Home Networking, Home Automation

A Mother for the IoT

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A Mother for the IoT

Move over Mother of Dragons, CES 2014 just introduced us to our new favourite semi-maternal figure-- "Mother," a motion-sensing device promising to be nothing less than the Mother of the Internet of Things.

Looking like a cross between a Russian nesting doll and girl robot EVE from Pixar's WALL-E, Mother does like mothers do and follows all one does. To do so she uses "cookies," small wireless motion and temperature sensors. The idea goes that users attach cookies to any objects, and in turn Mother keeps track of habits and warns of changes.

Among the examples developer Sen.se (founded by Nabaztag creator Rafi Haladjian) gives are checking whether a door is open or closed, keeping track of how much coffee is being drunk or even making sure one is brushing their teeth well. Cookies communicate with both Mother and to each other via wifi, and in turn the Mother unit does the digital equivalent of nagging through the medium of smartphone alerts.

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A Switch for the Smart Era

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A Switch for the Smart Era

Software developer Goldee steps into the hardware arena with the Goldee Light Controller-- a minimalist black square promising to be the switch for the gesture-controlled smart lighting era.

Inside the controller are multiple sensors (proximity, ambient, sound volume, motion), an AMOLED display and a processor turning information from the sensors into Nest-style "smart functions that respond to your lighting needs." In other words, it can turn the light off when the room is empty and turns them back on when the room's occupants return.

It also offers various lighting presets such as a Sunrise Alarm (simulates sunrise to make waking up easier) a Sleep Timer (naturally fades light to encourage sleep) and a Night Mode (turns on dim lights if one wakes up in the middle of the night).

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Belkin Ships WeMo Insight Switch

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Belkin Ships WeMo Insight Switch

Belkin adds a smart(er) switch to its home automation portfolio-- the WeMo Insight Switch, a wifi-enabled number allowing customers to turn devices on or off, program custom notifications and remotely change device status.

In other words the Insight Switch is an updated, smaller version of the 2012 Home Control Switch. Like the previous model it connects to the internet via home wifi network, and provides full control via Android or iOS app.

An IFTTT.com channel provides users with a simple means of brewing up "recipes" providing additional functionality, such as switching on a heater when one wakes up or turning off a device after a certain amount of time.

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What Nest Did Next

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What Nest Did Next

Around 2 years ago iPod creators Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers presented the Nest intelligent thermostat. Now the duo shift their efforts towards the humble smoke alarm, launching the Protect internet-connected smoke detector.

Clearly wanting to do what the Nest did to thermostats, the Protect makes smoke alarms more interesting-- if not more sexy, since instead of howling in alarm the Protect informs of emergencies by speaking in a human voice, with messages such as "heads-up, there’s smoke in the bedroom” or “emergency, there’s smoke.”

The default language is English, but it can also speak in French or Spanish.

Wifi connectivity allows it to forward alerts to smartphones via Nest app or connect with Nest thermostats to automatically turn heating off in case of carbon monoxide detection.

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The Next Automation Contender: Staples

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The Next Automation Contender: Staples

The home automation arena gets what perhaps is an unlikely contender-- Staples, the retailer best known for (wait for it!) staples of the office supply variety launches the Staples Connect automation product family.

According to the retailer Connect is a "universal way to connect [the] home." It combines products from a number of vendors, starting off from a Zonoff (designers of the Somfy TaHoma system) iOS and Android app platform on top of a Linksys-built hub device.

The hub connects to routers via ethernet and to various other devices using either wifi, Z-wave and Clear Connect. Staples says it is already compatible with a large number of products, including security cameras, DoorBot wifi camera doorbells, Yale smart door locks, Honeywell thermostats, Lutron window shades, dimmers and switches, and Philips Hue colour-changing LED lighting.

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HDMI 2.0 Makes IFA Debut

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HDMI 2.0 Makes IFA Debut

The HDMI Forum announces the next generation of HDMI specification at IFA 2013-- with new features including 4K@50/60 (2160p) video, 32 audio channels, dynamic auto lip-sync and CEC extensions.

It also handles audio frequencies of up to 1536kHz, dual video streams (for multiple users on a single screen), multi-stream audio to 4 simultaneous users and 21:9 widescreen video.

HDMI 2.0 connectors and cables are backwards-compatible with the first generation, and current high speed (category 2) cables can carry the increased bandwidth.

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Home Automation Via Google TV

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Home Automation Via Google TV

Customers wanting to find further use for a Google TV unit might be interested in the Enbling, a USB dongle able to turn such devices into a home automation control hub.

It connects to various devices (such as door locks, lighting systems, IP cameras, sensors) via Z-Wave and provides a control environment on top of the Android-based Google TV interface.

A companion app turns Android smartphones Continue reading...

BitWise Intros Room Remote

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BitWise Intros Room Remote

Customers get a new means of controlling BitWise-connected devices-- the Room Remote, a traditional-looking handheld RF remote complete with keys for common audio and visual functions.

It connects with BitWise controllers via RF base station, meaning it does not require line-of-site.

An intuitive design allows the control of rooms through both the remote and BitWise apps, with the remote and apps staying in sync during use-- the system automatically transfers selections made via control app to the remote and vice versa.

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One Hub to Control Everything

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One Hub to Control Everything

Wifi, ZigBee, Z-Wave-- so many wireless protocols, so many devices using either one or the other. Now a startup tries to combine most of them with Revolv, a control system packing 7 radios in a single automation hub.

The idea behind the Revolv Smart Home Solution is simple. While wireless technology makes life easier, it also involves a mess of protocols, controllers and apps. The Revolv, on the other hand, uses a single hub device in combination with an iOS app and a cloud-based backend.

Once the hub is plugged in it connects to wifi to automatically discover connected devices. The app shows a separate icon for each device, and one can add further devices through push-button pairing to app and hub.

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WigWag Kickstarts Automation Control

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WigWag Kickstarts Automation Control

A Texas-based startup has an interesting connected home control proposition with WigWag, a sensor and hub package allowing users to create own automation rules via mobile device app and a simple web-based GUI.

As well as the app the WigWag system contains 3 components-- the Relay, Sensor Block and Glowline. The basic idea involves sensors working with the Relay to trigger user-defined actions, be it sending a tweet or switching lights on or off.

The Relay is a wireless hub connecting the system and 3rd party devices to a subscription-based WigWag cloud service. It connects to online services including email and Twitter, and communicates with devices via wifi, IP, RS-232, Z-Wave and Bluetooth.

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CEA Wants Own Standard for Connected Home

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CEA Wants Own Standard for Connected Home

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) kicks off the R7.8 Working Group 2-- a group busy working on "a new standard to enable home electronics to communicate energy use data to smart energy management systems and apps."

Called CE-Energy Usage Information (CE-EUI), the standard will, at least so far, conform to the No. American energy standards (NAESB-EUI) forming the basis of the national Green Button initiative.

“Product manufacturers already understand how much energy a device will use during operation, based on its design,” the CEA says. “By programming that information into the device and enabling the device to calculate how much energy it uses over time, manufacturers can help homeowners accurately capture the data for their energy management systems and applications.” Continue reading...

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