Home Networking, Home Automation

Honywell Takes on Nest Thermostats

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Honywell Takes on Nest Thermostats

The Google-owned Nest gets some competition in so-called smart thermostats-- Honeywell takes on the device category with the Lyric, a similar thermostat promising potential customers both comfort and savings.

The first of a new range of Honeywell smartphone-controllable home products, the Lyric features a round design (a homage to 1950s Honeywell Round thermostats) with a bright display and colourful icons. The edges are touch-sensitive and act like a dial complete with clicking sounds, and likewise the face features touch-sensitive buttons.

Control comes via wifi using smartphone (iOS and Android) apps and what Honeywell calls "geofence"-- essentially location-based control, where the Lyrics switches to energy saving mode when the house is empty, and switches on heating or cooling according to user preferences when the homeowner is coming home.

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The iDevice Controlled… Ceiling Fan

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The iDevice Controlled… Ceiling Fan

Can anything escape the getting of iDevice-powered smarts? The amusingly named Big Ass Fans unveils "Haiku", supposedly the first "smart" iOS device-controllable ceiling fan.

The Haiku fan features "SenseMe", a temperature and humidity sensor-based system able to detect the Micro Environment (ME) of a particular space and adjust fan speeds for optimum cooling.

The system even switches the fan off if no one is around, and eventually learns user preferences during different times of the day.

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Apple and Google's Next Battleground?

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Apple and Google's Next Battleground?

The Apple 2014 Worldwide Developer Conference might involve more than OSX and iOS updates-- the Financial Times reports the event will have company revealing a "big play" in the home automation arena.

According to the FT's anonymous sources this will involve "a new software platform that would turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances." Apple already owns the patents for such a system featuring location-based control (via Bluetooth and iBeacon, perhaps?) of lighting and other connected devices.

The platform will even involve a "Made for iPhone"-style scheme for the makers of devices compatible with the system, and the company will emphasise privacy as a plus over Google's "multi-device future" plans, the FT continues.

Unsurprisingly Apple itself refuses to comment over the alleged plans, which might be a reaction to Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest and the Samsung Smart Home automation platform.

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A Device to Add Smarts to ACs

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A Device to Add Smarts to ACs

The German company behind the Tado° smart thermostat wants to add app-based smarts to AC systems with Tado° Cooling, a small piece of hardware providing a bridge between AC units and mobile devices.

Tado° says Cooling uses geolocation and a Bluetooth LE/iBeacon-based indoor positioning system to monitor home owners, and switches on/off AC units accordingly (for instance it can pre-cool the house when one is coming back from the office). It connects to smartphones via wifi, and replaces the AC's infrared remote to handle control duties.

According to the company the device is compatible with around 82% of legacy remote controlled AC units, including wall hanging, in-window or portable units.

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Nest Thermostat Steps Into Europe

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Nest Thermostat Steps Into Europe

Nest announces the availability of an updated version of the popular "learning thermostat" in the UK as part of "aggressive" expansion into the rest of the European continent.

The Nest has been available in N. American territories since 2011, but European release has been delayed by heating standard differences. Thus the UK Nest package includes an extra component-- the Heat Link, a wireless water boiler controller able to account for the residual heat effects, switching the boiler off before it actually reaches desired temperatures.

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A Robot for Your Garden

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A Robot for Your Garden

Automation should not be limited to inside the home the makers of Droplet say, the "first smart sprinkler system that combines the latest technology in robotics, cloud computing and connected services to transform the way sprinkler systems function."

According to the company Droplet lowers sprinkler water consumption by up to 90% via the combination of user configuration and an online plant database. Users set the types of plants to be taken care of via web-based interface, and the sprinkler checks an online database to determine the optimal amount of watering each species requires.

It even connects to weather services to hold off watering duties in case of rain, and the online interface provides further garden analytics such as water consumption and (potential) savings reports.

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Neato Updates Robot Vacuums

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Neato Updates Robot Vacuums

The Neato Robotics robot vacuum lineup gets a refresh and a technology addition-- the renamed BotVac features "BotVision" laser mapping technology in order to scan rooms and plan out optimal cleaning routes.

The technology is based on SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping), the same system found in the Google driverless cars.

The D-shaped BotVac features a larger brush (by 50% compared to the competition, Neato claims) allowing it to clean within 10mm of walls, with a side brush to pick up even more dust.

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Savant Intros Smart Series Automation

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Savant Intros Smart Series Automation

Savant reveals how it will take on broader audiences with the Smart Series, a whole-house control and automation product line promising to lower installation costs while still built on the company's technology and experience.

"As market awareness for the home automation category has expanded, our objective is to bring the most innovative smart home control to more and more people," Savant CEO William Lynch says. "The Smart Series delivers total Savant Smart Home performance at much more accessible price points, and offers our valued integrators an opportunity to delight more customers with home control while growing their businesses."

The first Smart Series product is the Smart Host remote and controller hub. It enables the automation and management of home theatres, music, security, thermostats, lights, energy management, automated shades and more, with control via single iOS and Android app.

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Vuzix V720 Video Headphone Win CES Awards

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Vuzix V720 Video Headphone  Win CES Awards

Vuzix’s V720 video headphone wins two 2014 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards in the “Headphones” and “Wireless Handset Accessories” Product Categories.

This is the 10th consecutive year Vuzix has won a CES Innovation award and increases the total to 16 awards received over that time, including “Best of Innovation” last year for the highly-acclaimed M100 Smart Glasses.

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Google Buys Nest

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Google Buys Nest

It appears Google is serious about home automation after all-- or at least serious enough to cough up $3.2 billion in cash for Nest Labs, the home hardware maker founded by iPod creators Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers.

The company is known for the smart thermostat sharing its name and the Protect smoke detector. As a Google press release on the acquisition puts it, the two devices "reinvent unloved but important devices" through improved sensors, internet connectivity and clever algorithms. In other words, Google's bread and butter.

“We’re thrilled to join Google," Nest CEO Tony Fadell says. "With their support, Nest will be even better placed to build simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.” Fadell and Rogers will remain Nest leaders, and the company will retain its brand identity following completion of the acquisition.

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Archos Takes on Home Automation

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Archos Takes on Home Automation

Low-cost tablet maker Archos presents a Smart Home platform at CES 2014-- one making connecting cameras and variety of sensors to an Android home gateway via Bluetooth LE.

The gateway device is a 7-inch Android tablet with built-in temperature and humidity sensors, as well as Bluetooth, dual-band wifi and Wifi Direct connectivity. Customers can also also control the system with regular iOS or Android devices running the Archos Smart Home app.

Sensors offered by Archos include a Mini-Cam (captures images or short videos), Motion Ball (indoor/outdoor motion detector), Weather Tag (tracks temperature and humidity), Movement Tag (respond to contact closure) and Smart Plug (turns appliances on/off and monitors energy consumption).

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