Yesterday's announcement of Project Connected Home over IP promises to pave the way to a standards-driven market for smart home products with easier setup experiences, more compatibility, and flexibility with different ecosystems. While this is good news for consumers, it's bound to shake up the industry. Silicon Labs, the owner of Z-Wave, is already responding with today's announcement that it plans to open the Z-Wave standard to third party manufacturers and development in 2020.
Inter-operability in the smart home isn't a given. Even when using standards like ZigBee and Z-Wave, you'll still find products from different companies that don't work well together. This is why today's news that Fibaro's devices are now compatible with SmartThings is quite nice to hear.
I look around at my hallway console nowadays and see a Canary camera, a Google Home, and a SmartThings Hub v2. Not to mention the Synology server, router, and a few other miscellaneous tech items. The idea of having all three integrated in the same device, saving space and unnecessary wiring is quite appealing, and that's what Toshiba's new Symbio aims to do.
It's a 6-in-1 device: a 1080p wide-angle "low-light" camera with sound and motion alerts, a smart sound detector for babies and pets and even legacy alarms around the house, a Bluetooth and WiFi streaming speaker with ODMD driver, a voice control interface with Amazon Alexa built-in, a smart home hub with ZigBee and Z-Wave radios, and an intercom for communicating between Symbios and phones.
Following the recent onslaught of home security systems from Nest, SmartThings, and Ring, Wink is throwing its name into the game and announcing Wink Lookout. The Lookout kit will cost $199, which is more in line with Ring's pricing, but it doesn't ask for any monthly subscription fees. That's both a plus and a minus.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's look at the kit. It comes with the Wink Hub 2 ($99), two open/close door and window sensors ($29 each), one motion sensor with adjustable sensitivity ($39), and one siren and chime with a built-in ring of LED lights and 10 selectable sounds ($39).
We've seen levitating Bluetooth speakers and connected smart cameras before, but the Moon, a fully funded Indiegogo project, melds those technologies in a $209 ($330 at retail) floating robotic eyeball and base that can also act as a smart hub for your home. That is, if it ever ships. The typical crowdfunding caveats apply. Some Indiegogo projects don't have much of a future, and this is 1-Ring's first.
The Moon, which comes from 1-Ring Inc., comprises a wide-angle lens embedded in a sphere made of plastic, aluminum, and rubber. When the smart camera is levitating above its base unit, it can give its owner a 360-degree scan of whatever room it's placed in.
I bought an apartment in October. You can imagine the joy at the thought that it'd be my future family's home, terror at the sight of the mortgage value on the signed contract, and all the excitement about getting to set up a house from scratch. I could pick everything that I loved from design to materials to colors to organization, and yes, also automation.
I wanted lights that turn on when the doors open, A/C units that cool the place when I'm coming home and the outside heat is too much to bear, cameras that catch intruders the moment they are detected, a washing machine that notifies me when the load is done, colored lights that coordinate with whatever I'm watching on TV, blinds that open and close with the sunset and sunrise, and much more.
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.
Piper is a nifty little gadget that combines a number of recently deployed technologies to create a connected and hyper-aware home automation hub. The project has been getting a lot of press since it appeared on Indiegogo a couple of weeks ago, and it passed its $100,000 funding goal today. There's another twenty days before the project ends, so the creators won't be wanting for funds.
Piper is essentially is a little box that's stuffed with a ton of sensors and WiFi connectivity, making it the hub of a connected house. It functions as a security and monitoring tool first and foremost, thanks to a panning wide-angle webcam and microphone.
Let's be honest, most of us will never get to live in a crazy futuristic home like the Jetsons, but that doesn't mean we can't strive for a few of the simple luxuries. To that end, Doug Gregory is on track to make his living room smarter than the bridge of the USS Enterprise, all with a few electronic controllers and extensive use of Tasker. There's no way around it, you really need to see the video for this one.
Not counting home theater equipment and the Nexus 4, Doug was able to put everything together for less than $300, but he appears to have had the advantage of working for an authorized dealer.