Zonoff Links Home Automation Silos Via Staples Connect

Dave Zatz —  January 25, 2014

zonoff-hubs

As our homes acquire sentience, a few are attempting to traverse the technological silos… in an approachable way, suitable for civilians and geeks alike. While companies like Zonoff, Revolv, and Smarthings each strive to take home automation mainstream with somewhat differing technological and marketing approaches, they share a vendor- and network-neutral approach as they aim to provide an alternative to the security and telecom firms that are likewise pushing into this realm. And, as you might guess from the tweets and pics, I came away from CES quite enamored with Zonoff.

zonoff-ipad

Instead of selling directly to consumers, like a Revolv, Zonoff is more iControl in powering partner company solutions – such as the Staples Connect. And I appreciate that they conduct themselves in an aboveboard way, working alliances, rather than spoofing Sonos and Nest communication… something I see as an unsustainable business model that could lead to a number of upset customers when, inevitably, protocols change and C&D letters arrive.

Staples Connect is the most accessible and encompassing of their offerings thus far and consists of a $100 Linksys hub module, with no recurring fees, and the requisite apps for designing activities and home control. Think Harmony Remote for Home Automation. Again, the power here is their agnostic approach. View your D-Link security cam on your Samsung HDTV, as shown above, or tell your Jawbone Up fitness band you’re headed to bed which, in turn, triggers your Lutron dimmer-controlled lights to power down.

We anticipate we’ll have a whole lot more to say on the subject of Staples Connect in the near future… stay tuned!

10 responses to Zonoff Links Home Automation Silos Via Staples Connect

  1. The Zonoff briefing was definitely one of my CES highlights – both the tech and the people. CEO Mike Harris came from the digital media space and was previously involved in Divx (when they were cool), and I appreciated his Boxee vs. Hulu analogies. Post-CES, he’s also been brainstorming with me in ways I can trick out my house based on some of the things he’s done in his own. Their tie-in with Lutron turns every inexpensive Pico remote into an independent physical controller (think WAF) and there are quite a few interesting possibilities. I’ll definitely have more to say in the coming months.

  2. Does this mean you’re planning to replace your in-wall switches with Lutron Caseta switches? I have a few (old) x10 PCS wall (scene) switches in our family room (with an IR X10 controller for control from our HTM IR remote). However, they were rather expensive so I never added any more in the rest of the house.

    Now it sounds like Lutron Caseta switches may be the way to go from here if they are in fact Zwave and thus should work regardless of whatever bridge (and software) is chosen to work with them… Could they possibly be “future-proof”?

    I do hope Lutron will expand this Caseta line, though. Home Depot carries it as well but there appears to only be one wall switch and one plug-in module — and the HD specs indicate a “proprietary” protocol (though I suspect that may be wrong). For example, I would like to see “relay” type switches for controlling non-dimmable fluorescent loads.

    Any idea if the Caseta switches require a neutral wire? Most switch (only) boxes don’t have one.

  3. It’s a matter of time before home automation becomes mainstream. It’s on the rise with new products coming into the market. You look at the success of smart locks as an example. Newest smart lock coming http://www.geniesmartlock.com will be interesting given it’s a door handle with both bluetooth and wifi, rather than a deadbolt. I do like the Kevo if you’re just looking for a bluetooth deadbolt though.

  4. Steve, pretty sure the simple RF Lutron stuff will work as Zonoff taps into their ‘Clear Connect’ protocol. So, in theory, I can mount a Pico as a new switch (with no box behind it) to control my Philips Hue lighting in the family room. I hope to have a better handle on the possibilities once I get a box here and start playing around.

    Adam, I’m the worst blogger ever. I’ve had a Kevo in here since prior to launch and still haven’t finished up my review. A door lock is interesting… on one hand, I kinda like it independent. And it’s less of an issue as it’s operating in the background and doesn’t require yet another dedicated app to lock/unlock. Although it is indeed a silo, and to issue keys or view status, at that point I’m headed to the Kevo app and obviously can’t be linked up to other actions.

  5. “A door lock is interesting… on one hand, I kinda like it independent.”

    But why? What could go wrong?

  6. Yeah, yeah, but where’s the angle on appliances? Oh right, there isn’t one.

    Looking forward to the coverage.

    I think the next obvious product for Nest (Google) is in the home security space. Maybe just the security camera’s themselves first. That should well and truly freak everybody out.

  7. Wait, so “Clear Connect” is another competing standard ala XKCD? That seems like a bad idea. Why not stick with Z-Wave, ZigBee HA, 6LoWPAN, BT4.0, WiFi, INSTEON, TransferJet, Dash7, EnOcean, ONE-NET … ? (And yes, that’s meant to drive home the point that we need standardization more than than we need devices right now.)

  8. varum, out of the box the Staples Connect hub communicates via WiFi, Z-Wave, and Lutron Clear Connect… with additional protocols on the way. Companies like Zonoff, SmartThings, etc attempt to overcome the lack of standardization.

  9. @Steve, the Lutron Caseta brand is NOT Z-wave, it is their own proprietary wireless brand of products, including hardwired dimmers, plug-in modules and remote controls. To answer your other question regarding neutrals, these do not require them. Lutron is the first company to come out with a 2-wire dimmer switch that can dim LED’s & CFL’s, without a neutral. Leviton, FYI, is the second to release a 2-wire dimmer although neither are z-wave.

    I do not know that much more about the Caseta brand other than I am assuming it is similar (although a newer line obviously) to their Radio RA home automation products. The Caseta line was just announced as being supplied by one of my distributors (I am a retailer) so we are considering selling the devices, along with their Radio RA products.

  10. For what it’s worth, my Lutron dimmer does not effectively dim my Cree BR30s despite each claiming support for the other. So it’s hit or miss on these things (and I reverted my bedroom back to incandescents).