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Friday, December 1, 2017

Smart Lighting that doesn’t require smart bulbs

When people think about the design of their home, their minds often go first to the furniture and ecor. One oft-overlooked factor is the lighting. Too bright lighting can give residents a headache, while too dim lighting can cause squinting and bumping into things. While many smart lighting systems require smart lightbulbs in order to function properly, Deako doesn’t. What’s more is that this smart lighting system allows you to control the lights in your home with or without your mobile device. This means you can control the smart lighting even if you don’t have your phone handy. Want to save the current lighting scene so that you don’t have to reconfigure it every time? Simply use the app to save up to three at once.

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Los Angeles Times' favorite smart home devices

You don't have to be rich to have an interconnected smart home that you can control with the swipe of your finger or the sound of your voice. Smart home devices are getting more powerful every day as the prices continue to drop. All you need to get started is a smartphone and a dash of digital know-how to have a Jetsons-worthy home of the future. All of the recommended devices on our budget buyer's guide satisfy at least one of several needs: convenience, security or connectivity. Most of the gadgets are simple to use, with only a few requiring an involved installation process. Home automation doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, a quick online search will likely reveal better deals than the retail prices we have listed here with each item. Here's how to build a smart home on a budget for less than $100 per device.

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Smart Home and Kitchen

The microwave revolutionized cooking by heating food in seconds. Now, experts say the kitchen is poised for another reinvention. The next wave will be fueled by smart appliances and voice technology. Whirlpool has already teased a concept for the smart kitchen. It includes touchscreens that populate recipes from internet, a refrigerator that reminds you when you’re low on milk and the ability to heat up a meal. While we’re still at years away from a fully connected kitchen, most of this technology already exists. The biggest challenge is getting devices made by different companies to communicate. Zoe Leavitt, senior retail and consumer packaged goods analyst at research firm CB Insights, told CNN Tech the future of the kitchen comes down to one ingredient: data.

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Smart Thermostats for Smart Homes

These days, almost any object can be connected to smart home: speakers, refrigerators, lightbulbs but when a person first decides to dip his toe into home automation, for his first smart purchase, he is overwhelmingly likely to choose… a thermostat. Smart thermostats allow users to control their home’s temperature. Thermostats were among the first smart tech to emerge, but even in a world where smart devices abound, smart home thermostats remain among the most popular. Why? Smart thermostats are surprisingly cheap — smart thermostat models can range in price from under $100 to just above $200, which is well below the price of other smart appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and clothes dryers. Thus, a smart thermostat is a relatively small investment for those just interested in smart home technology.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Savant Unveils New Smart Thermostat

With the introduction of its Multi-STAT thermostat, Savant joins the smart thermostat contingency with an elegant multipurpose solution complete with a built-in color touchscreen. The Multi-STAT provides homeowners with access to Savant Scenes with a finger swipe of the color touchscreen. This feature provides them instant access to numerous automation events in conjunction with climate control such as lighting, entertainment and others. The Savant Multi-STAT is compatible with HVAC systems, is configurable for either Fahrenheit or Celsius, and can be connected to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor temperature sensors, slab sensors and humidity sensors. Users can take advantage of Savant’s HVAC scheduler, as well as climate related notifications to their mobile device.

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New Smart Speaker competes with Sonos

Google has announced its smart speaker, the Google Home Max, which combines Wi-Fi streaming with the Google Assistant in a larger form factor than the company's first model. While the Google Home Mini appears to be modeled after the Echo Dot, the Max seems to be looking past Amazon and focusing on what Sonos is doing. The Max is a stereo speaker which supports Google's own Chromecast built-in protocol for Wi-Fi music. It offers multiroom capabilities and compatibility with dozens of apps, as well as the ability to work alongside "hundreds" of other products.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Millennials Want Smart Homes

It’s no surprise that millennials want smart home technology, but a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research has confirmed it. Their findings showed that 86 percent of millennials are willing to pay more for smart home technology. In fact, millennials are willing to pay an average of 20 percent more a month in order to secure a home with smart technology. They like electronic access, keyless locks, interconnected doorbells, mobile-controlled security systems, voice-activated assistants, and more. Wakefield Research also asked baby boomers to share their thoughts on smart homes. About 65 percent of baby boomers said that they would pay more for smart tech in their homes. It’s significantly less than 86 percent, but still a good chunk of the home buying and selling population.

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Smart home security need not be complicated

If there’s one place the modern smart home has delivered, it’s in home security. These days, you can outfit your house with all the sensors, alarms, and control panels in a matter of hours. Smart alarm and home security products generally fall into one of two categories. Products like Vivint and ADT Pulse will outfit your home with a custom selection of movement, door/window, and other sensors, fit control panels to your wall, and usually throw in 24/7 monitoring, all for a monthly fee. The flip side is DIY systems. These are generally more expensive upfront, since unlike the pro-install models they’re usually not relying on subscription fees to cover the costs. Low-power wireless has cut the cords, and in the process made do-it-yourself installation a headache-free affair. It can also makes these systems more friendly to those who rent rather than own their home.

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Smart Home Security

Samsung announced partnership with ADT that will make automated smart homes even more secure. The companies are launching a new self-installed security product powered by Samsung's SmartThings platform and ADT's professional monitoring services. The new Home Security Starter Kit from both companies comes with a security hub, two door and window detectors, and small motion detector. The security hub can also be used to control other SmartThings devices. But that's not all. The package also comes with optional ADT security monitoring services. Homeowners will be able to choose a level of monitoring when they buy the new Home Security Starter Kit.

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Automated Window Blinds for Smart Home

Brunt, a Korean startup, has the answer to a question: where are all the smart blinds? The Brunt Blind Engine, a fully-funded campaign on Kickstarter, a device that turns most types of blinds into automated smart blinds, complete with Amazon Alexa voice control. That might seem steep, particularly considering Blind Engine doesn't include a blind, but as someone that has spent the better part of two years searching for a such a device, it's very reasonable indeed. Lutron's Serena Smart Shades are well regarded, but cost $350 (plus another $150 for a smart hub). Somfy's motorised blinds require an installer, and don't integrate with third-party smart home tech. MySmartBlinds, a motor that attaches to existing blinds, is a good solution on paper, but reviews are poor.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Smart Homes & Energy Management

In the last two years, energy management has taken a leap. In the past, our engagement with energy usage followed a monthly cadence, leaving us with little opportunity to take action. Like looking in a rear-view mirror, our printed utility bill showed how much energy the entire home consumed for the month prior. Occasionally, this included some generalized energy efficiency tips and basic community comparisons. If the consumer decided to act upon the data provided, the impact was difficult to discern due to all of the factors affecting energy use. In our always-on, always connected world, consumers expect real-time experiences where they can access information from anywhere. Rear-facing, month-old views of energy use are not enough to meet the needs of today’s consumer and not enough to truly change behavior. They want to be empowered to engage and control their energy, resulting in a new relationship with their energy provider. Through these relationships, utilities can engage customers further – providing a pathway where they can not only access real-time information, but also act in real-time.

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Los Angeles Times on Smart Homes

As more affordable smart-home technology enters market, tech companies are jostling to get their virtual home assistants in the door. Many are even teaming up with home builders to develop connected homes from the ground up. In 2015, consumers bought 1.7 million voice-compatible devices, according to a report from analytics start-up VoiceLabs. Last year that number grew to 6.5 million. The company predicts that 24.5 million voice-compatible devices will be shipped this year, ready to field the requests of their owners to turn on the lights, lock the door or close the blinds and play some music. Consumers can buy HomeKit accessories for their existing homes. Apple in August also announced a partnership with home builder Brookfield Residential to create a smart-home community. Each of the 66 homes in the Los Angeles area development called the Collection comes with HomeKit built in, letting residents use an app to control the home or ask Siri to do it for them.

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Smart Home & Energy Providers

Growth of smart homes has accelerated over the past year. In 2016, 72 percent of consumers polled indicated they were unlikely to introduce smart-home technology before 2020. The respondents were also less inclined to pay for smart technology for the home. The reason for the shift is part down to the launch and marketing of Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. Both have been influential on consumer attitudes. There remains, however, a large section of consumers who do not want to splash out for IoT devices. The challenge is for energy companies to convince them. These drivers mean that energy providers need to adapt to the smart home concept and bring out services that either work in tandem with technology providers like Amazon, or bring out technologies of their own. There are risks with this, given the intense competition between energy providers.

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Smart Homes More Affordable

It's becoming cheaper to turn your dumb house into a smart one. Price has been the biggest hindrance to the expansion of the smart home. But recently, some of the biggest players in the smart home industry have helped lower prices to more acceptable levels for the masses. Nest (thermostats), August (door locks), and Ikea (light bulbs) have led the way in providing cheaper products. Nest introduced a $169 thermostat that’s just as good as the original $250 version, and there’s also the Ecobee3 Lite at the same price. August’s smart lock is now $149. Then there is Ikea, with its low-cost line of smart light bulbs. Ikea’s Tr√•dfri smart light bulbs start at $12 for a white bulb, compared to $20 for a TP-Link or $30 for a Philips Hue bulb.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Somfy’s motorized shades review

With the emerging market of motorized blinds and shades, Graber has partnered with the best motor and automation control specialists at Somfy. Each set of shades or blinds comes with uses Z-Wave technology to communicate with the blinds. The control itself has an in-built antenna, giving it an extended field of communication, but not messing with the sleek design of the remote. With the single-channel option enabled, the remote control allows the user to orient the blinds from virtually any spot in the common home. Installation of the blinds themselves can be a bit tricky, but not very time consuming if done correctly. The motor that does all of the heavy lifting runs off of 8 AA lithium batteries in an integrated battery case, or can be directly plugged into an outlet if one is handy. Once the motor is installed above the window, the shades can be controlled by the remote control, or integrated into a home automation hub like Wink or SmartThings.

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August adds smart locks and doorbell to Smart Home

August's Smart Lock Pro looks a lot like HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock. It works with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, but this version also adds in an August Connect as a bundled accessory. It has a new feature called DoorSense, which seems so logical that I'm stunned no one has introduced it before. It's essentially a door sensor built into the lock, with a second sensor accessory you either mount externally next to the lock or on the inside of the doorframe. With DoorSense, you can confirm that the door is actually closed (instead of simply locked or unlocked).

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Control4's new control for smart home

Part of the appeal of professionally installed smart home platforms like Control4 is that they come with on-demand access to technicians who can help you reconfigure your setup and keep things running smoothly. But now, the smart-home-as-a-service provider wants to help its customers call those technicians less often. The problem comes when customers simply want to fine-tune their system. "In the past, that would require a phone call to a dealer or integrator," Control4's Director of Product Marketing Brad Hintze told me. "That's a hassle to homeowners." Control4's answer: new, expanded controls for the company's 4Sight subscription service. This will integrate with over 10,000 Control4-supported devices and allow users to create rules that dictate how they operate.

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Los Angeles homebuilder builds smart home development

Many worries come with owning a home: doors left unlocked, packages stolen, lights left on, etc. One homebuilder is ready to make those anxieties a thing of the past. Brookfield Residential has teamed up with Apple for new project — named The Collection — to create a smart-home community. Located in the tech hub of Playa Vista, the contemporary homes feature the Apple HomeKit, which integrates home accessories such as lighting, thermostats, door locks and Wi-Fi into a user-controlled app. Smart-home tech isn’t new but what makes the development unique is that the Apple HomeKit comes standard in every residence. Homeowners can use an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Siri to control various elements of the home. With spoken word or the touch of a button, doors can be locked, temperatures controlled, lighting managed and Wi-Fi enabled. The company worked with Apple for about 15 months to integrate with the homebuilder’s specifications. Data from the home is encrypted and stored on the device, not the cloud, which gives consumers the most privacy.

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Building Smart Homes in California

Southern California’s strong job market for knowledge workers has also made it a prime ground for smart home platforms that builders are rolling out as standard equipment in an increasing number of new homes. While the smart home concept has been around for years, until recently individual devices or apps didn’t talk to each other and required an expensive and laborious integration process to sync them. Ultimately, that restricted users to a defined set of components, says C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs for Meritage Homes. But advances in technology are delivering smart home platforms that are more user friendly than ever. The systems operate on robust wi-fi coverage throughout the house, work seamlessly with a host of products, and link automatically to any internet-enabled household component, but also offer more control over energy and water use with timers and other settings. Meritage, for example, recently introduced its M.ConnectedHome Automation Suite, a smart home platform that became available in its new homes. It features connected door locks, garage doors, doorbells with embedded video cameras, light switches, thermostats, and irrigation systems. All are centered on providing security and convenience to homeowners.

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Affordable Smart Home Installations

Wouldn’t it be great to turn on your lights or adjust your home’s thermostat before you reached your front door? But being connected is expensive, right? Smart home setups might seem out of reach, but some great products are on the market that don’t cost as much as you might expect. Discover how you can connect your home at an affordable price. Convenience is probably the top reason most people want a smart home setup. Before you consider your options, decide what you want to connect. The list of connected devices is always growing. From security systems to thermostats, you’ll find something for every corner of your home, inside and out.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Installing Home Security System

The best home security system fit your lifestyle and the valuables you want protected. When looking for a system, consider your budget and ask for recommendations. To help determine what kind of system best fits your needs, call a professional installer. Look out for high-pressure sales tactics and offers that sound too good to be true. Before making decision, contact several companies before selecting one. Make sure they are licensed and always ask if the company runs background checks on employees. Ask for references and contact them about their experiences.

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Smart Home Increases Property Values

Survey by August Home found that most consumers cite home security as motivation to buy a smart home device. The most obvious smart home security devices to use are cameras that detect break-ins; they can also be serviced by companies that can further assess the danger. Smart home devices can also detect an array of other threats: smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, moisture levels, radon, and more. Smart locks can also be locked or unlocked from afar, removing the hassles of lost keys and pricey locksmiths. Even better, most smart home security products won’t drain your wallet as much as you might think. When you sell your home, smart devices can boost your home’s resale value by up to 5%.

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Smart-Home Security System

Home security systems have been around for a long time, typically involving a professionally installed network of sensors and other devices that are connected to a central monitoring. These systems are relatively expensive and are well-known to be susceptible to false alarms when residents accidentally trip the alarm. Lower-priced systems are limited in coverage and require personal attention while more costly systems still include 24-hour monitoring. Some new systems include smart technology, reducing the chances of a false alarm. At its most basic, a smart security system includes a camera.

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Consumer Trends in Smart Home

A recent ReportLinker survey highlighted consumer trends regarding smart home devices. In addition to smart devices, the survey observed trends regarding home automation systems and voice assistants. All respondents own at least one smart home device, with an average homeowner owning more than 3 smart devices. Despite the widespread use of smart home devices, many homeowners do not own automation solutions. Connected appliances are most widely used automation solution. Smart thermostats, smart security systems, and smart lighting solutions are used by at least one-tenth of the survey respondents.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Tips for DIY home security system

You don't have to invest in a multimillion dollar surveillance system to keep an eye on your property. You might be able to do the job with gadgets you already own, paired with free software. We've collected three types of systems you can pick from: free software on an old device, off-the-shelf cameras, or a DIY setup. Here's how to assemble each option as quickly and easily as possible. If you've got an old phone or tablet lying around, then you can turn it into a home security camera. Choose this option if you have just one or two rooms to keep an eye on. This setup will miss out on a few of the tricks offered by dedicated security devices but it will also save you some cash. To turn your device into a security camera, first choose a location for it.

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Control your smart home with a single command

For those unfamiliar with IFTTT, the name stands for if this, then that. It's an automation tool that specializes in bridging the gap between various online services and connected hardware. The possibilities seem nearly endless. The problem is, applets have always been limited to simple automations that adhere to a simple conditional statement: if this, then that. The Maker tier changes that. It introduces filters, which makes multiple actions possible. For instance, you can have an applet turn on your smart lights, but only after 5:00pm.

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Smart home now standard in California neighborhood

Delano community in Irvine, California will be the first neighborhood in the nation to offer Apple’s smart home technology, called HomeKit, as standard features, homebuilder Brookfield Residential announced. Residents will be able to control their front door lock, lighting and thermostat using smart home apps. “Our industry has been doing the same thing for many many many years — arguably well — but it hasn’t made as many leaps into the future as it might ought to have done,” said Adrian Foley, COO of Brookfield’s California region. “I think this connected home opportunity is a great platform for us to leap forward into the future and really distance ourselves from the used home market looking forward.”

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Accessible Smart Home

In 2017, the promise of the smart home is more or less reality. Companies like Apple and Amazon are using Siri and Alexa, respectively, to help customers control almost every aspect of their smart home. From controlling door locks to light switches to thermostats and more, the capabilities of these assistants are making tasks such as turning on the lights in the living room doable by just the sound of your voice or the tap of your phone. However convenient and futuristic, one area where the smart home has enormous potential is accessibility. For people with physical motor impairments, the ability to open doors and flip switches with only your voice has the potential to make the home more accessible than ever before.

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Tour of Savant powered Smart Home

The ultimate smart home should offer tech amenities that make your life easier, And that's exactly what we discovered when HGTV let us take a tour of its 3,300-square-foot home with a ton of great tech, starting with the Savant Pro home automation system. You can control everything from the TV and lights to the temperature, shades and home security using a pair of remotes, which support voice control. If you don't want to use a standard clicker, just pick up the iPad off the wall, which uses a LaunchPort,  magnetic induction charging system to keep juiced up and runs the same Savant software.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Turn Your House Into a Smart Home

The majority of Americans wish they could monitor and control their homes while away. Even 36 percent of renters say they’d pay more to have a smart apartment. “I think it’s important that people know that the smart home is completely customizable,” Patrick Mahoney, communication director for Wink, told the Observer. “You don’t need to have dozens of connected products, nor do you need to break the bank in order to benefit.” When people think of connected homes, their minds go to fully-automated dwellings, but it doesn’t have to be a technological overhaul. “I’d recommend anyone interested in the smart home to first think about the pain points they want solutions for,” Mahoney said. “Bolstering home safety? Making routine everyday tasks easier to carry out?”

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Securing Home Automation

There’s hardly a gadget that can’t be automated, especially in home appliances. From locks to lights and security cameras to speakers, homeowners love the convenience. Smart homes are not only more convenient and energy efficient, they’re also just plain cool. Unfortunately, studies show that industry growth has sometimes been more important than maintaining adequate security measures. Thankfully, homeowners don’t have to choose between an automated home and security, because with these easy tips, you can have both.

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10% of households have smart home security device

800,000 Dutch households have a smart home device for security. IP security cameras are popular, used in around 5 percent of homes, according to research by Multiscope. Survey finds potential in smart smoke and CO alarms. Over half the households said that additional security was an important reason to acquire smart home devices. This was followed by the ability to control home devices remotely

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Security, Privacy of Smart Homes

Recently, two stories have hit the news regarding security and privacy issues. Security is paramount to the success of the smart home. Feeling safe in your own home is a fundamental human need. However, if these devices do not carry the required level of security then at best they can be rendered ineffective, and at worst can make the home more vulnerable to attack. Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and remaining one step ahead of them is a complex business. However, when vulnerabilities are spotted, the companies concerned must act quickly to close loopholes and reassure customers that any issues have been corrected.

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Consumers got "smarter" in home automation

Consumers see more clearly how smart home devices can benefit their lives and plan to purchase such products in the future, according to survey by PlumChoice and the Z-Wave Alliance. Survey also highlights the need for companies to provide consumers a user experience that allows their smart home devices to fit easily into their lives. The report helps device makers and their partners understand current connected and smart home device ownership, interest in future purchases and perceived smart home device benefits.

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Smart Home Security by CleverLoop review

The CleverLoop Smart Home Security System consists of cameras and a base station that keep tabs on what's going on inside and outside your home. The security cameras are easy to install and deliver great image quality, and they store event-triggered video locally and to CleverLoop's free cloud service. Motion detection technology did an excellent job of reducing false alerts in testing. System comes with a required base station, two indoor cameras, and two outdoor cameras, but you can mix and match the number of indoor and outdoor cameras to suit your needs, each base station supports up to four cameras.

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Samsung's Smart Home products

Samsung has a smart device in many homes: The TV. Apple never entered that now-struggling category despite predictions to the contrary. For a platform company, TVs create a lot of upgrade drag. Things may be even worse for other products in Samsung's extensive home product portfolio that largely features appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, washing machines... Samsung has a better shot than many to become the strongest influence in the smart home, particularly given the phone's important role in controlling it both within and beyond the domicile. But the smart home is developed by consumers taking chances on isolated use cases often tied to security and lighting. Samsung also makes products here, but through a commercial group that has even more tenuous ties to its mobile division.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Impact of Smart Homes in Buildings

According to Dave Pedigo: “Homes and commercial buildings alike are typically not smart yet – they’re connected and programmed by smart people. What I mean by this is that most buildings that have some aspect of automation are built using conditional logic; for example, press this button and this will happen – or if this door opens, turn on the lights ... I honestly don’t see a huge difference between commercial and residential other than scale and how they are managed,” he continues. “There are many nuances between residential and commercial, but it is more regarding the client and the magnitude of the job. The technologies on the back end share many more similarities than differences.”

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Contractor: Most homes retrofitted with Smart Home locks, lights

Times are changing with smartphones now able to combine the power of interoperability, connectivity and machine intelligence for smart home technology. By connecting devices and appliances to everyday tasks, from opening the garage door to detecting break-ins to providing security for our property, to switching on and off lights our smart technology solutions are creating connectivity solutions that offer remote monitoring and more. How cool it is there is smart technology on the market that lets users check the contents of the refrigerator while at the market, turn on the air conditioning on the way home from the office and even lower the oven temperature so the main dish won’t burn when meetings run late. Securing the smart home starts with connectivity from the DIY easy-install automation products and/or building your new home with automation products installed at the onset.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Home Automation and Virtual Assistants

Until the release of these virtual helpers, home automation consisted of professionally installed systems that controlled everything, or managed services that provided monthly monitoring of things like alarm systems. Both are still available, but the revolution in the smart-home market is playing out in the individual components and smart devices that homeowners can control with these ubiquitous virtual assistants. Siri is the backbone for Apple's HomeKit, the smartphone app that can be used to control a variety of smart-home products. This platform provides a variety of helpful features to simplify the process of adding devices and labeling "Favorites." You can also organize the various components by "Rooms" and create "Scenes" that will control multiple devices with one command.

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Smart Home may make it easier to sell real estate

Smart home technology may make it easier to sell homes and real estate, especially to younger audiences. A recent survey revealed that 86 percent of millennials are willing to spend more money to rent a place with smart home technology already implemented. If they’re willing to spend more on rent, it stands to reason they’re willing to spend more for a home purchase. That same survey found 65 percent of baby boomers are willing to spend more to rent a place with smart home technology. Although that number is significantly less, it’s still pretty substantial. If anything, it shows that smart home technology is quite popular these days. In fact, that 80 million smart home devices were delivered globally in 2016, which is a 64 percent increase from the prior year.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Buying and Selling properties with smart home technologies

People who are selling smart homes are beginning to realize they need to hit the reset button on gadgets that might contain passwords and other sensitive personal information. And smart-home buyers often find that they need professional help to set the systems to their specifications. Coldwell Banker has set up a special training course to teach its agents how to prepare smart homes for sale and how to boost a home’s curb appeal by adding smart features.

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Connect your smart lights to Google Home

So your home now has a Google Home. You’re about to enter the wonderful world of digital personal assistants. For all the Philips Hue or Samsung SmartThings owners out there, you have full control when the lighting systems are connected with Assistant. “Okay Google, change the color of light in the living room.” This is perfect when you are stuck cooking and your date is coming over in ten minutes.

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What to expect from Smart Homes in 2017

Amazon offers the Echo and Echo Dot, voice-activated speakers of varying size that employ the company’s Alexa technology to answer your questions, engage your digital media libraries and control your smart home products. Google’s recently released Home is a similarly capable speaker solution, but the brand’s rich history in search may serve to separate the device, which is linked to Google’s expansive information database, in an increasingly crowded hub space. Or that’s Google’s hope, at least.

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