Tag Archives: Smart Homes

Casa Jasmina is bringing the Internet of Things home

The aim of the project is to combine digital fabrication tools and open-source electronics to create a connected apartment.

During his MakerCon keynote speech last fall, our dear friend Massimo Banzi announced that Arduino was planning to unveil the first-ever open-source apartment. Shortly thereafter, the company’s co-founder officially revealed the launch of the rental property at Maker Faire Rome, aptly named Casa Jasmina. Now, the team has shared that its location will be inaugurated on February 20th, in coordination with the celebration of the office and Fablab Torino’s 3rd birthday!


In collaboration with futurist Bruce Sterling and Lorenzo Romagnoli, the exciting new project will be located in Arduino’s Torino, Italy headquarters. (Which by the way, did you know was actually an abandoned car factory?) Hosted by Toolbox Coworking, the apartment will serve as a test ground for the latest developments from the Maker community, equipped with furniture from OpenDesk, a plethora of Atmel based devices as well as other hardware creations.

“We will explore the boundaries in the field of open-source, connected home showcasing the best of open-source furnitures, connected objects, and white goods hacks,” Arduino stated in a recent blog. “Shortly [thereafter], anyone will have the opportunity to experience living in a open-source connected home… Casa Jasmina will be available for rent on Airbnb.”

Unlike other so-called “homes of the future,” this Arduino-powered space will be more than a livable showcase. In fact, the inhabitants’ responses to the elements inside will be registered for the project’s research.

Collaborator Bruce Sterling shared his thoughts on the new project by stating that he has known for a long time that the Italian city would become the center of digital manufacturing: “What’s needed is now is not more gadgets… [but to] figure out how to move this from the hobby level to a level of professionalism, and how to establish making with Italian characteristics.”


When discussing the new domestic Italian landscape, Sterling adds that “the Internet of Things is no longer a theory. It features genuine industrial consortia, proliferating standards, and exciting new capacities in sensors, data, and analytics. The IoT is coming into the home, and that most definitely includes the Italian home.”

The futurist lists goes on to list five basic approaches to this constantly-connected era:

  1. Thing centered: In this model, every object has its own Internet connectivity and they all talk to each other independently. It’s like the old-school Internet, but with things instead of websites.
  2. Gateway centered: There’s a home control box or a router which serves as a boss for all the anarchic things, enforces a standard on them, and protects them from security attacks.
  3. Mobile centered: The real action inside in the operating system of a powerful personal smartphone, which acts as the handheld remote-control for everything.
  4. Cloud centered: The household Internet of Things is run by offshored professionals who have advanced data analytics and can manage all domestic objects and services for a fee.
  5. Industrial fog: Everything is run locally, but with an urban, automated factory-style model that includes building management software and smart city services.

“What’s missing in these five models of the IoT? A user-centered model, a citizen-centered model, an open-source collaborative model. That’s the prospect that interests us at ‘Casa Jasmina,’” he adds. “My role in Casa Jasmina is that of curator. In the blizzard of new things that constitutes the Internet of Things, I have to figure out what belongs on the premises. Casa Jasmina an actual, functional apartment directly above the lasers, routers and 3D printers of the famous Torino FabLab. It will have guests in it; people will sit in the chairs, sleep in the beds. I will personally test every last ‘thing’ that goes in there.”

According to the team, the first household item for the open apartment is a pet iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner named “Pietro Micca.” This device was selected, not because it’s high-tech but because the Roomba line is 10 years old, well-established and a living reality of domestic home automation.

“That’s what we want to see and display in Casa Jasmina — the ‘normal life’ of about 10 years from now,” the futurist urges.

Arduino says that the first batch of connected things for the apartment will be produced in a workshop, with the support of designer Jesse Howard, on February 22nd and 23rd.

“The workshop is suitable for designers, artists, hackers, and everyone interested in Arduino and open-source design and in order to stress the idea of open design, participants will be asked to reinterpret, modify and redesign an open source lamp proposed by Jesse.”


The lamp will be embedded with an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) that will be used to make it interactive, enabling a user to turn it on or off remotely, change its color, use to visualize data and connect the lamp to another. So, what can we expect to see make its way into the open-source living quarters? As our friends note, the list includes:

  • A terrace garden
  • A study area including a bookshelf, effective task lighting, and cultural materials
  • Artworks including electronic art displays
  • A guide to Torino
  • A functional kitchen
  • Children’s toys and furniture
  • Temperature control, water control, electricity monitors, building-management services
  • Household appliances
  • Party supplies

Interested in learning more? Discover how you can collaborate with the team by visiting its official page. Meanwhile, be sure to tweet all about your ideas using the hashtag #CasaJasmina and check out Arduino’s latest blog update here.

Misfit Flash will soon control your smart home

Goes to show, the age of connected living has arrived. 

Back at CES 2015, wearable technology was once again smack dab in the middle of all the buzz. This time, the focus shifted towards its role in the burgeoning Internet of Things, most notably connected living. Among the notable companies leading the pack was Misfit, who revealed plans to move beyond fitness tracking with particular attention towards the smart home.


Released last year, Flash is an entry-level wearable boasting a sleek and sporty design that measures your activity and sleep and syncs with your smartphone. That same connected functionally will soon serve as remote control for in-house devices as well, ranging from the lights to the thermostat and beyond. Flash will be compatible with a wide-range of smart home platforms and services, including IFTTT, Logitech’s Harmony API, Nest thermostats, August Smart Locks, as well as Misfit’s own Bolt light bulbs. For instance, double-clicking the band’s lone button will allow wearers to start a Spotify playlist or turn on the lights, while holding it down can set the mood or a desirable temperature.

Seeing as though it only has one button, Flash’s interactions with other smart devices may be limited. Needless to say, the integration definitely demonstrates how wearable tech and the Internet of Things can work together. Hendrik Bartel, an analyst at Gartner, told the Wall Street Journal that Flash’s app and smart home controls are a testament to the progress of the so-called IoT. “Sometimes it may feel like Misfit doesn’t have much of an identity, because they make fitness and sleep trackers and smart lightbulbs. But, really, that’s how the Internet of Things is. It’s the Internet of Everything. And we’re still in the early stages of that.”

Xiaomi launches sensors to help create a smarter home

The low-cost Chinese smartphone maker plans to start testing four new smart home products.

As Xiaomi looks to broaden its range of devices for the Internet of Things, the Chinese smartphone maker has unveiled a new plan for a suite of four new smart home modules that will offer enhanced security features. In a recent GeekPark Innovation Festival presentation, Xiaomi President Bin Lin revealed that the company will begin consumer testing on January 26. Bloomberg notes that the components comprising the Smart Home Suite will be a motion sensor, an open/close sensor, a connected module for home appliances and a hub to connect these devices.

(Source: Tech in Asia)

(Source: Tech in Asia)

Each of these modules will be capable of measuring things such as light, sound, temperature, and movement, while relaying information to other smart gadgets throughout the house. For instance, the tiny motion sensor can be placed anywhere and can detect a moving object with a 170-degree angle. Meanwhile, door and window sensors will provide homeowners will real-time, remote monitoring.

(Source: Tech in Asia)

(Source: Tech in Asia)

“In the past, motion sensors were very complicated and large in size, so that if you wanted a system you needed professional installation,” Lin told attendees. “For this suite, there is not a single nail or wire. These components are all very simple.”

(Source: Tech in Asia)

(Source: Tech in Asia)

The new products will also be equipped with a wireless switching device for appliances, as well as a multi-functional gateway that wirelessly connects the components with other devices, enabling control with the press of a smartphone. The soon-to-be launched lineup will join previously announced home products from the company including an air purifier that sends pollution readings to mobile phones and alerts users when its filter is dirty and a light bulb that can change colors by remote control. Tech in Asia reveals that the devices will communicate using the ZigBee protocol.

(Source: Tech in Asia)

(Source: Tech in Asia)

This announcement comes with little surprise, in the wake of a rather “smart” CES 2015 and a number of optimistic IoT reports. One in particular, IDC estimates that the market for Internet-enabled devices will grow to $7.1 trillion by 2020, up from merely $1.9 trillion in 2014.

“Xiaomi is well-positioned to take on this market, as it already has the cloud infrastructure, a hardware background, a huge fan following, and several devices at its disposal,” Tech in Asia concludes.

In the end, the electronics company is hoping that consumers will be able to use their smartphones to link all the smart devices together and control each of their appliances with a Xiaomi developed app on their smartphone — like the highly-popular, mXT641T powered Mi4.

Report: 37% of U.S. households will buy a smart device in 2015

“Things” are just heating up! Ownership and usage of connected devices is growing among U.S. broadband households.

Following CES 2015, it’s clearer than ever that connected devices are infiltrating households throughout the U.S. and abroad. And, according to IoT research from Parks Associates, ownership and usage of these smart gadgets are about to soar over the next year.


So much so that 37% of American broadband households intend to buy at least one smart device in 2015. The latest report also reveals that nearly one-quarter (26%) of these homes already have a streaming device, with 34% owning a smart TV and 16% a smart home appliance.

“This year will feature expansion of the smart home and further refinement of business strategies in these markets,” explained Tom Kerber, Parks Associates’ Director of Research. “As we saw at CES last week, companies from previously separate channels are now competing in the smart home ecosystem, meaning both differentiation and cross-platform interoperability are critical to success.”

Fresh on the heels of CES 2015, we’ve also gathered some of our favorite, most noteworthy IoT devices from the show floor.

Preview: Atmel is headed to Vegas for CES 2015

What happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily have to stay in Vegas! From January 6-9, 2015, the Atmel team is headed to Sin City for the 2015 International CES, where we’ll be showcasing a number of cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and offering insight into the smarter, more connected world of tomorrow.

Attendees will have the chance to meet our team, demo our latest devices, and get a unique glimpse into some next-gen technology — from the Security of Things (SoT) to futuristic car center consoles — inside Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall, meeting space #MP25760. (The show is huge, so it may be helpful to map it.)

Bluetooth and ZigBee and Wi-Fi, oh my! Those looking ahead to a bright future of wireless and smart lighting are also welcomed to join members of our team at the Sands Expo Center in both the ZigBee Alliance Pavilion (booth #71023) as well as the Connected Lighting Alliance (booth #70432).


So what can you expect to see?

Atmel’s SMART LIVING ZONE brings more connectivity, security and intelligence to the home. 

  • Wide-range of Atmel SmartConnect enabled applications including intelligent weight scales, door bells with built-in cameras, Wi-Fi connected speakers, as well as motion sensor-laden windows, smart plugs, and ZigBee-controlled lightbulbs and gateways.
  • A new energy management solution capable of providing real-time, historic data of gas, energy and water consumption through a wireless remote with secure hardware authentication between the wireless device and home automation controls.
  • The recently-revealed Atmel® | SMART™SAM L21 running on an Xplained Pro board with an ePaper display.


  • Some of today’s leading tablets, smartphones and phablets powered by Atmel’s maXTouch® controllers, along with keyboards, mice and other human machine interface devices based on the company’s latest QTouch® capacitive platforms.
  • Bringing together the IoT ecosystem, we’ll also be exhibiting solutions from a number of our friends and partners.

Atmel’s AUTOMOTIVE ZONE enables smart, connected cars with simple-to-use interfaces. 

  • Ushering in an era of connected cars, the fully-functional and futuristic AvantCar™ center console concept is equipped with curved touchscreens driven by Atmel’s XSense®, maXTouch, QTouch, 8-bit AVR MCU technologies, and LIN-controlled ambient LEDs.


  • RF and LF technologies for keyless entry systems, LIN- and CAN-based car networking applications, audio via Ethernet-AVB, MCUs and crypto technologies for safe data transfer via automotive networking.
  • Multi-channel audio streaming over automotive Ethernet Audio Video Bridging (AVB) with low-power yet powerful SMART | ARM MCUs.
  • The latest hardware and communication protocol offerings for remote keyless entry (RKE), passive entry, passive start (PEPS) and immobilizer, this demo showcases a complete reference design for automotive car access applications.

Atmel’s MAKER ZONE showcases Internet-enabled innovations. 

  • At the core of the Maker Movement, the well-received Arduino Wi-Fi Shield is further enabling rapid prototyping of IoT projects on the Arduino platform, and will be exhibiting its ease-of-use and wide-range of applications for the professional and DIY communities alike.


  • A number of other Maker demonstrations, including a remote-controlled Maker Robot powered by the Atmel | SMART SAM D21 will be displayed. “Mr. Abot” is controlled through an Android app and the communications driven through Atmel’s recently-announced WINC1500 Wi-Fi solution.
  • Good news, Makers! You’ll have a chance to bring home a free Atmel Evaluation Kit by simply spotting AVR Man on the show floor, snapping a selfie and tweeting it to @TheAVRMan himself.

“Powered by Atmel” ZONE highlights the latest gadgets using Atmel solutions.

  • Aside from an assortment of today’s smartphones and tablets, there will be a collection of wearables on display, too. This includes everything from the Narrative life-logging camera to various fitness tracking bands. As recent teardowns have revealed, Atmel can be found embedded within several highly-popular wrist-adorned gadgets like the TomTom Runner and Motorola Moto 360, as well as in a number of flagship phones like the Google Nexus 6 and Xiaomi mi4.


Stay connected!

Unable to make the show? Can’t find the booth? Follow along with us on Twitter using the hashtag #AtmelLive for all the latest trends and real-time happenings right from the CES floor. Don’t forget to check out insightful interviews on YouTube, daily recaps on Bits & Pieces, photos on Facebook and a whole lot more on our other channels as well!

Building an Arduino-powered smart home model

PubNub Evangelist Ian Jennings walks through the process of building a smart home from scratch using Arduino.

Down the road we may build a full-sized smart home, but for now we figured a model home laser cut out of Eucaboard would do just fine for now.

We wanted to showcase how home automation, [Atmel AVR microcontroller based] Arduino, and PubNub go hand-in-hand-(in-hand). More importantly, we wanted to show how important reliable, realtime connectivity is for building a fully-featured home automation solution.

As a result, our Arduino connected home was born. In the story below, the home’s architect/PubNub Evangelist Ian Jennings walks through the process of building the home from scratch (with .gifs!). In the future, we’ll roll out a technical tutorial so you can build one yourself.

Back in September, our founder Stephen and I were talking about ways to make it easier to demonstrate where PubNub sits with the Internet of Things. Attendees at conferences often ask if we’re a “hub,” a bluetooth device, etc.

In reality, we’re a data stream network; a service similar to a CDN that provides a simple and reliable way for IoT devices to talk to each other.

I decided instead of telling people people what PubNub is, we should show them. If I handed you a mobile phone and told you to press a button and then a garage door opened, you would understand that the phone sent a message to the garage door (via Arduino remote configuration).

How did it send the message? That’s PubNub.

So I built the garage door, and a front door, and some lights, and a house, and a mobile app, and I recorded every minute of it. You can check out that video below:

The PubNub IoT Model House from PubNub on Vimeo.

Why a house?

When I think IoT, my mind goes to home automation. It’s a great use case of a number of different connected devices where reliability and security are paramount. In this case, the house is a single IoT device that represents any number of devices.

I started by looking for a suitable “house.” Originally the idea was the have the house fold down so it could be packed and shipped around to conferences. This lead me to believe laser cutting was the best option, because the “snap fit” ability is not only sturdy, but portable.

I eventually stumbled upon this CAD file of a house from “The Simpsons.” It was extremely well designed and only $15. I took a 2 hour lesson here at ATX Hackerspace and learned how to use the laser cutter. A couple days later my roommate came home with some extra Eucaboard.

I wasted half of the board because Corel Draw determines scaling settings when each file is opened. Apparently I cut all 4 laser files at different scales, so none of the pieces fit together! Once I figured this out I had a clean cut.

From there I needed to glue the smaller parts like the windows and chimney. No need to set these up on the road.

It turns out gorilla glue is extremely messy because it expands over time. This created a bunch of huge solid glue globs that completely ruined the aesthetics of the house. I used a dremel to cut away at the excess glue. It took me a while but I definitely leveled up my dremel skills.

Then I started prototyping. I used an Arduino Uno Rev 3 and an ethernet shield to get up and running fast. I started with a breadboard, LEDs, and used electrical tape to test mounting the servos.

Hooking Up PubNub

Everything checked out so I started to hook it up to PubNub. We have drivers for Arduino which made it really easy.

I used a Seed Studio Ethernet Shield v2 to provide an internet connection to the IoT house. I didn’t have an Ethernet port around, so I was using my Macbook’s Internet Sharing setting to share the WiFi network connection to the Arduino. There were some slight modifications I needed to make for the SS v2 drivers to work with our v1 library (a full post about this fix coming later).

I opted to use a key value syntax to process messages. As you can see in the video, it was as simple as “garage:0” or “lightLeft:1” to close the garage and turn the left light on.

When I verified that this worked correctly, I soldered everything into a separate board that could be mounted inside the house.

Looking back now, this board should have been a “prototype shield” for Arduino but at the time I thought it would be so simple that it wouldn’t require an entire shield. This was a mistake, and there are now 7 extra wires that would have been unnecessary with a shield.

I built a simple UI in a CodePen to publish PubNub messages on the same channel the house was listening to. I then mounted the LEDs in the house, drilled mounts for the servos and connected them to doors, and mounted the circuit board and the Arduino + Ethernet shield to the house.

It worked!…

About half of the time.

There was something really strange about the behavior. I would have a great connection to PubNub and everything would work… then suddenly it was completely broken. I noticed that something was amuck, and I suspected it was the internet connection.

I dug down into the network, spending many hours looking at WireShark for hints and configuring the WiFi network.

I tried things like assigning an IP address to the Arduino, making sure the MAC address was correct, and even ordering a second Ethernet shield from a different manufacturer and switching from driver-supported USB to native Thunderbolt sharing. Eventually I was able to isolate the problem.

Whenever I opened the garage door, the ethernet shield would reset. I laughed, in what other situation could opening your garage door possibly destroy your internet connection?

Arduino Board Limiters

Arduino board has limiters in place that prevent you from drawing too much power through the board (and frying it). Every time the garage door opened, the servos were drawing all the current, not leaving enough for the Arduino and Ethernet shield to properly function.

I tested my theory with a few external power supplies. When I verified it fixed the problem, I wired in the battery pack you can see in the video.

That was it! I had the working prototype.

Assembling the IoT House

I showed it to my team at PubNub over video chat. They loved it, but seemed a little concerned about how to assemble it. After all, there were about 20 wooden pieces that fit like a puzzle, and then another 20 wires.

There was also a new plan. Now we had a deadline; an upcoming IoT conference in San Francisco. In addition, I wouldn’t be going with the house. It was going right to our CEO Todd who was attending the show.

I started to second guess my original plan of shipping the house to be assembled on spot.

My co-worker at ATX Hackerspace picked up an awesome Pelican case to carry his function generator and other crazy electronic gizmos safely to his clients this same day. He gave me quick demo and ensured that this was the way to go. I plopped the assembled house on top of the case and verified it would fit inside. Later that day I drove over to Fry’s and got one myself.

I glued the house together and decided I was going to ship it in as few pieces as possible. I glued the house walls together, cut out the styrofoam, and fit the house snugly inside the Pelican case.

Then I threw it off a table, kicked it, and tossed it down stairs.

I figured that I would subject the house to the worse torture possible while I could still fix it. Who knows what kind of abuse it will need to endure in shipping?

The house survived with minor injury.

I decided it was time to show this thing off. Test it in a live environment.

Showcasing the IoT House

I took it to HackTX, a hackathon hosted at the University of Texas here in Austin and run by my new pal Taylor. My other good pals Swift and Jon happened to be in town too.

I found a seat next to the students and set up the house. I repeatability assured the other contestants that I wasn’t going to be competing for any of the prizes.

There was a problem. I was connected to the UT campus internet, but their security settings prevented the network from being rebroadcast. I couldn’t share the WiFi from my Macbook to the Arduino. I learned after the fact that there is some way around this, but didn’t look to far into it.

Instead, I decided it was time to make this thing wireless. I did 30 minutes of research and decided I was going to replace the Arduino Uno and the WiFi chip with the newer Arduino Yún board. In addition to the WiFi chip, Yún has a second processor that runs Linux.

What better time to get this thing set up then at a hackathon? My roommate Nick showed up to the hackathon, so we both jumped in my hatchback, rolled down the windows, and cruised to a Radio Shack in South Austin. I called to confirm they had the chip, it wasn’t available at every Radioshack.

We didn’t support Yún at the time so I used our REST API documentation to write my own client. I really wanted JSON support and getting it to work with Arduino was difficult.  It took me the entire hackathon, but by the end…

It was complete.

I bought an external battery pack and a WiFi hotspot. I chiseled little spots out of the Pelican case to fit them in, and configured the Arduino to automatically connect to the hotspot.

The I went to Harbor Freight and bought a toolkit, extra tools, a soldering iron, etc. I rounded up extra servos, LEDs, wires, and wrote a debugging guide in case something went wrong with the house. I also recorded a video about how to take the house out of the case and set it up.

Then I dropped it off at FedEx. Overnight shipping to California.

The worst wasn’t over. Now it was time to wait for the call from our CEO Todd so I could walk him through setting it up.

I didn’t get a call, but instead a couple emails.  One at 6:43am said:


I wasn’t.

“If so, call me. Starting set up now.”

Another arrive at 8:20am. I was awake for this one. It read:

“All works!”

I fell back asleep.

Wrapping Up

Working on this project was incredibly difficult yet also very fulfilling. I don’t have any formal electrical engineering experience, I’m a web developer by trade. I haven’t learned this much this fast since graduating college.

I was working extremely long days to meet the deadline. I would spend the entire morning just shopping for the right components, screws, glue, or paper. Then I would work, sometimes until 3 or 4am, getting everything together.

Thankfully Arduino makes things simple and I had a great network of people who helped me each step along the way. Alex, in particular was extremely helpful with electronics and another member of the space, Riley, spent on late Friday supplying me with every tool and component I needed during assembly like a surgeon’s assistant.

The IoT house is on display at the ground level office at 725 Folsom in San Francisco. It will also be displayed at upcoming IoT conferences which will be announced on our blog. If you would like me to give a talk about building IoT house at your conference, you can reach me at ian@pubnub.com.

Now to convince PubNub to get me a drone…

This Samsung Talking Fridge can sell itself

Remember when Samsung embedded an ordinary bike with Arduino? Well, the brand is now equipping refrigerators with Arduino units to detect customers and speak to them in real-time.


This new project not only provides customers with a much friendlier shopping experience, but a dynamic and highly-interactive way to explore home appliances as well. Embedded with Atmel based sensors, Samsung’s Talking Fridge seeks to educate users on the features of its latest kitchen gadget, the T9000 Premium Refrigerator.

Tired of salespeople? Luckily, this product can sell itself. Literally! And, take “no” for an answer! As customers flock stores this holiday season, Samsung is providing a less intrusive, personalized experience that will allow shoppers to feel more comfortable as they walk a show floor, checking out the new fridge at their own accord.


How does the fridge work? When movement is sensed in any of the fridge’s interior compartments, the Arduino sensors activate a voice playback that spoke to the shopper and explain the fridge’s individual features and benefits.

A sticker is affixed to the front of the Talking Fridge, which greets customers and instructs them to open the door if they’d like to get to learn more about the appliance. There are other tags inside as well, each with various elements that can be manipulated by customers in order to hear more information about them, including a foldable shelf, an easy slide shelf, and a big box.


There’s even a mobile app alongside the fridge. A tablet located next to the appliance enables users to discover its many features on the app, ranging from smart organization to optimum freshness, while video guides reveal all the other necessary details.

As a recent case study by Creative.Singapore revealed, the average time customers spent with the T9000 fridge was over three minutes and exceeded its sales target by 67%, with 136% increase in brand recall.

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.


5 things coming to the smart home in 2015

With adoption and ownership of smart in-home devices on the rise, the future of an entirely connected house is not too far off. With major backing from corporations like Apple and Google to the emergence of [Atmel based] startups on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, it is clearer than ever that the market is ready to grow at a rapid pace. From home automation to smart metering, a new generation of intelligent products are set to increasingly power and connect our daily lives.


Writing for Gigaom, Stacey Higginbotham highlights five key trends that she expects will continue to evolve over the next couple of months and finally come to fruition in 2015. Here’s what she had to say…

1. Bluetooth-controlled lights

“At long last, products are coming on the market that will let you use Bluetooth to control light bulbs, outlets and more. These products are using mesh networking to make installing a connected light switch as easy as sticking a new plate to the wall using double-sided tape. Products from Avi-on (which is building bluetooth switches for GE’s Jasco brand), Oort, and Seed will change the way we use lighting in the home and at work. Even Peep, a company showing off a camera that snaps a picture when someone knocks on your door is looking at using Bluetooth as a faster way to get an image to people inside the home, since using Wi-Fi means it would go from the connected camera to the cloud and then to people’s phones.”

Our recent acquisition of NMI immediately expanded the 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities of the company’s offerings, thereby accelerating our introduction of low-energy Bluetooth products such as these.

2. Voice-controlled homes

“To talk to your home, you’ll talk to your phone: This isn’t a trend I’m excited about, but it’s obviously where we are heading in the relative near term. Since our phones are equipped with awesome natural language processing already, big companies such as Nest and Apple and small ones like Nucleus will use them to let people control their homes via voice. For example, Nest will integrate with Google Now’s speech recognition while Apple’s HomeKit is sure to have a Siri component. On the startup side, the Nucleus intercom system showed off a way to not only message people in your house, but to speak into the phone to control your lights. Ubi is building similar functionality into it’s app.”

Surely enough, it’s not that uncommon to find yourself spewing to an malfunctioning appliance or sharing your displeasure with a gadget; however, in the near future, when you talk to these devices, they may actually listen. Envision yourself calling out commands to complete tasks such as raising the heat on the thermostat or closing the blinds at night. Thanks to startups like Ubi and Wit.ai, custom voice controls may be coming to a neighborhood near you.

3. Low-power Wi-Fi 

“Two companies, Homeboy and Roost were offering different products that took advantage of low-power Wi-Fi. The benefits of such a set up are pretty obvious — you don’t need a fancy hub to control a device and it can work for almost everyone.”

It’s no surprise to find Wi-Fi as one of the integral technologies enabling devices to connect directly to one another, to wide area networks, or simply to the Internet in order to provide remote monitoring and control of a home system. As such, it is becoming a major driver of the explosion of the ever-evolving Internet of Things, particularly the connected home market. Atmel’s SmartConnect family is comprised of self-contained, low-power, and certified modules that are enabling wireless connectivity in such embedded designs, ranging from battery-operated devices to smart home appliances.

4. No more hubs for automation

“This year’s hot device, the home hub that combines a bunch of radios with a software platform to let people control multiple connected devices is going away. Even SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson is ready to build software that is independent of the company’s hub, although he admits it may take some time and won’t include all the devices out there. I also saw a startup, showing off an Android-based controller called the Reach app that lets people pause videos, play songs over their Sonos and control a few other devices like Hue lights. The app is in alpha right now, but I’m eager to see it once it hits beta.”

5. Show me the money!

“The business models that have been lacking in several popular services are beginning to crystalize. From Linden Tibbets. the CEO of If This Then That disclosing that he plans to have consumers pay for premium IFTTT services, to an in-depth discussion from IControl’s CEO on business models for the smart home, it’s clear that while companies have been focused on the user experience, the revenue models aren’t far behind.”

While we may not know exactly what the future holds, it appears that 2015 and beyond are looking much SMARTER.

Report: 20% of U.S. broadband households to get smart home devices by next year

A new survey released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Parks Associates shows continued strong growth of smart home products in U.S. homes, as 20% of households with broadband intend to acquire one or more smart home devices within the next year. The report, entitled “Internet of Things: Smart Home Devices and Controllers,” revealed that nearly half (48%) of those surveyed who own a smart home device are under 35-years-old.


“It makes sense that early adopters of smart home devices tend to be younger, have a high-tech affinity and are four-times as likely to buy new technology as soon as it is available,” explained Steve Koenig, CEA’s Director of Industry Analysis. “More than half of smart home device owners say they want to use technology as a way to create more time with their family.”

Through its embedded microcontrollers, smart home devices and systems are equipped with processing intelligence, and connected to the Internet through a home network for remote access, monitoring and control capabilities. While 13% of broadband households own at least one smart home device, the survey found unit sales of devices like smart thermostats, door locks, smoke detectors and light switches will continue to offer high-growth rates. In 2014 alone, these types of smart home devices will reach 20.7 million units, while set to increase to 35.9 million units by 2017.


“Now is the time for the industry to deliver on the promise of better, easier-to-use products, systems and services to help consumers manage their homes,” stated Tricia Parks, CEO of Parks Associates. “Roughly one-third of smart device owners spent more than one month shopping around. Manufactures and service providers must engage and educate the consumer during that purchase process if they want to capture them.”

According to the research, consumers have the highest intention to purchase smart lights (16%) and smart thermostats (16%). Overall, nearly two-thirds seek to purchase a smart device that will communicate with another smart device. As the number of smart devices in a household increases, as will the importance of interoperability. In fact, 60% of owners with three or more devices say interoperability is “very important.”

The point of purchase varies, but a majority of smart devices are bought through a retailer or given as a gift. Smart door locks (27%), smoke detectors (25%), and garage door openers (24%) were the most gifted smart home device. Additionally, smart door locks (38%), home or kitchen appliances (34%), and power strips (33%) were among the smart devices most often purchased from a national or local retailer.

Those interested in learning more can download the entire study here.