Archives For Smart Home

While Philips Hue HomeKit-compatible gear isn’t officially expected until October 6, the A19 Starter Kit has begun appearing at various retail locations. Indeed, I literally got my hands on the v2 hub bridge. It’s smaller and squarer than the existing model, with a nicer matte finish and generally more tasteful presentation… that is entirely irrelevant since you’ll be plugging it into your router somewhere out of sight. There are three indicators, plus a glowing ring that surrounds the much larger pairing button.

As Philips moves the line to HomeKit, pricing of Hue bundles looks to remain unchanged (in the US, anyway). What’s not yet clear, but should be revealed within the next 48 hours, is the cost of a standalone HomeKit bridge to retrofit the bazillions of Hue homes that sport iOS (like mine). Also unclear, as I’m pretty sure an App Store update is required, is the extent of Siri voice control. For example, will it best Amazon Echo’s existing but limited (tho useful) Hue interaction?

UPDATE: The HomeKit replacement hub has popped up on Amazon for $60… But I’m waiting to learn more about Siri’s capabilities before making my purchase.

Philips Keeps Hue Going

Joel Ward —  September 29, 2015 — 22 Comments

I have been a fan of the Philips Hue wireless bulb system for a while now, including how to extend it using other brands of ZigBee bulbs and home automation hubs. So much so that I even did a presentation at my company’s Ideas Festival about how devices like Hue have enabled my son to break out of his shell and interact with his environment.

Philips Hue Go and Hue Disco

Over the summer, the Philips Hue Go portable lamp was added to the Hue lineup. I have to be honest: I didn’t even notice it at first. Which is odd because I love this stuff. A few weeks ago I had some Amazon gift card money burning a hole in my pocket so I was browsing for something interesting to buy when I came across the Hue Go lamp. It seemed totally frivolous so I had to order one! Continue Reading…

We know smart home is hard. Just ask Wink. Or Nest. Well, it turns out, Apple’s HomeKit hasn’t yet lived up to its promise. And, shortly after launch, Insteon pulled their HomeKit-compatible hub from the market… due to firmware issues and inventory limitations. Over two months later there are signs they’re ready to try again. But are you?

I’ve gotten to the point where most of my smart gear has been unplugged. And even my newly arrived Wemo bulbs haven’t been much fun. Not to mention the FBI now wants us to know networking everything may not be the best idea. So I guess I’m just going to get off the couch and walk over to my window blinds when they need to be opened. Or closed.

Google Nest… Powered by Amazon

Dave Zatz —  September 20, 2015 — 7 Comments

Amazon Web Services had a really bad Sunday AM. Specifically, resources in my ‘hood were sucking wind…

Amongst the large number of websites and cloud services inaccessible this AM, was Google’s Nest. Despite being a Google company, and for quite some time, their infrastructure rides Amazon. Which I find deliciously ironic.

While Belkin’s WeMo is largely a closed smarthome ecosystem, with a questionable history in terms of performance and security, I found $40 for three “connected” bulbs and mini hub too good a deal to pass up. So, at the very least, the two lamps I have on old school mechanical timers will be getting an wireless upgrade (and CFL > LED). It’s probably all a little redundant with my existing Hue Lighting and Staples Connect, but … new gadgets!


If you too are similarly tempted by Wemo, visit this link and add the kit to your cart for $50 in savings plus a bonus bulb. At the checkout screen, enter SAVEWEMO (in all caps) to get another $10 off. Shipping is free, but state sales tax will be added.

hue-homekitAs promised (to me personally, natch), all Hue HomeKit details will be revealed this month… and they’ve started trickling out a bit earlier than Philips had anticipated.

By way of two overseas leaks, we get a sense of the updated Hue bridge. The squarer, more sophisticated-looking unit will be available as a standalone purchase, for possibly 60 euros, enabling folks to retrofit an existing Hue household for Siri control via iPhone or iPad. Presumably, we’ll also see new Hue bundles featuring this hub. I imagine the HomeKit portion is additive — If you have Apple devices, bonus. If not, no problem, just use the existing app and functionality.

Meanwhile, I’m not overly impressed with the new dimmer, but am still awaiting brighter Hue lighting and really need some BR30s in the Lux all-white line.

The Kevo smart lock, which we heartily endorse, breaks free from the phone today with the announcement of Moto360 support. Soon you can lock or unlock your doors in the presence of your Bluetooth LE Android Wear. For folks like me, who frequently stroll around the neighborhood without my smartphone, and those more exercise-oriented this seems like a pretty big win. We assume other Android Wear devices will be supported as well. Now, as to that missing Kevo WiFi link


By way of the FCC, we see August is primed to shortly expand their lineup with a Smart Keypad. Whatever that is. While we loved the aesthetics of their original Yves Behar-designed smart lock, we ultimately preferred Kevo to August — choosing functionality over form. Yet, August appears well-funded with a stellar team… so we do expect good things from them. As to what exactly this is, it seems likely it could be another door opening solution — and it seems several in the home automation space are reaching beyond individual consumers to hotel chains and the like. It’s also possible that this could be some sort of home control panel, as I imagine August has aspirations beyond the front door.