Smart Homes: HomeKit, Nest and other “Smart” Products

In our last post, Controlling Smart Homes with Smart Devices, we discussed the recent trends in smart homes, with many new ideas from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  The show featured announcements by Samsung, and it’s CEO, BK Yoon, about what he has labeled the “IoT”, or Internet of Things.  Basically, everything electronic in our lives will be communicating together to create a better standard of living for everyone.

To accomplish this, Samsung has developed a subscription service, and is touting it’s “SmartThings” application; which requires a SmartThings hub, and connects all your devices to the SmartThings cloud for integration.  So, besides Samsung, who else is developing the future of Smart Homes products?  Tony Rossetti, a project manager here at Hendricks Architecture, describes this in better detail….

Apple, (which doesn’t attend the CES) is always looking to upstage the CES show.  They launched HomeKit, which lets iOs customers control lights, locks, video cameras, doors, thermostats, wall outlets, and switches with their iPhones.  The HomeKit can be operated by voice through “Siri”, who Apple and iPhone customers are already very familiar with.

Smart Home, Device, HomeKit. Apple, iPhone

A Smart Home Device/Remote – The Apple iPhone

Google is the third titan of the Smart platforms, with its “Nest”, which includes;

  • August Smart Lock can set your Nest thermostat to “away” or “home” settings when you lock or unlock your door, and can automatically switch your washer and dryer to quiet mode when you’re home.
  • Mercedes tells Nest you’re on your way home, so the thermostat will be at a comfortable temperature when you get there.
  • Ooma VOIP home phone service knows when family members come and go, and can send an alert to your phone if your child doesn’t return home from school on time.
  • with Dropcam you can see what’s going on when your smoke alarm goes off.
  • Jawbone wakes you up and your thermostat.

Quirky is developing a product called “Wink”, an open technology platform that will link and control numerous household items, and is partnering with GE and Home Depot for product integration and distribution.

A few others of note:

  • Netatmo Welcome is a facial recognition camera that notifies you if a stranger enters your home.
  • LG unveiled a fridge that responds to simple text commands.
  • Keen Smart Home Vent, connecting to smart thermostats, opens and closes vents automatically by using built-in sensors that track a room’s optimal temperature.
  • Edyn is a solar powered smart garden sensor that keeps track of plant hydration and soil nutrients, then provides users with data to help their plants thrive. Multiple Edyns can form a network across a larger garden, and even connect to water valves and automatically water the garden when needed.
  • Nest has launched it’s “Thread Group”, partnering with Samsung, Silicon Labs, Big Ass Fans, and other home technology companies, to integrate their products together.

All this is fine and dandy in theory, but what potentially stands in the way of easy integration?  A couple of things cloud the otherwise bright future of Smart Homes and Smart technology advances.

One, a potential standards battle looms, between developers, companies, and providers.  How to connect ALL devices, including competing companies, so they all communicate seamlessly?  Some of us may remember BetaMax vs VHS, or more recently, Apple vs Microsoft.  Samsung is pleading for a completely open architecture for all products, but will that plea be heeded?  History tells us that most companies prefer to develop their own technology as they see fit.  Consumers would benefit from the competition, but suffer from the headache of operating systems not in sync; and products that may be hard to program and control.

The good news is Samsung and Google are two of the biggest names currently working together to solve this, at least between their products.

The other question is; how to retrofit all the existing homes that also wish to have the technology?  This remains a very cost prohibitive issue, that is not easily solved.  Perhaps someone will step up with a wireless device that will allow any appliance or system to be controlled, without requiring re-wiring the item or the house itself.

As of now, the vision of IoT (Internet of Things) and of Smart Homes, is best suited being pre-planned into a new home, with the base and potential wiring in place, and with the ability to expand upon it, as products are released.  It remains to be seen if true “open’ architecture is used to develop these future products, which is in the best interest of the consumer, but may be ignored by product developers eager to create proprietary devices that lock you into their line.

Who knows, perhaps that user friendly “app” that connects all devices seamlessly and wirelessly, will soon materialize to make it all work like it’s envisioned?

That, would be a very “Smart” idea indeed.

Tony Rossetti, Project Manager

Hendricks Architecture designs custom “smart home” residences (and dumbed down), from small beach houses to large estate homes.  

Previous Post: Controlling Smart Homes with Smart Devices

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Controlling Smart Homes with Smart Devices

The “Smart Home” and “Smart Devices” have evolved quite a bit in the last several years.  Heat systems and stereos controlled by mobile phones have been around for awhile, but as we’ve seen at last week’s 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Smart Home is emerging closer and closer to the mainstream.  Tony Rossetti, a project manager here at Hendricks Architecture, writes about the latest in smart technology.

Samsung CEO BK Yoon, who delivered an hour long keynote speech about “Smart” technology & development, labels it the “IoT”, or “Internet of Things”.  His speech covered many Smart technology devices that a lot of people are already familiar with, such as smart phones, tablets, cars, etc.  He also discussed the importance of integrating our homes with our smart devices, thus making our lives easier, richer, and healthier.  This echoes what a majority of us currently covet; in a recent poll, 70% of Americans want to control something in their house via their phone/tablet/etc; without leaving their bed or recliner.

And how does the head of Samsung envision this?  A few of the ways include…

Controlling home environments.  Homeowners with homes wired and connected to smart devices (phones, tablets, laptops, watches), will be able to control a myriad of items remotely. Security monitoring, access to appliances, lighting, sound systems, sprinklers, and much more, will be controllable and accessed remotely at any time.

smart home, smart device, smart home remote, samsung

A Smart Home Device/Remote – The Samsung Galaxy

Homes can also be linked to different apps to automatically control them, such as;

  • weather apps to heat/cool the home accordingly
  • adjust sprinklers to account for heat waves or rain
  • check on your pets food and water
  • view your pantry or refrigerator/freezer from the store (perhaps even re-ordering items automatically!).

A bracelet worn could detect you getting sleepy, and adjust the home’s temperature, security settings, and even light ambiance in advance of you (and your family) turning in to bed.  It could even start your favorite sleep music, or late night show on the bedroom TV, as you lay down; and turn it off when it senses you asleep.  And, it could alert emergency officials to health issues as they happen, such as heart attacks, strokes, etc; opening your home security only to qualified medical personnel with qualified access.

Samsung is also working on home sensors that can actually smell, detecting numerous emissions (good & bad) and toxics, that human noses can’t…  such as natural gases, carbon monoxide, and other harmful items.  It will warn you directly, and could also alert authorities if imminently dangerous.  These sensors could also monitor the elderly, monitoring movement, and alerting help if they fall from bed, shower, or elsewhere.

The Samsung Chief envisions our televisions becoming the major focal point for all these items, thus increasing their importance to the average family.  However, many smart devices will be able to change and control those settings remotely.

Some home related Smart items (also discussed at the 2015 CES) under development by a Samsung development partner, or already being rolled out, include:

  • Dacor Co.:  Android based ovens & stoves that accept smartphone control (with safety overrides built in)
  • EnGadget:  Designed a baby rocker controlled by Bluetooth
  • Schlage:  A SmartLock called “Sense”.  Along with traditional key, it uses a smartphone or pin number to open, and be programmed as to how & when guests are allowed to enter.

Also at the 2015 CES Show, CEO Yoon outlined how Samsung fits into the future of “Internet of Things”.  Samsung is committing its company to being the leader of IoT technology, by putting it’s sizeable financial might behind these development efforts:

  • Samsung will dedicate and invest $100 million in developers working on connected devices.
  • It is calling for all developers and companies to use “open standards”, to ensure ALL devices (from differing manufacturers) will work seamlessly together.
  • By 2017, 90% of Samsung hardware will be IoT enabled, and 100% by 2020.
  • Samsung’s goal: to create an IoT universe, to provide consumers increased convenience, safety, health, and improved lives.

Samsung also announced the creation of a subscription based service, to provide all necessary Smart-based technology and services to homeowners, thus allowing them to continually be up to date on the latest available technology and products.  Samsung has already rolled out it’s “SmartThings” platform, which requires a SmartThings hub, and connects to their SmartThings cloud for continual updating.

In our next post, Smart Homes: HomeKit, Nest and other “Smart” Productswe’ll talk about what might cloud the otherwise bright future of IoT, and of all things Smart.   We’ll also discuss what Apple and Google have in store for us in response, as well as whether or not homeowners (current/future) should plan their home designs for Smart integration accordingly.

Tony Rossetti, Project Manager

Hendricks Architecture designs custom “smart home” residences throughout North America, from small beach houses to luxury waterfront mountain homes.  

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