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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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