We're in the summer doldrums as far as smart home news goes, but a few interesting things did happen this week.
First, we learned (as expected) that a new Apple TV is on its way, to be revealed at an Apple event in September. Second, the Amazon Dash buttons were made available to all Prime members, launching what may be an era of connected commerce that, as I write here, brings the point of sale to the point of consumption for the first time for consumables and the smart home. Also, I share some thoughts on what Lowe's should do to find more traction with their Iris hub re-boot.
We are also in the process of conducting a smart home industry survey. We have a great readership of informed insiders and I would love to get your opinion on what's going on in the smart home. If you are a loyal reader of this newsletter and have 10 minutes to spare, take our survey. We'll share a summary of the details with you when it's completed in return for your time (and we'll also have a few smart home gadgets to give away to respondents).
On to the news:
This week the Amazon Dash buttons were made available to all Amazon Prime members. Up until this point, they were only available to a smaller trial group. The Dash Button is an interesting concept: A single button ordering system tied to a specific brand. On one hand, the limitation to a single brand feels like a missed opportunity. Why not just make the button tied to any product you want, a "name-your-product" button? On the other hand, I can appreciate the simplicity of the single-brand/single-product focus. It's simple, the data is clean, and impact is clear for the associated brand. Read More.
Last week, Julie Jacobson had a nice piece on the the FCC docs they uncovered for the new Iris hub. As per the piece, there will be Zigbee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth LE. As I wrote nearly a year ago when then Iris head Kevin Meagher told me about the forthcoming device, I think probably the most interesting addition about Iris 2.0 will be the addition of Bluetooth.
Julie also speculates about which cloud the new Iris hub will use, as it's fairly common knowledge that the company was looking to move away from the AlertMe cloud. She points to a number of cloud providers and takes a shot at ranking them, but I think she probably should have considered the Centralite cloud as a more likely contender given that they've been busy creating a smart home cloud over the past year to tie to their hardware a la Electric Imp. Read More.
In this episode, Mike wonders who in the heck will buy financially troubled Wink, pauses to appreciate HomeKit's strict security requirements and rambles about Target and Sears's smart home concept stores. Listen.
Smart Home Quick Takes: News Around The Smart Home Universe
We've been expecting this for a while. While much of the focus in the broader industry will be on whether Apple launches a pay TV service, the app store and HomeKit ability is what we're watching for here. I expect that this device will be optimized as a smart home hub and that we could see a bigger HomeKit push come September.
An ambitious new smart lock is currently running a campaign over on Indiegogo, with expected shipment to backers in September. I'll be watching closely, as packing in three radios would be quite a feat, especially given the challenges we've seen for Lockitron and Goji with Wi-Fi smart locks. Also, this is the first Thread compliant smart lock we've seen announced.
Security is becoming a bigger theme overall with IoT, and just this past week security watch firm Tripwire revealed it had discovered holes in SmartThings, Vera and Wink hubs. Makes you think Apple may be onto something with its high focus on security.
Distributed control at the vent level for heating and cooling is an interesting idea that could see traction in the future, IMO, and apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that. Emerson Climate Technologies led a round of investment in the company, which has a lineup of battery powered vents.
August is the latest smart home company to debut an Apple Watch app. Users can lock/unlock direct from the watch with a swipe, view activity and get notifications. The peanut butter and chocolate combo of Apple Watch and smart home continues to gain momentum.
That's it for this week. Again, we'd appreciate if you take our smart home industry survey and also check out the Smart Kitchen Summit!