Talk to me – The role of Voice Control in the Smart Home

A recent Smart Home report on what features are most desired by users showed that in addition to self-adjusting thermostats, remote locking of burglar alarms and other such staples, one of the features that users really want is a master remote for all services. This is an expression of the frustration with the morass of incompatibility between smart devices.  Very few systems talk to each other in a meaningful way and it is clear that the fragmentation of standards and systems continues to cause … Read more…

Google OnHub – the router is now cylindrical

Following Amazon’s echo media device, Google have just unveiled an equally-cylindrical device, their all-singing, all-dancing WiFi router, built by home networking specialists TP-Link. Now I am a bit confused about this. Designed to be attractive and pretty enough placed anywhere in the home, Google seem to have forgotten that the location of WiFi routers are dictated by where the Internet cable enters the home. However, Google make big claims about its wireless performance, apparently sporting 13 antennas, emphasising the speed and range benefits it … Read more…

The march of the Smart Home – big numbers ahead!

There is no shortage of forecasts on the market growth for connected devices, and last week BI Intelligence, an analyst firm added their half-penny’s worth to the mix. According to their analysis, the market for connected home devices is set to grow from around 400m units in 2015 to 1,800m units 2019, a compound annual growth in excess of 65%, far exceeding smartphones and tablets, whose time in the limelight as the darlings of the tech world is on the … Read more…

Will the promise of the Smart Home finally be realised as standards converge?

We have already seen how the connected home market is overwhelmed by a morass of incompatible and competing standards, and products made by different manufacturers are unlikely to work together unless they use high-level APIs such as Google’s “Works with Nest”. In the dumb home, interoperability was taken for granted. An incandescent bulb would work with any switch and thermostats were readily interchangeable. The addition of complex app & web based interfaces, the foundation of ‘smart’ systems has created a multitude … Read more…

British Gas acquires AlertMe – A smart home leader

AlertMe, the Cambridge-based company behind the technology that powers the Hive Active Heating system sold by British Gas has just been acquired by British Gas itself. Originally holding an investment of around 20%, British Gas has now bought the entire outfit for around $100m. As AlertMe only has two large customers, British Gas itself and Lowe, in the US, it is unclear whether British Gas aims to use the platform and technology for its own energy customer base. However in a press release, Mary … Read more…

Connectivity in the Smart Home. Thread or Bluetooth Smart?

This blog has already explored the multitude of standards currently being used as the basis for connecting sensors, object and all sorts of things  to the Internet and to each other. Nowhere is this problem more acute than in the area of home automation, where the lack of widely adopted standards results in systems that don’t talk to each other, and worse, in systems that quickly become obsolete and cease to be supported by their manufacturers. The situation where the home … Read more…