Smart Home Week in Review: Apple Watch Breakdown & Let's Meet a Listener

It's an abbreviated smart home week in review for September 12, 2014 as Mike prepares to leave for CEDIA.

The week was all about Apple, and given that Mike's been waiting and writing about Apple's entree into the smartwatch space for well over a year, he gives his first take on Apple's first wearable.

He also welcomes a listener to the show in the first in a periodic segment called Let's Meet a Listener. Sean Cotton is from the Atlanta area and has been dabbling in smart home for a while. We hear about his current set up and what's next on his shopping list, his biggest issues with smart home and more.

You can find Sean on Twitter at

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Smart Home Week in Review for Sep 6, 2014: Nest 2.0, IControl, Sonos, Savant, Reemo

This is the smart home week in review for the week ending September 6, 2014!

The week started slow as folks recovered from Labor day weekend and shuttled kids back to school, but it finished strong. 

You can listen to the podcast where we discuss the week that was in smart home, or if you're the TLDL (Too Long, Didn't Listen) type, just read the wrap up below.  I am going to try and do a written flash-analysis of the news every week, so if you want to get notified, subscribe to the NextMarket newsletter and you'll get an email each time we publish a wrapup. Also, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast as well. 

This week's guest on the podcast is Aaron Cohen, long-time serial entrepreneur, smart home enthusiast and all around smart guy. We get deep on some of market dynamics and business models, so if that's your thing, enjoy this episode!

The stories:

Savant gets investment from KKR

Last week Julie Jacobson noticed Savant seemed to be preparing for some sort of equity event, and while it wasn't an IPO like she predicted, they did announce this week an investment by private equity firm KKR.  KKR is a pretty storied firm and one of the most famous private equity firms (there's a book and movie about their buyout of RJR Nabisco), but perhaps more interesting to smart home folks is the company's interest in the premium brands in the connected home in recent years, most notably with Sonos, whom they invested in 2012.

Savant, like many other traditionally higher-end brands, sees the dual trends of higher valuations and increased competition in the smart home, so this move makes sense to me as they look to expand down-market to try to capitalize on the heat in DIY.

Icontrol launches Open Home Labs, partners with Indiegogo.  

I wrote this up over at Forbes, but the gist is this: Icontrol is looking to open up its OpenHome platform to interesting smart home startups through the creation of OpenHome Labs, where they will shepherd these companies to market and help them get aligned with their service provider partners such as Comcast, Time Warner, ADT.

A related announcement from the company was their partnership with Indieogogo, a crowdfunding site that is home to many of the interesting smart home startups like Korner.  The two companies said that smart home startups coming up through Indiegogo would have access to Icontrol's OpenHome Labs at no cost.  Again, see Forbes piece for more detailed analysis.

Reemo, from Playtabase, launches crowdfunding campaign. 

Playtabase, which is one of the first three companies into the Icontrol OpenHome Labs, launched their crowdfunding campaign for their motion-sensing smart home control wearable.  The device uses Bluetooth LE to detect and sense motion.   The company doesn't say much more about the technology and it won't ship until mid-2015 (if they indeed hit their promised targets), but an interesting concept nonetheless.

Sonos disrupts self, ditches bridge.

Years ago Sonos recognized that its proprietary hardware control interfaces were going to be killed by the iPad, and they were one of the first CE company - and probably the first successful CE company - to get rid of a proprietary controller and develop an iPhone and iPad apps. 

This week (though they announced the move months ago) they did something similar by moving beyond their proprietary hardware bridge, which up to this point was required to install and use a Sonos wireless home audio system.  I think this was largely due to the growing popularity of competing systems as well as Bluetooth speakers, but as the company has shown, they don't stand still and this will allow users to get into Sonos for even lower prices. 

Greenpeak gets vertical: Launches senior-care platform

When markets get a little frothy, you start to see companies leave their core business to try and capitalize.  During the first dot-com boom, I remember Intel started selling MP3 players and home networking gear (and now it sounds like they might be getting a bit adventuresome again), and so when I saw this news about Greenpeak, it reminded me a bit of those days.  

The gist: Greenpeak is a big supplier of 802.15.4 silicon, which to date has primarily been Zigbee chipsets. This week they announced "a family of new, ground-breaking sensor and cloud based intelligent systems for Family Lifestyle integrated with Social Media". 

The solution, which the company indicates will first be targeted at the senior and aging-in-place vertical, is a combination of on-premise technology with a  hub and Zigbee-based sensors and a cloud management solution (no indication yet if they partnered or built-their-own).  The senior-monitoring solution will have be tailored to create rules-based indicators (like "mom gets up at this time and moves into this zone") that will enable alerts to be sent via various consumer-facing apps (not sure why Facebook or social nets in general would be integrated here, unless its just for the messaging function). 

Bottom line: I do believe aging-in-place is a big opportunity for smart home, and Greenpeak indicates they are already working with service providers in Germany and China, but again, the move is a bit of a surprise for a chip-company. 

Amazon's "home automation" top 5 shows its really a "connected home" store

Amazon's home automation store is a year old, and looking at the top 5 products, it becomes clear that the store sells more than just home automation. In reality, the store is a "connected home" store with a heavy dose of smart home and home automation products. Aaron and I discuss the hierarchy of terms here in the podcast, if you want to get nerdy on these distinctions.

Nest launches Nest Protect 2.0 software

Earlier this year, Nest had a rare stumble with the recall of the Nest Protect due to the "wave to dismiss" feature the company felt could cause the alarm to not work properly in the case of an actual emergency. 

And when the company announced its latest rev of Nest Protect software this week, they decided to keep this feature on potentially permanent hiatus. In its place they did offer some new and interesting features, including the ability to discern between steam and smoke, as well as these other features:

  • Light pathways showing route to safety
  • Shows level of carbon monoxide
  • Last 10 days of safety history
  • Improved emergency planning capabilties

Nest is showing that their device has plenty of packed-in power (this is the first time they've enabled the humidity sensor to my knowledge) and that they will continue to unpack features through software-based field upgrades.

That's it for this week. Again, feel free to subscribe to the newsletter and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. 

#31: Arrayent's Shane Dyer

Guest: Arrayent CEO Shane Dyer

While most people in the smart home space are familiar with the consumer-facing platforms, often times there is a company behind the company helping to power the smart home technology. Arrayent is one of those companies, helping companies like Maytag create smart home enabled products.

Mike visits with Arrayent CEO Shane Dyer, who helped found the company in 2005. We talk about Arrayent's technology, how to build scalable smart home services and what Shane sees for the future of the smart home business.

You can learn more about Arrayent at

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Smart Home Week in Review #2 (Aug 30, 2014) with Richard Gunther

#29: Simplicam, a new Wi-Fi video camera with facial detection

Today Arcsoft introduced a new Wi-Fi camera called Simplicam (powered by Closeli). The device is looking to take on Dropcam with a differentiator of facial detection and lower pricing for its cloud recording service.

We caught up with Arcsoft's VP of Marketing and Product Caroline Tien-Spalding to hear more about Simplicam and why Arcsoft decided to go into hardware.

You can find out more about Simplicam at

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Smart Home Week In Review for August 23rd: pēq, Wink, Thread, Savant, Apple TV

The first Smart Home Week in Review edition of the Smart Home Show!

Mike breaks it down with his all-time favorite home automation journalist Julie Jacobson of, and Electronic House technology editor Grant Clauser!

Go to for full show notes with links to stories as well as subscribe options.

Check out and as well!

Topics/Show Notes:

-The new pēq smart home hub, how it compares, what Best Buy will do with it (link)  
-Wink got put under review by Amazon (but later taken off review) (link
-What's the word on the street around Thread? (link)
-Let's speculate about Apple TV becoming a smart home hub, shall we? (link)
-Is Savant going to IPO? (link)

Lots of other great stuff. Listen!

Email us at if you like this new weekly catch up on all things smart home.

SHS #28 - Talking smart lighting with Emberlight's Atif Noori

Guest: Atif Noori of Emberlight

Emberlight created a smart lighting adapter that turns any light socket into a smart light socket. I thought the use of an adapter was a smart idea, so I thought I'd catch up with Atif to to get the story behind Emberlight.

You can find out more about Emberlight at

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SHS #27: A conversation with Wink's Chaz Flexman

Guest: Chaz Flexman, GM of Wink

Wink came out nowhere this summer, and surprised a lot of people as the new spinout from Quirky announced its new hub and nationwide distribution partnership with Home Depot.

I caught up with Chaz Flexman, the guy running the show over at Wink, to hear how the rollout is going, what the thinking was in creating a new dedicated smart home company and where he sees things going.

You can find out more about Wink at

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SHS#26: A Talk With Lowe's Smart Home GM Kevin Meagher

Guest: Kevin Meagher, GM and VP of Smart Home at Lowe's

This week I caught up with Kevin Meagher, who heads up the smart home effort at Lowe's. Lowe's was the first national home improvement retailer to make a big move into the smart home and consumer IoT, and so I wanted to hear what Meagher and the Lowe's team had learned over the past few years.

We talk about how to sell smart home at retail, the overall market and the Lowe's looks to make the confusing mess of standards around the smart home make sense for the consumer.

You can find out more about Lowe's Iris at:

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SHS #25: No more dumb sprinklers! Talking smart irrigation with Rachio's Chris Klein

Guest:'s Chris Klein

Is your sprinkler system dumb? Maybe it's time to make it smart. Rachio builds a Wi-Fi connected sprinkler/irrigation controller and we talk to Chris Klein about the product, what this means and get a little of the story behind this Colorado based startup.

You can find out more about Rachio at

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SHS #24: Talking Z-Wave and Smart Home with Mark Walters

Guest: Mark Walters, Chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance

A whole lots been going on in the smart home world lately, including a whole bunch of new tech standards and protocols. One that's been around for a while, Z-Wave, is in millions of homes today and is the key networking tech for many smart home systems.

We catch up with Mark to talk about the state of Z-Wave, talk about some of the new standards and where he sees Z-Wave going in the future.

You can find out more about Z-Wave at

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SHS #23: Talking About Thread With Chris Boross

Guest: Chris Boross, President of the Thread Group

Last week, Nest, Samsung and five other companies announced Thread, a new wireless networking protocol aimed at the Internet of Things and the smart home.

I talked to Chris about how Thread differs from what is out there, some of the technology decisions they made and what we can expect over the next 12 months with Thread.

You can find out more about Thread at

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SHS #22: Zach Supalla Of

Guest: Zach Supalla of

This week had a few pieces of big news. First, they announced a new $4.9 million funding round, and then followed that up with the introduction of Spark OS, their attempt to create an open source operating system for the Internet of Things.

Mike catches up with Zach to learn a little more about and to find out exactly what Spark OS is and how it differs from what is out there.

You can find out about at

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SHS#21: Dropcam's Elizabeth Hamren

Guest: Elizabeth Hamren, VP of Marketing at Dropcam.

Mike talks to Elizabeth about how Dropcam became the leading Wi-Fi camera company. Elizabeth shares some data about Dropcam's users and they talk about how the company fits into the smart home and security space.

The Smart Home Show is brought to you by NextMarket Insights. You can learn more about NextMarket at

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SHS #20: Talking Google, Quirky, HomeKit and (of course) Greenwave with Nate Williams

Guest: Nate Williams of Greenwave Systems.

I was going to talk to Nate about Greenwave today, but given the huge amount of news the last few days (Google buying Dropcam, Quirky's Wink spinout), I also figured I'd tap into Nate's smart home brain to talk shop.

We talk about Nate's background in connected home, what exactly Greenwave does, and then we dive into the news of Google's acquisition of Dropcam, Quirky's Wink launch and their partnership with Home Depot, and we also talk about what Nate thinks of HomeKit.

You can find out more about Greenwave at

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Smart Home Show #19: Lew Brown of Vera/MiOS

Guest: Lew Brown, President of Vera/MiOS.

Lew's been in the smart home space for a long time, and his most recent venture is as President of Vera/MiOS.

We talk about the company, the two sides to the business - the consumer brand Vera (formerly Mi Casa Verde) and MiOS, the software platform - as well as the broader smart home market.

If you want to know more about Lew and Vera, check out

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You can email Mike with questions, sponsorship requests and pitches at

Smart Home Show #18: Autonomic's Michael de Nigris

Guest: Michael de Nigris, CEO of Autonomic Controls.

Autonomic makes media servers and connected music systems for the custom installer channel. We talk to Michael about the space, the evolution of Autonomic from a company that developed Windows Media Center software to a full-fledged media server and connected hardware company.

You can find out about Autonomic at:

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Smart Home Show#17: Control4's Paul Williams

Guest: Paul Williams, VP of Security & Communications Products, Control4

Control4 helped change the face of home automation over the past decade, helping to bring a modern software-centric approach to the custom installer channel.

Mike catches up with Paul to talk about Control4's business, how it's evolved, and where it's going.

You can find out more about Control4 at

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