Ultimate Guide to DIY Security & Home Automation at CEDIA Expo 2015
More DIY-focused security and home automation companies are reaching out to home tech pros at CEDIA Expo 2015: MivaTek, Netatmo, Insteon, Lucis, Smanos and more.
Julie Jacobson · October 5, 2015
Sure, CEDIA is for home systems integrators and the manufacturers that serve them. Increasingly, however, the event has become a showcase of DIY products, with exhibitors seeking general recognition for their new technologies or dealer networks that can sell and install their wares.
Here we highlight some of the DIY-centric security and home automation companies exhibiting at CEDIA Expo 2015.
It's not exactly the "ultimate" guide, as more companies and products will be revealed in the next week, so keep checking back.
MivaTek Includes Wellness Apps and Medical Devices
MivaTek is a brand new company, but not a brand new product line. The company was formed in April 2015 with the acquisition of the mass-market DIY security and home automation business from Oplink.
That was a few months after Oplink launched its new WiseHome smart-home platform at CES 2015, as a follow-on to its original Oplink Connected platform.
MivaTek has re-launched the Oplink products under the MivaLife brand, featuring the same or similar hub, sensors, smart plugs and cameras (with local storage available). There are apps for Android and iOS, an open API and integration through IFTTT.
What MivaLife adds to the original Oplink line is a health-and-wellness solution that includes panic alerts, fall detectors, medication dispensers, activity tracking and medication tracking. For communications, MivaLife uses IP for the cameras and a proprietary 433 MHz protocol for security and automation devices.
While MivaLife currently is a 100% self-monitored solution, a representative at the company says professional monitoring “may be coming out very soon.”
Unlike Oplink’s original pricing of $20/month for a modest system and $30/month for the complete feature set, MivaLife starts at just $10/month.
Parent company MivaTek reportedly has a rich SHaaS (smart home as a service) platform that supports video and analytics, and the company is eager to partner with other providers for OEM and service-provider solutions.
Netatmo Offers Good-looking IoT Thermostats, Camera with Facial Recognition, Weather Station
[UPDATE 10/12/2015: No longer exhibiting] Netatmo often gets overlooked amid the Nest hoopla, but the company provides some DIY products that perform well and look beautiful. The Wi-Fi Netatmo thermostat was designed by famed design firm Starck, so its aesthetics are both stark and hip, available in a wide variety of color choices.
The thermostat includes learning capabilities, but not the household behavior-tracking that Nest offers. Instead, the device learns the thermal characteristics of your home (i.e., how quickly or slowly your home heats up or cools down), so automated settings can be optimized.
Netatmo offers an API and software developers’ kit for the thermostat, but the uptake seems to be limited at this time. And another very important thing … the thermostat is not yet available for the U.S., and it controls only the heater/boiler, not the AC.
More interesting for integrators might be the Netatmo Weather Station line, which includes both indoor and outdoor sensor units, as well as a rain gauge and wind gauge. The indoor unit measures indoor temperature, humidity, air quality, CO2 and sound. The outdoor unit monitors outdoor temperature, relative humidity, air quality and barometric pressure, and integrates those readings with Internet-based weather data.
The weather station works with Netatmo’s own thermostat to incorporate indoor/outdoor weather conditions and forecasts into the thermostat analytics. The product also works with Nest, as well as a variety of other third-party devices via IFTTT and its own developer program.
Finally, the Netatmo Welcome IP camera ($199) is welcome indeed! It's about the best-looking IoT camera on the market today, with a few nice features that most others don't have: high-resolution up to 1080p, Micro SD card slot for local recording, no monthly fee, facial recognition software and companion "Tags" that ping the camera when motion is detected.
Most decent IP cameras will eventually have facial recognition, but Netatmo has it today, so (as the marketing video shows) Mom can be sure it's really Lily and no one else coming home from school at the appointed time.
Lucis to Launch Dealer Program for NuBryte Lighting-Control Panel
As we reported earlier, NuBryte from Lucis Technologies Inc. is either a really expensive light switch or a moderately priced home automation system.
The $199 NuBryte touchscreen replaces existing switches to control the attached loads. But it does more than that. The Wi-Fi-enabled NuBryte panel monitors the home through an onboard security camera and built-in sensors. It also serves as a whole-house intercom (voice only) and whole-house lighting controller that learns household behaviors to create energy-saving and security-conscious modes.
Naturally, to use NuBryte as an intercom system or whole-house lighting controller, you’ll need multiple devices in the home. Each panel communicates with the others over a peer-to-peer network so, for example, if a motion sensor trips in the living room, a message can be sent to all panels to turn on the local lights.
Meanwhile, the panel snaps images when motion is detected. Messages also can be sent to the homeowners through NuBryte’s app.
At this time, lighting is the only subsystem controlled by NuBryte, although the company says its open API will enable the integration of other devices such as thermostats. At such time, NuBryte’s built-in humidity and temperature sensors will come in handy.
When the panel isn’t being used for controlling lights, it can display the family calendar or weather reports.
Lucis is launching a dealer program at CEDIA, granting integrators “preferential pricing or incentives,” as well as training, support and customer referrals through a new “Lucis professional network.”
Insteon Becomes Unlikely Tech Trendsetter
Insteon. Insteon powerline and RF home-automation technology has been around since 2004, but it wasn’t until the past couple of years that the company (SmartLabs) – and the protocol – started looking like a leader in the Internet of Things (IoT).
Microsoft picked Insteon as its first retail home automation partner in 2013 and since then Insteon has been ahead of the pack when it comes to shiny new things like Microsoft Cortana, Apple HomeKit, Apple Watch, IFTTT and AllJoyn.
In August of this year, Toshiba announced it would pre-load a “majority” of new Toshiba consumer laptops with an Insteon app.
Most recently, Insteon announced integration with Amazon Echo, allowing users to control their homes via voice.
Insteon devices have found their way into most retail outlets, including Target, Fry’s, Walmart, Menards and Micro Center. And now the technology is available through custom-installation distributors including AVAD. While Insteon started out as an open standard, currently SmartLabs itself is the only one making Insteon-compatible products – more than 200 of them.
Smart Bulbs & Switches
Integrators struggle to find a purpose for "smart bulbs" in smart home, but clearly manufacturers in this category think there's a place for them.
Ilumi. Billing itself as the “world’s smartest light,” Ilumi is indeed smarter than most. The Bluetooth RGB bulb (starting at $39) enables the usual scenes and schedules, but it also can suggest color scenarios based on an image of the room and, better yet, sync to the rhythm of Spotify. Sensing your phone’s proximity, lights can be programmed to turn on automatically when you arrive home or off when you leave. Illumi provides “wellness” lighting that supports “your body’s natural circadian rhythm by automating your lighting to follow the sun’s daily color cycle.” Whatever that means. Oh, and if you can’t get to the icons on your smart device, simply shake it to activate the local lamps. Illumi integrates with IFTTT and works with Nest.
Switchmate. Switchmate may be the most DIY of all the DIY products at CEDIA. It’s a smart switch. That mates with a dumb switch. Switchmate. The Bluetooth-enabled battery-operated device uses magnets to snap over an existing rocker or toggle switch, mechanically pushing the buttons to turn the lights on and off.
Via Bluetooth, Switchmates can respond to proximity, setting lighting scenes when a user enters or leaves the house or a given room. There is no network integration yet, but the company is working on a Bluetooth/IP hub as well as integration with third-party ecosystems. CE Pro discovered the Switchmate prototype at CES 2015, but the company will demonstrate at CEDIA a nearly-shipping unit that retails for $60.
Emberlight. Many integrators can’t see the value of smart LED bulbs, but Emberlight at least makes a little more sense. It’s a smart socket that accommodates any Edison-style bulb. Communicating via Bluetooth (BLE) and Wi-Fi, the $49 socket enables local and whole-house lighting controls through iOS and Android apps.
Also at CEDIA we might expect to see Z-Wave bulbs from Nortek (Bulbz under the GoControl brand) and Aeon Labs, Insteon bulbs from Insteon, and ZigBee bulbs from URC (by LG Electronics) .
Novi Security. Novi’s new “Guard” is notable for a couple of things. First, it’s one of the first 40 products to tap the new Amazon Launchpad service for start-ups. Second, it’s a unique all-in-one on-ceiling camera with built-in motion sensor, smoke detector and siren. The Guard communicates with an Internet gateway, which in turn lets users do the same stuff as your typical smart-home thingy via an app similar to Canary, Piper and Nest. The camera is not a streaming device; rather, it uses an 802.15.4 radio and a proprietary protocol that is “very similar to Zigbee,” according to the company. When motion is detected, it will relay three images to the hub, just like the Image Sensor from Alarm.com and the motion camera from Abode. Since the camera doesn’t stream, it consumes less bandwidth and therefore power than a Wi-Fi camera. As such, it runs on batteries that can last up to a year.
iSmart Alarm. This company continues to show up at ISC, CEDIA and other custom-installation shows, but it’s a flat-out DIY product with no discernible custom-oriented features. The no-monthly-fee system, which has received generally good reviews, comprises an Ethernet hub with onboard siren, camera, sensors, smart switch and a “Remote Tag” to use as a mobile keyfob or on-wall keypad. Communications is via the company’s own 908-MHz technology, but a USB port on the CubeOne hub opens up possibilities to communicate via other protocols. What’s newish at CEDIA is the $199 iCamera Keep, a self-contained, Wi-Fi-enabled HD camera with a pan/tilt lens, night vision, motion and sound detection, as well as onboard and cloud-based storage.
An optional yard sign and decals are available “for use with any type of home and all iSmartAlarm systems and devices.”
Smanos. The interesting thing about the Smanos DIY security system is that it offers Internet-, landline- and cell-based communications, so users can be alerted to emergency events even when the home network is down. The other interesting thing is the design of the Smanos devices and controllers, which defy traditional security form factors. There is one, for example, that is housed in an alarm clock with Bluetooth music streaming. Local communications for the Smanos ecosystem is via proprietary 868 MHz technology.
Last year, we introduced readers to Nucleus, the video-intercom system that doubles as a home automation interface. Since then, Nucleus has added motion sensing, integration with SkyBell video doorbell and other goodies that will be available when the product ships in quantity.
We also introduced CE Pros to Webee last year – a system that was to be the ultimate learning machine to automate everything from lights to thermostats to TV functions. While that message might have dimmed somewhat, Webee does offer a relatively unique proposition for a Z-Wave/ZigBee/Wi-Fi hub ($199): In addition to the Smart Home functionality, the hub can also turn a display into a Smart TV by plugging Smartee to the HDMI input on your TV.
"Unleash a new range of possibilities," the company says, "by using your included air mouse to control your TV: browse the internet, display photos, play music you name it!”
You'll find DIY door locks throughout the show floor, in the Z-Wave pavilion (Schlage, Kwikset, Yale, Poly-Control Danalock), as well as standalone booths for LockState (Wi-Fi), Yale (new Linus lock employing new Nest Weave RF protocol), and Okidokeys (Bluetooth).
You'll also see Lutron getting further entrenched in the DIY space with its Smart Bridge IP gateway and a cloud service that enables Caseta wireless lighting controls and Serena motorized shades to be integrated into third-party ecosystems. The wireless products already integrate natively through ClearConnect wireless technology with Staples Connect and Wink automation hubs. Via the cloud, the devices can integrate with IFTTT, Logitech, Apple HomeKit and AT&T Digital Life.
Look for everyone's favorite DIY irrigation controls from Rachio.
Don’t forget the Z-Wave Pavilion, where you’ll find a range of sensors, door locks and complete home-control systems appropriate for both DIYs and pros. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - JULIE JACOBSON
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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