Tag Archives: Connected Home

Report: Half of consumers believe smart home devices will be mainstream by 2020

New research from Bluetooth SIG shows that many folks are ready to live like the Jetsons.

A survey conducted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has revealed that nearly half (46%) of consumers believe smart home devices will be mainstream by 2020. The study had explored the attitudes of American, German and British consumers towards connected living, and as a whole, discovered tremendous excitement around not only potential applications but future installations, too.


Bluetooth SIG also that 6% of those surveyed already accepted that the era of the smart home has indeed arrived, with two-thirds (66%) thinking that smart home devices will be mainstream within the next decade. This strong consumer interest was tempered by their high expectations for simplicity and cost-effectiveness.

When asked what is required for commonplace purchases of such devices, 54% of respondents cited simplicity and straightforwardness in use with 41% believing that they should be easy to configure. Moreover, 28% suggested that these gadgets should connect seamlessly with a smartphone, tablet or PC. Nearly three-quarters (73%) admitted they would be frustrated if it took too long to set up a smart home unit.

“This study confirms consumers are looking for smart home products that ‘just work’,” added Mark Powell, Executive Director of the Bluetooth SIG. “It’s evident demand for smart home devices is ramping up and consumers are keen to live in the scenarios conjured up by the Jetsons over 60 years ago. Smart home manufacturers need to deliver products that are simple, cost-effective and secure for this segment to become mainstream.”

Evident by the sheer number of hacks and discovered flaws in recent months, it’s no surprise that 42% of consumers felt that keeping their data secure was paramount in the decision-making process. 67% of those surveyed were also concerned that some smart home devices would make their data vulnerable.


Despite all of the buzz surround intelligent appliances, like washing machines and kitchen gadgetry, the research unearthed that the hype is yet to materialize into actual demand from consumers. Keyword being ‘yet.’ In fact, the devices consumers find most appealing are highly convenient solutions that enable them to control their environment, such as smart heating/thermostats (45%), smart lighting (34%) and smart security/monitoring devices (33%).

As Bluetooth SIG explains, the results certainly conveyed a preference towards the smart home solutions that offer tangible benefits, ranging from controlling their heating or lighting remotely to cut down on bills (66%) to receiving smartphone notifications from their home security system if it detects a threat (73%).

The results showed a preference towards the smart home solutions that offer tangible benefits as well. For example, 66 percent of consumers say that being able to control their heating or lighting remotely would help them save energy and cut their energy bills. A further 73 percent would like to receive smartphone notifications from their home security system if it detects a threat.​

“It’s clear there is an appetite for these kinds of solutions but widespread adoption will require the use of mainstream connectivity technologies,” Powell concluded. “As we’ve seen in other segments, niche technologies simply cannot provide the simplicity, interoperability and security that consumers demand. Bluetooth Smart technology offers all those things with an enormous install base in smartphones, tablets and PCs, a simple pairing process and AES-128 bit cryptography for maximum security. While consumers feel smart home devices aren’t quite mainstream yet, Bluetooth is already paving the way for manufacturers to deliver the products consumers want. These manufacturers can also be confident in the knowledge that Bluetooth Smart has a development environment that makes it easy to bring these products to market.”

More than ever, consumers have high expectations for home appliances. With billions of connected devices expected in the coming years, users will demand sophisticated, feature-rich products that are reliable, easy-to-use, and most of all, secure. Whether it’s refrigeration, cooking or washing, Atmel has you covered. Want to continue reading? You can find all of Bluetooth SIG’s findings here.

Hive’s smart home system will keep you informed and entertained

Hive was designed to completely simplify your connection to your home and protect everyone, and everything, inside it.

Undoubtedly, 2015 will be the year that we see connected living go mainstream. Evident by the sheer number of smart home devices on display back at CES, we can surely expect an uptick in products hitting the market, ranging from hubs to lights to speakers. Now, what if you rolled all those those things into one? That’s exactly what one Salt Lake City startup has done.


Called Hive, the team has set out to create a smart home that is easy to use, and more importantly, even easier to afford. The system — which recently made its Kickstarter debut — is comprised of a smart hub and audio system that offers a complete package of in-home entertainment, automation and security.

The simple, elegantly-designed Hub supports nearly every major wireless networking technology, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-wave. The device boasts a dual-core 1GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, 4GB Flash storage, Ethernet, 3G for backup Internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Z-Wave, IEEE 802.15.4 (for ZigBee or Thread), a battery, a Libre audio streaming module with Google Cast support, as well as a wireless transceiver for compatibility with Honeywell security sensors. What’s more, the plug-and-play Hub provides hassle-free setup and customization, allowing users to easily switch on/off the lights, unlock the doors, or activate a number of appliances.


In addition, the Hive Sound is a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled speaker system that can emit the same (or different) tunes to various parts throughout your connected house. The speakers, which insert right into a standard wall outlet, not only stream beats straight from your Google Play, iHeartRadio, NPR One and Pandora playlists, but can receive alerts and notifications of the important things happening around you as well. In the event of an emergency, the system is equipped with two-way voice for instant communication for first responders.


The speakers are packed with a pair of drivers and a passive radiator for full sound, a series of RGB LEDs for visual notifications, a microphone with noise cancellation, and a Libre wireless audio module. For good measure, the Sound also features a built-in backup battery that allows the system to run, even if the power goes out or Internet goes down.


Like a number of smart home devices on the market today, Hive was developed with simplicity in mind. With its companion app, homeowners can control each Hive Sound throughout the home, as well as individually. Having a get-together or want to blast the radio? You can also pair them together and have a dynamic, surround-sound experience.

Currently live on Kickstarter, the team is seeking $100,000. If all goes to plan, the well-rounded smart home devices are expected to begin shipping in May 2015. Interested in learning more or backing the project, head over to its official page here.

PubNub launches full SDK support for Atmel IoT products

Our friends at PubNub recently joined forces with us at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for our entire lineup of MCU, MPU, and wireless SoC platforms.

As the team reveals, Atmel developers will now have access to PubNub’s secure publish/subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy servers, and on unreliable mobile networks with a security model that guarantees no open ports on IoT devices. Developers can implement important features like remote device control, firmware upgrades, and device provisioning using PubNub’s suite of IoT building blocks that includes realtime device presence detection, stream storage & playback, and data stream syndication.


“PubNub’s realtime global data stream network combined with our embedded solutions helps IoT developers reduce time-to-market and solve the challenges of reliable IoT deployments,” explained Reza Kazerounian, Atmel SVP and GM of Microcontroller Business Unit. “By removing complexity and focusing on developer-centric tools and services, PubNub shares Atmel’s philosophy of driving competitive advantage for our customers.”

As previously shared on Bits & Piecesthe Connected Home demo features an Arduino board that connects with the PubNub network, enabling it to send and receive realtime signals securely from external devices such as a mobile phone. With PubNub’s low-latency global network, developers can remotely control Atmel based embedded systems reliably and securely from anywhere in the world.


“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, PubNub Founder and CEO.

Interested in learning more? You can read all about the smart home model here. Also, we had the chance to catch up with Evangelist Ian Jennings back at CES to discuss the IoT, SDK support and ongoing projects in more detail. Watch the interview below!

Infographic: What will the IoT look like in 2025?

Back in 2009, Kevin Ashton coined the term Internet of Things (IoT). At the time, he noted:

If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss, and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing, or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so. 

In other words, the IoT refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. From smart walls to smart homes, connected trackers to connected cars, soon everything will be online.

The infographic below from software company Aria Systems details not only the past 10 years, but explores both the present and future of the Internet of Things.


Homey ties all your smart devices together and lets you talk to them!

We here at Athom have recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for our first product, Homey. In essence, it’s a device that you place in your house, and it listens to your voice. It has 8 wireless transceivers onboard, so it talks all languages.

Homey is not tied to any specific brand or standard, as I strongly believe that technology should work together in a seamless way. Nowadays, with all these ‘smart’ devices, the opposite is happening! Oh, and did I already mention that it’s plain ridiculous that you now need a smartphone to switch a light?

And… so we developed Homey! Having raised over €200.000 on Kickstarter, we’re currently super busy with manufacturing the device!

It works on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module, which is connected to the wireless transceivers, a speaker and a microphone array. On top, it runs Node.js which allows developers to add support easily! Why Node.js? As every developer or someone with a burning desire to build, Node.js is becoming the go-to coding method for enterprise. Innovators from the app and cloud side of things have utilized it in their early adoption to build out Yammer.com, Walmart.com, Paypal.com, Dailymail.co.uk, Netflix, and much more. Node.js helps bring forth rapid innovation and delivery, which is enabling the speed of delivery and prototyping. The nimble ability to iterate are the key traits of keeping the cycle of innovation moving forward. This is why our Homey platform is built integrally around this community of Node.js to plug into this top notch world of agile developers.  

Packed with anything that is connected, the network effect of community is also always important. This is why we made Homey so compatible to help facilitate [like a nexus] the widely diverse ecosystem of connected devices. The open-source community of Arduino is a perfect union. Importantly, Homey is fully compatible — it plays into this developer and Maker community base to help fulfill and stretch the creativity and imaginations of the millions of Makers who may take on the ideas of their devices fitted with various Arduino variants (Arduino Uno, Arduino Mega, LilyPad Arduino, Arduino Nano, Arduino Due, Arduino Yún, Arduino Robot, Arduino Shields, and more) many of which are using IoT community inspired Atmel based AVR and ARM based processor cores. Helping to produce the heterogeneous make-up of a fuller installation of IoT, it’s a perfect union! 

For all of you Arduino fans: Homey (at its true nature, acting as a nexus to the diverse set of protocols) is designed to work with Arduino! We ship transceivers with Homey [if you select that option], and we will then provide you a library for Arduino so you can access this massive community (using Maker boards as well as shields) to connect your own projects to Homey. You can be quickly on your way to a connected, SMART design packaged with a wider IoT enablement (fulfilling various protocols).

For example, if you connect a LED strip to an Arduino, and tell Homey to “turn the lights to red,” Homey will forward this command to your own Node.js app, which then sends the signal ‘red’ or ‘255,0,0’ to your Arduino. The Homey-Arduino library then will pass this command on to your own Arduino code, where you can tell the LEDs to turn to red. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that you don’t have to do that much!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about Homey, where there will be in-depth discussions around the hardware. In the meantime, don’t forget to pre-order your Homey!

Home, smart home

By Taylor Alexander, Co-Founder of Flutter Wireless

As founder of Flutter Wireless, a company that is building new hardware for the internet of things and connected devices movement, I spend a lot of time thinking about how this new technology will affect our lives. Right now computers are all relatively separate workstations, with tasks isolated to one individual machine. We may check email on our phone and on our desktop, but only recently have companies begun making it fluid to switch between the two. As our software advances and connectivity becomes more widespread and robust, we will begin to see programs that run across multiple machines simultaneously. I’d love to open an app on my phone and stream music to every device with speakers in my house, for example, rather than needing to buy a “home speaker system”. Ultimately, I see our home networks evolving into a single computing entity with many access points. A common home or cloud access point could provide services across multiple devices simultaneously. I could send one stream simultaneously to my living room TV and my kitchen tablet, for example, so I can catch up on a TV show while preparing dinner. As our homes become more connected, we will have increasing freedom with how we use computing to improve our lives, and entirely new possibilities will come out of these new use cases. Below is a story I wrote imagining a time maybe a decade from now, when the connected home is perhaps as commonplace as self-driving cars.

I hope you enjoy it, and that it prompts you to dream of what else a connected home can do for you.

I live in a connected home. Every electronic thing in my house is controlled by the home system. Not toasters or blenders or the fridge — not things that only sensibly need physical access. Those things have their own local user interface, though some may report back to the home. The microwave, for example, communicates photos of food to the server for analysis, but you can only turn it on from its front panel. The interface panel is just a touch-oled with images for its interface controlled by the home. In default mode it just has 3 buttons, and they change based on what I put in. Put in my favorite mug with a clear liquid and you just get a big “hot water” button. The house interface on my phone shows graphs that prove that the cook time it chose is optimal based on my use of this cup in this microwave every morning since I started my new job, but honestly… I never look at it, since it never fails. Usually when I’m using the house interface on my phone, it’s to control the music or change the channel.

I took a YouTube class in the living room last month, and the inductive charging in my new coffee table means that I could leave the interface open for the whole hour of class without draining its battery. The home has a local content stream it can serve to any audio or video device with a speaker box or cheap HDMI streamer. The audio channel let’s me do things like play music, talk with my friends, or control the lights and temperature.

I also have interface pads in the rooms. Interface pads are like the interface on the microwave – they have a touch-oled and an audio system for voice interaction. Four microphones mean it can pick up quiet conversation even with the fan on, and it blocks out other sounds like the TV like they aren’t there. This makes it feel like the system is in my head. I’ll mutter to myself “I wonder if I turned off the coffee pot”, and the system sometimes butts in and tells me. Usually I have to address the house to get it to listen, but I’m running some software that let’s me play back my ramblings when I am deep in thought, so right now it’s live all the time. This lets it answer questions without having to repeat myself. If I think out loud, sometimes the house is a pretty good assistant.

We call ours Hiro, and while he can’t tell me everything without a manual query at a terminal, he’s pretty good at answering basic questions about the world. Anything with a clear answer like… how deep is the English channel, how much money did I spend last month, or who won the gaming competition last week… those questions Hiro answers well. Of course he’s also great for taking notes for me and reading them back so I can edit them. He’ll read anything I want. He’s been reading me Steinbeck and Plato lately, and in the mornings I’ll usually have him read the news. Last night I streamed live ocean sounds from a beach in Madagascar as I slept.

In the mornings I read my emails on the terminal in the kitchen while I stir my coffee. I keep work emails out of the morning routine, but read what my mom is up to over a bagel and eggs. I fill my foodbox once a week and it serves up a hot bagel and fresh eggs every morning. It only fits a few types of meals but it’s enough for all my breakfast and lunch for a week, and using it beats rummaging through cold storage for all the pieces. It will slice bagels and fruit, even core an apple, and it has refrigerated dispensers for eggs, cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly, even mustard and mayonnaise. It has a small compartment for fresh meat and cheese, so I make sandwiches for lunch. The machine prepares the bread and washes itself, just like it does with my morning bagel, egg, and yogurt. It tracks the age of each perishable, and the deliveryman brings by fresh food weekly for things like meat and eggs. It even breaks the eggs and cooks them, and stores the shells in an oxygen free environment with the apple cores, until I empty the canister.

I charge a tablet on the kitchen table, and use it to watch last night’s news footage. I use the house interface app, which shows me stuff I probably want to watch. Anything I don’t want to watch on the tablet screen I can throw to any TV too. I am studying be a paramedic, so I’ll usually stream class to both displays at night when I’m cooking and cleaning. There are so many times where I need my hands for one thing but can use my mind and voice for another. The tablet was pretty good for that before, but with Hiro I don’t need to bring anything with me. I can wander to the other room mid voice chat without ever losing my train of thought. When I talk to friends, its like they’re in the same room and follow me around. With Hiro’s chat interface I can log into voice chat rooms with friends. Its like we’re sitting in a room together, either quietly working, having a meeting, or just watching the news together. I feel like I always have my friends with me.

A computer block and a storage block that I keep in the office control the whole system. All my home computers store data on the storage block, and the computer block runs Hiro’s software. We have phone and tablet apps along with interface panels, and cheap HDMI dongles on the TV. Voice is usually handled by the interface panel most rooms have. But there is a voice-only interface panel that is the cheapest. It skips the touch display on the large interface for a four-button fob and voice control. You can plug headphones and speakers into that one for a custom speaker setup, but by default the internal speaker is pretty good. It still has four microphones so we usually don’t use an external for that, just output.

It cost about a two grand for the whole system, but that’s the lights, computer, audio tactile pucks and 4tb storage brick. I saved up for one summer when I was in college and got this system. Its been around for a few years so the CPU takes longer to recognize my food scans from the microwave than the new models, but its a few milliseconds difference – 250 maybe – I don’t worry about stuff like that.

All in all, my connected home system was the best purchase I made since switching to a self-driving car.


EZcontrol.IT simplifies home automation

EZboard is an Atmel-based platform designed to facilitate home automation projects for Makers and developers. Powered by Atmel’s versatile ATmega328P microcontroller (MCU), the board is equipped with an onboard Ethernet controller, microSD card socket, temperature sensor and power relay.

“Everything on the EZboard has been designed to minimize power consumption. For this reason Atmel’s ATmega328P is configured to work a 3.3V and 8MHz of speed. While this [may] sound like a limit, we have verified that it is more than enough for home automation applications,” an EZboard rep explained in a recent Indiegogo post.

“The power source could be a microUSB adapter, but the EZboard was designed to receive power mostly by batteries. [Indeed], the EZboard has a dedicated input that uses 0.1″ pitch connectors like the common JST or even direct soldering of a battery pack to the board.”

Aside from Atmel’s ATmega328P MCU, key technical specs include:

  • Operating Voltage: 3.3V (5V tolerant on I/Os)
  • Input Voltage: 3.7 – 9V
  • Digital I/O Pins: 14 (of which 6 provide PWM output)
  • Analog Input Pins: 8 (of which 2 are used from onboard sensors)
  • Flash Memory: 32 KB – SRAM: 2 KB, – EEPROM: 1 KB
  • Additional Memory: microSD (TF) socket
  • Clock Speed: 8MHz
  • USB Controller: FTDI FT232RL
  • Ethernet Controller: MIcrochip ENC28J60
  • Max Ethernet Speed: 10Mbps
  • Temperature sensor: TMP36
  • Relay Rating: 1A at 30VDC or 2A at 110/250VAC
  • Footprint: compatible with the Atmel-powered Arduino UNO R3

On the software side, the EZcontrol.IT is optimized for the cloud-based Lelylan, a simple and open API designed for building a connected IoT home.

“[Lelylan allows] Makers to focus on the hardware and design process, while developers can create new apps for the web and mobile,” the rep added.

“You [can] interact with lights, appliances, alarms, cooling and heating systems, gas sensors, rolling shutters, windows, irrigation, video surveillance, gates and multimedia (audio and video).”

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-based EZcontrol.IT? You can check out the board’s official Indiegogo page here.