SmartThings Stories September 3, 2015

Samsung launches next-gen SmartThings Hub with 10-hour backup battery, new iPhone app

SmartThings, Samsung’s answer to Apple’s HomeKit, got some valuable stage time at IFA in Berlin this morning, with the announcement of a brand new SmartThings Hub.

The hardware has been revamped, and no longer needs a connection to the cloud in order to work. What’s more, it’s got a built in backup battery capable of giving you 10 hours use in the event that you have a power cut.  The new Hub is available to order today and was launched alongside a handful of complimentary sensors for tracking water leaks and motion among other things.

Whether you have two smart devices or 200, all you need is one Hub to create a smart home. Like a live-in translator, the Hub communicates with all of your different connected products—regardless of their wireless protocol—so that you can easily monitor and control them from the SmartThings app.

Samsung’s new SmartThings hub has a more powerful processor enabling it to handle video streaming and sensor monitoring tasks without the cloud. With this feature in mind, Sammy also introduced its new Smart Home Monitor which lets users access a continuous vide live-stream and can trigger video recording when something unexpected happens. Only important video is saved for viewing, and early detection enables it to capture the footage before the event.

As well as new hardware, Samsung has released a new app for iPhone today, with an Apple Watch app expected in the near future. You can organize and control your connected devices by room, view live streaming from cameras and manage the routines right from the app. It’s probably worth noting that although the hub itself has a built-in battery capable of keeping it active during power outages, there’s little point to that feature if all the connected products also require power from the mains.

SmartThings is compatible with nearly 200 products, including the Amazon Echo, and devices from manufacturers like Bose, D-Link and Honeywell. It’s unlikely that many Apple owners will be tempted, but just in case there are, the SmartThings hub is available to buy from today for $99 from SmartThings.com or Amazon, with sensors priced between $30-$55.

SmartThings Stories January 5, 2015

9to5Toys Last Call: OtterBox iPhone 6/Plus cases $22+, MEElectronics headphones $11+, VIZIO 4K 55″ $1000, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the brand new 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:

OtterBox iPhone 6/Plus cases in multiple styles and colors from $22 Prime shipped

Amazon Gold Boxup to 67% off select MEElectronics fitness and fashion headphones

VIZIO Smart 240Hz LED HDTVs: 55-inch 4K UHDTV $1,000 (Reg. $1,400), 50-inch $500 (Reg. $700)

Review: SmartThings offers an open and flexible home automation experience with a few caveats

More new deals:

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SmartThings 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:

SmartThings Stories August 14, 2014

Samsung acquires iOS-connected home automation company SmartThings

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SmartThings

About a month ago, word broke that Samsung was interested in acquiring home automation firm SmartThings and today the two companies have made things official. A blog post by the company’s founder and CEO, Alex Hawkinson acknowledged the deal and stated that SmartThings will continue to act as an independent company under Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group.

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