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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
Branto makes it possible to monitor and control your home in real-time by connecting with your smartphone and Google Glass
ANNA JOHANSSON for PSFK: Branto is an orb that controls multiple aspects of your home through smart technology. Tired of seeing so many smart hubs that were unattractive and only worked if you bought all new gadgets and appliances, the Branto team set out to solve this problem. They created a sphere-shaped device with the power to monitor your home through a 360-degree camera and speaker.
It connects to your devices to provide full-time telepresence, video conferencing, security, infrared control, audio streaming, and smart appliance control through your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee connection.
However, you don't always need Wi-Fi in order to enjoy the perks of your smart orb. It works even if your Wi-Fi goes down, thanks to its ability to connect to your cellular data, meaning that your home will never be without security just because someone unplugged the Wi-Fi.
It can also connect to third-party devices, such as Nest thermostats, Phillips LED televisions, and your lighting systems.
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this technology is its ability to connect to Google Glass. This goes beyond the ability to control your home from your smartphone, opening the door to a future age that the world might not be quite ready for. Cont'd...
Murray Newlands for Huffington Post: The home automation space is poised to continue growing in 2015 and beyond. There are more companies and investors behind these companies that want entry into your home to make it smarter, more energy-efficient, safer, comfortable, and cost-effective. Here are the top 18 in-home automations across all segments, including hubs, security devices, energy-saving devices and monitors, appliance controls, and systems, which you should consider for your home:
Apple and HomeKit: From your phone and tablets to your television and computer, to your entire home, Apple plans to control just about everything in your life. Its HomeKit home automation system is a hub that will give connectivity to all automation in your home, including numerous home automation products from other companies. You can use Siri to give it voice commands, and it will include its AppleTV in the hub along with virtual rooms.
Google and Nest: Google's acquisition of Nest and Dropcam provides it with a full feature hub and additional security and energy-efficiency features in addition to the overall smart home command center. Google also plans to add voice command to its overall solutions. The Nest thermostat has already been named as the best thermostat solution on many home automation technology lists.
Samsung and SmartThings: Named as the best smart home hub by CNet, Samsung's SmartThings provides a whole home solution that also is intended to eventually connect to all of Samsung's home appliances as well as tablets and smartphones. It is admired for its low-entry price point and user-friendly implementation and overall use. Cont'd...
Mikael Ricknäs: Samsung-owned SmartThings’ new home automation hub is on the home stretch after problems with stability and performance caused a delay earlier this year.
SmartThings, which was acquired by Samsung in August last year, said in March it needed more time and had to push the launch of the hub from the second to the third quarter.
The company said on Monday that the Samsung SmartThings Hub will be available for purchase in early September, and is available for pre-order for $99 on the SmartThings shop, on the Samsung.com store or on Amazon.com.
The SmartThings Hub and connected sensors can be used to control the lights, thermostats and doors, and warn about things such as water leaks. It works with ZigBee and Z-Wave radios. Cont'd...
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