Some homes are smart, and the Logitech Harmony serves as their brain. It provides a single location to control all the things, assuming of course that the products are supported. The latest update adds quite a few more to the list ranging from door locks to thermostats and a few things in between.
In recent years, Dropcam has been the leader when it comes to smart home security cameras. FLIR recently jumped in to the market with the FLIR FX wireless security camera. This is a mobile-centric security system that offers cool ways to review your video and receive alerts on your phone when something goes down at home. Let's see how it performs.
Alarm.com, despite its security-oriented URL, has become a thriving platform for home management hardware and software both defensive and benign. The latest update to the app, version 3.2, adds a handful of small but important features and adjustments that should make it much easier for users of compatible automated home hardware to get stuff done. The updated version appears to be rolling out in the Play Store with no delays, so no need to track down the APK.
Left: old light screen. Center and right: new light screen.
The biggest change tipped to us by an avid user is the new interface for managed lights.
We don't get to talk about FLIR much on an Android blog, but that Seek thermal camera was neat, right? Now FLIR is releasing another consumer-level imaging solution, but this time it's taking on the home surveillance market with the FLIR FX. This $199 camera has all the bells and whistles of the competition, and then some.
The similarly priced Dropcam is probably the most well-known competition for FLIR, but the FX seems to have a few advantages. For one, it can record to a microSD card if you don't want to deal with the cloud or subscriptions. FLIR has also created a feature called RapidRecap that lets you review hours of footage in a minute by speeding up and overlaying frames.
LIFX is another one of those "smart bulbs," an LED light bulb with some basic electronics and a Wi-Fi connection built in, competing with platforms like HUE from Phillips. Today the manufacturer's official app gets a significant update to version 2.0, focusing on more connectivity options and integration with other software systems. Owners of the pricey bulbs can download the updated app now and connect individual bulbs to their LIFX account.
When I was in the process of opening my small pharmacy more than 3 years ago, I contacted a security firm and installed several thousands of dollars worth of surveillance and alarm equipment. It works reliably, but it's a huge pain to change any setting in the system (there's no user interface, just a bunch of wires and keys) or get any footage out of it. It feels antiquated compared to today's more modern Internet-connected smart solutions with simplified experiences, but that was the most appropriate choice at the time.
A couple of months ago, I got a Piper unit, a "smart, elegant, security and home automation" system as the company markets itself.
Alarm.com is one of those ubiquitous home security companies that sells home safety packages, and like a lot of their competitors, they had an Android app simply as a check mark for comparison shoppers. Before today, the previous version of the security system's mobile component looked like it hadn't been touched since 2010. Yesterday's update fixed that primary problem with an extensive user interface refresh, granting easy access to all the security and automation features installed in a home.
New above, old below.
Yes, it's Holo, and yes, it works on tablets. A slide-out menu lets you access every subsystem independently: security, still images and video, automated locks and garage doors, plus the lights and thermostat.
We've already seen a short video where Android Wear is used to do simple things like toggle lamps and open a garage door, but Armando Ferreira took that concept and applied it to all the things. In this video demoing home automation with Android Wear, he toggle lights, a popcorn maker, and a PC, but doesn't stop there. He also uses his G Watch to adjust his home's thermostat, turn on the TV, and get a notification if any of the doors or windows in his house are opened. It's pretty nuts.
A young Android device doesn't become a man until Tasker has come along to usher it into adulthood and some developer has used it achieve greatness. In the case of watches with Android Wear, this doesn't even require much work, for all the ingredients are already in place. This YouTube video shows a wearer using his Samsung Gear Live to control his home using Tasker and a selection of AutoApps.
In the video, we see developer Doug Gregory operate his living room lamp by issuing voice commands to his Gear Live. Likewise, he swipes on the watch's display to toggle the lamp manually, with the background changing to show whether the light is on or off.
With enough money, a collection of Z-Wave devices, and a Vera smart home controller, it doesn't take much to turn your home into an intelligent fortress. There's even an Android app by Vera that puts control of everything into the palm of your hand. But if we've learned anything over the years, it's that you're not impressing anyone until there's a Tasker plugin that can automate everything for you. Now there is.
AutoVera comes to us from joaomgcd, the maker of the best Tasker plugins out there, and security is far from its only application. Not only is your phone able to respond to anything that happens in your home, the opposite is the case as well.