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Let’s Get Flexible: Smart Home Products Get Friendlier

What you connect and how you control them are some of the themes behind the launch of new home-automation products from a variety of companies.

To expand consumers’ product choices, Icontrol Networks has enabled other-brand devices to integrate with Icontrol-powered systems via the Cloud, not just via the Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave standards. August expanded its selection of smart home-access products, which now include its first Apple Home-Kit-enabled product. And thermostat supplier Lux Products launched its first Wi-Fi thermostat.

With the launch of new products from Fibar Group, control options have grown beyond smartphones and tablets to include a battery-powered button and gesture-control pad.

Here’s what the companies announced:

August: The company expanded its selection of smart home-access products, added its first Apple Home-Kit-enabled product, and launched August Access service, which lets service personnel enter homes equipped with the August Smart Lock with homeowner permission.

Three new products expand the company’s selection beyond its single Smart Lock, launched a year ago. They are an Apple Home-Kit-certified Smart Lock, the company’s first video doorbell and a keypad.

The service providers participating in an August Access beta are Sears, Postmates,, Handy, Fetch, Shyp, BloomNation, Envoy, Rinse, HelloAlfred, Wag, Pillow and Doorman. The companies provide home repair, delivery, shipping, cleaning, elderly care, dog walking and other services.

At no extra charge, consumers use the August app to select an approved partner and request a service. Users provide a unique, one-time key code or virtual key to service providers so they can enter, and the consumer will be alerted via their app when service providers enter or exit the home.

The company’s other new products are the $79 Smart Keypad and $229 Home- Kit-enabled Smart Lock, which joins the current $199 Smart Lock. The products will be available before Christmas.

The HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock delivers Siri control of locking, unlocking and status checking. The August Smart Keypad works alongside the battery-operated Smart Lock to enable access without using a smartphone. Unique codes are auto-generated for one-time use or for regular use by friends, family or service providers. The August Doorbell Cam, equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE, lets users see and speak with visitors at the door from anywhere via one-way 140-degree HD video camera and two-way audio. Motion detection captures images of visitors even if they don’t ring the bell.

Fibar Group: You don’t need a smartphone, touchscreen or keypad to control home-automation systems anymore.

Fibar Group launched a battery-operated Button that can be pressed to run customized scenes in a Fibaro home-automation system.

The button can be mounted on any surface and in any position, even under a desk. It uses Z-Wave technology to communicate with security devices, alarms and other connected devices. The Button is available in different colors so if people want, they can assign a different function or different scene to different buttons. Pricing hasn’t been set.

The Button will join Fibar’s recently announced gesture- control panel.

Icontrol Networks: The company expanded the selection of Icontrol-compatible products by enabling devices to integrate with Icontrol-powered systems via the Cloud, not just via the Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave standards.

Cloud integration technology enabled the company to certify new applications and devices such as AccuWeather, Rachio’s Iro smart sprinkler controller and Nest’s Learning Thermostat. Icontrol is also working on inclusion in the Works with Nest program.

In another initiative, the company is trying to make it easier for consumers to find products that connect to home-automation systems built on its platform. The platform is used by such service providers as ADT and Time Warner Cable, by start-up SmartHome Ventures for its retail-distributed product, and by Icontrol itself for its Piper retail-distribution brand.

As a result, Icontrol opened up an online Piper Marketplace to let consumers choose products compatible with the Piper $199 home-automation hub/HD security camera, which features Wi-Fi, and Z-Wave.

The company is also considering a “white label” marketplace that service providers and other platform users can brand.

Lux Products: Philadelphia-based Lux Products, a supplier of programmable thermostats, brought out its first Wi-Fi thermostat, the $179 Lux/Geo Wi-Fi thermostat.

The battery-powered device costs almost 30 percent less than competing devices, the company said. It’s available at Amazon. Lux’s other products are available through a variety of retailers.

The thermostat comes with grayscale display, a control-wheel interface, built-in Wi-Fi, control from iOS and Android apps, and built-in adjustable geofencing. It can be mounted in portrait or landscape mode and comes in black and white.