By Adriana Lee for ReadWrite: Since Apple announced its HomeKit smart home initiative last year, it's been mostly quiet about just how iPhones and other Apple gadgets will wrangle those connected devices. Now, however, the company may have a fancy new app in the works—complete with virtual rooms, a clever and apparently easy-to-grasp metaphor for running a smart home. Apple’s approach, according to a 9to5Mac report, will be to launch a new "Home" app for controlling smart-home gadgets—think smart locks, sensors, garage openers, thermostats, lights, security cameras and other connected appliances. The Home app will sort gadgets by function and location into a visual arrangements of virtual rooms The goal is to simplify the otherwise bewildering task of finding, adding and controlling smart devices and appliances from Apple and other companies.
From Josh Lowensohn for The Verge: If you plan on building or buying a connected gadget in the immediate future, Samsung wants to be inside of it. Today the company announced Artik, a collection of small system-on-chips designed to power everything from wearable devices to home appliances. The Artik line is made up three different sizes, what Samsung is calling the Artik 1, 5, and 10. The one is the tiniest of the bunch, measuring at 12mm by 12mm, and runs off a coin cell battery for what Samsung says is "several weeks." It has Bluetooth LE, an accelerometer, a 9-axis motion sensor, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, and a cost of less than $10. Samsung envisions companies using it for Bluetooth tags (like Tile), location beacons, and wearables. The larger Artik 5 (which is a little larger than a quarter) is like a small computer, and adds Wi-Fi, ZigBee wireless, and onboard 720p video decoding. Samsung says a good use case of the Artik 5 would be something like on-board chips for drones. Lastly, the Artik 10 — which is the most like a small computer and will run about $100 — adds more storage, 1080p video decoding, and a 1.3GHz Octa Core processor, all things Samsung says will be useful for media hubs, home servers, and personal cloud storage devices.
CSR plc announced that it has worked with Avi-on Labs to provide Bluetooth® Smart mesh connectivity in a new GE branded line of smart lighting from Jasco Products. These lighting and home control products, which are expected to appear in major retail stores this year, use CSR’s Bluetooth® Smart solution - CSRmesh™ - to allow an almost unlimited number of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices to be simply networked together and controlled directly from a “smart” switch or dimmer, a smartphone or a tablet. “CSRmesh has the potential to disrupt the smart lighting market by eliminating the complex setup, pairing, and use of an access device, such as a router, needed with other connectivity solutions available today,” said Cameron Trice, CEO of Jasco Products. “By combining CSRmesh with Avi-on Labs’ software and support we are able to offer a lighting product line that offers an unrivalled user experience and secure connectivity to customers through our major retail partners. Working with CSR and Avi-on allowed us to get to market fast to meet growing consumer demand for these types of smart devices.” The GE branded Jasco Products range will include “smart” switches, dimmers, an outdoor timer and a smart plug which will give consumers on/off control of virtually any standard home device or appliance.
FIBARO, a leading European manufacturer of wireless, intelligent home automation systems, announced that the main participant in the FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge Powered by Z-Wave, Mariusz Malkowski, has been rescued from the mountain and is now home with his family in New Jersey, USA. Malkowski Helped People Trapped Under The Snow Malkowski was about two weeks into his ascent when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing avalanche hit. He miraculously survived the avalanche, uninjured, and was able to help people who were trapped under the snow and save lives. FIBARO arranged to have him airlifted off the mountain on Monday via helicopter. He was brought to New Delhi for a short stopover, after which he was able to catch a flight for the 15-hour trip back to the U.S. “I feel so fortunate to have survived such a horrible tragedy,” Malkowski said. “Obviously, there were thousands of people that weren’t so lucky. The devastation there is overwhelming. Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal and their families.”
Joseph Palenchar for TWICE: Comcast is opening up its monitored-security/home-automation system to operate with devices from a wide variety of home-automation brands. The company’s Xfinity Home system has been available with a variety of unbranded devices such as smart plugs, smoke detectors, security cameras, light switches, door/window detectors, motion detectors and a water-leak detector, a spokesperson said. An Xfinity thermostat and a smart door lock from Kwikset have also been available. Consumers will be able to buy the products from Comcast or from CE retailers, a spokesperson said. Later this year, Comcast will release a software development kit (SDK) and a certification program so home-automation suppliers can offer products that work with Xfinity Home.
Marvell Unveils Industry-Leading ZigBee Wireless Microcontroller SoC to Advance Smart Home and IoT Innovations
Marvell announced its next-generation industry-leading 88MZ300 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless microcontroller system-on-chip (SoC), the newest member of Marvell's wireless microcontroller family of Internet of Things solutions. The high-performance, low-power, cost-effective SoC offers superior radio frequency (RF) performance that more than doubles the transmission range and reduces power consumption by 50 percent over Marvell's previous generation 88MZ100 SoC, while maintaining the least amount of external components due to the high integration in silicon. Together with its support for open standards, including the upcoming ZigBee 3.0 and Thread protocols, the 88MZ300 SoC, along with a ZigBee to Wi-Fi bridge reference design and an ecosystem of hardware manufacturers and system integration partners, it enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to rapidly bring new, innovative IoT applications to market. The 88MZ300 SoC is sampling now. "Marvell continues to demonstrate innovation in home automation, connected lighting and IoT with its 88MZ300 ZigBee wireless microcontroller which leads 802.15.4 technology in both performance and cost," said Philip Poulidis, Vice President and General Manager, Mobile and Internet of Things Business Units at Marvell. "Along with Kinoma and Marvell's recently announced Smart Home Cloud Center™, the 88MZ300 delivers a total solution for home automation and IoT markets. We look forward to the range of exciting new product opportunities that will be possible with the deployment of the 88MZ300."
Global revenues from smart home automation systems will grow at a 21% CAGR between 2015 and 2020, according to ABI Research. North America will account for the lion’s share of the smart home automation system revenues in 2020, contributing close to 46% globally, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific. “Smart home automation system revenue was primarily driven by mass consumer adoption of smart home security systems but the market is also witnessing strong revenue growth from the adoption of smart plugs and smoke and air quality monitors,” says Senior Analyst Adarsh Krishnan. Regional differences are also reflected in device adoption. In 2014, North America and Western Europe witnessed increased adoption of security cameras, especially those with embedded motion sensors which were used not only for home security but also indoor activity tracking. In China, due to increasing concern about air quality, environmental sensors are gaining popularity. To augment growing domestic demand, in 2014, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, and Baidu announced their entry into the smart home market with air quality monitors.
Michael Wolf for Forbes: If you were hoping for a straightforward, ‘here’s our smart home’ announcement from Amazon, you’re out of luck. And unlike others in the space, Amazon’s efforts so far can’t really be summed up easily in a sentence or two. Instead, they’ve put together what appears to be a hodgepodge of random efforts that, at first blush, are difficult to distill down into a cohesive strategy. But once you start looking more closely and begin to connect dots, a potentially interesting plan begins to emerge, one completely different than any of the company’s peers... One thing Amazon is notably not doing is creating a separate piece of purpose built smart home hardware to connect a bunch of smart home devices and radios. In other words, they’re not doing a hub. Instead, they’ve opted to focus on creating a control layer for your smart home in the Echo that gives them the ability to innocuously gather usage data about your smart home.
THIS PAST SATURDAY, one in four people who had come to rely on Wink as the brains behind their smart home set-up found their connected devices suddenly lobotomized. Devices connected to the Wink Hub couldn’t access the internet, meaning that they could no longer be controlled via app, and wouldn’t execute their pre-programmed rituals. Simply put, nothing worked. In an emailed statement, Wink confirmed that the cause of the outage was a “misconfiguration” of a security measure it had implemented previously. Several Wink Hub units couldn’t be fixed remotely, and those users will either have to try to repair their own using Wink-provided instructions, or mail them in for a replacement. Around 10 percent of Wink users are still without service, and the Hub has been pulled from shelves until further notice. But Wink’s weekend failure reminds us that the smart home of the future won’t be immune from the testiness that plagues any technology. In fact, those common, unavoidable flailings will be even more frustrating. Nearly a year ago, Mat Honan wrote The Nightmare on Connected Home Street, a glimpse at the inevitable dystopia caused by hooking up our households and everything within them to the internet sewage pipe. We’re not nearly at the full-fledged horror stage, but incidents like the weekend Wink stink are the foundation on which our frustrating smart home future will be built. Cont'd..
Seed Labs, the IoT company empowering the world’s leading manufacturers of appliances, devices and electronics to create the truly smart home, has introduced Silvair Control. The world’s first fully configurable, gesture-driven, wireless controller that lets customers manage their everyday appliances whether that be lamps, shades, and garage doors or other household and commercial products. Silvair Control is a Bluetooth® Smart-based device that can easily be configured with your smartphone or tablet to control. It doesn’t need any hard wiring or even a plug, its battery lasts up to 8 years and magnetic mounting allows customers to use it at any space. The control is part of Silvair Mesh where software-defined sensors and controllers can be seamlessly connected to products appliances and adjusted to customers needs providing with an easy and unmatched management capabilities.
Now, we have a first look at how PEQ will handle home automation using the Apple Watch, and it’s a sensible approach: They’re simply moving those function blocks from the iPad screen to your wrist. Instead of several tiles on the screen at once, there’s only one at a time, which the user can swipe through. short list of the most important stuff. So why is this better than just using PEQ on that iPhone living in your pocket? One of PEQ's designers, argodesign founder Mark Rolston, contends that glancing at your wrist is a step less friction than pulling a phone from your pocket. And living in his own hyperconnected smarthome, managed by his iPad and iPhone, has taught him this. "It’s just accessibility," Rolston explains. "A recurring scenario for me is, I walk out the back door, and I might have some lights still on, and as soon as I walk away, I pull up on my phone [to check]. We used to have this routine, asking, ‘Did you leave the light on? Run upstairs and see if you left the light on!’ We don’t do that anymore." And to Rolston, the ability to look at his wrist rather than check his phone to answer that basic question, "did you leave the lights on," is the paradigm shift at play.
Wednesday, owners of the Amazon Echo—a voice-activated Bluetooth speaker still only available for purchase by invitation—received an email detailing their little black cylinder’s newfound powers. In addition to streaming music from the cloud, telling you the weather, and tapping into Wikipedia to help settle bets, Echo now supports products from WEMO and Philips Hue. In other words, you can now bark at your speaker to dim the lights. The products Echo now plays nice with include the WeMo Switch and Insight Switch, which you plug into an outlet to give you limited control over your appliances; Light Switch, which does the same for, well, lights; and a stack of smart bulbs from Philips Hue. Set-up seems fairly simple. As long as your smart home products are on the same Wi-Fi network as your Echo and you’ve identified them appropriately in their respective apps, you simply need to say “Alexa, discover my appliances.” (Alexa is the name of Echo’s AI personality.) Once discovered, they’re at your literal beck and call.
ABB, Robert Bosch GmbH and Cisco Systems Inc have joined hands in an international joint venture called mozaiq operations GmbH to develop and operate an open-software platform for smart homes. The platform promises to unify today's standalone solutions for home automation and offer interoperability across devices. It is claimed the platform, to be developed by mozaiq operations, would bring the Internet of things, services and people into consumers' homes, making it easy and secure for a wide range of products to communicate with each other. Consumers will be able to seamlessly and intuitively tailor their appliances and devices, regardless of brand, to deliver an unprecedented level of control, comfort and significantly improve energy efficiency, it is claimed.
Makers, developers and hobbyists who enjoy making projects from home automation using different Arduino microcontrollers, Raspberry Pi mini PCs or anything else that can connect to the Internet of Things. Maybe interested in a new IoT relay that has been created by Team IoT to allow you to easily connect devices and boards to mains voltages to create the perfect home automation systems. The IoT relay project is currently over on the Kickstarter crowd funding website looking to raise $8,750 in pledges to make the jump from concept to production and is currently priced at just $20 per relay. Watch the video below to learn more about this new relay and how it may help you expand the functionality of your projects using Arduino microcontrollers. “Imagine the applications: A smart fish tank. DIY home automation. Industrial control. Wireless remote lighting. Home theater. Security. This is the Internet of Things. You can build almost anything imaginable with an Arduino. But how do you hook it up? A $60 WiFi plug? No thanks. Enter the IoT relay. It’s an easy, affordable way to control the Internet of Things from your DIY circuit. Connect to any micro or WiFi adapter. It’s simple — only two wires. The high-voltage switching is done inside the box. Just hook it up and plug in.
The ZigBee Alliance (www.ZigBee.org) and the Thread Group (www.threadgroup.org) today announced they are collaborating to enable the ZigBee Cluster Library to run over Thread networks. By working together, ZigBee and Thread can jointly provide an interoperable solution to help streamline product development and ultimately improve the consumer's experience in the connected home. The ZigBee Cluster Library standardizes application level functionality for a wide variety of devices used in smart homes and other markets. Thread is a wireless networking protocol that can support multiple low-bandwidth, IP-based application protocols to provide secure and reliable networks, simple connectivity and low power in the home. Both organizations remain committed to their independence while cooperating to benefit their respective members. "Application level standardization is necessary to provide truly interoperable products to consumers," said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance. "We believe this agreement will deliver value to product developers searching for another solution for connectivity in the smart home."
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Automation & Control - Featured Product
Smart Bulbs are out there and they can do far more then just provide light. Speakers, projectors, wi-fi extenders and more. The standard light socket that is wired up and ready to go in nearly every home in North America is now providing an easy and affordable option for home owners and renters alike to enter into the world of the "Smart Home". Here is a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options out there, and this list is just the beginning. In this ongoing article we hope to continue to add to and grow this list, so stay tuned!