Archives For Smart Home

When it came time to choose a new mattress this past summer, I decided to wire up our bedroom with Sleep Number and Sleep IQ. Casper gets a whole lot of tech press, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear given their now commonplace bedding materials and a limited one-mattress-fits-all product lineup. Whereas I truly hoped to embrace technology as a potential means of enhancing our sleeping experience. Sleep Number seemed to fit the bill. And, four months in, we’re extremely satisfied with our decision.

After hours of research, including extensive and appreciated online pre-sales chat along with an impressive Consumer Reports’ endorsement, I ended up purchasing the entry-level Sleep Number C2 model with a SleepIQ upgrade. Interestingly, the same core components and functionality are found within all Sleep Number mattresses (that we’ll get to in a minute). What differs are things like padding and cover thickness or composition. Indeed, the Sleep Number C2 is Consumer Reports second highest rated bed… right behind the Sleep Number i8, but at 1/3rd the cost. Having replaced a pair of name brand mattresses the last few years, due to depressingly rapid deterioration, we’re appropriately conservative with ongoing bedding investments.


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August is out with several announcements today as they now publicly transition from a singularly focused smart lock company into a home automation player. We’ve got service relationships, a smart keypad, a doorbell camera, and, of course, more smartlock. The existing August lock drops in price to $199 with a significantly updated model joining the fray at $229.


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We’re big fans of Kevo here. And while the smartlock remains mostly an island unto itself, it gains powerful new communication capabilities. To minimize power consumption, most networked gadgetry sticks to low energy Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or Zigbee in lieu of WiFi. That’s been proven to work well … when you’re in the vicinity. But to keep tabs on your door and even control it remotely requires something to bridge those networks. Enter Kevo Plus.


I first touched on the Kevo bridge way back at CES 2014 as the missing link. But my enthusiasm waned at CES 2015 given what sounded something like a recurring fee for remote access. Fortunately, as it turns out, “Kevo Plus” launches today at $70 – with both hardware and ongoing service included in that single fee. The bridge itself is a small affair that plugs directly into your router and communicates with Kevo over Bluetooth. In conjunction with today’s app update, Kevo Plus allows you to see if you forgot the lock the door … when you’re away from home… and do something about it. Continue Reading…

HomeKit comes to Hue

Adam Miarka —  October 7, 2015 — 12 Comments

01 new hue hub

Back in June, Philips announced that the Hue ecosystem would be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. There was speculation if we’d need to purchase another Hue hub, or if the existing hub could be updated via software to support HomeKit. After plenty of leaks, and even a hands-on prior to launching, Philips has officially released a new Hue bridge to the masses.  Turns out that if you want HomeKit compatibility, you will need to purchase a new hub.  This falls inline with other vendors who have had to “relaunch” their products with updated hardware to meet Apple’s security requirements.  The good news for existing Hue customers though, is that Philips will offer a 33% discount to upgrade.  I won’t recap the physical changes to the new Hue hub as they are documented on multiple sites. What I want to do is walk thru the actual transfer process from the old Hue hub to the new one and some general observations, specifically around HomeKit and compatibility.

Transitioning from the old hub

The first thing you will need to do is make sure you have the latest Hue app. Philips released an updated version for earlier this week (iOS / Google Play) which supports transitioning hubs. Once updated, you will also need to make sure that the Hub itself has the latest firmware. You will be prompted to update automatically.

Philips has made it incredibly easy to transition bulbs and scenes from your old hub to the new one.   This is contrary to my Lutron experience which required me to unpair all lights/switches and repair them to the new hub. It can’t be understated how much this will make existing customers happy. Continue Reading…

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.