This past week I was in Austin moderating a smart home panel for SXSW. I also hosted a party and had a great time meeting readers of the Smart Home Weekly and listeners of the Smart Home Show. It was a pretty awesome experience
The panel itself was on the topic on the smart conscious home, and while overall it was a good conversation, I wish I'd had a chance to dig into Google's new patent filing around a "security scoring system" before the panel. This is because while the security aspects of the patent are intriguing, the sheer amount of detail this patent application gives to a potential Google vision of the future smart home - and the degree to which this vision involves a truly "conscious home" - is fascinating.
And let me tell you, the term "conscious home" only begins to describe it. The details in the application of artificial intelligence, service robots and granular control of our environments using IoT technology are lengthy and deep.
This is just one story I cover in this week's smart home weekly, which has lots of great content. Others include:
- The new Apple TV and its potential as a fixed smart home hub
- GE's new Bluetooth enabled smart home system based on Avi-On and CSR tech
- Monitronics acquisition fo Livewatch, a signal of entry into monitored DIY security
- An analysis of the slow-motion disruption of the home security space
- Nest's efforts to boost its audio expertise
- A new program for startups from the Z-Wave Alliance
I want to thank many of my readers and listeners who came out to the SXSW to watch the panel and attend our smart home mixer. I also want to thank the Z-Wave Alliance and Nortek for being sponsors! It went great and we're already talking about doing it again next year.
As always, if you want to receive this newsletter by email, sign up here.
On to the news:
Venturebeat scooped an interesting patent application from Google a couple weeks ago, which at first glance appears to focus on a "security scoring system" for the smart home.
That's all well and good, but what's most fascinating about this patent is what it may tell us about Google's aspirations for the smart home.
Now, let it be said that patents are often purposefully expansive so a company can then claim future commercial concepts implemented by others infringe on their intellectual property. So with that grain of salt in mind, I think it's worth looking at some of the concepts in this document that may give clues to what a future Google smart home might hold in store for us.
Here are just a few:
To Read Full Post, Click Here
This past week, a little known DIY security company Korner got a funding round, underscoring the growing interest among angels and VCs in a trend I’ve been writing about for over the past year, that of the reinvention of the home security business.
But while much of the focus is on these newer “security light” solutions that are based on low-cost DIY smart home hardware, the actual reinvention of the home security market has been happening, in slow motion, for some time.
In fact, the traditional model has been under attack for close to a decade from companies like Alarm.com and Icontrol, who power newer market entrants from Frontpoint to Comcast, while companies like Vivint and Simplisafe challenge the old way of doing things with new business models.
First off, let’s briefly examine the technology reasons why new approaches have been made possible in the last few years:
I've probably been talking about the Apple TV as a smart home hub as long as anyone, and while some reports have shown existing Apple TVs in the field getting HomeKit software upgrades, there's nothing like a new Apple TV with HomeKit compatibility out of the box that shows how serious Apple is about creating a 'fixed' smart home hub with the device.
While many had hoped for new a new Apple TV hardware announcement at the last Apple event, I think a WWDC reveal combined with an official unveiling of HomeKit to the market makes a lot of sense.
Of course, in many ways HomeKit is already here if we look close enough. While many of us have been waiting for a formal announcement from Apple around the official release of HomeKit, the technology itself is starting to slowly make its way to market via apps and hardware that will work with the framework once Apple "turns on" the technology in what I suspect will be via an iOS update.
If you needed any further evidence that Bluetooth is picking up steam in the smart home, look no further than GE.
The company, which has for years been shipping a number of popular Z-Wave based wall switches and lighting control/appliance modules under a partnership with Jasco, is now bringing Bluetooth versions to market.
The technology was developed by Avi-On, a Bluetooth smart home networking startup, and while the company had previously released news that they were working on developing these products for GE, this is the first time that this much detail - such as device internal photos and user guides - have shown up in the wild.
Those who attended the SXSW Rocks the Smart Home Mixer hosted by your's truly would have heard about this first hand, but this week the Z-Wave Alliance announced a new program targeted at smart home and IoT startups that starts in May 2015. The program will involve membership in the Z-Wave Alliance and also free Z-Wave development kits for those who enter.
This move makes sense. By giving startups access to software and hardware development tools for Z-Wave, there's a possibility many who are enamored of other technologies like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth could also consider adding Z-Wave to their products.
Monitronics, the country’s second largest home security monitoring service, has acquired Livewatch, a DIY home security company. According to the press release from Ascent Capital, the company bought LiveWatch Security for $67 million, and in return it got 32 thousand accounts and $900 thousand in recurring monthly revenue. That translates to over 74 times RMR.
Julie Jacobson has a great post over at CEPro breaking down this news, going into the specifics of why this deal was made. I highly suggest you read it.
For the TLDR crowd, much of the why is found in a quote by Ascent’s CEO Bill Fitzgerald:
Techrunch broke the news that Nest is looking to hire a head of audio, a new position which was described on their website as the following:
- Lead the Nest Audio team, including acoustics, audio electronics, audio SW, audio test and validation for all Nest Products
- Build a world class audio team through hiring and mentoring
- Develop an audio roadmap for Nest products, including HW and SW, that can support delightful user experiences and innovative features
The logical direction for speculation with this tidbit is to think maybe Nest wants to use their Tony Fadell instilled design chops and go after Sonos (a company, I’m sure, Apple has thought many times about acquiring). After all, it’s a big market and Sonos is still largely unchallenged as the premium brand in wireless home audio.
That's it for this week. As always, subscribe to the Smart Home Weekly to get this in your inbox, check out our latest Smart Home Show (last week's show included the VP of Connected Products fro garage door giant Chamberlain) and follow NextMarket on Twitter or keep updated on the smart home and IoT with our Linkedin group.