than 3,000 connected home devices being sold at Best Buy. The tally provides a general idea of the largest and smallest categories.  Cont'd...

Why Insurance Companies Want to Subsidize Your Smart Home

Stacey Higginbotham for MIT Technology Review:  Insurers such USAA and American Family have lately begun offering to strike a high-tech bargain: wire your home with Internet-connected devices such as a new thermostat, and get a discount on your home insurance policy in return.

Offers like that could speed up the adoption of smart gadgets, revamp the insurance business, and transform how we manage our homes. In the future, your insurer might call a plumber before a pipe bursts, for example. But the data needed to help prevent leaks or burglaries will also introduce new risks, such as vulnerabilities to data loss or ransomware.  Cont'd...

The UK Just Switched on Its Future Smart Home Power Grid

Mike Brown for Inverse:  The world’s first data transmission over a power grid has been successfully completed, paving the way for a decentralized future where smart houses tell each other how much energy they need. The tests, conducted by Reactive Technologies in the UK, sends data along the 50Hz electricity signal that passes through sub-station transformers that link up the country’s grid. The wires themselves have been used to send data before, but it’s getting through those transformers that’s never been done.

“We are keen to support innovative products like this one that can bring a real benefit for customers,” Cordi O’Hara, director of systems operator at National Grid, told The Guardian on Tuesday. “It represents another step forward in the development of the smart grid technologies that are going to play an increasingly important role in the energy systems of the future.”  Cont'd...

 

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