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Smart Home Weekly: Amazon Expands Echo-Sphere, Mozilla's Smart Home, Brita's Dashing Pitcher

Mike Wolf Alexa Amazon Dash DIY Security Dot Echo Korner Security Tap

It seems like every week we have more Amazon news to parse and digest, and this week is no different. In fact, as I was thinking about today's newsletter, I'd intended to lead with the news of Brita's new Dash-powered water pitcher, maybe spice it up with a little update on the Dash extended ecosystem.

But apparently that's not enough for you, is it Amazon? Nooo.

The Brita news is small potatoes compared to the bombshell that Amazon dropped today about two new devices it is launching into the Echo-sphere. I have a full writeup on the news, but the short-short is that Amazon intro'd the Dot, a sub-$100 entrant that will to Alexa-fy your other speakers as well as ensure you have distributed Alexa voice assistance in other rooms of the home, and the Tap, a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi speaker with dual speakers and a button to enable you to access Alexa on the go.

I cover this in detail, as well as the Brita/Dash news, Mozilla's new smart home efforts and Korner making the local news. 

Also, big news for us this week: we announced the date for Smart Kitchen Summit 2016 and the Smart Kitchen advisory council. Check it out. If you want to buy a ticket, now is the time as we have an early early bird price and I can offer newsletter subscribers an additional 10% through the end of March.

On to the news:

New Dot And Tap Alexa Devices Show Amazon's Growing Smart Home Ambitions

If you go over to Amazon's job site and do a search for Echo, there are currently 598 positions listed. There's another 272 for Alexa. That's a whole lotta jobs, and last week when news came out about Amazon's job fair and this massive recruiting effort for Amazon's smart home and IoT initiatives, it got me thinking about what exactly Amazon had in mind for all of these new recruits.

One area could simply be to grow the universe of third party devices that work with Echo. The Echo team is busy adding new devices to their roster of interoperable products as they look to execute on their wedge strategy and make their device a voice powered virtual hub. Another could be growing the Alexa universe; the Alexa folks have been busy recruiting third party product companies to integrate Alexa and this will likely accelerate. Read More

Amazon's Dash Replenishment Adds Brita, Now At 15 Device Partners

Yesterday, Amazon and Brita announced the Infinity water pitcher, a Dash-powered Wi-Fi enabled pitcher that reorders a filter after 40 gallons of usage. Amazon continues to add interesting partners and device use-cases to its DRS portfolio. As of today - the beginning of March - Amazon has assembled 15 announced Dash partners, and this is the first device exclusively in the water filter space. Others like GE or Whirlpool, could conceivably add filter change notifications to its Dash implementations. Read More

DIY Security Validation: Korner Scares Burglar, Makes News

Being a startup in the smart home industry can be tough. Not only is there lots of competition, but usually you have to spend lots of time and money educating the consumer about what your product does. Smart home gear tailored towards home security has it a little easier, since most consumers understand that security keeps bad guys away. But when your product is a sub-$100 device with no 24/7 monitoring like the big boys, you then have to spend much of your time creating a compelling message that your low-cost gear can do the job. Read More

Quick Takes:

Mozilla Launches Comprehensive Smart Home/IoT Effort

The Gist: Mozilla, the company behind Firefox browser and Firefox OS, is launching a significant new effort to create a series of IoT and smart home frameworks. These include:

  • Project Link: a AI engine for the smart home
  • Project Smart Home: a hardware and software framework that the group wants to be somewhere between the turnkey and highly controlled HomeKit and the maker-centric Raspberry Pi
  • Sensor Web: an open data local area IoT beacon framework
  • Vaani: An open-source voice-assistant technology

Our Take: Just when we thought we'd started to move towards less fragmentation with the launch of OCF and IoTivity/Alljoyn battle being settled, we now have Mozilla entering the fray. That said, what Mozilla looks to be creating is different, essentially creating more of an open source, component-ized alternative to Amazon's Echo/Alexa portfolio than creating a new lower-stack IoT protocol initiative.  Mozilla's efforts in the smart phone and TV space haven't seen huge success, in part because I think open source alternatives that are not pushed by a big corporate benefactor like Intel or Qualcomm often don't have the resources and industry momentum to get them going to reach critical mass from an adoption standpoint. However, what Mozilla is doing here is interesting an worth watching. 

Raspberry Pi 3 Launches, Tailored For Smart Home Makers And Entrepreneurs 

The Gist: This week Raspberry Pi launched their third generation, and this time low-cost, no-frills computer that has been at the center of the maker revolution comes equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Our Take:  Raspberry Pi has been a go-to platform for first-gen smart home products, with a number of companies building around the platform. Now, with the device having Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on board for $35, it's likely we'll see the platform become even more important as a development platform for aspiring IoT entrepreneurs. Companies like Microsoft are jumping on board, with the software giant pushing its Windows 10 IoT edition for Raspberry Pi in coordination for the launch. 

New Podcast: Meet Josh, The Voice Powered AI for The CEDIA Channel

I had a chance to chat with Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Jstar, the company behind Josh. Josh is a voice virtual assistant for the smart home. Have a listen

That's it for this week. If you want in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter here. Also follow Mike on Twitter for realtime reactions and thoughts around smart home and IoT. 

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