smart home

Switchmate hands-on: Smarter switches, no electrician needed

Switchmate hands-on: Smarter switches, no electrician needed

The smart home might be intended to make our lives easier, but actually upgrading with home automation kit is more like a headache. Ripping out legacy switches and replacing them with their smart brethren isn’t only a headache, it’s out of the question for many who rent rather than own where they live. Startup Switchmate plans to change that, opening up automation with ridiculously simple and non-destructive gadgets that install in seconds. I caught up with the company to find out how a Bluetooth switch could pave the way to making the smart home mass-market.

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Panasonic Nubo wants to kill Dropcam with 4G

Panasonic Nubo wants to kill Dropcam with 4G

Streaming security cameras are great, until your WiFi connection dies and your virtual peephole gets cut off. Enter the Panasonic Nubo, throwing 4G LTE into the mixture along with some smart home ambitions. Panasonic isn’t aiming low, either, claiming the Nubo is a “Dropcam killer” from the outset, and aiming to out-perform everything on the Nest-owned streaming camera’s spec sheet. I caught up with the Panasonic Cameramanager team to find out why Nubo shouldn’t just be on your home office wall, but hitching a ride in your suitcase.

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Sesame smart lock fits over your current (dumb) lock

Sesame smart lock fits over your current (dumb) lock

You've been working with a dumb lock on your door for long enough - so suggests the folks bringing the smart lock called "Sesame" to the public. This lock unlocks your door via your smartphone, and it does it without requiring you to take apart the lock your door already has. Sesame fits over the lock your door already has. This smart lock also provides several different ways to open your door, including a special knock combination you create and tap out yourself.

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Smart home, smartphone, smart selling: Xiaomi’s power plan

Smart home, smartphone, smart selling: Xiaomi’s power plan

Xiaomi's schemes for smart home domination rest on a three dollar gizmo and a willingness to practically give it away, a warning note for rivals that, should a US launch happen, the Chinese curiosity could upset the game considerably. The Xiaomi Mi Module is a 22 yuan add-on linking regular appliances - whether they be heaters, rice cookers, or, as Xiaomi has already created for smog-heavy China, an air purifier - to the cloud, but rather than trying to fence the whole thing in, the company hopes to offer them at cost. It's a strategy that's at odds with how many of Xiaomi's competitors do business, and one which symbolizes quite how well a different approach can resonate with consumers.

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SmartThings joins Z-Wave board as IoT gets strategic

SmartThings joins Z-Wave board as IoT gets strategic

Samsung's infiltration into the Internet of Things continues, with SmartThings - its recently-acquired home automation platform - now grabbing a spot on the Z-Wave Alliance board of directors. Z-Wave is one of the lingering wireless standards that still prevails among smart home devices, connecting things like remotely-controlled outlets, lamps, and thermostats, though while popular has nonetheless failed to dominate and thus unify the interconnectivity between automation devices. Given that SmartThings has proved that the smart home is worthy of big money, Z-Wave is now hoping some of that shine rubs off on it.

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Luna smart mattress cover learns to keep your bed toasty

Luna smart mattress cover learns to keep your bed toasty

You better be paying attention to the latest smart home trends, because before you know it, the Internet of Things will be crawling with you into bed. Take for example Luna, touted to be the world's first smart mattress cover. It can learn from your habits, preferences and even your very sleep patterns in order to set the perfect temperature for your bed. What's more, Luna can even talk with your other smart home appliances to orchestrate the perfect morning wake up routine.

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Dropcam offers free replacement for legacy devices

Dropcam offers free replacement for legacy devices

Hardware reaching their end of life is a natural occurrence, especially in mobile and smart devices that seem to have at the very least only 2 years to live. More often than not, owners are left with no choice but to upgrade, which usually entails cashing out on a new device. That is why Dropcam's new offer is like a breath of fresh air. It will be giving a free hardware replacement to owners of the original Dropcam and Dropcam Echo, even going as far as allowing owners to keep their old units, just as a remembrance.

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Ford R&D Palo Alto puts driverless cars in pole position

Ford R&D Palo Alto puts driverless cars in pole position

Ford CEO Mark Fields may have been critical of the auto industry’s attempts to over-hype driverless cars, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t working on its own model at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California. The car firm has snagged a former Apple engineer, Dragos Maciuca, to lead its innovation efforts, heading projects like autonomous and remotely-piloted vehicles, integrating the dashboard with the smart home - including hooking up with the Google-owned Nest thermostat - and leveraging GPU acceleration for things like swifter speech recognition.

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Oomi Cube wants to make your smart home automated

Oomi Cube wants to make your smart home automated

There's a group out there that hopes to redefine what it means to create a Smart Home. Still here in the Smart Home's infancy, the group behind this brand Oomi hopes to take the definition of Smart Home - "a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by a phone or computer," and throw that all in the trash. Or at least make a more automated system of it all. No more of this "smartphone control makes everything super amazing" nonsense.

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Drones, hubs and clouds: Ubuntu Core makes IoT play

Drones, hubs and clouds: Ubuntu Core makes IoT play

Linux is making another play for the Internet of Things, with Ubuntu figuring that as devices from thermostats through home hubs to personal robots and drones get smarter, they'll need a more flexible brain. Snappy Ubuntu Core is the latest platform for smart devices, promising gadgets that run exactly the same software whether locally or relying on the cloud, and thus bypassing questions about whether users are regularly upgrading, if old firmware is still in the wild, and where apps are going to come from. While Ubuntu clearly isn't alone in its IoT ambitions, Ubuntu Core does at least have an advantage some rival schemes don't: it already has users.

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