Amazon Is Winning the Smart Home Race -- and Nobody Is Noticing

From MotleyFool:  Amazon first targeted the smart space with the Echo -- a multifunction home speaker that, while initially suffering criticism around its practicality (not unlike the Fire Phone), acts more like a capable virtual assistant with each software release. Alexa, the artificial intelligence built by Amazon to power Echo, can stream music from various services, update your calendar, or pull sports scores and restaurant recommendations for you. But the Echo's fastest-growing use case is as a voice-activated hub to control your smart home. What makes it stand out from the competition is Alexa's powerful voice recognition capabilities -- something Amazon has worked very hard to make best in class, and for good reason. Voice has already become the simplest method for running common smartphone tasks -- setting quick reminders or asking for directions without unlocking and navigating the device. It's the most natural and reflexive human medium for communication; untethered and hands free, voice doesn't require you to set down your bags, wash your hands, or jumble through your pockets to use your phone.   Cont'd...

Many SmartHome and IoT Devices Have Little or No Security

Smart locks, Baby Monitors, home routers, appliances, printers, etc. have all been hacked with documentation of those hacks.

AUDIOFluance Announces Fi70, First Wireless Speaker With Dual 8″ Woofers

ByJustin Jelinek for Techaeris:  Fluance continues to raise the bar on audiophile-quality wireless speakers. They started with theirbookshelf Fi30, and later upgraded that to the Fi50. They’ve recently announced their Signature Series floor speakers, a pair of powerhouse speakers. Today, Fluance has announced a new wireless Bluetooth speaker, the Fluance Fi70. The Fi70 is sure to start a conversation before silencing that conversation with powerful music. Based on what we’ve seen from Fluance, I’m confident the Fi70 is going to sound fantastic, but even more so, anyone who sees it is sure to comment on its looks first. This is a uniquely shaped speaker, but it’s got more than enough power that people shouldn’t focus on its looks for too long. The Fi70 is the first wireless speaker with dual 8″ woofers, meaning this thing is going to move some air for sure. Backing up those 8″ woofers are 5” woven glass fiber midrange drivers and 1” neodymium tweeters. Couple all of those speakers with a 280 watt amplifier, and you’ve got yourself a party waiting to happen. You can read more about the Fluance Fi70 in the full press release below, or you can head directly over to Fluance.com and order one of your very own for $499.   Cont'd...

The Next Stop in Home Security: A Lightbulb With a Memory

EVA RECINOS for PSFK:  Smart technology in the home can make things more convenient—but it can also make homes safer. ComfyLight hopes to make use of this potential, creating a lightbulb that discourages burglars . The wireless lightbulb screws on like a regular bulb. It syncs with an app on user’s phone and begins keeping track of regular movements. When a user walks into a room, the system automatically switches lights on and then turns them off when the user leaves. As co-founder Stefanie Turber explains on ComfyLight’s Kickstarter video, the lighting system “acts like you’re home by turning the light on and off and it recognizes unexpected movements at your place.” Once a user leaves his-her home and activates security mode, ComfyLight simulates the user’s patterns of movement and switches lights on and off to mirror them. While away from home, users can keep track of activity through an app on your phone—and see if ComfyLight detected something unusual.   Cont'd...

What is HDR (High Dynamic Range) and why do you want it?

HDR creates pictures in the same way that the human eye does. It makes videos come to life with shadows and shading details we have never seen on other displays.

Control4 Rolls Out New Line of Smart Home Solutions Starting at $600 MSRP

  Control4 Corporation, a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announces and ships its EA Series, a new line of entertainment and automation controllers, which represents the next generation platform for smart home innovation, featuring high-resolution audio, high-performance automation, and Control4's broad interoperability.  With three separate models, the Control4 EA Series is designed and priced to deliver exceptional automation power, reliability, and high-impact entertainment experiences for any single-room or whole-home project. The new line is powered by the Control4 Operating System which manages entertainment sources from hundreds of the world's leading brands, streams popular music services, and controls and automates lighting, security systems, thermostats, door locks, cameras, and more, all with a single remote or app.   Full Press Release:  

Land Rush: It's Time to Civilize the IoT Wild West

For companies to reach their destiny, the consumer technology industry needs standards that CTA and other standards groups can "negotiate" for consumers. Companies can then focus on products that help make the digital transition easier and faster.

From NetworkWorld - Interview with the creators of EZ-Wave, a Z-Wave hacking tool

The synopsis for Breaking Bulbs Briskly by Bogus Broadcastsmentions the promise of smart energy and building automation, as well as the many unintended vulnerabilities that are introduced in the rush to bring IoT devices to market. The researchers believe “the ability to physically damage hardware by abusing network access is particularly interesting.” I agree. Frustrated by the “lack of functionality in current Z-Wave hacking tools,” ShmooCon presenters Joseph Hall and Ben Ramsey created and released a new, open source EZ-Wave tool. Not only did the duo discuss how to use the tool for pen-testing Z-Wave wireless automation networks, they also discussed “a rapid process for destroying florescent lights.” They added, “Once access is gained to an automated lighting system, regardless of the protocol used, we  demonstrate how to destroy florescent lamps rated for 30K hours within a single night of abuse.” Full Article:

A Disappointing Consumer Electronic Show (CES) For Home Automation

Mike Krell for Forbes:  Ultimately, my problem and disappointment with the CES home automation offerings this year was the fact that there were too many undifferentiated products and not enough simple solutions. It seemed that most companies wanted to focus on their single use product or application, and I’ve got to say, I was underwhelmed—especially with the differentiation from product to product. How much differentiation can there be in a doorbell or lock? Don’t get me wrong; I saw a few unique things. However, my belief is that 5 years from now all home automation products will be pretty much the same, and the products won’t address what the consumers really want. Why? Because it’s not about the products. Consumers today may be thinking of just buying a product such as a doorbell, lock or camera, but when you talk to most people, what they want is to use technology to change or enhance their lifestyles. Consumers want to use technology to make their lives simpler and easier. I like to call these lifestyle solutions “scenes”. Scenes are derived from the way we (want to) live.    Cont'd...

Estimating App for AV Integrators - Jetbuilt

Jetbuilt allows users to estimate a substantial project in minutes, not hours.

6 New Routers That Can Handle All Your Smart Home Needs

Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:   Routers, those typically ugly-looking devices that provide Wi-Fi, have long been a weak link in home network security. Hackers can take advantage easy-to-guess passwords and lax manufacturing standards by an industry that has long focused on price over security, asdetailed Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal. Homeowners, for their part, haven’t exactly focused on network security either. Many have no idea what routers do and instead rely on their Internet service provider to include them in their modems. When ISPs started charging monthly rental fees of $4 to $7 for modems, some consumers started buying their own home networking gear. But most people still shop based on price. Even those looking for high-end features don’t have much to choose from. Most routers come with only a limited number of extras.  That is changing though.   Cont'd...

The Future of Home Automation

As the number of devices in homes rapidly increases, we expect further integration of smart home products aimed at monitoring and protecting Internet-enabled devices.

92% of Security Installers/Integrators See Home Automation as a Future Revenue Generator

Adam Bannister for IFSEC Global:  Polling the views of hundreds of installers, IFSEC Global found that 92% saw the ‘smart home’ – whereby lighting, heating, alarms and other household functions are interconnected and remotely controlled via smartphone or PC – as a potential area for diversification. No surprise, then, that almost as many – 88% – would be more likely to attend IFSEC International if a dedicated home automation zone were introduced. “In the top end of the market, people are spending hundreds of thousands on smart home technology,” write one installer who completed the survey. “There are a few cheap end products out there, but the most important factor here is that products can be retro-fitted and not too expensive. “It would be great to see a security system that integrates as one package.  As far as we are aware this does not exist. We’ve been trying to push the home automation side, but are still seeking the right product.” A similar proportion – 86% – would visit if an area dedicated to ‘smart buildings’ – essentially the same concept applied to commercial premises – area were launched. Which is indeed what is happening, on both fronts: for the first time IFSEC International will feature a dedicated Smart Zone for its 2016 edition, comprising a replica ‘smart home’ fitted out with the latest home automation innovations from top exhibitors including Y3K, Lilin and Control 4.   Cont'd...

Shrinking Space in RF Poses Challenges to AV Integrators

By Kelleigh Welch for AV Network:  Picture your desk—you have a computer, a phone, a few folders with information about your latest project, a photo of your dog, all carefully arranged in their own designated space. Now cut the size of your desk in half—you can still fit everything in the space, it’s just a lot more cramped. Such is the case with the wireless spectrum as the FCC continues to auction off pieces designated for TV broadcast and wireless microphone systems. Currently, wireless systems have access to the 470 to 698 mHz frequencies, but on March 29, 2016, this range will get smaller as pieces are auctioned off to mobile broadband companies. So what does this mean for integrators? To start, with fewer frequencies to work with, integrators need to future proof their systems by choosing reliable and efficient wireless systems. “Right now, if you are designing or putting together a concept for an install, you need to choose systems that are spectrally efficient. You have to look for attributes that can serve your install, with a wide tuning coverage,” explained Nick Wood, category director for wireless systems, Shure.   Cont'd...

Most Popular Articles for 2015 - Did some of them predict the future?

Smart Homes, Robotics, Automation, Unmanned Vehicles, Solar and Wind Energy. Regardless of where you work or what you do, these topics are affecting your life and will continue to do so in the future.

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