OneCue adds motion gestures to your Apple TV and lets you control other smart home devices

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 25, 2014

EyeSight Technologies, a startup which specializes in machine vision, user awareness and gesture based interfaces, launched a very interesting home accessory yesterday, one that highlights a world of possibilities for a next-generation Apple TV.

They’re calling it the OneCue and it aims to connect and control your Apple TV, or other media streamers and smart home devices for that matter, using hand gestures akin to Microsoft’s Kinect with the Xbox One.

Supporting a plethora of TV sets, cable and satellite boxes, media streamers and AV receiver, the OneCue can turn on multiple smart home devices (i.e. TV, cable box and stere receiver) at the same time with the swipe of a hand or point of a finger. Read More


Belkin WeMo Insight Switch review: control home appliances and electronics from your iPhone

By Jim Gresham on Aug 26, 2014

Growing up as a child, anytime my family would venture out of town for more than a couple days, my father would run around the house trying to locate “the timers.” The timers, with which anyone is familiar, were the timer switches for the lamps in the house. They were old brown boxes with a beige turn wheel and a little switch, think I/O, for each of 24 hours. After manually selecting each switch to either turn on or off the receptacle, off you go for vacation. Now your lights magically turn on while you are away.

Even in the late ’80’s, I remember those timers looking dated, even acting dated. But, they worked and continue to be the same technology most people use today. Thankfully, Belkin is putting a stop to this archaic fumbling system with a modern appeal. The WeMo line of home automated devices gives you the power, literally, in a carefully crafted app and hardware unit. Read More


Samsung acquires smart home startup SmartThings for $200 million

By Cody Lee on Aug 15, 2014

With much of the ‘next big thing in tech’ talk focused on wearables and mobile payments, it’s easy to forget about the connected home. But all of the major tech companies are making major moves in this space, including Google, Apple and now Samsung.

Following Google’s Nest acquisition and Apple’s HomeKit unveiling, Samsung announced this week that it has purchased smart home startup—and former Kickstarter sensation—SmartThings. The money is said to be in the neighborhood of $200 million… Read More


Apple said to be working on hardware products for the connected home

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 26, 2014

As the smartphone, tablet and personal computer markets become increasingly saturated, Apple is said to be planning to expand its foray into the home. A new report, citing unnamed sources, claims that the iPhone maker has assembled a team to work on different hardware products for the home that would be closely integrated with Apple’s existing lineup of devices…  Read More


Google-owned Nest acquires Dropcam for $555 million

By Cody Lee on Jun 21, 2014

Smart thermostat-maker Nest announced on Friday that it has reached an agreement to acquire Dropcam. The company, which itself was purchased by Google earlier this year, says that the all-cash deal is worth a hefty $555 million.

For those unfamiliar with Dropcam, it’s behind the popular line of Internet-connected home monitoring cameras. Major selling points for the cameras include easy setup, 2-way audio and remote streaming via any PC or mobile device… Read More


Apple introduces ‘HomeKit’ smart home platform

By Cody Lee on Jun 2, 2014

As expected, Apple has announced a new platform for smart home accessories called HomeKit. The new API, which will launch with iOS 8, will make it easier for smart accessories to allow their devices to be controlled by iPhones, as well as Siri.

This will allow users to control HomeKit-certified smart appliances, such as garage doors, lights and security cameras, by simply speaking a command. Imagine saying ‘get ready for bed,’ and watching all of your [smart] doors lock and lights turn off… Read More


New report explains how Apple smart home program might work

By Joe Rossignol on May 29, 2014

While the Financial Times previously reported that Apple is working on a full-featured home automation software platform, a new report claims that the company actually has much smaller plans for the home. According to sources for Gigaom, Apple is hoping to lessen fragmentation in the home by certifying more connected devices through the official Made for iPhone program.

The company is reportedly not working on software-based automation, however, and instead is focusing its smart home efforts on connecting devices over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for voice control. It might not be the full-out attempt at perfecting the smart home as was anticipated, but this is a good first step for Apple to be taking. Gigaom reporter Stacy Higginbotham elaborates…  Read More


FT: Apple readying software platform for the connected home

By Christian Zibreg on May 26, 2014

If a new report Monday by the reputable Financial Times is an indication, Apple is working on a brand new software platform for the smart home.

Details are scarce, but the paper has learned that your iPhone – or any iOS device, for that matter – would get turned into “a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances.” The move is said to part of a bigger push into the Internet of Things.

Citing unnamed sources, the article goes on to note that the Cupertino company will be previewing the new platform at its upcoming summer pilgrimage for developers, the Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off with a keynote on June 2Read More


Philips expands iPhone-connected line with hue lux, tap and luminaires

By Cody Lee on Mar 28, 2014

Philips’ iPhone-connected Hue lighting system has come a long way since we first reviewed it in 2012. The company has added a number of products to the lineup over the years, including LightStrips, Bloom bulbs, and bulbs for recessed lighting installs. And today, it’s expanding the line even more.

This morning, Philips announced three new upcoming Hue products. The first is known as the ‘hue lux,’ a bulb that can only emit white light, the second is the ‘hue tap,’ which allows you to control the Hue system without the iPhone app, and the third is luminaires, a set of high-end 3D light fixtures… Read More


How to control Philips Hue lights from Control Center

By Jeff Benjamin on Jan 20, 2014

I have a special fascination with home automation, and I’m usually up for trying anything new in this space. For that very reason, I was super excited to try out the Philips Hue lighting kit when it first launched, and I picked one up on day one. You can watch my Philips Hue unboxing and review here.

Philips has a decent, if not a bit cumbersome to use, app available that allows you to control the Hue lights. I was always a big fan of the hardware, but I thought the software left a lot to be desired.

One of the biggest gripes for me is just having to launch a separate app in the first place. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could turn your lights on and off directly from native iOS? Wouldn’t it be even more awesome if you could control your lighting directly from iOS 7’s Control Center?

And that’s exactly what this recently released jailbreak tweak, entitled HueHueHue, does. It allows you to control your Philips Hue lights from native iOS, including Control Center, and a whole lot more. Take a look inside as I walkthrough this jailbreak tweak’s features on video. Read More


And just like that, Google buys smart thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest Labs

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 13, 2014

The Internet giant Google has announced that it has bought Nest Labs, the maker of a family of iPhone-controlled smart thermostat and smoke and carbon monoxide detector devices for connected homes. Nest will continue to operate independently of Google and won’t share customer data with them. Nest was founded by the brilliant engineer Tony Fadell who used to work at Apple where he was charged with the iPod music player project.

Yes, the iPod Godfather now works for Google! The transaction is valued at a whopping $3.2 billion in cash. Google paid quite handsomely to buy Nest, didn’t they? Considering Nest raised about $80 million in venture funding, the acquisition qualifies as one of the most profitable exit strategies among Silicon Valley startups.

iDownloadBlog’s Jeff Benjamin reviewed the Nest learning thermostat and was impressed with its sleekness and functionality, the $249 price point be damned… Read More


CES 2014: how about MFi air conditioner?

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 8, 2014

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show is currently underway in Las Vegas and even though Apple isn’t an exhibitor, its influence can be felt in so many ways. If anything, the show appears to have ushered in an era of iPhone-controlled everything, from Parrot’s latest drones (and other iOS-enabled toys) and the world’s first app-connected toothbrush to a smart sleep tracking system by Withings, to name a few.

A Chinese manufacturer called Haier has now announced it’s become the world’s first appliance vendor to have been labeled with Apple’s Made for iPhone (MFi) certification logo, which ensures its accessories meet Apple’s exacting standards in terms of quality and performance.

Haier’s first product to bear the MFi logo is a smart air conditioner dubbed Tianzun controllable from an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad device… Read More


Archos previews array of iOS-compatible wearable gadgets and connected home gizmos

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 30, 2013

Ahead of the looming 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, the French consumer electronics company Archos is previewing an upcoming line of devices and accessories, including ‘Connected Self’ smartwatches and health trackers and various ‘Connected Home’ appliances, all designed to be compatible with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

There will also be a Connected Self mobile application to “serve as the backbone application for all connected self devices” allowing folks to track their activity, check their health-related data, turn on the lights, automatically capture video when motion sensors are triggered and lots more. The full breakdown is right past the jump… Read More


Neurio vows to make all homes intelligent

By Jim Gresham on Nov 7, 2013

Neurio is an electrical monitoring device developed by Energy Aware Technology. The small device sits in the home’s breaker box and “monitors how much power homes are using, and figures out the cost of running individual appliances using smart algorithms that look for patterns and potential problems.” Using a self-learning algorithm, the unit collects data about the electrical items in the home. Reports and information are provided to the user, who then determines which ways to better eliminate energy consumption.

Most importantly, the monitoring and cloud reporting does not require home owners to install sensors on any device. As the unit sits in the breaker box, connected to the central home electrical hub, it monitors information directly from the source. Using a companion app, cleverly titled “Wattson,” a homeowners’ smartphone becomes the simple monitoring tool needed to determine real time power consumption and usage… Read More


Philips adds new recessed light bulb to its iPhone-controlled Hue lineup

By Cody Lee on Nov 5, 2013

Philips has expanded its Hue line of iPhone-controlled lighting with a new bulb this week, called the BR30. Unlike previous Hue bulbs, the BR30 is designed to fit into recessed sockets to create the effect of light shining from a hole in the ceiling.

The BR30 bulbs are designed to fit the standard E27 screw base and deliver 600 lumens of light. And like other Hue bulbs, they provide a full range of color, except the light is delivered in a downward beam instead of being omnidirectional… Read More


Nest launches Protect, jaw-dropping smoke and carbon monoxide detector

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 8, 2013

Former Apple hardware engineer Tony Fadell needs no introduction. After leading iPod development and helping build the iPhone, he left Apple for his own startup, Nest.

There, the brilliant engineer banded together with a talented team comprised of former Apple wizards to create the Nest learning thermostat (Jeff had to say a bunch of nice things about it).

That was just the beginning of Nest’s journey to the app-enabled, connected home. Today, the startup unveiled its second major product, a smart and gorgeous smoke and carbon monoxide alarm dubbed Nest Protect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide. Like the Nest thermostat, the Protect takes everything that we hate about existing smoke detectors and re-imagines what those life-saving appliances should be and how they should function… Read More


iDoorCam shows you who’s at your door, even when you’re not home

By Cody Lee on Aug 15, 2013

The introduction of smartphones and tablets has really helped bring ‘connected home’ technology mainstream. Actions that used to require a large, expensive in-home setup, can now be done with an iPhone, an app, and a relatively cheap accessory.

And the new iDoorCam is the perfect example of this. The camera-equipped, smart doorbell connects to your home Wi-Fi network to stream video of your visitors to all of your connected iOS gadgets, regardless of whether you’re at home or not… Read More


Canary motion detector bolsters up home security while looking stunning

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 22, 2013

iOS continues to change modern living for the better by improving upon the connected home promise through various innovative app-enabled accessories from third-parties, like the beautiful and smart Nest thermostat, the intelligent Philips light bulbs and clever locks by the likes of Jawbone and Kwikset, to name just a few.

Canary, “the world’s first smartphone security device for everyone” by a New York-based startup, promises to beef up your home security by bringing motion detection, push alerts, streaming spycam video and other goodies to your iPhone by way of an IndieGoGo crowd-funded project.

The stylish device, reminiscent of Jony Ive’s industrial design work, comes packed with a 720p HD camera, wide angle lens, Wi-Fi connectivity and smart sensors that detect motion, and is easy to set up on your mobile device. I’ve included a promotional video for your viewing pleasure just after the break… Read More


Seagate Central: a great storage solution for your Connected Home

By Jim Gresham on Jul 14, 2013

Always moving forward, Seagate continues to reinvent current solutions. This time, Seagate took a hard look at their previous NAS drive, the GoFlex Home, and decided it left a few things to be desired. In an effort to impress, Seagate tore down the Home and seemingly started from scratch on the Central.

Overall, I am fairly impressed with Seagate’s changes to the new hardware and corresponding software, online dashboard, and revamped media app. After speaking with the engineers behind the drive at CES, there appears to be a more prevalent focus on user experience with the new 2013 product line, of which I previously reviewed the Wireless Plus. Leading the charge for a user friendly product, this previously complicated network drive enables even novice users to go from box to operational in less than ten minutes… Read More


Jawbone executive unveils new ‘August’ digital door lock

By Cody Lee on May 30, 2013

Well known designer and Chief Creative Officer of Jawbone, Yves Behar, gave the world a preview of his next big venture last night. It’s called ‘August,’ and it’s an iPhone-connected digital lock system that promises to change the way we open doors.

Now, Internet-enabled smart locks aren’t anything new. But what the August brings to the table is a sleek design—which was fashioned by Behar (who designed the Jambox, Up)—and superior functionality. Think of it as the Nest for door locks… Read More

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