Home Networking, Home Automation

A Universal Language for the IoT

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A Universal Language for the IoT

The ZigBee Alliance takes to CES to unveil Dotdot-- a "universal language" for the devices making the Internet of Things (IoT), first seen at the show running over a Thread IP-based network.

As announcement release puts it, the majority of IoT devices do not "speak" the same language, even if they use the same wireless technology. This leads to arguably needless complexity for developers, while limiting customers to single-vendor systems. Enter Dotdot, an application layer at the heart of ZigBee technology developers can apply across other IoT networks.

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Ledvance Intros HomeKit-Enabled Smart Bulb

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Ledvance Intros HomeKit-Enabled Smart Bulb

Lighting vendor Ledvance presents the Sylvania Smart Multicolor A19-- a HomeKit-enabled smart bulb customers can control via Siri or Home app, without need for a separate hub controller.

Installation promises to be very easy, since one simply needs to screw the bulb in place before syncing with HomeKit. The bulb works when users are both inside or outside the home, with a connected Apple TV or iOS 10-enabled iPad acting as a hub for remote control. Customers can combine the Sylvania smart bulbs with other HomeKit-enabled devices to create custom scenes through the Home app, such as an "I'm on my way home" command activating lights, unlocking the door and turning on the thermostat.

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Elgato Intros HomeKit-Enabled Eve Motion Sensor

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Elgato Intros HomeKit-Enabled Eve Motion Sensor

Elgato announces the Eve Motion-- an Apple HomeKit-enabled wireless motion sensor customers can place anywhere in the house, indoor or outdoors, thanks to IPX 3 water resistance.

The Eve Motion is a small, square-shaped device able to pair with other HomeKit accessories via Bluetooth LE, with no bridge/hub device required. It runs on x2 AA batteries, has a 120-degree field of view and 9m range, with response time of 2 seconds.

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The HomeKit-Enabled Apache Fan

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The HomeKit-Enabled Apache Fan

Hunter Fan announces a HomeKit-enabled wifi-connected ceiling fan-- the Apache, a second such fan from the company following the Signal, an offering first seen back at CES 2016.

HomeKit connectivity allows users to remotely control fans either individually or within groups via Home app or Siri on iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. Customers can also set groups of HomeKit-enabled products able to work together according to triggers, so the fan light can switch on when the fire alarm detects smoke, or automatically turn on the fan light when the front doors are locked.

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Netatmo Monitors Home Air Quality

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Netatmo Monitors Home Air Quality

French hardware startup Netatmo announces a means for customers to monitor indoor air quality-- the Healthy Home Coach, a cylindrical device acting as a climate monitor for the home.

Similar in shape and size to Netatmo's Welcome Camera, the Healthy Home Coach records air quality, humidity, temperature and noise data, before offering advice on how to improve indoor quality of life based on the companion mobile device app. After all, according to the company a poorly ventilated room can lead to high indoor pollution, dry air can cause itchy skin and humid air encourages the growth of mold.

Users can also set different profiles depending on the use of the room in question-- for instance, the device can be more sensitive if used in a room occupied by a baby or a child with asthma.

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iDevices Bundles Smart Home Essentials

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iDevices Bundles Smart Home Essentials

iDevices announces as a simpler means for introducing customers to possibilites of connected devices-- Smart Home Essentials, a kit packaging ten light bulb adapters and plugs together with necessary support.

The specific devices included the Smart Home Essentials kit are x3 iDevices Switches (indoor connected plugs), x5 Switches (indoor connected plugs) and x2 Outdoor Switches (rain-tight connected plugs). All are compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa, and require no additional central hub or gateway.

A companion iDevices app allows users to add devices to home networks, securely pair them with smartphones or tablets, add them to a room, set dynamic schedules, and add custom photos and names. All devices are compatible with other products with HomeKit and Alexa support.

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Apple Plans Amazon Echo-Style Smart Home Device?

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Apple Plans Amazon Echo-Style Smart Home Device?

Bloomberg reports Apple plans to put Siri in another kind of device-- an Amazon Echo-style microphone-equipped speaker allowing the voice control of smart home devices.

According to anonymous sources the device has been in development for over 2 years, and is currently going through the prototyping stage. However plans for the device are not finalised, meaning it might end up scrapped should Apple be unhappy with the results. That said, the prototypes are reportedly advanced enough to find use in secret tests at the homes of Apple engineers.

But how will Apple differentiate its voice-controlled speaker from similar offerings by Amazon and Google? Two Bloomberg sources point out "more advanced" microphone and speaker technology. Another interesting possibility is facial recognition sensors powered by technology from recent Apple acquisitions Faceshift and Emotient.

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Control Philips Hue Lights With Motion Sensor

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Control Philips Hue Lights With Motion Sensor

Lazier customers wanting an automated means to control Philips Hue lighting products get a solution in the shape of a motion sensor, a first official solution of the sort from the company.

The Hue motion sensor is a small white device powered by x2 AA batteries. Users can mount it or place it wherever required, and it handles the simple task of motion detection, switching lighting on/off when people are or are not in a room. Setup should be simple enough through companion Hue app, letting one pick the specific lights to switch on when triggered by the sensor and how long lights should remain on when the room is empty.

Users can pair up to 12 motion sensors with a single Hue bridge.

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IFTTT Opens Integration With Other Apps

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IFTTT Opens Integration With Other Apps

The If This Then That (IFTTT) platform opens up for integration with 3rd party services and apps, making the creation of "recipes" easier through the companion app of the device/s in question.

As a result users will be able to save IFTTT rules directly into the device's app, setting up automatic processes combining multiple devices without need to shift between apps. Currently partner apps include Ring, Qapital, Foobot, Garageio, Automatic, Awair, Skybell, LIFX, Bloomsky, Roger, Abode and Stack Lighting.

For example, now one can sync the Garageio app with a 3rd party weather services, and set up the garage door to automatically close whenever it is raining. The app also logs all garage door activity on a spreadsheet for easy reference.

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A Single Switch for Smart Home Control

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A Single Switch for Smart Home Control

Logitech presents what one can describe as an extremely simple means for smart home control-- the Pop Home Switch, a battery-powered wall-mounted button able to handle up to 3 controls based on a single tap, double-tap or long press.

The switch connects to a dedicated bridge hub via Bluetooth LE, which in turn pairs with a number of home automation devices from the likes of Philips, LIFX, August, Sonos, Lutron, Insteon, Belkin and, obviously, Logitech's own Harmony lineup (no Apple HomeKit compatibility is available as yet, alas). Configuration comes through iOS and Android apps.

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A BIG-i Robot to Automate the Home

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A BIG-i Robot to Automate the Home

The BIG-i might look like a trash can with a large eye instead of a lid, but maker Nxrobo says it is actually a means for controlling both the smart home and the family's schedule.

As one might expect, the BIG-i is voice activated and responds to a variety of custom commands, including IFTTT-style instructions. An promotional video sees users asking the robots to switch lighting on and off, alerting users in case a visitor comes over or even summon another robot (in this case a Roomba) to clean up a household accident. It also includes gesture and voice recognition, meaning it should only obey commands from its owners.

The actual robot stands around 70cm tall and has a soft, fabric-covered body. It sees the world through a 720p camera complete with 3D visual system, and includes wifi and Bluetooth connectivity for pairing with any number of home devices. A battery provides up to 5 hours of use, and the BIG-i trundles back to its charging dock when power is low.

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