Showing posts from August, 2015

PEQ Review: Not Quite Smart Enough

When it's working, I like PEQ's smart home platform, which starts at $120 for a starter kit. The interface is absurdly easy to use and it covers all the basics pretty well, giving you a way to automate various aspects of your house in a variety of simple ways. For example, you can set up a simple rule so that any lights connected to your PEQ hub turn on whenever you open a door. You can also just have the lights flip on and off at predetermined times. Or, you can pull out your smartphone or tablet and flick various lights, plugged-in devices and other appliances on and off at will. Where PEQ falls short is that it costs a fairly steep $10 per month to use. And once you factor in that aspect, in addition to the pretty high cost of PEQ's bundles and piecemeal add-ons, I'm less enthused about this smart home platform. Read more:,review-2958.html

What Is A Connected City? IoT, Big Data And Why You Should Care

What is a smart or better said, a connected city? By 2020, more than 50 billion smart sensors devices, connected objects or embedded sensors will be connected to the internet as part of a gigantic IoT (Internet of Things) network; the fabric of a connected city. An enthralling potent network, constantly generating large data sets, defining a new world where just about anything is virtually connected, communicating and exchanging data in real time. Data? What data? Your data, my data, the entire city’s real time data. As sensors spread across almost every industry, the internet of things is going to trigger a massive influx of big data. The IoT will massively increase the amount of data available for analysis by all manner of organisations. Read more:

Peek inside Honda's radically efficient, energy-producing smart home

If it seems odd for a car company to get involved in home automation, it’s because Honda is actually looking at the bigger picture. Honda and UC Davis researchers are looking at how devices work together, and how they can influence climate change, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The dishwasher is from Bosch and KitchenAid made the refrigerator, but the energy management system is Honda’s. The company also wanted someone in the family to drive about 30 miles per day, testing its electric Fit and accompanying charging equipment. Read more:

The smart home and a data underclass

Domestic appliance manufacturers and technology companies have big plans for our homes. From remote controlled heating devices such as Nest and Hive to intelligent fridges, smart TVs and connected washing machines, our appliances will become smart, automating many of our everyday tasks. But true to the notion of the internet of everything in which both things and processes are connected, smart devices won’t just eliminate everyday tasks such as supermarket orders, they will also establish new business relationships. Read more:

How smart home systems help with aging in place

Smart homes are the wave of the future. Many fans of home automation are enamored of the technology behind these systems, which allow us to program our vast array of electronic household devices and operate them from afar. However, beyond the fascination of technology for its own sake, smart home systems can be harnessed for a vital purpose -- helping Americans age in place. The AARP reports that 90 percent of seniors would prefer to stay in their home as long as they possibly can. Couple this with the fact that the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to nearly double by the year 2030, and you’ve got a potentially huge population segment that can benefit from home automation. Read more:

How to Set Up a Just-Smart-Enough Smart Home

My own quest to create a smart home started in the mid ’90s, back when I was single and living in a studio apartment. Now, after 20 years of wrestling with various systems—from X10 to the recently released Apple HomeKit-certified products—I’ve come to a stark realization: Until all the kinks are worked out and the set up is simplified, the best way to create a home of the future is to use products from the past—those tried and true devices that just work, whether or not they have a steady Wi-Fi connection. Below, five tricks that any house can learn, without your having to configure complicated gizmos. Read more:

Origin Omega home theater desktop review

Connecting a computer to a television has long been a dream of PC gamers. In theory, it provides the best gaming experience possible, combing the big-screen beauty of an HDTV with the graphical firepower of a fully armed and operational desktop computer. Consoles can’t hope to keep up. Yet a number of problems can block what seems an easy route to gaming nirvana. Desktops don’t easily fit in a home theater, and those small enough to squeeze in often do so by limiting the performance options. Plus, controlling a computer on a couch can be a pain, and the price of a powerful PC makes even the latest consoles look cheap. Read more:

Epson Cinema Home 3500 Home Theater Projector Review

Summer is in full swing and you want to throw an amazing outdoor viewing party — this is the natural domain of the projector. We’ve looked at quite a few pico projectors, but while the convenience of pocket-size portability is nice, you’ll be hard-pressed to satisfy a crowd, especially as you get to bigger screen sizes. To get the kind of brightness and resolution you need to make things go off without a hitch, even in daylight, you need a full-sized projector with top-of-the-line hardware. The Epson Home Cinema 3500 Home Theater Projector isn’t quite that, falling into Epson’s mid-range line of full-sized projectors, but it’s more than capable enough to warrant consideration over more expensive competitors. Read more:

Canary: A home security system with a big drawback

The smart-home market is on fire these days, with countless innovative gadgets available. The category includes the "Internet of Things," automated-home products and DIY home security. Canary belongs to the last group. Originally an Indiegogo contender looking for $100,000, it eventually accrued 20 times that amount and started shipping to backers and to retail (namely, Best Buy) earlier this year. Canary wants to be a disrupter, but as we'll see, it will have to fix a basic problem first. Traditional home security systems can be expensive up-front and weigh users down with monthly subscription fees. They often require being wired into the home and are consequently not always friendly to apartment dwellers and home renters. Read more:

Silicon Valley will soon become a massive player in home security

According to a note on home-security firm ADT from Citi, Silicon Valley-backed security systems that are self-installed and self-monitored are going to become the new norm for home security. Currently, there are three types of home security on the market. The industry giants run traditional professionally installed and monitored systems, like what ADT offers and telecoms such as Comcast and AT&T have begun to roll out. These represent 93% of the home-security market, says Citi. Read more:

High-tech house: Los Altos Hills showplace boasts innovative features

“From anywhere in the world, or from the living room sofa, you can open the gate for a delivery man, open the front door, change the temperature in the house, open the shades and so forth,” Yiu said. There is a wall-mounted iPad on each of the three levels (did we mention there is an elevator?) and one in each of the master suites. Call it the latest in Savant technology. Read more:

Savant on Being the Only High-End Home Automation Co. on the CES 2015 Show Floor

At CES 2015, Savant was the sole custom-focused home automation (with multiroom audio/video) company on the main floor. There were others like Control4 and URC that held intimate meetings in suites, and several that had a small presence in partner booths – Clare Controls and URC with Powerhouse Alliance; Leviton (HAI) and Bitwise with the Z-Wave Alliance; and Elan with Nortek. But Savant took a chance on the new Smart Home marketplace in the Sands this year with a sizable but simple space. Read more:

Case Study: A Whole-Home Automation Project Fit for Royalty

One standout area of the project is the custom-made media room in the basement. This deceptively simple space is focused around a relaxing, half circle sofa and compact, coffee table. But, with one press of the Savant-controlled touchscreen, the space magically transforms. The coffee table disappears into the floor allowing the sofa to slide forward and over the now empty space. From behind the sofa, five Fortress cinema chairs appear from beneath, thanks to a Future Automation automated lift mechanism. A large Screen Research projector screen descends down from a concealed ceiling slot in front of the sofa and a Runco projector from Pulse Marketing noiselessly slides into position behind a wall at the rear of the room. The blinds automatically descend to create a perfect movie-viewing environment, 11 hidden speakers power on, driven by Procella amplification and a Datasat RS 20 audio processor to complete a unique media room transformation. Read more:

Must-have: speaker light bulbs

An LED light bulb with a built-in speaker is something I wish I’d thought of. It’s really a simple yet genius concept. LEDs are the best kind of home lighting today because they’re energy-efficient and they’re not limited to a single color. The ones available in the market can dim and change colors, just like the notification lights on certain phone models. And by putting in a speaker, well, that’s just a party. Most people go for wireless speakers because we all hate wires, right? But the problem with them is that they run out of juice at some point and we’ll have to plug them in again and again. Read more:

How This Light Bulb Makes It Easier for You to Stream Music

Astro is putting a fresh, new twist on the "smart" light bulb -- the ability to stream music directly through a connected light via Apple AirPlay. No extra hardware, "smart" home hub or Bluetooth connection required. All you need is a Twist, the New York City-based startup’s innovative LED light-bulb-and-speaker hybrid launching today. To play tunes through the small, white flat-top bulb from any screw-in lighting fixture, you simply choose a song or a playlist from your iPhone, iPad or Mac laptop or desktop computer, and AirPlay and Twist do the rest. Read more:

Speaker Lightbulbs Latest Offering in Home Automation Trend

Home automation, once the wave of the future, is becoming more and more mainstream as tech giants like Google, Amazon and Samsung jump on the bandwagon in product development. Sample consumer options in this burgeoning market include the Hue Light Bulb by Philips, the Amazon Echo, which connects to the cloud, the independently funded Indiegogo development of Buddy Robot and the latest, a smart lightbulb and HD speaker in one. LightFreq Square2, an Indiegogo project led by Devon Alli, has been hailed as "the smartest lightbulb with sex appeal," boasting 16 million colors to set the mood and tone of the room, as well as a whole house intercom system and high quality audio and streaming capabilities. Read more:

Five surprising things you can control with your phone

The Internet of Things is coming and it’s going to connect your fridge, washer and dryer, dishwasher, thermostat, lights and everything else in your home to the Internet. That means you can monitor and control these appliances through your smartphone no matter where you are. Want to trigger your smart crockpot or smart thermostat on the way home from work? You can. Need to see if your load of laundry is done, or turn on your lights so it looks like someone is home? No sweat. There is one hitch, though. Read more: