Home security device ditches video for audio surveillance

For Airbnb hosts who want to keep tabs on their homes, a full home security system might be overkill. They’re expensive, and live cameras and motion detectors invade guests’ privacy. So how do they make sure guests keep the volume down, aren’t smoking inside and don’t ransack their home?   A new device called Point combines microphones with environmental sensors to detect anything out of the ordinary in your home while you are away. A broken window while you’re at work, the sound of your teenagers throwing a raging party, Grandad sneaking an unauthorized after-dinner cigar.   “They want to have peace of mind and know that everything is fine, but they don’t want or need full security systems,” said Nils Mattisson, co-founder of Form Devices, the start-up that makes Point.   Small, round and plastic, Point looks like a traditional smoke alarm crossed with a speaker. Sounds are matched with data from the other sensors to figure out what might have happened — a loud crash followed by a drop in temperature might mean a window was broken. It hears when an existing smoke detector goes off and sends an alert, though it’s not certified as an official smoke detector on its own.   It has a microphone that can detect sounds outside that the human ear could pick up. Environmental sensors pick up temperature; the particle sensor can tell what’s in the air.

Priorities for Managed Service Gateways in the Fiber-Connected Home

Moving forward, data will be an increasingly precious commodity, leveraged by innovative companies to provide personalized services to consumers.

2014 In Review

Here are some of the more popular and interesting articles and developments from the past year.

Keeping It Green: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Installs Peerless-AV® Xtreme™ Displays

Utilizing its internal digital content network, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's staff has found it easier to connect with visitors and share relevant and interesting information.

How Small Businesses Can Use Smart Technology

Home automation technology doesn't only save business owners time and money. It also helps boost their reputation as tech savvy, environmentally friendly organizations.

New Insteon Home-Automation Hub Goes To $39

Home-automation supplier Insteon is out to grab market share with the launch of a new flagship hub with an introductory price of only $39, compared with its predecessor’s $129.  It’s promoted as the lowest-priced hub on the market. It’s also free with select kits that include home-automation devices, such as light switches and smart plugs.    The company didn’t say how long the introductory price would last.    Despite the lower price, the new hub adds such key enhancements as a 50 percent increase in wireless range, field upgradability, easier setup and a status screen that displays live updates of connected-device status. The hub is also smaller than its predecessor. The company didn’t specify a range.    “We’ve demolished barriers in order to reach the broadest customer demographic,” said CEO Joe Dada.    Insteon’s hub connects to more than 200 Insteon-brand devices, including lamp dimmers, thermostats and LED bulbs. The products use dual-band wireless RF and powerline technology for redundancy to ensure control signals reach all connected devices in a home. Products are monitored and controlled from iOS, Android and Windows smartphone and tablet apps and from computers.

NUZii Smart Life Is A Self-learning Home Automation And Cloud Storage System

Anyone looking to increase their online privacy and keep their files, documents and media safer but also accessible through a cloud storage solution, may be interested in the new system called NUZii.   NUZii has been designed by a company of the same name and has taken to Kickstarter to raise the necessary $65,000 to help the cloud storage and home automation system make the jump into the manufacturing stage.   Its creator explain a little more bout their new cloud storage solution and home automation device :   “The NUZii is the World’s First Smart Life Platform. By combining a powerful cloud storage solution, a self-learning home automation system and internet security with one unified interface, we re-imagined how the Internet of Things should be.   NUZii has a very advanced yet easy-to-use cloud storage system. It backs up your content from all of your devices so that you can access them from anywhere. You can also share your files instantly and securely with anyone, which means you don’t have to wait to upload 100 holiday photos before sharing them.

Sunnovations Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Aquanta

Water heaters, despite their ubiquity and role as the 2nd largest consumer of home energy and hub of its plumbing network, have largely been excluded from the "smart home" trend.    Aquanta changes that by being the first water heater controller to combine near-universal retrofit-ability, networked home compatibility and advanced analytics that enable "learning" controls for smart cycling of its heating. The Kickstarter campaign allows interested parties to support Aquanta's development and receive an Aquanta unit upon its commercial availability in mid-2015.   "Most people don't know that water heating is the 2nd largest consumer of energy in their home," said Sunnovations Chief Executive Officer Matt Carlson. "Aquanta is designed to save homeowners money, while at the same time provide enhanced controls and maintenance alerts like water heater leak detection. Water heaters are a sometimes overlooked but critical part of the fabric of our lives, and Aquanta will bring groundbreaking convenience, control and insight to their operation and energy usage."    Aquanta is designed to be easily installed on a home's existing water heater, and will work with the vast majority of hot water storage tanks found in North America and elsewhere in the world. Its enabling technology is its proprietary enthalpy sensor, which can highly accurately measure both energy going into a water heater as well the energy being used. Aquanta's software uses the sensor data to "learn" and control the water heating according to a homeowner's usage patterns. The user interface will be web-based, with integrations planned into the major smart home platforms on the market. 

Best Buy is slashing prices on all manner of smart home gear this Black Friday

Starting on November 27 and running through the first of December, Best Buy will offer discounts on the Nest Learning Thermostat, and Dropcam HD network-connected security camera. The two products normally retail for $250 and $149, respectively, but will go for $200 and $100 during the Black Friday deal.   Also included in the deals is the Philips Hue Starter Kit ($200), which includes a set of three Wi-Fi connected, app-controlled, color-variable LED light bulbs and an accompanying network hub. Best Buy won’t be selling the kits at a discount, but if you’re willing to dish out 200 bucks on one, they’ll throw in a Philips Hue Bloom Accent Light ($80) for free.   And the best part? You won’t be forced to wade through crazed crowds of Black Friday deal hunters to get your hands on these gizmos. In addition to offering these deals at brick-and-mortar locations, Best Buy will also offer them to customers who visit its website.  

LittleBits' New Kit Connects Old Appliances to the Internet

LittleBits, which makes brightly colored modules that snap together to create electronic circuits, is now selling a $249 DIY kit for those who want to turn their analog abodes into WiFi-enabled smart homes. The set extends the use of the recently launched cloudBit, giving users a menu of projects that include a remote pet feeder, a smart air-conditioner, and a garage door monitor. It essentially allows people to build their own IoT hardware without having to wait for companies like Nest, GE, or Apple to roll out another product. “The electronics industry pretty much remains a very top-down industry that is very much controlled by large companies, by experts, by engineers,” says LittleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir. “Very few people are able to gain access and innovate in it.” Her three-year-old startup makes it as easy to customize hardware as it is to assemble Ikea furniture.   The Smart Home Kit comes with 14 bits, including the cloudBit as well as five new ones: an MP3 player, a temperature sensor, a number counter (which, for instance, can be attached to the temperature sensor to display Fahrenheit or Celsius values), a threshold (which can turn a sensor into a trigger module), and an infrared transmitter (which can be paired with an AC switch to turn appliances on or off). The company includes an infographic poster cataloging a host of potential projects, from a device that adds toilet paper to your digital grocery list when someone takes the last roll to an alarm that sounds when your fridge is left open too long. Makers can control the devices through the LittleBits-hosted Web app; their own API, or IFTTT (If This Then That), a service that connects to a channel like Twitter or Facebook to trigger an action such as a tweet or Facebook status update.

Will Lasers Be The Future For Projectors?

In the future, I expect the familiar projection bulbs that we have used for decades will be phased out and replaced by laser/LED technology, as this light source puts out much less heat and are quieter, allowing for more placement options.

Upcoming Tradeshow, Conference & Exhibition Summary
Jan, Feb, Mar 2015

With the New Year comes the end of the Holiday Tradeshow lull and of course CES and the many events centered around it!

European manufacturer of the wireless home automation system FIBARO comes to U.S.

Fibar Group, European manufacturer of the wireless home automation system FIBARO comes to U.S.

The Pros, Cons of Software vs. Hardware RAID

With today's vastly improved, more powerful CPUs, the performance differences between hardware and software RAID options have been virtually eliminated.

Smarten Up: Win More Home Buyers Through Effective Audio Branding

As a homebuilder, you have an opportunity to convey numerous positive sounding audio messages about your brand - from the quality of your work to the top-quality products that go into your work - throughout your showhome.

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