DIY security supplier Swann Security is expanding into DIY home automation with the launch of SwannOne, a security-focused home-automation system controlled from apps. The system uses such wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave to monitor and control home systems. The pricing of the products and optional service plans were not disclosed. The SwannOne system is built around a hub that connects wirelessly to multiple products, including the SoundView Camera with Wi-Fi. It features encrypted HD video streaming, motion detection, night vision, and optional cloud-storage service plans to store audio and video for the past seven or 30 days. With a service plan offering audio analytics, the camera’s built-in microphone detects and identifies sounds such as breaking glass, car alarms, a baby’s cry or gun shots, and also notifies users.
Amazon.com Inc will boost staffing at its secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware unit by at least 27 percent over the next five years as it tests Internet-connected "smart" home gadgets such as a one-button device to order supplies. This expansion comes as Lab126 tests connected-home devices that could open up a new front in its war against Goog l e Inc and App le Inc , two people familiar with Lab126's activities said recently. The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media. Technology companies see Internet-connected dishwashers, thermostats and other household devices that can "talk" to one another as ways to fuel demand for products and services. But skeptics say many of these devices cost too much for most consumers and could take years to go mainstream. Amazon is testing a simple wi-fi device that could be placed in the kitchen or a closet, allowing customers to order products like detergent by pressing a button, one of the people said. Lab126 is also interested in wearable devices, the other person said. Both sources stressed that such devices may never come to market.
Wink, the company that connects you with all of the smart products in your home, today announced Relay. Replacing a light switch, Relay conveniently controls and monitors your connected home from one central location. Relay brings all of the convenience of your smart home to your wall, so that you can keep your phone in your pocket. This Wi-Fi-connected control pad acts as a command center by interacting with more than 100 products from 15 trusted brands that already work with Wink. Relay is available today for presale on Amazon for $300.00. "Done right, the smart home connects you to what you want, when you need it...bringing conveniences of safety, security, and automation. That doesn't mean you should have to see your work email when you lock your door," says Brett Worthington, VP/GM of Wink. "Relay allows you to have control of your home without having to look at your phone." DIYers can install Relay by replacing any light switch. Once installed, Relay will automatically connect with all Wink App Ready products, from light bulbs to garage door openers, as well as Wink App Compatible products that use the Wink HUB to connect. Watch Relay in action here. Relay's 4.3" multi-touch LCD display makes it easy to monitor everything in one place. The two mechanical buttons act as replacement light switches, perfect for controlling smart bulbs, or they can be programmed to turn other smart home products on or off with a single click.
Another day, another smart home company is coming alive. But this latest one, Leeo, has some pretty big names behind it–including the main people responsible for creating products like Beats headphones and the video game Guitar Hero as well as executives from CIA-backed big data company Palantir and robotics company RoboteX. And after a year and a half in stealth mode, Palo Alto-based Leeo has already amassed a team of 60 employees and $37 million in venture capital from Formation 8, Visionnaire Ventures and German utility giant E.ON . What exactly does this smart home startup do that’s getting so much money and talent? Well, Leeo isn’t ready to talk about specific products it’s coming out with yet, but the company’s explanation of how it’s approaching the industry is a bit different than other smart home companies. From the very beginning, Leeo is focusing on working with hulking incumbents like telecommunication companies and utilities to help roll out services onto the company’s smart home product line. That will make Leeo a bit of a mix between an enterprise and consumer product company.
Logitech announced it is bringing its expertise and leadership in universal remotes to the home control market with new home automation product compatibility and four new products. The new Harmony® Living Home lineup gives you easy access and control over a wide library of entertainment and home automation devices, all from one centralized control system. "Harmony led the path for simplifying home entertainment, and now we've taken that expertise to also simplify home automation," said Chad Thompson, senior director of worldwide marketing and product management. "As more connected devices such as the Nest Learning Thermostat™, Philips® hue lights and August™ Smart Locks come to market and enter the home, there's more of a need than ever before for a centralized way to simply control all of the home's devices - the Harmony Living Home lineup does just that." With just a few easy steps your remote, tablet or smartphone can now control your TV, set-top box, speakers, lighting, thermostat, door locks, window shades and other popular devices. Plus, you can easily combine multiple devices into Activities to trigger at once so you can power on your TV, dim your lights, adjust the temperature and open your window shades all at the same time. You can start an Activity with one touch of your remote or mobile device, automatically on a custom schedule, or by passing a sensor. You can even trigger Activities from the Harmony Mobile App when you're not at home.
Companies are starting to pick sides in the home automation race, and Sony just made its choice. The company announced at the IFA conference in Berlin this week that it is joining Qualcomm 's AllSeen Alliance, a coalition of tech and consumer companies utilizing Qualcomm's open-source AllJoyn home automation platform. Sony's move means there's yet another company pushing an alternative home automation platform to Apple 's forthcoming HomeKit. Qualcomm has collected an impressive group of peers for its home automation platform, including Microsoft , LG, Panasonic , Haier, Sharp , and about 60 other companies. And while Sony's move won't derail Apple's HomeKit plans , the growing number of companies joining the AllJoyn proves just how heated this competition is becoming. AllJoyn -- like many other open-source home automation platforms -- enables third-party devices to easily connect to each other, communicate with other devices, and pair together for combined automation.
Want proof that the smart home is big? Check out the whopper private equity investment that KKR has made in Savant. Savant said it has raised $90 million from its founder Robert Madonna and affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR). The round will help Savant navigate a space where it has played for years but is suddenly seeing an influx of competitors at both the low and high end. Savant is a bit unusual in that it’s designed for luxury homes and professional installers. The company uses Apple hardware and has built software that models itself on Apple’s ease of use and attractiveness. Touches such as taking a picture of your living room and then programming that picture to act as the touch screen for your home controls are an example of how friendly the Savant experience is. You just touch the lamp in your picture and it turns on. It’s fun. In the last year Savant has taken its high-end ethos and moved closer to the DIY market with a cheaper product called the Savant Smart Series. Instead of running on a Mac Mini it uses a Linux server stored in a closet or cabinet somewhere. That cheaper product will still run you around $1,600 for the basic set up.
Elgato will be an exhibitor at IFA Berlin this year, but the company has already announced the introduction of its new HomeKit to the market, with supposed full iOS 8 integration. The HomeKit will be fully compatible with Apple’s HomeKit home automation platform once iOS 8 launches. Elgato’s HomeKit will feature the Eve product line which comprises of various smart home sensors such as light bulbs, door and window locks, thermometers for air and water temperature monitoring, smoke detectors and smart plugs. With this in mind, Elgato plans to become the competition for Samsung’s Smart Home system that will also launch at IFA in a couple of days. The Eve brand in the HomeKit features Bluetooth accessories which will monitor almost everything in your house, from smoke, to air, water, humidity, air pressure, energy and water consumption. All the information these sensors gather will be automatically fed into iOS 8′s HomeKit application so that you can monitor everything from your iPhone. HomeKit will also provide users with tips and tricks on how to improve their environment.
Icontrol Networks, a leader in connected home technology and innovation, today announced that SmartHome Ventures has chosen Icontrol to power the newly-launched PEQ (pronounced "peek") home automation system, available now at www.mypeq.com, and at select Best Buy store locations and on BestBuy.com beginning August 31st. With this announcement, the best-in-class Icontrol smart home platform is now available for consumers to purchase and use right out of the box. "Our goal is to give consumers as many options as possible, whether they prefer a professionally-installed and monitored solution, a self-installed package they can purchase and build upon, or an all-in-one device," said Jim Johnson, executive vice president and general manager at Icontrol. "We are excited to provide another option for consumers who want to take advantage of the ease and convenience of a connected home." All PEQ-compatible devices have been certified through the Icontrol OpenHome™ Developer Program, the first community for application and device makers to partner on a common platform. This means PEQ customers will have access to a growing number of connected home devices, and developers can market their innovations to an even larger market of connected home customers. Icontrol software currently manages more than 22 million sensors and devices, representing the most widely used connected home platform in the industry.
Microsoft is betting on the future of the smart home, and it's hoping to discover that future within its own ranks. Earlier this summer, the company announced plans to launch a start-up accelerator focused specifically on home automation and the Internet of Things. It was a move made partly in an attempt to compete with Apple and Google, both of which have made significant strides in home automation. It's also a simple acknowledgement of a market that's expected to double in size over the next five years. This past week, Microsoft announced the 10 start-ups that will participate in the accelerator program, which will run from September to December of this year on Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus. The chosen outfits were selected from a pool of more than 400 candidates. "The goal of this Accelerator is simple: to help a new generation of companies create smarter and safer homes," said Steven Guggenheimer, chief evangelist at Microsoft Developer Experience, in a statement. "We share the belief that over time the home automation trend will fundamentally change how we interact with and manage our homes — making them more efficient, communicative and ultimately safer." Full List:
For most of its brief existence, the modern smart home has offered a frustratingly fragmented user experience. A maze of competing, proprietary ecosystems has forced consumers to pick a "side" (be it Staples Connect, Lowes Iris, Quirky Wink, or Belkin WeMo) and sacrifice otherwise attractive products on the altar of compatibility. Some see a potential solution in IFTTT (If This Then That), a free service that gives websites, apps, and devices a simple way to interact with one another. Major brands—including Philips, Nest, and even Belkin and Quirky—have already made their products compatible with IFTTT. This week home security giant ADT announced that it's developing an IFTTT "channel" for its Pulse home automation system. At its most basic, IFTTT lets you create "recipes" with the tech you use every day as the ingredients. The recipes follow a simple template in which "triggers" set off associated "actions."
Electronics retailer Best Buy is entering the crowded home automation market through a deal with startup Smart Home Ventures, which designed its offering around ease of use. Called Peq (pronounced “peak”), the service costs $9.99 a month for an unlimited number of gadgets connected to a wireless hub, which are sold in kits ranging in cost from about $120 to $490. Best Buy will start selling the products at 250 stores at the end of the month. Peq will also be available online and through a telecom company that is yet to be announced, according to a company representative. As with most smart home offerings, the makers of Peq assume the primary draw for consumers is home security. Over time, the company expects consumers to add other connected devices, such as lamp modules and thermostats. The monthly service charge covers the ability to watch live video on a smartphone and record twenty video clips and 40 images a day. It also sends text or email alerts in response to certain occurrences, such as when a door or window sensor is tripped at an unexpected time.
Samsung is making a big push into being the center of the smart home today with its acquisition of SmartThings, which allows people to sync up their connected gadgets onto a single smartphone app and hardware hub. The company isn’t releasing the acquisition price, but TechCrunch reported a $200 million pricetag when first caught word of the deal last month. “From the beginning, our goal has been to make a platform every human being could use—and to make every home a smart home,” said SmartThings cofounder and CEO Alex Hawkinson in phone call today. “This will help us reach a massive scale. We saw an opportunity to bring SmartThing’s vision to hundreds of millions of customers.” Founded in 2012, SmartThings told me a few months ago it was currently only in “tens of thousands” of homes, but growing at a quick pace of 20% new installations every month. According to the two companies, SmartThings will operate as an independent company and will be moving from its home base of Washington D.C. over to Samsung’s Open Innovation Center in Palo Alto. The Open Innovation Center acts as an investing arm and startup accelerator for U.S. companies that Samsung is interested in.
Battle for the $18 Billion US Smart Home Heats Up as Apple and Google Posture for Position says Strategy Analytics
Spending on smart home systems and services in the US will hit $18 billion in 2014 and more than double to $39 billion by 2019 according to Strategy Analytics' Smart Home Strategies latest forecast. Apple, Google and Samsung are among the big consumer brands posturing for position in the market as ADT, Vivint, Comcast and AT&T drive growth in the interactive security market. The competitive dynamics shaping the market are described in "Handicapping the US Smart Home Horserace." Key findings from the report: Security service providers will drive revenue growth in the US market as ADT and Vivint run neck and neck in front with each having more than 800,000 residential subscribers and FrontPoint, the online reseller Alarm.com's platform, not far behind. Comcast's Xfinity Home is likely to catch up with the frontrunners in 2014 with AT&T's Digital Life also in the chase. Lowe's Iris self-monitoring and control system currently has a big lead on Home Depot for the DIY customer, but Staples, Amazon and Smartlabs, with Microsoft now selling INSTEON devices in its stores, will intensify the battle for DIYers. Apple's HomeKit caused a stir when introduced in June. It has perked up iOS devotees to smart home applications, but it remains a dark horse in the race. Google's Nest acquiring Dropcam adds another cool product to their portfolio and another point of "learning" about what goes on in homes for future Google/Nest applications.
The all-new 55-inch class (54.6 inches measured diagonally) LG Curved OLED TV (Model 55EC9300), will be available beginning this month at various retailers nationwide at a suggested price of $3,499. Best Buy will be the first dealer to sell the new LG model starting on Aug. 24 and is taking pre-orders now on BestBuy.com. This marks the third OLED TV that LG has released in 13 months, further cementing its market dominance in this new display category, while also making the technology more affordable than ever before to consumers. In fact, even with new features and design enhancements, the 55EC9300 priced more than 75 percent lower than LG's first-generation 55-inch class model, which first sold for$14,999 a year ago. "LG is the only manufacturer to make big screen OLED TV a reality, and we're prepared to help them usher in a new era of TV technology," said Luke Mothschenbacher, Merchant Director of Televisions at Best Buy. "Best Buy is enthusiastic about this OLED TV because LG has combined incredible picture quality with an unparalleled cosmetic design that we know will appeal to our customers."
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