Smart Home

To stay secure, slip a Strip into windows and doors

When homeowners wants to be sure any way in or out of their home is secure, they can either manually check each door or window or go the more digital route by installing a home security system like Presence. Most security systems, though, are reactive rather than proactive, helpful only after something bad has already happened.

Sensative’s Strips aim to provide peace of mind by not only notifying a homeowner of suspicious activity, but helping prevent unfortunate situations from happening in the first place. It does this through Z-Wave compatibility, letting Strips do things like send smartphone alerts about each door or window upon exit. More information means homeowners can take action to ensure the safety of their home. 

Smart Home

Oomi smart home system does it all with easy setup and simple control

The home automation space is filled with products that promise both straightforward setup and ease of use, using the smartphone as the brains behind it all. Some achieve this feat, but require accessories all over the place for the system to work. And if does work, many products wrongly assume the smartphone is the best piece of technology for total control — having to wait for an app to open just to turn on a bulb is inefficient to say the least.

Fantem thinks a smart home should be much easier to set-up, and its Oomi smart home system is the result of that. The system is primarily made up of an Oomi Cube and Oomi Touch. The former is the star of the show, a Wi-Fi and Z-Wave enabled device filled to the brim with all kinds sensors, cameras, and a motion detector all to learn the rhythms of a user’s daily life and react to anything unexpected. The latter is a 7-inch, edge-to-edge glass tablet with physical buttons that makes setting up any part of the connected home as easy as a tap and a touch.

The primary parts of the Oomi system don’t operate by themselves. A few accessories expand the capability of the system and truly make a home connected. A user can turn any outlet into a smart outlet with the Oomi Plug, while the Oomi Multi-Sensor adds the Oomi Cube’s wealth of sensors into any other part of the home. Ambiance is covered by the Oomi Bulb, while entertainment is handled by the Oomi Streamer. This accessory adds both browsing and streaming capabilities to any TV in the home, pushing home alerts to the screen alongside of them.

Maker/Development Smart Home

Personal Robot combines home automation with facial recognition, other technologies

editors-choiceHaving a device in the house that can function as a personal assistant, while also serving as a home automation system would come in handy. Especially when it combines far-field voice recognition with emotion, facial and object recognition. Introducing the Personal Robot, one such device, from the New York-based company Robotbase.

Personal Robot features a 3D depth camera and noise canceling microphone array technology, and it can communicate with the user’s connected devices via wireless Z-Wave Plus, Zigbee, BLE and Wi-Fi. The far-field voice recognition enables the device to hear the user’s commands all the way from the other side of the room. The user can ask Personal Robot for information including the local weather, news, sports scores and recipes, as the video on its Kickstarter campaign shows. The device can also be used to play music, schedule meetings, set alarms, and control the temperature in a home to save energy and money. Backers who pledge $995 will get one when it ships in December. Its maker set a goal of raising $50,000 on Kickstarter.

Other devices on the market have attempted some of the same functionality. But Personal Robot’s advanced software, which incorporates deep learning algorithms, give it an advantage over some competing products. Some consumers might find the computer-animated female character that is featured on the device’s screen a bit creepy, although the device’s maker says the user can change how she looks.

Smart Home

Neeo thinking remote is the one system that can control all devices in your home

editors-choiceHaving a smart automation system that can control all the devices in a home is something that a growing number of consumers are looking for. Neeo from the Cupertino, California, company of the same name combines some of the best features of a mobile app-based smart home automation system with those of a universal remote control. It also adds a few features that rival devices just don’t have, such as four antennas that integrate Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave protocol functionality.

There are two main parts of the Neeo system: the “Brain,” a small hockey puck-shaped device made of solid aluminum and acrylic glass, that will command all of the user’s devices, including TVs and Blu-ray players; and the remote, which provides instant control of all those devices. Sensors in the attractive remote detect the user’s palm and matches it with that person’s profile. It then displays that person’s personal playlists, movies and favorites from connected devices instantly, the company claims. Also attractive is the remote’s 291 pixels per inch touch display.

If the user can’t find the remote, an SOS alarm function that is activated via an iOS or Android smartphone will help track it down. Neeo has a database of more than 30,000 devices that it can connect to and control, and is compatible with all major AV products made in the last 10 years. Kickstarter backers who pledge $148 will get one Brain in April and the free app. Those who pledge $219 will, in May, get the Brain and the remote in either the standard aluminum version or one of two limited edition SKUs, in black or white. The system’s maker is looking to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter.

As long as the Neeo remote is indeed compatible with as many devices as the company claims and the set-up process is as simple as it says, the system is among the most promising products to come along in the home automation and universal remote categories lately. It surpasses most similar devices including last year’s Droplit. As a universal remote, it also stands to be a major challenger to the popular Harmony remotes from Logitech.

Smart Home

Droplit drops a remote control for your entire home

The rash of smart home automation solutions all think having a proprietary app is a fantastic idea, because why wouldn’t you want to have quick and easy access to total control of different parts of your home? As well-intentioned a thought that is, it quickly becomes apparent that having 12 different apps for disparate parts of your home actually isn’t that useful after all and makes decidedly analog action of flicking on your light switch that much more attractive again.

Droplit is a smart home solution that allows you to control all of the different connected objects in your home through a single remote control or iOS, Android, or Windows phone app. The app will allow for quick and easy access to all of your homes connected objects using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, or an optional z-wave attachment. Both the remote and the app have the capability to set timers and capture “scenes,” or pre-set lighting and device states, that can be recalled with a single button press, making that one perfect set-up for your home entertainment system easily accessible anytime. The Droplit system is available with a backing of $129 and can be expected in June of 2015. The campaign is looking for $50,000 to hone their Bluetooth implementation and put the product into production.

Droplit expands on what Apple is doing by employing their own cloud service as an intermediary so that devices can be controlled from anywhere in the world almost instantaneously. Bluetooth devices within the home will also benefit, too, being that Droplit doubles as an access point which extends their range of communication. The company confusingly recommends multiple remotes to get the most out of their system, but that kind of seems counterintuitive to what they’re trying to do. In any case, cloud implementation is a clever move and could be what separates them from the pack.

Smart Home

Talk to your home and have it listen and respond with ALYT

The Premise. Part of the smart home dream has always been being able to talk with a place of residence and trust it to control climate, security, and sense problems. Of course, for as long as smart home technology has been developed, it’s been reaching toward this goal without ever getting there.

The Product. ALYT is an Android-powered hub that looks like the solution to these problems. By being an open platform operating on just about every imaginable form of wireless data, ALYT allows for voice and video recognition to control virtually any aspect of a home – as long as developers create an app for it. Compatible with iOS, Android, Bluetooth, NFC, Z-Wave, 3.5G and more, the flexibility of the ALYT system opens it up to all kinds of innovative development.

The Pitch. By all indications of the video introduction, there seems to be nothing the ALYT can’t handle. From protecting homes from floods to keeping an eye on the family pet while at the office, the flexibility of the ALYT is on display. For those that need a little more convincing, the campaign contains lots of details on how ALYT can be put to use for almost any home application.  ALYT needs to raise $100,000 for production and certification, with stretch goals offering increased compatibility and other features.

The Perks. For developers that want to get started with ALYT as soon as possible, the $149 reward tier comes with a prototype PCB, wireless detector, wireless door sensor and a self-development kit to arrive in June of this year. Home users who simply want a functional ALYT without developing for it can get one in July for $199, and from there, more accessories are available at higher tiers depending on what owners want an ALYT for. A home security kit can be had for $299, a smart home functionality kit is $329, and a video surveillance kit is $479, all expected to ship in November. All reward tiers including a shipping fee of at least $15.

The Potential. ALYT is very high-concept, as it really seems to offer more as a platform than as a consumer-level device. Once the apps and the development get rolling, it would be easy to see how this hub would be a must for any smart home. For now, however, the ALYT is only as strong as its app base, and that may lead consumers to look elsewhere for their smart home hubs, whether it’s the popular Revolv or the similarly-designed Ninja Sphere.