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

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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

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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 …

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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.

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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:

Home automation Stories November 12, 2014

DIYers! Belkin WeMo ‘Maker’ brings smartphone remote and IFTTT functionality to nearly any device

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belkin-wemo-possibilites

At this point, we are all familiar with the Belkin WeMo line of products. They’ve been empowering consumers with smartphone-connected home automation products for some time now, from light switches to its newly released coffee maker.

While the WeMo line performs a number of simple tasks, it has not necessarily provided the level of open source capabilities that some consumers long for. Today, Belkin has taken a step in that direction with its new WeMo Maker.

This new product empowers DIYers to create their own custom WeMo setup, the possibilities truly seem endless.

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Home automation Stories October 20, 2014

9to5Toys Last Call: iSmartAlarm smart home system $125, best iPad Air 2 trade offer, RBI Baseball for iOS $2, more

Be sure to follow 9to5Toys to keep up with the best gear and deals on the web: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

Today’s can’t miss deals:

iSmartAlarm smart home system $125 shipped (Reg. $200)

Best Buy trade offer is the best way to jump from iPad 2 to iPad Air 2

R.B.I. Baseball 14 for iOS/Android $2 (Reg. $5)

iPhone 5 factory unlocked manufacturer refurbished w/ 1-yr Apple warranty from $330 shipped

MacMall has the new Mac Minis (starting at $494) and Retina iMac ($2494) slightly marked down with tax in few states

Marshall’s iconic vintage style comes to its most affordable Bluetooth speaker yet

Apple drops refurbished iPad pricing: Retina iPad mini from $249, more

Small States: Tinsel and Timber makes beautiful wooden homes for Apple TV and other accessories, multiple giveaways & 10% promo code

Other new deals:

More deals still:

New products/ongoing promos:

iPhone 6/Plus deals, accessories, and more:

Home automation Stories September 4, 2014

Withings’ new HomeKit-integrated video monitoring & environmental sensor device detects crying

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Withings, a company well-known for its line of iPhone-connected health and fitness tracking accessories, today announced a new video monitoring device with environmental sensors called  Home. While Home is a video monitoring solution that can be used for security, the company is also including some pretty unique features that it hopes will make your home both a healthier and safer environment. expand full story

Home automation Stories September 1, 2014

Elgato announces Eve home automation integrated with Apple’s HomeKit, Avea smart LED lights and Smart Power batteries

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elgato-eve-apple-homekit Everything has pretty much stopped in North America for Labor Day (except for perv hackers), but IFA 2014 is ramping up in Germany and Elgato is using this event to debut a new lineup of smart accessories. The announcement encompasses three major new products: Eve, Avea, and Smart Power.

Elgato Eve is easily the most compelling new product in this lineup. Through the use of several sensors, Avea monitors your home’s “air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, energy and water consumption.” These Bluetooth connected sensors report back to your iPhone or iPad via the Elgato Eve app. And here’s the best part, it will be fully compatible with Apple HomeKit… expand full story

Home automation 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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Home automation Stories August 6, 2014

Review: iKettle, the iPhone-controlled kettle for gadget-loving tea drinkers

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Any tea drinker will know the experience. You wander into the kitchen to put the kettle on to make tea, wander back to the living-room or office and half an hour later realize you forgot all about it. So the second time you stand there waiting impatiently for it to boil. This is the problem the iKettle sets out to solve.

That, at least, is my excuse. The reality, of course, is that it’s a kettle with wifi – how could anyone reasonably expect me to resist … ?  expand full story

Home automation Stories July 3, 2014

Android Wear gives us a glimpse at what home automation with an iWatch should look like

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Home automation, a category more broadly referred to as the “internet of things,” is almost surely going to be a large and growing market in the coming years. And while Apple’s recently announced entry is the forthcoming HomeKit platform, Google has yet to announce anything exactly equivalent. At I/O 2014, however, Google did announce its plan for Nest, and shed much more light on its Android Wear smartwatch operating system.

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Home automation Stories June 29, 2014

‘Parenthood’ iPhone ad airs with focus on families and HomeKit devices

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Apple has begun airing a new TV ad to promote the iPhone 5s that focuses on uses by parents within both “Smart Homes” and in everyday family life. The ad, aptly named “Parenthood,” shows how the iPhone can be used to record home video, find a lost dog, monitor the children, and turn off the lights in the living room. The ad comes ahead of HomeKit Smart Home appliance integration with iOS 8 this fall. Sources have also indicated that Apple is developing its own line of connected hardware for the home. Apple’s previous iPhone ad, part of the same “more powerful than you think series” demonstrated various uses for the iPhone in the health and fitness space. You can watch the latest ad below:

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Home automation Stories June 10, 2014

Apple’s HomeKit partner Honeywell launches Lyric smart thermostat Nest competitor

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With Apple stepping into the home automation arena by way of offering closer device integration through its new HomeKit API announced alongside iOS 8, just about every appliance in the home is potential for being refreshed and gaining deeper connectivity with our iPhones and iPads. Honeywell, a launch partner for Apple’s new home automation development tools, is today announcing its new Lyric smart thermostat to compete against similar offerings from competitors like the now Google-owned Nest. expand full story

Home automation Stories June 5, 2014

Tado confirms smart air-conditioning controller funded, aiming now for Apple HomeKit support

Tado, the location-aware alternative to the Nest smart thermostat, has confirmed that it has achieved its Kickstarter goal to launch a device to control existing air-conditioners, turning them into smart cooling systems.

 

We talked about the GE-backed Quirky Aros in March which can now be purchased at Amazon.

Tado is now aiming to raise an additional $50k to allow Tado Cooling to integrate with Apple’s HomeKit, enabling Siri control.

If HomeKit is integrated, our customers will be able to use the tado° app together with some key iOS features such as Siri or TouchID.

  • Imagine setting your tado° to sleep mode or adjusting the desired temperature with a simple voice command.
  • Imagine giving your AC a little boost just by placing your finger on the home button.
  • Imagine combined scenarios with other connected devices …

Tado says that its system will be compatible with 82 percent of existing air-conditioning units, with a control unit working in the same way as its smart thermostat: using an app to track the location of those in the household, automatically turning off air-conditioners when the last person leaves the home and pre-cooling the home when it detects that someone is on their way back.

Low-energy Bluetooth is also used to track the position of people within the home, automatically adjusting air-conditioners within different rooms.

Tado Cooling will retail for $149, but Kickstarter backers can pre-order for $99, with units expected to ship in August. The existing product is fully funded, but currently needs an additional $47,000 in the next six days to add HomeKit support.

Other iOS controlled home cooling systems on the market and in the news include Big Ass Fans.

Home automation Stories June 2, 2014

Gallery: First look at iOS 8 with Health app, Notification Center widgets, and more

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Earlier today Apple announced the next version of its iOS software, iOS 8, during the WWDC keynote today. Below you’ll find a gallery of all the new bells and whistles in the latest operating system. If you’ve got some screenshots you’d like to send us, you can send them to tips@9to5mac.com.

The new software includes features like iOS-to-Mac continuity, quick-reply for first- and third-party apps, a new predictive text keyboard, changes to the Mail appHealthKit framework and Health app, Family Sharing features, new Photos cloud storage, an updated iCloud pricing scheme, new commands for Siri, App Store changes including beta distribution, a Touch ID API, third-party keyboards, new iCloud management and development features, a home automation framework, and even support for a brand new programming language.

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Apple announces HomeKit API for iOS, will serve as a central hub for home automation

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Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.36.26 AM

Along with several other new APIs for developers, Apple has announced HomeKit which allows all home automation accessories/devices to work together. The new API will allow home automation developers to centralize all home automation in iOS without needing separate apps to access each device’s specific features. These devices include locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, and more.

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Home automation Stories May 29, 2014

Apple’s home automation system will be less of a hub, more of a ‘made for iPhone’ program

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Acquiring the Nest Learning Thermostat was Google’s big step into home automation

As first reported on Monday, Apple is said to be preparing a home automation system for debut at WWDC next week. While this was the first anyone had heard of any such plans, several different sources have quickly come together to give an idea of how an “Apple Smart Home” will likely function.

On Monday, as noted above, the Financial Times first reported that Apple’s new program would not consist of a group of first-party automated appliances or other devices connected to an iPhone. Instead, the program will work similarly to Apple’s existing “Made for iPhone” program. Essentially the only role Apple will play is to grant special branding to compliant devices.

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Home automation Stories May 27, 2014

Opinion: Will Apple’s Smart Home concept bring home automation to the masses?

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It’s the 21st Century: weren’t we all supposed to be living in automated homes by now? Where we walk in the door after a long day to have our home playing some soothing music, informing us that it’s run us a bath and that dinner will be ready in 45 minutes? Where a robot has done the cleaning, changed the flowers, accepted a parcel that arrived while we were at work and fed the cat?

That dream seems to be a long time coming. I’m a reasonably techy guy who loves the idea of home automation, yet even I only have three examples in my home (which I’ll mention along the way). Most mass-market consumers haven’t even noticed that the products exist, and the few who have tend to view it all as too complicated or fiddly.

If anyone can change that perception, it’s Apple. Which is why the Financial Times report yesterday that Apple is working on a new approach to home automation that may be unveiled at WWDC next week caught my attention …  expand full story

Home automation Stories May 7, 2014

Dropcam adds $29 motion sensors (and teaches its cam to recognize cats)

Dropcam, whose Wi-Fi video security system impressed us when we previously tried it, is now adding separate motion sensors to its product range. Costing just $29 each, Dropcam Tabs are small, weather-resistant devices that can be attached to doors, windows, and valuables. They use Bluetooth LE to connect to your existing Dropcam Pro camera which then sends push alerts when motion is detected, turning it into a much more comprehensive security system.

Dropcam says battery-life is rated for around two years, making Tabs close to fit-and-forget. Tabs can be pre-ordered today, and will be shipped in the summer.

The company has also made the Dropcam Pro suitable for more households by allowing it to recognize and ignore cats. Previously, the system would send push alerts any time it detected any movement, creating lots of false alarms as Tiddles engaged in her hectic schedule of moving from the sofa to the food dish and back.

Detecting pets usually requires 3D sensor systems which can measure the size of moving things, but Dropcam says that it has analyzed many hours of publicly-shared video in order to teach the system to recognize cats using only analysis of the visual data.

Home automation Stories January 29, 2014

9to5Toys Last Call: Up to 33% off Belkin WeMo home automation, Chromecast from $25, LifeProof Frē iPhone 5 $30, more

Be sure to follow 9to5Toys to keep up with the best gear and deals on the web: Twitter, RSS Feed, Facebook, Google+ and subscribe to the new Safari push notifications feature.

Today’s can’t miss deals: 

Last Call updates:

Amazon Gold Box: Up to 33% off select Belkin WeMo home automation products

Google Chromecast $25 for .EDU emails or $30 for everyone else

LifeProof Fre case for iPhone 5 (black): $30 shipped (Reg. $80)

Other great deals from today:

More great deals still alive:

Home automation Stories January 7, 2014

2014: The year of the iPhone-controlled everything

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There are some technologies that happened way earlier than they had any right to. Frankly, putting a man on the moon in the days when the Apollo Guidance Computer really did have less power than a pocket calculator was an insane achievement.

And then there are those technologies that have taken way, way longer than they should have done – with home automation heading the list. The main reason it was such a slow-burn was the lack of a standard interface (X.10 never really established itself in the home).

2014, however, looks set to be the year in which all that changes, with the iPhone the new standard interface. Steve Jobs once said that the Mac was the hub at the center of our digital lives; this year, it looks like the iPhone is taking over the crown …

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Home automation Stories January 6, 2014

iPhone-controlled Holi mood lamp coming to the U.S. in March

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It’s like the 1970s all over again (I’m told). The modern equivalent of the lava lamp, the iPhone-controlled LED-powered Holi lamp, is expected to make its way across the Atlantic to the USA sometime in March, reports The Verge. It’s currently available only in Europe.

You can choose a theme, and let Holi choose the colors and flash-rate; create your own theme; or let the lights synchronize with the music playing on your iOS device. You can also allow the 8-inch-square Holi lamp to wake you in the morning by gently increasing the brightness …  expand full story

iPhone-controlled door lock market heating up as Openways announces Okidokeys

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okidokeys

A company that makes smartphone-controlled door locks for hotels has announced its first home door lock system, going by the rather cringeworthy name Okidokeys.

Once fitted, you’ll be able to unlock your front door from your iPhone (or Android handset) via Bluetooth. The locks are also compatible with RFID chips, allowing you to open them with a keycard or wristband in case your phone battery goes flat. As you’d expect from a hi-tech lock, you can also manage access and accounts online …  expand full story

Home automation Stories November 25, 2013

Review: Europe’s answer to Nest, Tado the iPhone-controlled intelligent thermostat

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This review has been updated a year in, with an improved thermostat with built-in display and touch-sensitive controls, and new fuel-saving figures.

Affordable home automation has been a long time coming. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that it’s the 21st Century and homes still don’t have Star Trek style swishy doors as standard.

But iPhone-controlled heating and lighting is here today. Nest hasn’t yet made it to the UK, so I decided to try out competitor system Tado, which is available in Europe now.

In the UK, it costs £199 if your system already has a wired thermostat, or £278 if it doesn’t. Alternatively, you can rent Tado for either £4.99 or £7.98/month. Looking at my own energy usage before and after, the payback time is a little under three years.

The concept

The idea behind Tado is three-fold. First, automation. As well as the programmable timer you have in any heating system, it also monitors the locations of everyone in the household via their iPhones (or Android phones). If everyone is out, it turns down the heating even if the timer says it should be on.

How much it turns it down depends on how far away you are, because it aims to have it back up to temperature by the time you return. Nip out to the local grocery store, and it won’t adjust it much, drive an hour to work and it’ll turn it down a lot …  expand full story

Home automation Stories October 8, 2013

Nest officially confirms smart smoke + carbon monoxide detector called ‘Protect’

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The Nest Protect has a nice glow :-)

The Nest Protect has a nice glow :-)

We originally reported last month that Nest Labs, the company founded by famed iPod creator Tony Fadell, was readying its next product for launch soon: the smart fire detector. Nest Labs officially announced today that the ‘Nest Protect’ will be joining the lineup with the smart thermostat.

The Nest Protect detects smoke and carbon monoxide and addressses some of the flaws of modern smoke detectors and of course connects it to your iPhone in the process:

Nest believes that safety shouldn’t be annoying, so they started from scratch and built a new smoke + CO detector, the way it should be done, with advanced features under a sleek interface:

· Heads-Up: Instead of just beeping at you, Nest Protect gives you helpful vocal warnings before conditions get dangerous. And if you have more than one Nest Protect in the home, you can connect them so you’ll know where the danger is, no matter which room you’re in.

· Nest Wave: No more climbing on chairs to reach your detector. You can silence Nest Protect by simply waving at it.

· Mobile app: Get low-battery alerts and Emergency Alarm notifications on your smartphone or tablet.

· Pathlight: Nest Protect glows white as you pass under it at night, lighting your way in the dark.

The smoke + carbon monoxide detector itself has a design similar to our Apple products as it resembles Apple’s previous generation Airport Extreme base station. I really like the idea of silencing an alarm with just a wave. Wrestling with a tiny disengage button in a commotion is the last thing anyone wants. Check out availability information and the official promotional video below:  expand full story

Home automation Stories August 26, 2013

Control your Philips Hue lamps from your Mac Menu Bar – new app coming soon

I can see why manufacturers opt for iPhone apps as the remote controls for their gadgets. A small touchscreen device is a familiar form-factor for a remote, and it’s likely to be easily to hand. But if happen to be in front of your Mac at the time, it can seem a bit awkward to have to pick up your phone, open an app and then use a smaller, fiddlier device.

Philips seem to have recognised this, with a new Mac app on the way to control its range of Hue smart LED bulbs. The app sits in the menu bar, providing a convenient way to control any of your Hue lamps.

Philips updated the iOS app back in May, with geofencing, schedules and a wide variety of triggering actions, including support for the popular IFTTT (If This Then That) app.

Home automation Stories August 25, 2013

Crowdfunding roundup: eleMount car & camera mount, TILT Stealth Cooling Station, Piper home automation, more

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As the success stories keep piling up, so do the number of projects filling up crowdfunding websites with, among other things, neat hardware- and software-related products. Some projects, like Pebble, gain thousands of supporters as well as millions of dollars in funding (and end up at Best Buy’s retail stores). Other projects flop and don’t reach their necessary funding amount.

Rather than make you sift through all of these projects, we’re rounding up the best or most notable projects from around the web and delivering them to you in a simple roundup.

If there’s a project that you’ve backed – or even a project that you founded – be sure to leave a link below so it can be considered for the next roundup.

  • eleMount: Premium Car & Camera Mount for iPhone & iPad (Kickstarter project) – These aluminum mounts with polyurethane pads are sleek and versatile. The project exceeded its goal extremely quickly and expects to have these shipped out in December. d5235a575f0ccfffb848799e401787b0_large expand full story

Home automation Stories July 22, 2013

Canary aims to be home security for the rest of us

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There’s a likable trend brewing. Affordable home automation used to be complicated and the equipment was generally ugly. Nest made the humble thermostat both smart and beautiful, Jawbone made door locks smart and iPhone-controlled, and now a new Indiegogo project Canary aims to do the same for home security .

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