Tag Archives: Smart Homes

Report: 700 million smart home devices to ship by 2020


One million smart home appliances shipped globally in 2014, IHS reports.


If your home isn’t smart yet, just wait. That’s because intelligent household appliances — like your washing machine, air conditioner, dryer, stove and refrigerator — are set to multiply in the years to come, a new report from IHS suggests.

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According to the firm, the global market for such goods is projected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 134%, bringing the total units shipped from less than one million in 2014 to more than 223 million shipped by 2020. Factor in smaller home machines, such as robotic vacuums, electronic toothbrushes and coffeemakers, and the total number of smart devices skyrockets to 700 million in that same timeframe.

Beyond that, IHS lists three key factors that will help facilitate smart appliance adoption: energy management initiatives, standards for interoperability, and other marketplace dynamics including pricing, retail environment and competitive landscape.

Already today, appliance makers are shifting their focus from low-profit, low-growth “dumb” products toward emerging high-margin, revenue-oriented connected gadgets. Take for instance, Samsung and LG, who are vying for first-mover advantage — a term that refers to the advantage gained by the initial significant occupant of a market segment — by redirecting their efforts from mobile devices, TVs and other saturated areas to smart home equipment.

“Electronics giants could also benefit from the convergence of mobile devices and TVs with their home appliance business lines, as all of these devices can integrate well with smart technologies,” says Dinesh Kithany, senior analyst of home appliances.

Over the course of the next two to three years, the smart home market is expected to consolidate, and by 2018, IHS believes that there will be only a couple of connectivity platforms, operating systems and a small number of technology-oriented appliance companies dominating the market. One great example of this is the harmonization of ZigBee and Thread, both of which have decided to play nice to simplify home control.

“Consolidation will drive consumers toward earlier adoption of smart home technology, with growth similar to what the mobile phone industry experienced just a few years ago,” Kithany adds.

Want to read more? Check out IHS’ entire report here.

Cube is an intuitive, tangible interface for the smart home


By touching, lifting, tilting and turning, Cube allows users to control their smart home appliances.


The clicker, the switcher, the flipper or whatever people are calling it these days, the remote has always been the universal command hub of the household. As more homes become connected, a growing number of our appliances will become intelligent as well. While there are already countless ways to adjust on the smart lights, TV, media player and blinds beyond a mere switch or button, one German design firm has set out to simplify the basic function of controlling these gadgets in the form of a tangible 3D square.

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The brainchild of Family of the Arts, the aptly named Cube is an intuitive interface that allows users to adjust the gizmos by simply touching, lifting, tilting and turning the small black box. Given its compact size, the unit can be moved just about anywhere within the house — whether that’s the kitchen, the living room or even a bedroom. And at night, it fits into the wall to dock and recharge.

The interface itself works through a combination of gestures: Tap to turn it on, flip it until the intended function appears on top, and then turn it right or left to change the controls. For instance, after selecting the thermometer, rotating it clockwise will raise the temperature, while counter-clockwise cools it down. Upon choosing the media player, swiping over the box can skip a song and shaking it can trigger a random track. Meanwhile, sensor hubs are installed in wall sockets to allow Cube to locate and communicate with the nearby appliances via Bluetooth.

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“Cube improves on the existing system in several ways. It retains the practicality of a mobile device such as a smartphone, while eliminating the distracting, anti-social element they often create,” its team writes.

More importantly, Cube addresses the problem often times presented by the complexities of remote controls. The Family of the Arts team explains that their design is meant to complement the way people will live in the home of the future rather than distract them from the experience. That’s because, with just a flip, it can go seamless transition from commanding the lights to the music to the temperature. Heck, it can be quite the mood setter!

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With its tactile functionality and non-technical aesthetics, the gadget provides a simple yet fully-integrated solution that enables anyone to engage with their digital surroundings in a more human-like, tactile manner. At the moment, however, the total number of functions Cube can handle is inherently limited to the six sides of a cube. Intrigued? Watch the mysterious black object in action below.

GeniCan automatically makes shopping lists based on what’s thrown away


Your garbage can is about to get much, much smarter.


When it comes to the connected home, there’s smart appliances, smart lighting, smart TVs and smart hubs. Next on that list may very well be smart trash cans. If it is up to one New York-based startup, the garbage bin may become more than just a lowly container of rubbish, but an intelligent household assistant. Think about it: When you run out of something at home, whether it’s the milk, eggs or fabric softener, it’s all too easy to forget to add it to the grocery list. Thanks to the GeniCanthat will soon all change.

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Unlike the Bruno smart trashcan, the Genican is a standalone device that attaches to the side of your ‘dumb’ trash pail using a magnetic panel, and scans the barcodes of items as they are thrown out. They are then added to a shopping list, which can be accessed from an accompanying mobile app, or in the near future, automatically reordered in Amazon Dash button-like fashion.

What’s nice is that the unit is designed to work with pretty much any type of bin — square or round, plastic or metal. Wall and cabinet mounting options are available, with a countertop bracket also in the works. The gadget is powered either through a typical wall outlet or an internal battery that can last for an estimated seven days depending on use.

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Once installed, the GeniCan connects to an in-home Wi-Fi network, which it cross-references scanned barcodes against a UPC database and sends all data to its cloud service, which it uses to provide money-saving coupons and delivery options. From there, the cloud service relays the information to the mobile app. For those items that don’t have a barcode, the system uses voice recognition through its built-in microphone to add household essentials to a list.

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Beyond helping to replenish groceries, GeniCan also features a sensor that is used to determine when a can is full. If so, the device reminds the user to take out the trash through its app.

Sound like something you’d love for your kitchen? Head over to its official Indiegogo campaign, where the GeniCan team is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to begin in September 2015.

This Arduino-compatible board makes it easy to automate your home


This versatile, AVR-based board allows users to easily program their own home automation systems.


Though the number of smart home devices continue to rise, a number of consumers still remain a bit hesitant in shelling out the big bucks to automate their homes. Instead, many Makers have already begun to devise connected in-house gadgets using easy-to-use platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi. With this in mind, one Miami-based startup has launched a Kickstarter campaign for an ATmega328P based board that looks to help streamline the process for Makers looking to install home automations of their own using the Arduino IDE.

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Created by the GarageLab team, the aptly-named Automation Board packs a wide range of features including relay triggering, Wi-Fi, Internet connectivity, various sensors, as well as RS-485 communication. The extremely versatile platform is entirely compatible with the Arduino Uno, and offers all of the necessary resources one would require to create a smart home system.

With its power source soldered onto the unit itself, the device is charged from the electrical grid with voltages between 100 to 240VAC and 50-60Hz, making it adaptable to any grid around the globe. It also has four relays to trigger alarms, electronic locks, fans, lamps or any other compatible load.

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Knowing all too well that connecting sensors can be a tedious task for Makers, the Automation Board was designed to expedite the process. Meaning, the pins that are ready to link to a sensor can be either digital or analog, and include 5V and ground. This lets users attach several kinds of sensors, ranging from an IR sensor to create communication with a TV remote or motion to trigger an alarm.

Similar to the incredibly popular Arduino platform, the Automation Board offers tremendous expandability through the use of shields. What’s more, the platform allows for RS-485 connection, ideal for applications in industrial automation systems or in settings with electromagnetic interference. It should be pointed out that users will be able to utilize spcific programs to integrate with existing professionals systems as well.

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Through its dedicated headers for XBee modules, Makers will be able to connect as many Automation Boards as they wish to a network. Beyond that, they can wirelessly communicate with a PC via a simple XBee Dongle USB, or even access their automation system over the web using a SparkFun WiFly module.

“In order to make your system even more versatile, we’ve created this ‘Sidekick’ board as a very interesting accessory. It’s compact and can be powered directly from the electrical grid as it has connectors for XBee and 2 relays,” the GarageLab crew writes. “This board can be controlled by signals sent from an Automation Board, allowing it to trigger distant loads through a wireless network. You will be able to use as many ‘Sidekicks’ as you wish, triggering several charges in a same wireless installation.”

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Are you thinking of using an Arduino to automate your home? Hurry over to the Automation Board’s Kickstarter campaign, where the GarageLab team is currently seeking $3,000. Delivery is expected to begin in August 2015.

Meld upgrades your existing stove to cook meals to perfection


Sit back and let Meld handle the cooking for you.


With the number of connected homes on the rise, many brands have started to give their modern-day appliances like the fridge, oven and coffeemaker a high-tech makeover. While the concept of smart equipment that suggests what’s for dinner, keeps tabs on key ingredients and even cooks the meal for you is undoubtedly intriguing, the prices of such IoT gadgetry are not as favorable to consumers. This is where Meld is looking to come in. The Seattle-based startup has developed a solution for existing devices that will bring your kitchen right into the Jetsons era — without ever having to shell out thousands of dollars.

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The Meld system is comprised of three parts: an automated knob, a wireless temperature sensor and a mobile app. Both the knob and clip feature a Bluetooth LE module and are powered by AAA batteries (four for the knob, one for the clip), while the knob itself is built around a 32-bit ARM MCU. The electronics are all housed inside a chemical-resistant, waterproof plastic casing.

The Meld Knob wirelessly communicates with a precision temperature sensor, also known as the Meld Clip, that affixes to your cookware. Once attached, it gives your stove the ability to intelligently regulate its own temperature and cook foods to perfection autonomously, all through its accompanying iOS and Android app.

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How it works is relatively simple: You start by swapping out that old-fashioned analog dial with Meld’s custom-designed replacement. Once it is paired with the clip, the knob will automatically adjust the burner to maintain the ideal cooking environment. The knob knows how to turn the heat either up or down based on readings it receives from the sensor. Simply tell the app what you’re preparing and the automated system will handle the rest.

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What’s nice is that you won’t even know it’s there. The Meld Knob was created to leave on the cooktop and to be used just like its predecessors – even when not being used with the Meld Clip or app. Or, say you’re cooking grandma’s famous meatballs or your mother’s casserole, you can take charge manually as well. For those prefer control, the app still allows you to turn the knob. The difference is, that instead of setting it to “medium” or “high,” you can set the dial to a specific temperature or to a specific way of cooking, such as simmering or sous vide.

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Sound like something you’d love to have in your kitchen? Hurry over to its official crowdfunding page here. Meld is already cooking up a storm on Kickstarter, where by the time of writing, the team had nearly tripled its pledge goal. Delivery is scheduled for October 2015 — just in time for the holiday stretch!

Countertop is a connected system that’ll make your kitchen smarter


What if a smart blender could suggest the perfect smoothie after a great workout? 


Given the rise in smart home popularity, it was only a matter of time before your kitchen would actually be able to make meal recommendations and then walk you through the preparation process. Particularly for those lacking the Emeril Lagasse or Gordon Ramsay culinary gene, this comes as great news.

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Developed by Orange Chef, who some may recall from their 2013 breakthrough Prep Pad scale, Countertop is a connected-kitchen gadget not only capable of offering up nutritious food suggestions but assisting cook those items as well. With it, users can even know exactly what they ate and drank during the day.

Aesthetically, the accessory essentially combines a traditional cutting board and kitchen scale with next-gen technologies. The device consists of a Bluetooth LE-embedded base that can weigh and track ingredients, along with an accompanying iOS app that dishes out step-by-step instructions and monitors nutritional intake.

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What really sets the Countertop apart is its ability to recognize existing kitchenware, such as Vitamix blenders and Crock-Pot slow cookers. In other words, a user won’t need to replace an entire appliance, but simply retrofit them with dedicated Countertop adaptors. The location-aware gadget is also capable of recognizing how much of something is being added and adjusts the recipe accordingly — all in real-time. Meaning, even the worst cook can’t mess up a meal.

Beyond that, Countertop syncs with fitness trackers like Jawbone’s UP and Apple Health, and uses the data from workouts, activity and sleep patterns to serve up personalized meal and snack recommendations. Once a meal is suggested, a user can either swipe-left to see additional options or swipe-right to select a meal. Countertop learns meal likes and dislikes based on user selections, and as the app learns, it gets smarter and the meal recommendations become more precise. Since it can pair with wrist-adorned wearable devices, this also frees up a home chef’s hands.

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And for those wondering, yes, it is dishwasher safe. Countertop is currently available for pre-order in the U.S. with shipment expected to begin later this year.

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.

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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.

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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.