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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sonos Tips and Tricks

Bought a Sonos speaker system? Here's 9 ways to make sure you make the most of your multiroom setup

Sonos has defined the multiroom, music streaming space. And with good reason. Its selection of speakers manage to cover all ends of the market, from the affordable Play:1 to the pricier Playbar Soundbar and they're all easy to set up and boast great sound.

But there’s a lot more to these speakers that you might not have yet uncovered. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Here's our round-up of the best tips and tricks for your Sonos system.

Read more: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/sonos-tips-and-tricks

Samsung demonstrates 360-degree speakers, updates Multiroom Audio app to version 2.0

Samsung hosted a launch event last night in Sydney for its 2015 SUHD TV range. While the TVs themselves aren’t very “Androidy”, the company also launched an update to its Multiroom Audio app and demonstrated its wild new 360-degree speaker.

When I looked at Samsung’s Multiroom Audio system last year, I enjoyed the hardware though I wasn’t very impressed with the app, but was hopeful that there might be an update to improve the experience. That update has arrived now, with version 2.0 of Multiroom Audio (confusingly, version 3.x of the app) bringing a fresh new look.

Read more: http://ausdroid.net/2015/04/15/samsung-demonstrates-360-degree-speakers-updates-multiroom-audio-app-to-version-2-0/

LG's whole-home speakers are among the first with Google Cast audio support

LG’s Music Flow speakers are already on the market, and are an alternative to Sonos’ whole-home speakers. But while LG’s system has some interesting features on its own, such as a way to send text commands to the speakers through Line’s messaging app, it can’t match the huge number of music services that Sonos supports. Google Cast should help LG fill in some of those gaps.

Prices for Music Flow start at $179 for a 30-watt speaker, and scale up to $379 for a 70-watt speaker. A few sound bars are also available at $499 and up, and LG will sell a 20-watt speaker with battery power for $199 next month.

Read more: http://www.techhive.com/article/2909545/lgs-whole-home-speakers-are-among-the-first-with-google-cast-audio-support.html

Dormi Turns Android Smartphones Or Tablets Into A Video Baby Monitor

A number of companies today leverage the ubiquity of smartphones in order to offer parents “connected” baby monitoring systems that can be accessed from anywhere. Often, as with devices like NapTime or Evoz, these include a monitor and camera of some sort and an accompanying mobile app. But a startup called Dormi has historically offered a different take – instead of selling new hardware, the company allows you to re-use old Android smartphones or tablets in order to remotely monitor your baby’s room.

Now its system has received a long-anticipated update, with the much-requested addition of video monitoring.

Previously, Dormi’s system was audio-only. Using an app that worked over Wi-Fi or cellular connections or even WiFi Direct/WiFi Hotspot, you could listen in on baby while out of the room, much like traditional baby monitoring systems allow for today. You could also press a button to speak into the app which would transmit the sound of your voice to the other device in the child’s room.

Read more: http://techcrunch.com/2015/04/15/dormi-turns-android-smartphones-or-tablets-into-a-video-baby-monitor/

Sony’s 147-Inch 4K Laser Projector Turns Your Living Room Into a Theater

The Ultra Short Throw Projector (given its name because it “throws” images onto your wall, according to Sony) was first released in the US, but is now making its way to Europe. Priced at $50,000 it’s certainly a luxurious purchase, though I’d wager that there aren’t many things in this world more worthy of your money, aside from perhaps food and shelter, though I’d quite happily sleep in a box if I could project Daredevil onto one of its sides in glorious 4K HD.

Of course, purchasing the projector would require you to carry out a number of tasks prior to having it in your possession – firstly, you’d need to find $50,000 (begin by checking down the sides of the cushions on your sofa). Secondly, you’d need a plain white wall. Thirdly, you’d need a considerably large group of friends that you can invite round to your home, in order for you to put on Inception and pummel them with your smugness as they’re blown away by your new home theater experience.

Read more: http://www.craveonline.com/lifestyle/tech-and-gadgets-news/846535-sonys-147-inch-4k-laser-projector-turns-living-room-theater#/slide/1

Vizio's New 4K TV Lineup Starts at $600

In the market for a new TV, but think a super-clear Ultra HD model is way out of the budget? Think again.

Vizio last year brought UHD to the mainstream with a $1,000 set, and now the TV maker is one-upping itself. The company on Monday launched its second Ultra HD TV lineup, offering a range of screen sizes from 43 to 80 inches, with prices starting at just $600 all the way up to $4,000. For a full list of screen sizes and prices, see below.

The new TVs display more than 8.3 million pixels in every image, offering four times the resolution of 1080p Full HD for "breathtaking detail and clarity," Vizio said. They also boast full-array LED backlighting for a more even distribution of light compared to edge-lit sets, and up to 32 active LED zones for "precise, controlled backlighting with extremely high contrast and deep black levels."

Read more: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2481316,00.asp

Five Smart Home lessons from Electronics Fair 2015

Much that is written about home automation focuses on the consumer benefits of IoT, but there are also potential for manufacturers investing in building smart devices to save themselves money in the long run.

Andy Lau, executive director of SAS Dragon Holdings Limited which specialises in marketing of digital products, illustrated this point by using the example of the air conditioner, “How many buttons are on your air conditioner remote? How many of those do you ever actually press?” He asked.

A smart air conditioning system allows manufacturers to capture consumer behaviour and habits, for example which buttons they are using on the remote to redesign and simplify the product. The remote can be personalised and customised for different markets he said.

“If I capture the data I can make an even smaller remote control. The design is much cheaper and user friendly,” Lau said.

Read more: http://www.applianceretailer.com.au/2015/04/5-smart-home-lessons-from-the-hong-kong-electronics-fair-2015

3 startups to retrofit your smart home

As more connected smart home devices continue to pop up, it gets harder to choose the best option for your home. Beyond the price of the device, you must also make sure it works with existing products and services already wired in your home. For those looking to get the perks of home automation without the high price of installing an entirely new system, retrofitting gadgets offer a happy medium.

Read more: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/13/3-startups-to-retrofit-your-smart-home/

Will a smart home make you fat?

One of the main tenets of the smart home is that you can do so much from your phone or iPad. You don’t have to get up to change the thermostat or the lighting; with video monitoring and smart locks, you don’t even have to get up to answer the door. Nobody really walks to the mailbox anymore and everybody has a phone in their pocket. Perhaps it’s time to consider the longer-term implications of all this.

Two years ago, then Mayor Michael Bloomberg started the Center for Active Design in New York City, promoting “Active buildings: encouraging greater physical movement within buildings for users and visitors.” This is something we're going to have to think about for our homes, particularly with the advent of smart technology where you only lift a finger to operate an app that talks to your fridge and the robot cooking your food. We know what happened when the extension phone and the TV remote control came into our lives, but this is taking it to a whole new level.

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/stories/will-a-smart-home-make-you-fat

10 smart home features buyers actually want

More homebuyers are starting to think snagging a "smart home" is a smart move.

Where smart home features were once considered a fringe benefit, more buyers are demanding them, and agents are taking notice.

A recent survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate showed that nearly two-thirds of its agents have found that homebuyers are more interested in homes with smart features and technology than they were just two to five years ago.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/media/10-smart-home-features-buyers-actually-want/

The Smart Home Revolution: Silvair Controls Your Home with the Touch of a Button

Given tech companies’ continued push to make our lives a little easier by focusing upon the development of smart home devices, it shouldn’t be long before every room in our homes can be decked out with affordable gadgetry that will see our living space turn into one glorious, connected ecosystem.

Enter the Silvair Control from Seed Labs, which is perhaps the best example of a device that can be utilized to control various aspects of your smart home. This circular button/dial contains a specialized chip that allows the user to control the lighting in each room, with the user tapping it, twisting it or sliding it in order to manage everything from their lamps, to their blinds and garage doors. It’s an intuitive, easy-to-use system, with the device being portable (it attaches to each wall using a square magnet), with its own docking station for it to be placed in when not in use.

Read more: http://www.craveonline.com/lifestyle/tech-and-gadgets-news/847085-smart-home-revolution-silvair-controls-home-touch-button

Best Wireless Home Security Cameras 2015

Want to keep an eye on your abode from anywhere? Wi-Fi security cameras are easy to set up; can stream video to your phone, tablet or PC; and will send you notifications if they detect motion or loud noises. Most cameras also provide automatic motion-activated recording and night vision.

We tested several of the best cameras on the market and rated each based on its performance, ease of use and affordability. Based on these criteria, our top pick is the Dropcam Pro from Nest.

Read more: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-home-security-cameras,review-2741.html

Test driving the antivirus for your home

Lots of people spend money on a home security system. So why are we leaving more and more of our digital property defenseless?

If you’re diligent, you’ve kept the bad guys at bay by running antivirus software on a home PC. These days, though, we’ve also got phones, e-readers and smart TVs. And what about connected thermostats, security cameras and garage doors? They’re all secret passageways into our living rooms.

We know these security and privacy threats lurk all over the house because good-guy hackers have found plenty. These vulnerabilities just haven’t turned into major criminal targets. Yet.

A new type of internet security product is designed to stand guard over the whole smart home full of gadgets. Rather than counting on antivirus on every device, they scan all the activity in your house for signs of trouble. If you click on a malicious link, or your thermostat starts sending a thousand emails per hour, your sentry will hoist a red flag.

Read more: https://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/4/15/technology/test-driving-antivirus-your-home

Dropcam vs Canary: rival home security camera watchdogs

There are many issues to weigh when buying a home security camera: price, video quality, design and storage. But first you do have to be comfortable with leaving a webcam in your living room, kitchen or (gulp) bedroom.

For the past few weeks I have been comparing the latest Dropcam, whose name is becoming synonymous with these cameras, and a start-up rival, Canary.

The two devices have been sitting next to each other in my living room. Just being able to look in on my home from anywhere, in high-definition video, provides some reassurance that all is well. I could also use the Dropcam Pro’s speaker to greet my wife when I saw her arrive home, but it freaked her out, so she asked me to stop.

Read more: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1a5e3318-e34f-11e4-aa97-00144feab7de.html#axzz3XV2c994a

Watch The American Home Get Supersized Over 40 Years

The data set Edlund used for the animation doesn't capture everything. He points to now-standard luxuries like supersized kitchens with premium appliances and countertops, and bathrooms with double sinks, as trends lost in the spreadsheets of data. I’d add that you don’t see all the furniture filling those extra square feet, or the home theaters, either.

It’s a good example of how source data sets, no matter how deep or well researched, don’t often tell an entire story. And in this case, not only did we distend the average American home to the size of a small castle; we began decorating it like one, too.

Read more: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3045079/infographic-of-the-day/watch-the-american-home-get-supersized-over-40-years

DTS:X Home Theater Guide

This week, High-Def Digest was invited to attend the official unveiling of DTS' new object-based surround sound platform. Nestled within their comfortable Calabasas headquarters, we were treated to several demos and a Q&A session, giving us a great idea of what to expect from the new technology.

Dubbed DTS:X, the upcoming audio tech does away with traditional channel-based encoding, mixing sounds as individual objects that can be adapted to any speaker setup. But just how does this new audio format perform and, perhaps much more importantly, how does it compare to Dolby's eerily similar Atmos platform? Is DTS:X now poised to become the immersive audio experience to beat? Or this just a case of audio format Deja vu? Well, let's start with the basics.

Read more: http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/DTS/dtsx/Surround_Sound/objectbased-mixing/Home_Audio/Receivers/Dolby_Atmos/Denon/Marantz/The_Avengers/age-of-ultron/Marvel/highdef-digests-dtsx-home-theater-guide/22341

The Hacker's Guide To Smart Homes

Sure, we’ve heard a lot about smart homes and how they’re the wave of the future. Yet that future has always seemed just over the horizon. But now several home-automation platforms have emerged that give Internet-connected devices--gizmos like lightbulbs, outlets, thermostats, and motion sensors--something they lacked: the ability to communicate with one another. With that, devices can take coordinated action to save you time, money, and labor. So what are you waiting for? Here’s how anyone can make a dumb house into a truly intelligent home.

Read more: http://www.popsci.com/hackers-guide-smart-homes

Is Amazon's Echo On Its Way to Taking Over Your Home?

Amazon clearly has big plans for Echo as more than just a wireless speaker that can deliver information. The company sees the device as a command hub for the home and a sort of central brain that can do all sorts of things.

These first home automation functions are likely just the beginning as Amazon rolls out more ways to control your house through Echo. The company is also opening up the platform to developers, which should result in increased functionality via third-party apps.

Echo is huge for Amazon because it replaces the smartphone, tablet, or computer as the home's central control device. That's great for the retailer, but it also could be very good for the future of home automation. Voice command, which Echo does very well, is a much more natural way to control a house than typing on a device.

Read more: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/12/is-amazons-echo-on-the-way-to-taking-over-your-hom.aspx

How much does a 'smart home' really save you?

It has become conventional wisdom that the wave of the future is "smart home" technology from smart utility meters that read a house's energy usage automatically to smart lights that turn off when not in use. The industry has been in development for years, but moved to the forefront of the start-up world when Google bought Nest Labs last year for more than $3 billion. Nest Labs makes a variety of smart home devices including thermostats and smoke alarms.

Smart home technology marries two of the most talked about trends in business right now – the "Internet of things" and green technology. Given the excitement around these products then, it is little surprise that smart home devices from Nest and others have been able to command astronomical price tags in home improvement stores across the country.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/04/16/oilprice-dotcom-smart-home-costs/25877805/

Microsoft Corporation's Latest Internet of Things Partnership Could Take It Into Smart Homes

Microsoft has responded with an interesting mix of strategies. Primarily, Microsoft uses Insteon's Hub to synchronize home automation devices to Windows. Insteon also grants Windows users unofficial "back-door" access to Nest. With Miele, it gains a presence in appliances to compete against Samsung. Like Samsung, Microsoft offers its apps and Azure services across multiple platforms, which maximizes its growth potential beyond Windows devices.

Microsoft hasn't received as much attention as Apple, Google, or Samsung in the smart home market. However, all of the building blocks are there: Windows 10 will unite various computing platforms, Azure will tether together multiple devices, while new investments and partnerships will connect home automation devices to Windows. Its partnership with Miele, which will further expand its presence in smart homes, is just another piece of that puzzle.

Read more: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/16/microsoft-corporations-latest-internet-of-things-p.aspx

Home Automation Extends Its Reach

Home automation extended its reach with announcements by appliance maker Miele, Bosch Security Systems and DIY home-automation supplier Insteon. Miele developed a proof-of-concept demonstration of an oven connected to Microsoft Azure’s Internet of Things (IoT) services, enabling consumers to program ovens to ensure meals come out “perfectly cooked,” Miele said.

Read more: http://www.twice.com/news/home-automation/home-automation-extends-its-reach/56745

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

LG reveals Minibeam Pro, Minibeam TV pico projectors

Not all the times do we have the luxury of having a gigantic LCD or TV display when and where we need the most. Sometimes, all we have is a blank wall or even a plain white sheet. And in those cases, you usually wouldn't have a hulking professional project at your disposal either. Good thing, then, that you have one of LG's newest Minibeam pico projectors at your disposal, to make short work of displaying anything anywhere, whether at on the spot business presentation or a cinematic movie experience at home.

Portable projectors are becoming the fad among the tech savvy because of, well, their portability, which equates to their utility in whatever situation, whether for work or for pleasure, outdoors or, usually, indoors. And with advancements in LED technology, users no longer have to worry about burning them out too soon. In fact, LG advertises that their LED units will last 30,000 hours. Or 10 years of use for 8 hours a day.

Read more: http://www.slashgear.com/lg-reveals-minibeam-pro-minibeam-tv-pico-projectors-23374822/

Ideas for making your bathroom just a touch smarter

You don't have to wait for a major home renovation to make your bathroom routine a little more intelligent. From splash-resistant speakers to smart lights and high tech toilets, you can experiment with adding modern touches without breaking the bank.

Even those of us who can't carry a tune in a bucket can let decent audio wash over us with the latest water-resistant speakers.

Kohler's Moxie wireless shower speaker is popping up on a lot of holiday gift idea lists. The speaker syncs with any Bluetooth-enabled device to stream music directly into the shower. The line recently expanded to include four bright colors. The speaker pod can be removed and used elsewhere. That means family members can share one speaker, or swap them in and out to take them on the go. The retail price lists at about $129 for a white speaker and stand.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/smart%20home/2013/12/20/smart-home-easy-bathroom-projects/4040807/

Is Samsung Falling Behind Apple Inc. and Google Inc. In This $71 Billion Market?

Last November, Samsung launched the SmartThings hub, which synchronizes data from Samsung smart devices to a mobile app on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. New Tizen-powered devices were expected to eventually connect to the hub as well, which would give the OS a new life in home appliances.

Unfortunately, the original SmartThings hub was plagued by connectivity disruptions and stability issues. The delayed next-gen hub was intended, along with the new devices, to fix those problems by processing data through local connections instead of the cloud.

The smart home market, which Juniper Research expects to grow from $33 billion in 2013 to $71 billion in 2018, could help Samsung simultaneously diversify its top line beyond mobile devices and strengthen its consumer electronics business.

Read more: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/03/is-samsung-falling-behind-apple-inc-and-google-inc.aspx

Security and compatibility hurdles hold back smart home appliances

Currently, the success of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been limited to applications in the health and defence sectors even as Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and other large tech companies develop new uses and applications for connected devices.

In the US, the online retailer Amazon has teamed up with appliance makers to launch an electronic “button” called Dash, hoping to get consumers excited about their Whirlpool washing machine’s ability to independently buy more detergent when running low.

At the Gitex shopper event in Dubai last month, vendors displayed lifestyle products for the first time, hoping to tap into the potential retail trend.

Makook, a smart living platform, held its global launch at the event, hoping to spark consumer interest in the technology.

“We have launched a box that can talk to most other devices in your home regardless of the platform they run on,” said John Larson, product director of content for Makook.

Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/technology/security-and-compatibility-hurdles-hold-back-smart-home-appliances-in-uae-say-retailers

'Kitchen Cousins' Talk Affordable, Smart Home Upgrades

Houses these days are getting smarter and so are their owners with an increasing number of wireless appliances, from thermostats to light bulbs! And it's a brilliant idea to begin these upgrades during the spring season. Simple steps such as changing a light bulb can make your home more efficient saving you time, money and stress.

An example is LED light bulbs that consumers are still trying to warm up to. And while the initial cost is higher than the incandescent or CFL light bulbs, they are still the cheapest and most energy efficient means by which you can light your home.

Read more: http://www.kdlt.com/kdltnews-news-kdlt-news-today/kitchen-cousins-talk-affordable-smart-home-upgrades/32210542

Savant Debuts Faster Smart Host with Embedded Control

Savant, a leader in premium smart home technology, today announced the all-new Smart Host, an update to their best-selling product that enables control over a home's lighting, climate, entertainment, and security from a single app.

The new Smart Host combines the functionality of a host and controller in a single unit, and can help automate a wide range of devices in up to twelve rooms. With incredible performance and a beautifully compact form factor, installation is simple—and its US MSRP of just $999 is the most affordable entry point yet to a Savant system.

"The all-new Smart Host allows our Authorized Integrators to offer Savant’s best-in-class premium automation software at an incredible value," said Savant CEO, William Lynch. "It makes installations faster, easier, and more affordable than ever—and starting this May it's going to be powering the next generation of Savant Homes."

Read more: http://www.azosensors.com/News.aspx?newsID=9400

Home Security 2015: The Internet Of Things (IoT) Brings Innovation AND Danger

A deadbolt used to provide ample home security. The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing that. If hackers can broach corporate security systems through their air conditioning controllers (like they did at Target), imagine what they can do with the IoT and your home WiFi network.

Suddenly your thermostat, fitness recorder, TV set-top box, and any other appliances that report to you are open doors to your WiFi, your computer and, ultimately, your personal and financial information.

“For example,” Todd Morris, CEO, Brickhouse Security, explains, “Cable companies aren’t in the security business. They provide dumb pipes into homes.” Then, they use the same type of routers for all their customers. Once a router is hacked, the entire customer base is vulnerable. Morris says he’s replaced the cable router in his own home with a more secure model to minimize the chances of being hacked, and also has installed security software on phones and computers.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sungardas/2015/04/08/home-security-2015-the-internet-of-things-iot-brings-innovation-and-danger/

How will the smart home change the way we live?

With What is the smart home?, I started a series that looks at the implications of the Internet of Things taking over our homes. The thesis is that the Silicon Valley geniuses who are designing smart thermostats don’t know much about how heating systems work, and the people designing smart houses don’t know much about houses or the people who occupy them. In 1956, if someone wanted a vision of the smart house of the future, they would go to architects; now it’s all about interconnected sensors designed by engineers. As much as I continue to praise the dumb home, we are going into an era of tumultuous change in how our houses work and how we interact with the things in them.

On e-flux, a journal "of critical discourse surrounding contemporary art, culture, and theory," Justin McGuirk worries about much the same thing in his wonderfully titled Honeywell, I’m Home! The Internet of Things and the New Domestic Landscape. He writes:

Read more: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/gadgets-electronics/stories/how-will-the-smart-home-change-the-way-we-live

'Smart Homes' Are Still Catching Up to Cloud Living

In an era when cars can parallel park themselves, cell phones can talk and drones can take video, it’s not surprising that “smart homes” might be the next step in our “connected” lives.

Smart home gadgets are poised to be the next big things—sales of smart gadgets are expected to exceed 36 million units in the next two years, according to Park Associates Research Firm.

But can the technology used to turn our homes into wireless nerve centers stand up to the challenge?

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/smart-homes-catching-cloud-living/story?id=28730604

Developer Best Practices for building Smart Homes

Early product developers were part of the reason for the slow progress. Grappling with the best way to capture revenue and secure their customer base, the nascent smart home market favoured proprietary systems to power their home-management solutions. This created a market characterised largely by closed, expensive business models that forced consumers to pay high monthly fees or purchase equipment that offered access to only a limited number of devices.

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2013 when a number of smart home technologies reached a tipping point and interest in the smart home and the Internet of Things (IoT) began to rapidly intensify. Research firm IHS Technology reported in October 2014 that the smart home market will grow by 56 per cent, compounded annually, over the following three years. That’s a total of 190 million products shipping by 2018.

As more consumers become educated on the benefits of the smart home, homeowners will be looking for easy-to-navigate, off-the-shelf products that can be introduced incrementally and networked into a unified solution. With such intense competition for this burgeoning market, how can developers ensure that their product stands the best chance of unlocking the smart home?

Read more: http://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/iot-2/developer-best-practices-building-smart-homes-2015-04

How to make your home a smart home: Smart lightbulbs, smart heating, smart switches & even smart doorbells

Installing smart lighting is a simple first step on your way to a smart home. Smart lighting can be pretty cool. Some of the bulbs we've tested allow you to set mood lighting for the different rooms in your house, control your lighting from afar from your phone or tablet, and schedule them to turn on and off at pre-set times. You can even use them as an alarm, gently waking you up in the morning. One of the smart bulbs we've tried can even blast out tunes from your ceiling.

You can also turn your home into a smart home by investing in a smart thermostat or smart heating system. You've probably seen the adverts for Hive with its quirky song about how great it is to control your heating from a laptop, smartphone or tablet. And yes, it is a cool thing to be able to do. But more than that, smart heating is likely to be a key part of every home going forward. As fuel costs rise and supplies run dry the ability to heat our homes in an efficient way will stop being a nice bonus, and become an essential part of every home's economics.

Read more: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/digital-home/3605663/how-make-your-home-smart-home/

Smart home hacking is easier than you think

Last March, a very satisfied user of the Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat left a product review on Amazon.com that shed some light on an unexpected benefit of the smart home – revenge.

The reviewer wrote that his wife had left him, and then moved her new lover into the home they once shared, which now featured the Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat. The jilted ex-husband could still control the thermostat through the mobile app installed on his smartphone, so he used it to make the new couple's lives a little less happily ever after:

Read more: http://www.networkworld.com/article/2905053/security0/smart-home-hacking-is-easier-than-you-think.html

Report: Hackers Can Eavesdrop on Your Smart Home Devices

Your gadgets are listening to you. Whether it’s an Amazon Echo, a Samsung Smart TV, a Wink Relay, or just Siri or Google Now on your phone, you are likely surrounded by machines waiting for the correct voice command so they can spring into action.

But if you have a device that isn’t secure, some stranger half a world away could also be listening.

This may sound like the plot of some cheesy Hollywood movie. It’s not. According to a report released Tuesday by enterprise security vendor Veracode, many “Internet of Things” devices lack fundamental security protections, which could allow them to be remotely controlled by attackers and — yes — used to eavesdrop on conversations in your living room.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/report-hackers-can-eavesdrop-on-your-smart-home-115788791209.html

Your Smart Home Will Be Hacked. Here’s How to Stop It

Some day, we will all live in smart homes. Automated gadgets running on the “Internet of Things” will manage our lighting and heat, keep our appliances humming, and free us up to do more important things, like play Candy Crush Saga 24/7.

Before they do all that, though, the “Internet of Things,” or IoT, has a lot of growing up to do. So far, tech startups have done a great job of churning out inexpensive gizmos that turn on the lights when you enter the room or start the coffee when you wake up, but they’ve done a mostly terrible job of making sure random strangers can’t also flip on your Philips Hue or control your Keurig.

Last July, Hewlett-Packard released a scathing report on the poor security of IoT devices,noting that more than 7 out of 10 have some kind of vulnerability.Over the past three years, devices like Nest’s smart thermostat, Kwikset’s SmartKey lock, Foscam’s baby monitors, and thousands of home security cameras have been compromised in the lab or in the wild.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/your-smart-home-will-be-hacked-heres-how-to-stop-115429949854.html

Could Amazon's Home Services Help Usher Smart Home Into The Mainstream?

Over the past couple years, interest in smart home gadgets, particularly those of the DIY (do-it-yourself) installation variety, has risen dramatically.

But with each purchase comes the need to install this stuff. The first few million consumers that have been willing to tackle installation themselves have done fairly well because, after all, early adopters are often more technical than the mainstream consumer and mostly have no problem with turning screws or connecting electrical wiring.

But for many, the idea of twisting a piece of electrical wiring is terrifying. And it’s the growing recognition of this hurdle to mainstream adoption within the embryonic smart home industry that has some exploring ways to help less tech-savvy consumers get their smart home up and running.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelwolf/2015/04/06/amazon-home-services-smart-home/

Smart Home & Neighbor Watch: A New Security Model?

For so very long, the central promise of home security service has centered on the idea of central monitoring. You know the drill: when an alarm is triggered, someone in a call center springs into action, calling the house and alternate numbers while also alerting emergency responders like the police if it appears to be a legitimate event.

All this is well and good, but here’s the problem: While central monitoring services are quick to respond (often within seconds), those who are supposed to do something - the police – often don’t get around to the house until long after an intruder is gone. According to the Bureau of Justice, 69% of police responses take longer than 5 minutes, and 45% of responses take longer than 10 minutes.

It’s not like the police aren’t doing their jobs, it’s just that they often have more pressing business, and there’s a good chance they’re wary of the many false alarms that come from home security systems.

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelwolf/2015/04/08/smart-home-neighbor-watch-a-new-security-model/

One-fourth of U.S. broadband homes see value in home monitoring services

Value-added monitoring services may still be in the development stage, but recent research conducted by Parks Associates reveals that about 25 percent of U.S. households that have a broadband connection see utility in value-added monitoring services.

Respondents to the research firm's survey said that they "find at least one value-added monitoring service very appealing."

While other services could emerge, the most common that consumers would use include energy, HVAC or appliance monitoring. Interestingly, Parks said that bundling these solutions with home services increases interest in monitoring by up to 50 percent.

"The residential security market landscape is changing rapidly, creating a threat to industry incumbents and an opportunity for both new and existing players," said Tom Kerber, director, Research, Home Controls & Energy, Parks Associates, in a release.

Read more: http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/parks-one-fourth-us-broadband-homes-see-value-home-monitoring-services/2015-04-08

Your home automation things are a security nightmare

It's not just home broadband routers that have hopeless security: according to security outfit Veracode, cloudy home automation outfits also need to hang their collective heads in shame.

With nothing but standard by-the-manual configurations and network traffic capture – but with no attacks against the devices or the cloud services – the testers reckon they turned up a variety of vulnerabilities in kit from Chamberlain Group, SmartThings, Ubi and Wink.

It seems that if you're the kind of uber-lazy gadget-fan who can't imagine pressing a button to do something voice control is possible, you're matched by uber-lazy device developers. Versacode found that all but one of the devices it tested failed even its non-hostile vulnerability tests.

Read more: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/08/your_home_automation_things_are_a_security_nightmare/

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Checking out the latest in sight and sound

A couple of times a year, Geoff Poor zaps an enthusiastic email into my inbox suggesting I visit his shop, Glenn Poor's Audio-Video, in the Old Farm Shops at Kirby and Mattis avenues in Champaign. For Poor, his business is as much a passion as a profession. I accepted Poor's invitation a couple of weeks ago.

He immediately seated me in front of the new LG 55-inch 4K OLED TV. Organic light emitting diodes (or OLED) may be the future of home video displays. OLED solves several problems inherent in conventional LED-illuminated LCD displays, but until now have been prohibitively expensive. OLED displays reproduce true black, similar to discontinued plasma technology. OLED reproduces a wider range of colors than standard LCD displays, although depending upon program source, this may be overkill.

Read more: http://www.news-gazette.com/arts-entertainment/local/2015-04-02/rich-warren-checking-out-latest-sight-and-sound.html

Cambridge startup launches 'audio CCTV' for the home

Audio triggered home security could be the next service to become part of the 'connected home' after Cambridge technology startup, Audio Analytic, launched its new Global Telecom Partner Programme.

The new programme is designed to make it simple for all telecoms operators and their hardware suppliers to integrate Audio Analytic's sound sensing and classification technology into home automation, monitoring and security products.

Read more: http://www.cabume.co.uk/software/cambridge-startup-launches-audio-cctv-for-the-home.html

New Savant Host Home Automation Controller is Cheaper, Faster, Streamlined, Z-Wave Ready

Savant, a maker of erstwhile high-end home automation systems for the professional installation channel, introduced a relatively affordable Smart Host controller a couple of years ago. While it has worked just fine, it requires several external pieces to get a good amount of I/Os, making the product less affordable than promised.

Enter the new Smart Host, announced today, which “retails” (sold through authorized integrators only) for $999.

Read more: http://www.cepro.com/article/new_savant_host_home_automation_controller_is_cheaper_faster_streamlined_z-/

Abode Home Security And Home Automation System (video)

If your home or apartment is in need of a new home security and home automation system a new Kickstarter campaign created by abode might be worth more investigation.

The team behind the new home automation and security system are hoping to raise $100,000 over the next 42 days to help take their new security system into manufacturing. Watch the video below to learn more about this complete security system and how it can be linked to your smartphone and mobile devices.

Read more: https://www.geeky-gadgets.com/abode-home-security-and-home-automation-system-27-03-2015/

Home security systems more intelligent than ever

Peace of mind is the most common reason why homeowners purchase a security system, according to Brian Duffy, president of electronic security for Per Mar Security Services.

Home security systems are smarter than they used to be. They can control lighting, heating and cooling systems, which Duffy said is driving their popularity. He said he only expects the market to grow in the future.

"It used to really be a luxury item to buy a home security system," he said. "With advances in technology it's become much more common."

Per Mar Security Systems, a family owned company based in Davenport, Iowa, serves various communities in the Midwest including Sioux City.

Per Mar Security Services offers security systems in many colors, styles and varieties. Systems consist of a keypad located by an entrance and sensors placed by doors and windows that detect fire, smoke, motion and broken glass. When the sensors are triggered, an alarm sounds and company's central monitoring station is notified. Dispatchers and service technicians are available 24/7 for Per Mar Home Security customers.

Read more: http://siouxcityjournal.com/special-section/siouxland_life/home-security-systems-more-intelligent-than-ever/article_0f1fcd18-b6fd-556c-ad4b-e695fd49be4b.html

Pioneer Announces First Batch of Home Theater Receivers For 2015

Pioneer has announced its first home theater receivers for 2015. The four new Home Theater Receivers in this first group are the VSX-830, VSX-1130, and Elite VSX-45, and VSX-90.

All four receivers adhere to HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 specifications. Other HDMI capabilities include 3D pass-through, and 4K pass-through at up to 60fps, Audio Return Channel, and standby pass-through, which allows audio and video signals connected via HDMI to pass through the receiver even when the receiver is in standby mode. In addition, one of the HDMI inputs on all of the receivers are MHL-enabled, which allows connection of compatible portable devices (smartphones/tablets), as well as the MHL-version of the Roku Streaming Stick.

Read more: http://hometheater.about.com/od/hometheaternewsandtrends/fl/Pioneer-Announces-First-Batch-of-Home-Theater-Receivers-For-2015.htm

ABB, Bosch and Cisco Establish Open-software venture to unify smart home technology

ABB, Robert Bosch GmbH and Cisco Systems Inc. confirmed the formation of an international joint venture called mozaiq operations GmbH to develop and operate an open-software platform for smart homes. The platform will help to unify today’s stand-alone solutions for home automation and offer interoperability across devices.

The platform, to be developed by mozaiq operations GmbH, brings the Internet of Things, Services and People into consumers’ homes, making it easy and secure for a wide range of products to communicate with each other.

Read more: http://www.automationworld.com/industry-news/abb-bosch-and-cisco-establish-open-software-venture-unify-smart-home-technology

Decoding the tech behind smart homes

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a much hyped term these days. Nowhere is that hype more evident than when it comes to the home automation market; a segment that’s primed for $16.4B in growth by 2019 alone. For today’s technology-adept consumers the idea of a smart home is a compelling one. Most already have in-home wireless networks, so the idea of leveraging that network to remotely control a home’s air conditioning, heating, lighting, security, and appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, and dishwashers seems like a logical next step. In doing so, they gain the ability to better manage their home’s energy usage and ensure it runs more smoothly. Best of all, they can control their home’s smart devices and systems anytime, anywhere using just a smartphone or other computing devices.

These are attractive benefits to consumers around the world and particularly in India where an increasingly tech savvy population has begun clamoring for smart home automation and control applications. Here, the home automation market has evolved from just heating and air conditioning (HVAC) and security systems to include such things as energy management, entertainment, fire detection and lighting systems as well. Increasingly, home automation is also being viewed as a key part of India’s smart grid initiatives.

Read more: http://www.firstpost.com/business/iot-house-decoding-tech-behind-smart-homes-2182527.html

Brits more interested in smart home tech than wearable tech

Smart home technology appeals to many people in Britain, according to research among 2,000 UK adults, yet less than a third (30%) are aware that the technology is already widely available. Such smart devices for the home, which connect wirelessly via the Internet and allow remote control over such home appliances such as heating, lighting and even cooking devices, were among the highest ranked technology of the respondents. More than half (56%) said such technology would make daily life easier.

Read more: http://www.bizreport.com/2015/03/brits-more-interested-in-smart-home-tech-than-wearable-tech.html

Securifi Adds Serious Home Automation To Its Almond Routers

Own an Almond router? It’s about to get a dose of home automation thanks to new firmware from Securifi. The company behind the clever (and attractive) routers just announced a new set of features that will better position its product in the marketplace.

These home automation features are a natural fit for Almond routers since Securifi designed the router to be showcased in a home rather than stuffed in a closet like most routers. The latest router can even be hung on a wall.

Securifi launched the original Almond router in 2012 and quickly followed it up with a new model in 2014. Then, earlier this year, the company pushed out another router that packs more of what made the first two special: It combines top-tier technical specs with a pretty face. And now it does home automation, too.

Read more: http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/31/securifi-adds-serious-home-automation-to-its-almond-routers/

Spring Remodeling: Trends in Kitchens and Baths

Among countertop materials, McKenna favors Quartzite and Caesarstone because they are low maintenance. For appliances, "we are still seeing Wolf and Sub-Zero in the upper bracket, but Miele is being introduced in more transitional and contemporary applications. I also think Jenn-Air is making a comeback, due to the price point and uber-current features," McKenna says.

Built-in kitchen desks were all the rage about 10 years ago, but they've fallen out of favor, Glink says. Homeowners are replacing kitchen desks with "more usable" countertop space and shelving, she says. "How people use technology in their kitchen has evolved for designers over time. People are using laptops now, and you don't need a whole desk for that," Glink explains. Consider building a technology station with lots of outlets in your kitchen, and create a space for everyone to recharge their electronic gadgets and cellphones.

Smart home technology is also an attractive feature for homebuyers. Homes that boast programmable thermostats and the ability to lock your front door remotely "make your house sell faster for a little more money," Glink says. Such technology extends to the kitchen as well. "Today we see refrigerators that will monitor and know when you are out of milk. In the next few years, you will be able to place your order with your food delivery service that will automatically deliver milk once you are out," Glink says.

Read more: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/03/31/spring-remodeling-trends-in-kitchens-and-baths

Video: What's Up Joey? Smart Homes

From smart phones to now smart TVs, it seems pretty commonly understood that if we put the qualifying word, “smart” before a tech gadget, it means that device can operate and often communicate with other gadgets intuitively and sometimes independently.
What does that mean when we talk about a Smart Home?

Basically, we’re talking about a home that is equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer.

“With a central brain in the home, I can add lighting and thermostatic controls,” says Stephen Ellis, CEO of MGB Homes in Sarasota. “I can go in and manipulate anything, and all of that happens from my iPhone.”

Read more: http://www.mysuncoast.com/entertainment/news/featured/what-s-up-joey-smart-homes/article_b5da5f0e-d6ef-11e4-b860-7fd681ce1674.html

The latest in Japanese smart homes: Why this market is central to R&D

The smart home is a trend expected to grow worldwide, but the reasons for implementation vary by region. Japan is a particularly interesting case due to the country’s advanced technological communities and dense population. The following is a snapshot of recent developments in Japan’s smart home market, in the context of broader global trends.

The global smart homes and buildings market is due to grow significantly between 2013 and 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.5 percent, according to Allied Market Research. Their report entitled “Global Smart Homes, Buildings (Energy Efficient, Automated) Market (Applications, Technologies, Products and End-User), Size, Share, Trends, Analysis, Research, Future Demand, Scope and Forecast, 2013 – 2020,” expects market revenue to grow to $35.3 billion by 2020, which is a significant increase from $4.8 billion in 2012. Rising energy costs, government initiatives and greater awareness of environmental concerns attribute to the rise we will see leading up to 2020.

The market of safety and security application expects to see substantial growth by 2020, with revenue reaching $6,132.4 million by 2020 with an expected CAGR of 34.6 percent. “This market is expected to evidence significant growth due to growing security concerns and enhanced safety features that smart automation systems can currently offer. With an increase in the working population, safety concerns with respect to aged parents and children is the biggest challenge. Smart home address these issues with highly-sophisticated remote monitoring technologies,” states Shreyas Naidu, Research Analyst at Allied Market Research.

Read more: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/03/30/the-latest-in-japanese-smart-homes-why-this-market-is-central-to-rd/

Smart homes: Consumers are ready to start living like the Jetsons

Consumers clearly see the benefits offered by home automation but they also have very specific requirements that need to be met before they’d consider investing, a new survey has shown.

The survey, which asked US, UK and German consumers their attitudes towards the smart home, showed that almost half (46 percent) of consumers think smart home devices will become mainstream within five years and revealed a strong preference for smart home solutions that offer tangible benefits.

The new research from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group released today shows that most appealing smart home gadgets are those that allow consumers to control their environment, such as smart heating/thermostats, smart lighting and smart security/monitoring devices.

Read more: http://betanews.com/2015/04/01/smart-homes-consumers-are-ready-to-start-living-like-the-jetsons/

Meet the $270 home security solution that saved me thousands

Even if you’re not a self-described technology and gadget enthusiast, you’ve probably seen “smart home,” “connected life,” “Internet of Things,” or “IoT” mentioned a few times here and there. Do you know what the Internet of Things is, though? Should you even care?

Beyond the buzzwords, smart home devices and IoT in general are emerging categories that really are worthy of all the hype. Why? As I mentioned in a recent feature, these devices are going to completely change the way we live our lives.

As a matter of fact, they’re already changing our lives today.

In our new “Connecting my life” series, we’ll focus periodically on how BGR writers and editors personally use devices that fall into the smart home and IoT categories. To start things off, I’ll focus briefly on a device I have been testing for the past couple of months called the Piper NV.

Home security systems with monitoring service are typically quite expensive. Beyond installation fees, the equipment needed to set up a home alarm system can easily cost between $500 and $1,000 or even more depending on your system.

Then you can look forward to paying $30, $50 or even more each month for monitoring service, which consists of a call center that is notified anytime your alarm goes off. Monitoring center staff then call a phone number they have on file and if they can’t contact you to get an “all clear,” they alert local authorities.

Read more: http://bgr.com/2015/03/31/iot-devices-review-piper-nv/

Reviewing Sound Bars: An Alternative to TV Home Theater Systems

WHEN it comes to great television sound, thin is definitely not in.

While the ever-decreasing depths of flat-panel, high-definition TVs are great for aesthetics, those same sets’ internal speakers are becoming anemic. Audio from most modern midprice televisions sounds thin and tremulous, unable to keep pace with the visual excitement of a high-definition basketball game or an epic adventure film.

The best way to create great sound is to use external speakers, placing them in front and behind the viewer, similar to a setup in a movie theater. A typical home theater system includes five speakers and a subwoofer, collectively known as 5.1 audio. But for those who do not want that headache, sound bars may be the answer.

Designed as a single horizontal unit, sound bars can significantly improve a television’s audio, allowing listeners to hear music and effects that would be inaudible without them.

Sound bars can approximate the more immersive effect of true multispeaker surround systems. They can be used on their own, and many can also work with an external subwoofer — a speaker that can enhance low frequencies, like explosions and bass notes — to add a more realistic experience.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/technology/personaltech/reviewing-sound-bars-an-alternative-to-tv-home-theater-systems.html?_r=0