SmartThings delays its next-gen smart home products

From PCWorld: SmartThings, the home automation company Samsung Electronics acquired last August, has delayed the launch of its new home hub and sensors to the third quarter, as it works to improve performance and stability.   Even though the products have been built and are currently being tested, SmartThings felt it necessary to postpone the launch from the second quarter to what will most likely be the third quarter, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday.   One of the goals with the new hub is to improve stability compared to its current offering, and this seems to be taking longer than originally thought. The company has been performing lots of additional testing to address many recent disruptions users have experienced, it said.   When they work, the SmartThings hub and connected sensors can be used to control lights, thermostats, doors and warn about things such as water leaks. However, users of the current hub have been suffering from device control and connectivity issues and apps that don’t execute properly, leaving them unable to fully control their homes. The company’s status website lists six incidents between just March 23 and 31.

Myfox To Bring DIY Security From France

Joseph Palenchar for Twice:   A wireless do-it-yourself home-security system that Myfox will bring to the U.S. late in the second quarter or early third quarter will detect and deter intruders before they enter the house, the French company said. Unlike other DIY security systems that use indoor motion sensors to detect intruders, the Myfox system uses wireless sensors, or IntelliTags, attached to doors and windows to analyze door and window vibrations that indicate a break-in, the company said. The sensors, which run on a single AA battery, differentiate normal events such as door knocking from doors and windows being pried open. When a break-in is attempted, the sensor sends a wireless 915MHz RF signal to a hub, which triggers a battery-operated siren via RF and uses Wi-Fi to send alerts via broadband modem to cellphones. Multiple family members or friends can receive notifications and get monitoring rights. The company, founded in 2005, also offers an optional Wi-Fi security camera, which can be used as a standalone surveillance device. The $299 Myfox Home Alarm system, which can be monitored and controlled via Android and iOS smartphones, will be Apple HomeKit-enabled and will be certified as Works With Nest. 

Logitech's Harmony smart home hub adds voice controls through Ubi and Ivee

From Jared Newman for TechHive:  Logitech is continuing its quest to control your entire smart home by linking up with a couple of voice-activated computers.   If you own one of Logitech’s Home Hubs, you can now control all your connected home devices by voice with either a wall-mounted Ubi computer or an Ivee smart alarm clock. Both devices connect to Logitech’s Hub through Wi-Fi, delivering commands that would otherwise require Logitech’s Harmony remote control or mobile app.   Ubi and Ivee can already control a fair number of smart home products on their own, but Logitech’s big pitch its ability to string multiple commands into “Harmony Activities.” For example, you could tell Ubi to “watch a movie” and have the TV and sound system turn on, while dimming your Philips Hue connected lightbulbs. Or, you could tell Ivee to make sure your smart lock is engaged and all the lights are off as you get into bed.

Luxurious small smart homes by Tiny Heirloom

From Kimberley Mok for TreeHugger:  Much like how camping can come in a a more luxurious, "glamping" version, so too can tiny homes come in more expensive variants that are equipped with all the bells and whistles you might imagine, in addition to the off-grid options. Positioning itself as the "first luxury, custom tiny home manufacturer in the U.S.," the motto of Oregon City-based Tiny Heirloom Homes is to "downsize, don't down grade," offering extra services like legal help, models that can be customized from top to bottom, and tiny smart home automation, thanks to a partnership with Nest Labs.   The company is also rolling out their Tiny Heirloom Home Automation System soon, which will include "hands free lighting, voice activated door locks, automated thermostats, auto-leveling jacks, tank level indication and propane level readings and bluetooth surround sound. All this run from an iPhone or Android device. No wifi necessary." Pretty convenient for the hands-off homeowner.

How your car will help control your home

Patrick Nelson for NetworkWorld:  AT&T is one company that is planning on consumers being able to control elements of their home from the dashboard of connected cars.   AT&T says that it is planning to link its connected car and smart home products via a voice recognition-enabled dashboard control. Home security will be the principal driver of the new tech in that case. But others are also in a race to bring functioning products to market and obtain consumer acceptance.   Two existing AT&T products – AT&T Digital Life, a home management system, and AT&T Drive, its connected car platform – will be merged together to create its platform.   Mercedes has a deal with Nest, the Google-owned thermostat and home smoke alarm gadget maker.   Apple and Google are also working on automotive solutions for in-dash applications.   Cont'd...  

Zenno Voice Controlled Home Automation System Unveiled

Zenno has created and launched a new home automation and control system that has been designed to offer a simple voice controls to manage your home entertainment systems and electronic devices around your home.   Using your smartphone or other wearable devices such as smartwatches the Zenno home automation system is capable of providing easy and natural interaction between you and your home, say its creators.   The Zenno home automation system has been designed to be first device that offers easy to use, customisable voice control over home electronics from your smartphone or other wearables. Features of Zenno include :   • Advanced climate control features, without the installation hassle of a thermostat. • Every time, everywhere control from multiple platforms. • Guaranteed control of any home electronic that has a remote. • Developers will get to use our SDK for personal projects. • Smart Scenes that can execute multiple actions at once for your convenience • If you own an Android Wear smartwatch or plan on getting a wearable device in the near future, Zenno will give you a new cool way of using it! • Through our public SDK, Zenno will give developers great control methods for any DIY electronic projects, from LED light shows to RC cars.   

Z-Wave Alliance Launches IoT Competition to Reward Start-Ups for Their Innovation in the Smart Home

he Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of leading global companies deploying Z-Wave, the world's largest ecosystem of wireless control products and services, is announcing a brand new competition to support and incentivize innovation on the Z-Wave platform. The yearlong Z-Wave Labs Program will accept applications from start-up companies and entrepreneurs looking to bring Z-Wave products to market.  In order to accelerate innovation on the Z-Wave platform and lower the barrier of entry for new companies to develop IoT products, the program will reward one selected individual/company each month starting in May 2015 with a 12-month membership to the Z-Wave Alliance as well as one of the newly available IoT-ready 500 Series Z-Wave Developer Kits from Sigma Designs.  "The Z-Wave Alliance recognizes the importance of start-ups and disrupters in the industry both to jump start innovation but also to accelerate widespread adoption of smart home and IoT technology," said Mary Miller, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Sigma Designs and a Principal Board member of the Z-Wave Alliance, "With over 1200 Z-Wave-certified devices currently on the market and 300 companies working together to create more solutions every single day, this program is a unique opportunity for young start-ups and entrepreneurs to engineer exciting new products for the Z-Wave ecosystem." 

Wireless is Redefining the Home Audio Market

 The popularity of mobile devices and changing consumer habits in media consumption are not only increasing demand for wirelessly connected audio devices, but also rapidly altering the home audio landscape, according to new research from IHS Technology (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight.    Annual shipments of connected audio products, including wireless speakers, wireless soundbars, and connected AV receivers, are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 88 percent, from 1.5 million units in 2010 to nearly 66 million units in 2018.   “Growing penetration of tablets and smartphones -- combined with an ongoing shift in consumer media consumption preferences toward those devices and streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Deezer -- are collectively driving a behavioral shift in how people listen to music inside and outside their homes,” said Paul Erickson, senior analyst for IHS Technology. “Consumers are seeking ways to wirelessly play audio from their mobile devices on speakers in the room they’re in, in multiple rooms in a household, and on speakers carried with them while on the go. This geographically diverse need will drive strong global growth in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected speakers over the next few years.”    “While the whole wireless speakers category is forecast to grow rapidly, network-connected multi-room speaker systems is the small-but-growing subcategory to watch,” Erickson continued. “Heavyweights Samsung, LG, Sony, Bose, Denon, DTS and Qualcomm are all entering the market, with products or platforms designed to take on a rapidly growing segment initially popularized by Sonos.”   

Your Smart Home Devices Might be Smart, but Are They Secure?

By Maria Sciullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  Products often rely on mobile apps to connect to cloud-based servers in order for you to “talk” to your security cameras. If you can control smart devices via the Internet, chances are good that some even smarter stranger with hacking skills might stand a chance of doing so. “Consumers should think hard about the benefits they will gain from an IoT device, and weigh those against a ’worst-case’ risk,” said Mark Stanislav, a Rapid7 senior security consultant and member of BuildItSecure.ly, a pro-bono industry initiative that helps vendors create more secure products. Rapid7 helps companies manage security services. “For instance, is the Internet-connected Web camera you want to put into your home worth the potential risk that someone on the Internet may be able to snoop on it if a flaw is found? It’s worth thinking about the placement of a device like that and how much privacy would be lost in that sort of scenario.   “This simple ‘risk-versus reward’ is a great test for consumers to make any time they are about to purchase an IoT device,” Mr. Stanislav said.   Cont'd...

How to Ride the Smart Home Wave

From Adam Gettings for Techonomy: There's a sizeable "smart home" wave building. The smart home and building technology market was $4.8 billion in 2012 and a report by Allied Market Research predicts it will grow to $35.3 billion by 2020.   Not surprisingly, many startups, retailers, and established tech companies hope to ride the wave. Surfing is hard to do. Not everyone will get the timing right. But some strategies will make it a lot less likely that companies will wipe out.   Open Up Your Platform:  Everyone's racing to make their own smart home platform, but few of them are open. Now I don't mean open source, like the Android Open Source Project or Apache Hadoop-those projects are incredible for the technology industry, but open source isn't right or always possible for every company. Rather, I mean these smart home platforms need to be open by offering APIs and other developer toolkits to allow easy interoperability with other products within the ecosystem (or even allowing other brands to license their technology to create totally new products). Developers understandably want to maintain control over their products, but too tight of control can also limit a product's potential.   Cont'd...

Listnr is a Home Automation Device With Ears

Jennifer Allen for Paste Magazine:  Automating your home is already possible through a variety of different remotes and devices, but how about something that relies upon sound? That’s the thinking behind Listnr, the latest device that aims to make life seem a little more futuristic, as well as convenient.   At its simplest, it allows you to connect a smart light-bulb to it, thereby allowing you to turn the lights on or off by snapping your fingers. You can program Listnr to react to any kind of sound, such as a clap, snap, or a stomp of your feet—the latter being useful when your hands are full. Besides simply turning on or off, you can set up the gadget to change to specific colors if you so wish, setting the mood perfectly. It goes one step further, too.   It’ll also understand emotion from sounds, such as when your baby is communicating. Via a notification system, Listnr can tell if your baby is crying, laughing, screaming, or simply gurgling, soon sending you a heads up to your smart phone.

Xiaomi Launches New Series of Smart Home Products

Marvell (NASDAQ: MRVL) - a worldwide leader in providing complete silicon solutions from mobile communications to storage, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud infrastructure, digital entertainment and in-home content delivery and Kinoma software enabling the "Smart Life and Smart Lifestyle," - today announced that Xiaomi has launched a smart module built on the Marvell IoT chipset; the module also has been integrated into Xiaomi's smart air purifier and smart hub, part of its portfolio of smart home product offerings. The new design wins build on the previously announced Xiaomi's smart-plug and extends the partnership between two leading companies in the Smart Home industry. Powered by the Marvell IoT chipset, the Xiaomi smart module integrates Wi-Fi connection and complete communication protocol with Xiaomi Cloud, which enables third-party manufacturers to upgrade to smart devices from traditional devices. This module supports multiple functions, including power on device detect, firmware upgrades, network reliability and consistency maintenance of the connection status indication.  "I am very pleased with our collaboration with Xiaomi in launching a new series of Smart Home devices for the vast consumer base in China. Smart Home is an integral part of the fast-growing Internet of Things market," said Weili Dai, President and Co-Founder of Marvell. "I am very proud that Marvell is leading the industry with the broadest technology portfolio and end-to-end silicon and software solutions. With our continued collaboration with top global ecosystem partners such as Xiaomi, we are committed to bringing the benefit of IoT technologies to billions of consumers around the world."   

Neurio Launches to Make the Whole Home "Smart" With Only One Sensor

Neurio is an intelligent, open platform that with only one sensor brings smart home capabilities to the entire home, with future versions providing intelligence for all existing appliances. As the "brain of the home," Neurio connects both older appliances and newer "smart" devices to allow users to easily track, monitor and better understand how their home is operating, such as letting the user know when their kids come home, or if they forgot to turn something off before leaving for the day.    Neurio makes it simple, affordable and practical to bring smart home technology, and its benefits, to the masses.    A Single Sensor Monitoring Energy Use Habits Means Saving Money    Successfully funded via Kickstarter, Neurio is now shipping to backers and is currently available for pre-order at www.neur.io. The Neurio Sensor costs $249 and users have the potential to save money quickly by recognizing energy use patterns and habits. The Neurio platform, which features a single sensor attached to a home's circuit box, allows for home intelligence and monitoring right out of the box. 

CSR will give Bluetooth gear in the smart home super powers

From Stacy Higgenbotham for GigaOM:  This year is going to be a big one for Bluetooth technologies in the smart home. Thanks to some updates in the Bluetooth standard from a year ago, we’re seeing products such as light bulbs, outlets and more using the radio technology to connect devices. But it’s not just the standards update that’s helped; a few firms have also introduced software that have allowed companies to turn their Bluetooth radios into a mesh network that offers more resiliency and range for the technology. One of the more popular is CSRmesh, the software designed by CSR, the company that helped invent Bluetooth and is now in the process of being acquired by Qualcomm. Now a year old, and primarily used in lighting products like those out from Samsung or Avi-On, the CSRmesh tech lets you group up to 64,000 bulbs or devices together.   But it can do so much more. And soon it will. I took some time to discuss the technology with Rick Walker, who is in marketing with CSR to discover what’s next for the technology and whether we may see it integrated into the official Bluetooth standard anytime soon.  

Reliant Launches Integrated Home Security, Automation Solutions

The smart home is more accessible than ever with the launch of Reliant’s new suite of home security packages and automation tools. These solutions help customers connect anywhere, anytime, to what is often their largest investment – their home. Retail electricity customers can now sign up for a customizable security package from Reliant, or enroll in a new electricity plan that offers a home automation package. These new advances provide a broad customer-focused platform for integrating emerging and future home technology innovations. “We are passionate about powering people at home and on the go and with these new security and home automation solutions, we can make life easier and more comfortable for consumers,” said Elizabeth Killinger, president of NRG Retail and Reliant. “Customers can conveniently and remotely control devices in their home through a new app – all from the comfort of their couch or from thousands of miles away.” The security solution offers 24/7 professional, live security monitoring services, expert installation and remote access via mobile devices and computers. Customers on the go can use the app to: Arm/disarm their security system; Open/close their garage door and know when it’s open or closed; Turn on/off their lights even when away from home; Unlock/lock their doors remotely to let family, friends, contractors or others into their home; and Keep an eye on their home with video cameras that record based on specific actions, such as when the alarm is triggered. In addition to the new security offering, customers who want home automation can sign up for a select Reliant Free WeekendsSM 24 plan that includes an easy to install package with a smart thermostat, smart plug and gateway device. 

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

INTRODUCING THE SIMPLEST WAY TO CONTROL YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE YOUR VOICE. Imagine this... We've all been there-walking through the door into a dark house, arms full. Wouldn't it be nice to tell your house to offer a helping hand? Now you can. A simple voice command-such as "Alexa, turn on Welcome"-lights up the hallway and kitchen, fires up your favorite Pandora station, while the door locks itself behind you. This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.