Archives For Smart Home

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Back in July, we reviewed the Kevo smart lock ($220) in light of the newer features that had just been released (scheduling, guest keys, performance improvements). Later in 2014, August, another Bluetooth based lock ($250), started to ship both pre-orders and to retail stores. Being the curiously obsessed gadget guy that I am, I had to at least try the August to see how it compared with the Kevo.

Fundamentally the Kevo and August work the same. Using your phone’s Bluetooth as a key, you can lock and unlock the device. Whereas you need to replace your entire door lock for the Kevo, with the August, you just need to replace just the inside portion of the lock. Installing the August was very simple and a much quicker than the Kevo as you are just removing the back of the lock. Continue Reading…

Zonoff with Nest thermostat close-up

Last year at CES, Zonoff’s demo suite was full of the Staples Connect hardware they power along with a variety of familiar brands like Lutron and Jawbone. This year, several other friends joined the party including the Google Nest smart thermostat and a souped-up, Sonos-fighting Bose sound system.

The desire for Nest integration is obvious, although this is the first we’ve seen the smart thermostat connected to the Zonoff platform. So while Zonoff may not yet “Work With Nest” … they clearly work with Nest. Bose system support is perhaps slightly less obvious, but it makes sense when you contemplate pairing music or talk radio with other sensors tied to lighting and motion detection. Put a speaker in your bathroom, and you can set the music to turn on when you open the door in the morning. Put one in the kitchen, and you can program it to play NPR when you head in to make dinner in the evening. Continue Reading…

As expected, the “Internet of Things” was a hot topic at CES. And everyone seems to want a piece of this market. For example, we’ve got an iPhone case maker pitching networked power outlets and a fitness tracker company that wants to sell you some Bluetooth light bulbs. Sadly, chaos reigns … given the number of competing standards, proprietary solutions, poorly articulated visions, and even Hubs requiring bridges. Take Kevo and August, makers of “smart locks” — most likely due to power requirements, beyond hardware costs and engineering considerations, both solutions communicate solely via Bluetooth LE. Meaning, at present, it’s mostly smartphones than can interact with their hardware and only from short distances. Enter the Kevo Gateway (Ethernet, above left) and August Connect (WiFi, above right) bridges … that will in turn relay communication from lock to say your SmartThings or Staples Connect hub or to a remotely located phone (but requiring an additional purchase or for a fee). It’s messy. And the highly disjointed nature of this smart home land grab will slow adoption. At least until the the leaders identify themselves.

The Wink Hub iPhone app was just updated and, amongst various bug fixes, is reference to “support for Cree light bulbs.” Cree is generally known for high quality, low-cost LEDs (and I’m quite fond of the BR30s), but really hasn’t been mentioned in the DIY home automation space… until now. So I backtracked thru the FCC to pull up the Cree Connected Zigbee bulbs you see above. While it’s yet to be seen how pricing and lighting compare to Wink’s own GE bulbs, we should expect these puppies to ship real soon soon.

(Thanks Eric H and HomeAutomation7!)

SC1 Home

At the end of December, Staples Connect released the much anticipated update for their new D-Link hub which included new features such as Modes, a Migration Assistant, and support for additional devices. Let’s take a brief look at each of these new features:

Modes

With the new Modes feature, you have the ability to change the way your house is setup with the touch of a button. The Mode section comes predefined with 4 modes: Home, Away, Sleep, Vacation. You are able to go into each mode to adjust what actions you want to take with the connected devices in your home. Modes can be triggered manually, or you have the ability to have another device automatically active a mode.

For instance, when you push the Home mode button, you can have a living room light turn on. But you are also able to have another device trigger the mode. In that case, opening a front door with a sensor can put the Staples Connect into Home mode without having to go into the app. Continue Reading…

lenovo-cloud-camera

Besides general software clunkiness, a large percentange of network cameras just look awful. In fact, I decomissioned our fairly practical Foscams because they just don’t look very nice around the home. The highly rated Dropcam, now a Google/Nest subsidiary, has been one of a very select few that have bucked at trend… which probably has contributed to their success and Google/Nest acquisition. Well, we may be days away from Lenovo upping the ante in this space. While we can’t yet comment much on the interface or recording functionality, this sexy 802.11 b/g/n/ Lenovo Cloud Camera hardware just passed through the FCC ahead of the “Internet of Things” CES.

Continue Reading…

Not content preparing a smattering of sensors and the latest Staples Connect hardware, D-Link is set to unveil their very own “Connected Home Hub” — probably a mere ten days from now at CES. Details on the short cylindrical job that just passed through the FCC:

The DCH-G020 is a Connected Home Z-Wave Gateway used to control a variety of Z-wave home sensors for the application of home automation. It is able to talk to variety of Z-Wave sensors and communicate with other DLink connected Home devices.

Beyond Z-Wave communication and the apparent Ethernet ports, this Connected Home Hub also features 802.11b/g/n. On the software front, D-Link’s associated Dlink app updates will include the requisite scheduling and notifications… along with an interesting QR code scanner to (perhaps) more efficiently add new hardware. Continue Reading…