Smart-Home Suppliers See Rooms For More

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Newcomers continue to enter the smart-home market while established players expand their selections, lured by such forecasts as a Park Associates study that predicts half of North American broadband households will be smart homes by 2020.

In recent days, Intrix and MivaTek entered the market, start-up Roost expanded its selection, and startup J2 said it is closing in on a ship date (see story below). For its part, GE Appliance expanded the connectivity options of its connected appliances.

Ownership of smart home products increased from 16 percent to 19 percent of U.S. broadband households in the past year alone, said Parks, and 44 percent of households that do not have a smart home device plan to purchase one in 2016.

“Adoption of the connected lifestyle continues to expand as the supporting technologies mature and the value propositions of smart, connected devices and streaming services are better understood by consumers,” said research analyst Brad Russell. Growth is also propelled by growing consumer access to fixed and mobile broadband networks, he added. Broadband adoption will reach 84 percent of U.S. households in 2016.

Here’s what various suppliers are doing to tap into growth:

Intraix: The Singapore start-up wants consumers to turn their existing Wi-Fi router into a smart-home hub by plugging in a USB stick incorporating smart-home technology.

The company’s Klug Home USB stick incorporates wireless ZigBee HA technology to deliver smartphone control of ZigBee- and Wi-Fi-equipped smart-home products. They include products from Nest and SmartThings as well as Philips Hue lights, EcoBee thermostats, the Netatmo Weather Station, Billion and Belkin WeMo smart plugs, and various alarm systems and motion sensors. Klug Home also offers IFTTT support.

Klug Home delivers voice control of home-automation products via Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and OK Google (Google Now). The product is available for pre-order on Indiegogo at $79 for early adopters. The regular price will be $109. The first units are slated to ship in October.

MivaTek: The supplier of seniors-oriented smartcare products such as panic buttons, fall buttons, and activity trackers is entering the smart-home market through its new Home8 division.

The new products, available at, include a $229 Smart Garage Starter kit. The kit connects to existing garage-door opening systems to enable remote monitoring and control. It also includes a garage-interior siren and HD camera.

Nest: The company developed an open-source version of the Thread wireless home-network standard to accelerate the adoption of Thread technology. Nest contends the move will accelerate adoption because suppliers will be able to use Nest’s implementation of Thread rather than take the time to develop their own.

IPv6-based Thread was developed by the Nest-led Thread Group, which certifies the interoperability of products that meet the Thread standards.

Although suppliers adopting OpenThread don’t need to participate in the Thread Group’s certification program, by not doing so, their products can’t be guaranteed to interoperate with certified Thread products, Nest said. A product developed with Nest’s OpenThread code also can’t be identified as Thread-certified unless it undergoes certification.

Thread and OpenThread run on existing products incorporating the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless radio, which is also used by ZigBee-based home-control products. Nest products and Google’s OnHub Wi-Fi router feature Thread-compatible radios, and more than 30 products have been submitted to the Thread Group for certification. Millions of devices worldwide already have the hardware needed to run Thread, Nest added.

Neither Thread nor Open Thread guarantees the interoperability of different brands of products that incorporate the technologies. For that to happen, companies would have to marry Thread and OpenThread with a common application layer, such as Nest’s Weave or ZigBee’s application layer. The ZigBee Alliance is currently working to add Thread support to its application layer.

Roost: The start-up launched its first pair of smart smoke detectors following the CES 2016 launch of the Roost Smart Battery, which turns existing smoke alarms into smart alarms.

The $79-suggested RSA-400 detects smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and natural gas, and the $59-suggested RSA-200 detects smoke and fire. Both are 120-volt hard-wired alarms packaged with included Roost 9-volt Smart Battery, which integrates a backup battery with Wi-Fi.

The alarms’ Smart Battery sends notifications to a user’s smartphone, and it eliminates low-battery alarm “chirps” by notifying consumers’ phones that they need to replace the battery with a $14.99 replacement. The Smart Battery’s life span is estimated at five years.

Both alarms are expected to ship in June. They will be rolled out later through online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Vimtag Technology: The provider of smart security products unveiled upgraded Wi-Fi IP cameras and its first networked storage device, which stores camerarecorded video. Like other Vimtag cameras, the new cameras continue to store video in MicroSD cards, but they add higher resolution and sleeker designs. They and other Vimtag Wi-Fi cameras connect to the company’s first in-home storage device, called CloudBox.


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