Home automation Stories March 16, 2016

Ring slims down and specs up its iPhone-linked doorbell with 1080p video, 5GHz Wi-Fi, more zones

Dom reviewed Ring’s iPhone-linked Video Doorbell last year, and was impressed. I was too, with two minor complaints: video is 720p rather than full HD, and it only connects to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks.

Home automation Stories February 18, 2016

Use your iPhone to control any AA-powered device with this simple $10 adapter

HomeKit-certified devices are the slickest way to control your technology, but if you have any dumb technology powered by AA batteries, you can now remotely switch it on and off using your iPhone.

The Tethercell AA Smart Battery Adapter is a really simple idea. Replace one of the device’s AA batteries with this adapter, which takes a smaller AAA battery, and you can then switch it on and off from an app on your iPhone.

It’s Bluetooth LE rather than Wi-Fi, so range will be limited (the company claims 50-60 feet), but if the device is close enough, it’s a cheap and easy way to add remote control functionality. It’s compatible with all iPhones from the 4S onward.

The adapter costs $20 for two from Amazon.

Via BGR

Home automation Stories December 15, 2015

GE-link

Update: Philips has done a U-turn, stating that it “under-estimated the impact this would have on a small number of customers who use lights from other brands” and has decided to reverse the upgrade. It said that it is “working on the reversal of the upgrade and will shortly confirm when this will be available.” The Friends of Hue program will continue, with Bosch, Logitech and Samsung SmartThings having joined so far, adding to existing partnerships with Apple and Nest.

An update to the Philips Hue system has blocked access to some third-party bulbs, including GE Link LED (above) and Cree Connected LED, citing ‘interoperability issues.’ While existing bulbs already linked to the Philips Hue Bridge will continue to work for now, the system is not currently allowing additional bulbs to be added, and Philips says there are no guarantees that this won’t change in future updates.

We are seeing an increasing number of interoperability issues with these untested third party products, which are causing increasing confusion for our installed base. They are also hampering our ongoing development and damaging the consistency of experience for the Philips Hue ecosystem. Next to confusing differences in setup and resetting, we’ve encountered a number of such issues over the years including 3rd party lights which do not turn off when we fade them to off, lights which do not react correctly to scene recalls and lights which stop proper functioning of our Wireless Dimmer Kits.

This will disappoint many, as one of the promises of the Hue system was support for third-party bulbs. All is not yet lost, however …

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Home automation Stories October 5, 2015

D2-Heart-of-your-Hue-system-square

Siri voice control is finally coming to Philips Hue connected light bulbs thanks to promised HomeKit support and a new bridge product. Details have been surfacing over the last month with product listings going up a day early, and today Philips is ready to officially reveal how it’s bringing HomeKit support to Hue bulbs and lamps. As expected, Hue bulb owners will be able to upgrade to the new Philips Hue Bridge 2.0 to enable using Siri to control Hue lights. The new, square-shaped bridge works similar to the old, round bridge — connecting to up to 50 bulbs  only with HomeKit support included even for existing bulbs and plans to support future home platforms as well. expand full story

Home automation Stories September 28, 2015

Netflix unveils its DIY ‘Netflix and Chill’ button

Netflix has shown off a one-touch ‘move time’ button that switches on Netflix, dims the lights and puts your iPhone into Do Not Disturb mode. The button was introduced at the 2015 World Maker Faire, and the company has released the plans to enable you to build your own. It is also inviting idea for further one-touch buttons.

It was done as a PR stunt, of course, but the button does have a serious side – showing the kind of intelligence we can look forward to when Apple’s HomeKit starts integrating control of our smart home products. Being able to use Siri to control lights is nice, but homes will really be smart when we can say things like ‘Romantic dinner’ and have it set the lights, play the right music and keep the kids occupied upstairs by unlocking their favourite games.

Via Engadget

Home automation Stories July 22, 2015

homekit-security

If you were wondering why manufacturers seemed to be rather slow in launching HomeKit-compatible devices, it may all be down to Apple’s stringent security requirements. Forbes reports that manufacturers are finding it hard to incorporate the extremely secure encryption standards demanded by Apple in order to achieve MFi certification for their products.

Apple is requiring device makers using both WiFi and Bluetooth LE to use complicated encryption with 3072-bit keys, as well as the super secure Curve25519, which is an elliptic curve used for digital signatures and exchanging encrypted keys.

While mains-powered WiFi kit is coping, the processing workload in battery-powered Bluetooth LE devices is leading to extremely slow response times, say manufacturers …  expand full story

Home automation Stories July 7, 2015

HomeKit-compatible version of Ecobee 3 smart thermostat goes on sale in Apple Stores today

The HomeKit-compatible version of the Ecobee 3 smart thermostat, officially announced last month, goes on sale in U.S. Apple Stores today, reports The Verge. Apple has sold the original version since November of last year. The HomeKit-enabled model allows the thermostat to be controlled by Siri.

While Apple’s online store listing has not yet been updated to mention HomeKit-compatibility, it’s likely that the new version will ship from there too.

HomeKit was officially documented by Apple last month, the company confirming our report that the Apple TV would act as the gateway device. The support page has since been updated with a full list of Siri commands.

You can read the full press release below.

Via The Verge

Home automation Stories July 6, 2015

9to5Toys Last Call: Belkin WeMo switches from $31, iPad Air 2 $359, Sennheiser Momentum $70, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

Today’s can’t miss deals:

Last Call Updates:

WD Elements 2TB USB 3.0 Hard Drive $70, Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD $150more

Amazon Gold Box – up to 38% off Belkin WeMo devices with prices starting at $31 Prime shipped (Reg. $50)

iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 16GB $359 or 64GB $499, iPhone 6/Plus w/ free $150 GC on installment or $70 off w/ 2-yr contract

iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB in Silver: $449 shipped (Orig. $929)

Best Buy 4-Day Sale: 13″ Retina MacBook Pro 256GB $1,350 & 21″ iMac 1TB $1,150 + extra $100 off w/ .edu

Sennheiser Momentum headphones: on-ears $70 (Reg. $80+), over-ears (open-box) $120 (Reg. $170), more

GoPro’s new HERO4 Session waterproof action camera is the size of an ice cube with an iceberg-sized price

Amazon is throwing itself a birthday party so big it’ll make you forget about Black Friday

More new gear from today:

SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive: 32GB $40 (Reg. $80), 64GB $55 (Reg. $120)

Samsung 64GB PRO Class 10 Memory: SDXC $30 shipped (Reg. $46+), microSD $38 shipped (Reg. $47)

Games/Apps: Dragon Age Inquisition $30, Logitech Optical Gaming Mouse $30 (Reg. $70), iOS freebies, more

Daily Deals: CyberPower 1500VA/900-Watt UPS $98, Google Chromecast $25 w/ pick up, more

More deals still alive:

Logitech Master MX Wireless Mouse $87 shipped (Reg. $100)

Apple is giving away free downloads of iOS cooking app Green Kitchen ($5 value)

App Store Free App of the Week: Star Walk 2 goes free for the first time ($3 value)

Bloons Tower Defense 5 for iPhone/iPad goes free (Reg. $3/$5)

App Store promo – Great Games 50% off: Halo Spartan Strike $3 (Reg. $6)more

Readdle launches Scanner Pro 6 for iOS w/ release day pricing: $3 (Reg. $6)

New products & more:

Amazon is now treating its Prime members to extra savings on new/upcoming video game

Home automation Stories June 8, 2015

Philips says HomeKit coming to Hue in the fall, existing lights will be compatible

Philips has confirmed on Facebook that it will be adding HomeKit support to its iPhone-controlled Hue lighting system – and that existing lights will be compatible.

The post gives no specific details, but in response to a customer question about whether existing Hue lights will work with HomeKit, Philips confirmed that they will.

Yes, the solution we are working on will work with all your existing and new Hue lights. To get details about how your existing Philips Hue products will work with HomeKit, please follow us on Twitter or Facebook

The most likely approach is that Philips will offer a hub to act as a bridge between HomeKit and existing Hue products. The company says that it will reveal full details in September.

An Apple support document recently confirmed expectations that the Apple TV will act as a HomeKit gateway for controlling devices from outside the home.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHvgtAcZl6g&feature=youtu.be]

Home automation Stories June 2, 2015

elgato

Elgato has announced pricing for its range of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices, and made them available for pre-order. Sources told us last week that the first HomeKit devices would go on sale this week, but with no indication of delivery times, Elgato doesn’t appear to be one of the roughly five companies expected to begin shipping later today.

Elgato first announced last September that it would be making HomeKit devices, and has now revealed pricing on four products, ranging from door/window sensors for $39.95 to a room sensor – measuring temperature, humidity and air quality – for $79.95 …  expand full story

Home automation Stories May 14, 2015

homekit

While Apple has never announced an official launch date for HomeKit, its Siri-controlled home automation platform first introduced alongside iOS 8, a new report claims that products will be delayed as Apple runs into some roadblocks.

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Home automation Stories May 12, 2015

WWDC-Homekit-01

Broadcom today announced that its new SDK for the Internet of Things (IoT) now officially supports Apple’s home automation HomeKit platform, bringing us a step closer to widespread availability of Siri-controlled smart home devices.

Broadcom notes that its SDK is the first to officially support HomeKit specs for WiFi and Bluetooth Smart accessories, allowing developers to use its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform to build apps for Apple’s new Siri-controlled, home automation platform. They will also be able to build products that double as a hardware bridge for non-HomeKit accessories.  expand full story

Home automation Stories April 9, 2015

Tado smart thermostat app gets smarter with multiple temperatures in the day

The app for the Tado smart thermostat, which I reviewed back in 2013, just got a little smarter.

You like to have it cozy and warm when you enjoy your evening on the sofa but a cooler temperature is preferable during the day? No problem, with the new multi-temperature feature tado° now lets you create different temperatures for different times of the day. Just select the times and the temperatures and label them accordingly.

Perfect for me, as my home office is upstairs and 2C warmer than the living-room downstairs, so now I can set it for 19C during working hours (which means 21C in the office), and 21C in the evenings. It still automatically turns down the temperature when everyone is out, of course.

Home automation Stories March 16, 2015

Tado smart thermostat gets IFTTT channel and API, can now control other devices

Tado, the smart thermostat system I reviewed back in 2013, now has an IFTTT channel and an API, allowing it to control other home automation devices.

Tado° users will soon be able to connect their tado° Smart Thermostat to other appliances via IFTTT. This will enable the use of the tado° geolocation feature for purposes other than smart heating or cooling. In the very near future, when a tado° user leaves the house, not only will the heating automatically go to savings mode, but simultaneously the lights switch off, the alarm system activates, the garage door locks and landline calls reroute to their mobile.

The company says that the API will allow developers to integrate Tado into other home automation apps. The company is also working on HomeKit support.

IFTTT introduced three simplified apps last month to make the service more accessible to non-technical users, while rebranding its full-fat app as IF.

Home automation Stories January 22, 2015

WWDC-Homekit-01

Apple will allow its upcoming Siri-controlled HomeKit platform to work with certain existing, non-HomeKit home automation products, including ones using competing protocols such as ZigBee or Z-Wave, but there are many limitations. According to sources briefed on the new specs, the latest Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program specifications detail the types of home automation products other than HomeKit that Apple will permit to interact with its platform.

During the 2014 WWDC, Apple briefly mentioned the possibility of connecting rival home automation products to HomeKit using a hardware “bridge,” but only in recent weeks has clarified the types of accessories that will and will not be allowed. expand full story

Home automation Stories January 8, 2015

roost-smart-battery

The plethora of smart home devices at CES makes it clear that home automation is an idea whose time has finally come. It seems there’s almost no household device now that can’t be controlled by, or at least communicate with, an iPhone.

The only downside is the expense of having to replace your perfectly good dumb devices with smart versions. This is the problem the Roost Smart Battery set out to solve, a WiFi-enabled 9v battery allowing your existing smoke alarm to send alerts to your iPhone when it’s triggered, so you get alerted even if the alarm is at the other end of the house or you’re away from home …  expand full story

Home automation Stories January 7, 2015

At WWDC 2014, Apple first announced HomeKit which it describes as a “framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories” around your home, and we’re starting to see the first HomeKit-enabled accessories announced. HomeKit is especially interesting as smart devices that use it can be controlled by Siri commands like “turn off the lights” or “lock the front door” and actions can even be grouped together. Below you’ll find our running list of the latest gadgets from CES 2015 to bring HomeKit automation and Siri integration to your home: expand full story

Home automation Stories January 6, 2015

BoltWe saw Misfit introduce a unique, luxury version of its Shine fitness and sleep tracking wearable with Swarovski at CES yesterday, and today Misfit is launching Bolt—its first smart bulb. Misfit describes Bolt as ” a wirelessly connected color-changing light bulb that lets users personalize their home lighting.” Misfit points out that its Bolt connected light bulbs won’t require a hub and actually integrate with the company’s existing sleep tracking devices (Shine, Flash, Beddit) to gently wake you up with lighting during light sleep. expand full story

HomeKit, Apple’s framework for connecting automation accessories and Siri together, is already proving to be a big hit at CES 2015. Today home automation company Insteon unveiled its own HomeKit plans as part of the Consumer Electronics Show. Specifically, Insteon announced its new app that will support the automation framework allowing you to control any HomeKit-enabled device. Additionally, the company announced its new HomeKit-enabled Insteon Hub. expand full story

Home automation Stories January 5, 2015

wemo-sensors

Belkin has announced four new products for its WeMo home automation range, with a focus on home security. You won’t be able to get your hands on them for a while, though: they aren’t set to go on sale until the second half of the year.

All four new products are sensors, capable of sending alerts to the WeMo app and triggering other WeMo devices such as switches, plug sockets and lightbulbs …  expand full story

Home automation Stories December 10, 2014

iDevices talks working w/ Apple to fast track HomeKit product development w/ its own SDK

Apple introduced HomeKit during its WWDC Keynote presentation last June. Since then we’ve heard HomeKit-enabled chips are on the move, but you still can’t buy a HomeKit-certified device. They are on the way, however, as Apple just started accepting product plans from manufacturers following a yearly summit for companies in its Made-for-iPhone program.

iDevices, maker of the iGrill, is hoping it’ll help push HomeKit into the mainstream. Since early last year, the Connecticut-based company has invested over 10 million dollars into HomeKit development and has been closely working with Apple to create its own HomeKit SDK. We recently spoke with the CEO of iDevices to learn more about how the company is working with Apple to build its own HomeKit SDK meant to help fast track hardware product development for the platform.

Home automation Stories November 26, 2014

holiday gift guide smart home products 2014

I wondered earlier this year whether Apple’s HomeKit system would bring home automation to the masses. The good news is that you don’t need to wait for HomeKit to start bringing smart home technology to your family and friends – and we’ve put together a gift guide covering some of the main products that might bring a smile to their faces during the holidays.

With the right gadgets, they will be able to control lighting, heating, cooking, sound systems … even have their kettle switch on when they walk up to their front door, which will automatically unlock as they approach. Best of all, you can get them in on the smart home action from just $30 …

expand full story

Home automation Stories November 21, 2014

Screenshot 2014-02-11 20.59.55

The Jawbone UP bracelet has been on the market for three years receiving improvements every year. The Jawbone UP 24 received a major update: Bluetooth LE. Initially to sync the data onto the phone, the user had to plug the band into the phone’s headphone jack and wait, typically about fifteen seconds, for the data to sync into the app.

Now, since the UP 24 has Bluetooth LE capabilities, it is compatible with the iPhone 4S and later, the fifth generation iPod Touch, the third generation iPad and newer as well as the iPad Minis. Jawbone has made the UP 24 to be compatible with Android phones. Bluetooth LE allows the band to automatically connect with the Jawbone UP app.

expand full story

Home automation Stories November 18, 2014

littleBits introduces its own DIY Smart Home Kit, a look at your options for creating an internet-connected home

 

From 9to5Toys.com:

Home automation possibilities are endless and what our homes will be like in the coming 5, 10 or 15 years is truly unknown. It is a constantly evolving sector of the technology scene that continues to grow each day with every new product announcement. From WeMo to SmartThings, Z-Wave to ZigBee, someone somewhere has something that will satisfy your home automation needs.

The reality is that we are in a time of great change, with internet-connected offerings in nearly every product category, even coffee makers. It’s an industrial revolution happening in your home and with that comes a lot of trial and naturally, error. So how does one choose?

There seems to be two options, one for the basic consumer, which includes your WeMo outlets, Philips Hue, etc. On the flip side you’ve got the open source crowd that wants to tinker and tweak and create their own system, and this is where littleBits comes in. While most of the aforementioned products have structured ecosystems and physical designs, with the ability to communicate via If This Then That (IFTTT) or the like, littleBits has gone to the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

We’ve covered littleBits in the past, with its WiFi-enabled cloudBit that “snaps the internet to anything”, allowing for custom Sonos-esque or Nest-like creations. At first glance its whole line of products feels overwhelming, and would appear to scare off anyone that was not familiar with the goals of littleBits. Today, they’ve expanded that line of Bits with the hopes of fully empowering consumers to create any home automation system that they’d like.

With the $249 Smart Home Kit from littleBits, consumers can get their hands on a 14 module set filled with sensors, LEDs, transmitters and sound triggers. At first glance, it is admittedly a little overwhelming. But once you take the time to dig into the possibilities that littleBits affords users, it is easy to see why its route to home automation can give consumers a massive amount of freedom. Instead of being locked in to an ecosystem, trying to trigger your WeMo when the Nest thermostat says you are home, littleBits is attempting to put all that power in your own hands. With that, comes the need for setup and the required desire to build your own system.

If you don’t know or are not willing to learn how to, then some of those other offerings from WeMo or SmartThings may be better suited for you. If you are into the this level of customization, you’ll want to check out littleBits’ offerings.

The basic setup allows users to specifically configure their system to their own specifications by piecing together individual modules that help trigger different actions. For example, utilizing the USB power module, MP3 player, a speaker and a ‘servo’ you can create a blind-opening-music-playing wakeup system. A number+, USB power, temperature sensor, cloudBit combo will allow you to control your window air conditioner. You get the idea, the possibilities are endless.

littleBits offers the $249 Smart Home Kit for pre-order starting today, with an estimated ship date of early December. Amazon has the entire line of littleBits products, available as full kits or individual pieces.

A good comparison for the littleBits line of products is the recently released Belkin WeMo Maker, which applies many of the same DIY principles to home automation. Although it does not offer some of the customization features, such as an MP3 player or speakers, it does have a more advanced level of hackability within the confines of the WeMo ecosystem.

Ultimately, we end this article where we started it, with consumer choice. Creating a home automation system is both exciting and daunting, and consumers have to make the choice for what is best for them. One positive of the current smart home landscape is the massive amount of choice afforded to consumers. The good news is that this encourages competition, which is good news for anyone considering going this route.

It’s hard to tell when the home automation market will become more focused and universal. Perhaps Apple’s HomeKit will play a role in that development once it is released. But in a world where Google and Samsung are buying interests in this area, a segregated marketplace is likely for the foreseeable future.

Full PR from littleBits:

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