DIY Home-Automation Players Changing - Twice

DIY Home-Automation Players Changing

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NEW YORK – The DIY home-automation market is young and changing.

The market is getting two new players to replace one that has gone away, and another player is expanding its distribution and product line.

The newcomers are home-automation start-ups Avion Labs and Link-Union, which have launched crowdfunding campaigns to bring their home-automation systems to North America in early 2015.

The company that left the market is start-up Revolv, which was purchased by Nest and is no longer making its hub available to consumers or retailers.

And the company expanding its selection and distribution is Insteon, which added B&H Photo to its growing list of retailers and added its first HD Wi-Fi security cameras.

Here’s what’s new:

Avi-on Labs: The San Francisco start-up launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring its Bluetooth meshnetwork home-automation products to North America in the spring. The hub-less system will include multiple GE-brand products from Jasco, which is making a GE Bluetooth smart light dimmer, smart light switch, smart indoor plug, smart indoor dimmable plug and smart outdoor plug. They will join an on-wall, battery-powered movable Bluetooth light switch made by Avi-on, plus a Bluetooth lightbulb.

Avi-on’s devices are controlled from Android and iOS apps, which let users turn lights on and off, dim lights, put lights on schedules, and group lights. Home systems can also be controlled from the Bluetooth light switch.

Avi-On’s in-wall and on-wall light switches, outdoor timer and electrical-outlet adapter will be priced from $25 to $35. All products in the initial lineup will retail for less than $40.

Avi-on’s mesh network is built on the Bluetooth Smart LE (low energy) standard. Although work is now just underway by the Bluetooth SIG to develop a mesh standard for Bluetooth Smart, existing Bluetooth- mesh devices – like Samsung LED light bulbs — will be firmware-upgradable to the standard if the manufacturers allow, the SIG said.

Link-Union: For early crowdfunding backers, the company plans February availability of an IP camera that doubles as a smart home hub that uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE to control home devices. Many smarthome devices run on Bluetooth LE and batteries, the company said.

The Link-U camera/hub, whose full retail is $249, works with Android or iOS apps that let users monitor home devices from a mobile device via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or 3G/4G cellular connection. The builtin cellular modem goes into action automatically to enable remote access when a home’s network is down. A built-in backup battery delivers eight hours of power if power goes out.

The device triggers alerts to a user’s mobile device if sound or motion is detected at consumerselectable sensitivity levels. A 130-degree camera streams 1080p video at 30 fps to a mobile device, and an optional SD card with up to 32GB storage stores video. The camera’s infrared capability captures scenes in the dark. From outside the house, homeowners can talk to someone in the house through the camera’s embedded speaker and microphone.

The camera/hub will be available to initial backers in January. The company recently launched a Wi-Fi security camera through a crowdfunding campaign.

Revolv: The company is no longer marketing its home-automation hub direct to consumers or through retailers following its purchase by homeautomation supplier Nest. Nest said it bought Revolv because the company will help it continue to expand its Works with Nest program, which enables other-brand home-automation products to connect wirelessly to Nest’s smart thermostat and CO/smoke detector.

For existing customers, Revolv’s service for its home-automation hub will continue to be available, and Revolv will continue to offer customer support, but the company will not make its hub available to new customers.

Revolv’s technology could play a role in Nest’s introduction of a wireless mesh-network standard defined by the Nest-led Thread Group for use in DIY home-automation systems. The network-communications- level standard leaves it up to individual suppliers to implement their own applications layer, or command protocols, to carry out commands, over the 2.4GHz network.

Revolv’s hub was already compatible with Nest’s smart thermostat and CO/smoke detector.

Insteon: The company has begun offering a wide range of its products through B&H Photo’s New York City store and BHPhotoVideo.com web store. Insteon also added its first WI-Fi HD Wi-Fi security cameras, one indoor and one outdoor. The former is priced at $89, and the latter is $119.

The company’s products are also available at Menards retail stores nationwide and Menards.com, Amazon, Sears.com, Walmart.com, most Microsoft retail stores, MicrosoftStore.com, and select Costco, Home Depot and TigerDirect brick-and-mortar stores. Insteon is also available through the Costco and Home Depot online stores and other online stores.

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