4 Interesting Little Home Automation Products & Industrial Designs at ISC West 2016
Super-thin Z-Wave strip from Sensative, clever front-door camera solution from Toucan, Nortek’s cheap way to make dumb smoke detectors smart … and other little security and smart-home novelties from ISC 2016.
Julie Jacobson · April 7, 2016
There’s a lot of big news coming out of ISC West 2016, the big security and little home automation show. But it’s always nice to discover some little things that typically get lost among the mergers & acquisitions, new smart-home platforms and the latest in drones and active-shooter solutions.
Here are a few we have discovered so far.
Toucan, Powered by Kuna
I’m a big fan of Toucan (Booth #3134), which I discovered for the first time at CES 2016 in January.
This product solves the nagging problem of powering a front-door camera where it might be challenging to tap into AC power. With Toucan, users can create smart lighting and surveillance wherever there’s a standard light fixture, the likes of which are found throughout a home’s exterior, including the doors.
The solution starts with a smart Bluetooth (BLE) socket that screws into an ordinary light fixture. Any dumb bulb can then screw into the socket to become a smart bulb. No big invention there.
The innovation is in the USB port on the socket, which is used to power Toucan’s Wi-Fi-enabled outdoor camera (image). The Wi-Fi in the camera also serves as the IP gateway for the now-smart bulb, so the light can be controlled remotely via the Internet. Of course, the IP camera can be monitored and controlled remotely as well.
Toucan has an app, powered by Kuna, which looks like many of the other camera, doorbell-camera and lighting apps on the market today.
Kuna also sells similar versions of the IP camera that are built into exterior light fixture, and these fixtures are sold under other brands including Maximus.
Toucan says it will be coming out with compatible sensors in the future. Whatever. The innovation is in the smart socket with USB. Imagine what else you can do with this thing.
Nortek Ring of Fire
For the past couple of years, the big thing in “connected” smoke detectors was technology that listened for the specific sound of a detector, and then relayed the alert over the home network and eventually to your smart phone.
In this way, all the dumb smoke detectors in a home could become smart, without having to replace the individual units. Just plug in a connected listener.
The problem with these listening devices is that they can misfire … or not fire at all. Nortek Security & Control (#20031) thinks it has a better solution with the new 2Gig Smoke Detector Sensor, aka, the Smoke Ring (image).
The SDS is designed as a retrofit solution for hardwired smoke detectors – required by code in all new homes – that are not currently connected to an alarm system. The Smoke Ring mounts between an existing smoke detector and the ceiling, grabbing power by clamping onto the AC wires that power existing detectors. Only one unit is needed for the entire house.
There’s a 7-day battery backup for uninterruptable power if electricity is lost.
The Smoke Ring communicates via standard security RF protocols that are compatible with 2Gig security systems, as well as those from other major providers.
It is expected to ship this month. A Z-Wave version will follow.
Even though security sensors are slimming down, they’re still ugly when placed on doors and windows throughout the premises, especially where there are banks of windows in a modern home.
Somehow, this company managed to fit a Z-Wave radio and a battery lasting up to 10 years into a longish strip a mere 3mm thick. In the same space, the company plans to build in a vibration sensor to detect not only if the window is open or closed, but whether it’s broken or otherwise disturbed.
At ISC, the Strips is hard to find because, well, it’s so small but also because it’s on a wall of other gadgets at the Z-Wave Pavilion (#28065).
If you’re a Z-Wave user or specifier who hasn’t yet discovered Aeotec, now would be a good time. This company, also at the Z-Wave pavilion, has a wide range of affordable, nice-looking, small-form-factor devices for monitoring and controlling the smart home.
One of the newest products is the WallMote, a battery-powered, glass-faced switch that mounts to the wall with sticky-tape. It can control up to 16 different devices or scenes, and features LED lights for feedback, status and … lighting.
Touch-glass technology allows for the slide dimming and brightening of lighting and the control of drapes and curtains, while a presence sensor illuminates WallMote’s fascia during dark hours.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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