IU leads $1 million NSF-funded smart-home effort to advance health and independence in older adults

Indiana University Bloomington:  As part of a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Indiana University has received over $670,000 to establish "HomeSHARE," the first networked system of smart homes designed to advance research on older adults. The funds from the NSF's Computing Research Infrastructure Program will support the installation of high-tech sensors and other equipment in the homes of 15 elderly volunteers throughout the city of Bloomington. The project is an effort to improve the quality of life of elders through the unobtrusive collection of high-quality research data. "As far as we're aware, this is the first large-scale research infrastructure project focused on smart homes," said Kay Connelly, an associate professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, who is the leader on the grant. "Typically, research infrastructure awards help maintain complex systems like supercomputers, or the purchase of advanced equipment. In this case, we’re looking to generate research data from people who enroll in a long-term study."   Cont'd...

Researchers' Belkin Home Automation Hacks Show IoT Risks

Mathew J. Schwartz for BankInfoSecurity:  As if the internet of things didn't seem secure enough, now we have to worry about apps on our smartphones posing a risk too. That's just one of the takeaways from the discovery of two zero-day vulnerabilities and one hardware-bypass flaw - now patched - in Belkin's WeMo line of home automation products. The flaws, and how to exploit them, were demonstrated Nov. 4 at Black Hat Europe by two researchers from endpoint security software firm Invincea, in a presentation titled: Breaking Bhad: Abusing Belkin Home Automation Devices. Belkin bills its WeMo apps as being "designed to address simple automation needs without the hassle or expense of whole home automation." Compatible products include everything from "smart" LED light bulbs, power switches and baby video monitors to coffeemakers, slow cookers and heating controls. In November 2015, Belkin reported that 2.5 million devices using their technology were in the market.   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:  

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...

Your smart home could help "bring the internet to its knees," expert says

Melanie Ehrenkranz for Tech.Mic:  Last week, a distributed denial of service attack took down Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and oh so much more. The hackers remain at large, but the root of the hack is clear: tens of millions of insecure IoT devices attacked by a massive botnet.  "This could mean everything from camera systems, to power company self-reading meters, to smart lightbulbs," Radware vice president of security solutions Carl Herberger said in an email Monday.  The devices that were vulnerable to hackers during last week's attack were mainly DVRs and security cameras, but any device connected to the internet is a potential target: lightbulbs, webcams, toasters, coffeemakers, thermostats, televisions, shower heads, connected locks — and the list goes on.   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...

7 ways to keep your smart home from being hacked

Kari Paul for MarketWatch:  As the recent announcement that 500 million Yahoo email accounts were hacked shows, emails and passwords are never fully safe. On a daily basis, hackers use strategies like phishing scams to steal usernames and passwords, posing as a bank or other legitimate establishment to trick users. Consumers should be wary of any email asking for personal information and always check the sender address to be sure it’s based at the website the sender claims to be (like an @paypal.com email address versus a deceptively similar location like @paypal.co or @paypalhelp.com). No measure will guarantee users won’t be hacked (email addresses can even be spoofed, and there are ways to check for this by tracing IP addresses). But a number of actions can be taken to lower the risk of hacking and secure your home.   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...

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...

Can Google Catch Up to Amazon and Win the Smart Home Race?

Mathew Ingram for Fortune:  Google is famous for coming to the market late. The search-engine business was well established before it arrived, and yet the company managed to take the lead. It now dominates the category. But can it do the same thing in the smart home? The web giant is expected to launch a standalone device called simply Google Home on Tuesday, a device that it hopes will become the centerpiece of the smart home, and provide some strong competition for the well-established Amazon Echo. But it will be an uphill battle.   Cont'd...

Step Up Your Smart-Home Security Now

NATHAN OLIVAREZ-GILES for The Wall Street Journal:  Connected cameras and other smart-home devices promise a Jetsons-esque future. But as a recent hijacking of more than 100,000 networked cameras and DVRs demonstrates, they also provide fertile ground for hackers. “You should make the assumption that anything that’s internet accessible is hackable. If it has a camera or a mic built in, it can be taken over,” said Kenneth White, a security researcher and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project, a nonprofit that promotes cybersecurity. To protect yourself, you have to have the right perspective. “You need to take this seriously, but not be afraid of it either,” he said. Once you accept that hacking happens, embrace the security at your disposal. Here are some easy tips to help you step up your smart-home defenses:   Cont'd...

Amazon Will Let the Mailman Unlock and Enter Your Smart Home

Mike Brown for Inverse:  Amazon is trialing a new technology that would allow delivery personnel to enter your smart home unaided, dropping off packages and hopefully not eating any grapes on the way out. It’s all thanks to two startups Amazon is reportedly partnering with two startups: Garageio, which makes smart garage doors, and August Home, which makes smart locks. The companies are working with the retail giant to give consumers the option at the checkout of granting one-time access to the delivery address. A report from The Information, which revealed the initiative, explained that the feature could be useful for people concerned with leaving valuable packages on doorsteps. The service could also cut down on waste packaging, as Amazon could cut down on protection necessary for leaving parcels exposed to the elements. Although it’s not clear at this stage when the service will become widely available, Amazon has conducted a small series of tests in the Seattle area.   Cont'd...

What Is the Real Value of IoT?

Technology can be used in many different ways but we continue to be responsible for how we use it. It would be a mistake to ignore how it can help us live better lives: a connected world is a better world.

Houzz: Consumers Embracing Smart Home Technology

MEGAN SALZANO for HomeWorld Business:  Houzz’s recent home trends survey identified a growing consumer awareness and integration of smart home technology when it comes to home renovations and remodeling. The survey revealed that 45% of renovating homeowners are incorporating smart technology, systems or devices into their home that can be monitored or controlled via smartphone, tablet or computer. Houzz’s 2016 U.S. Smart Home Trends Survey of nearly 1,000 homeowners in the midst of, planning, or who have recently completed a home renovation project, was conducted in collaboration with CEDIA. According to the survey, renovated homes are more than twice as likely to include a smart system or device than before the renovation, 51% versus 20%, respectively. In terms of connected product category, the survey showed 25% of homeowners are installing smart devices for security and safety, 18% for entertainment, 14% for climate control and 12% for lighting. It also showed that 30% of upgraded smart home systems or devices can be controlled via a central hub and 26% include voice-controlled features.   Cont'd...

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