No need to be timid about smart home systems: These days it’s a breeze to have one installed, or even do it yourself. Smart home technology ranges from DIY home automation to systems you’ll need a pro to install – but even that’s becoming simpler, reducing your installation costs.
Even if you already have a number of different smart home products, it’s all good. Consider the Revolv Smart Home Solution: It can combine several existing connected smart home products under one system. For instance, you can have Sonos audio, Insteon appliance control, Yale locks, Philips hue lighting, and more, all available under one free smartphone app. That way, you can mix and match the products that would perfectly fit your electronic lifestyle.
Another neat perk is Revolv’s GeoSense technology, which can automatically activate connected devices when the user reaches a certain geo-radius to and from their home.
The brain behind this unique smart home technology is the Revolv hub, which includes seven wireless radios speaking 10 different languages. It’s designed to communicate with today’s most popular connected home devices, with support for hundreds more promised in the coming months.
The Revolv Smart Home Solution is selling now, with an MSRP of $299.
Staples Connect aims to make home automation easy
A lot of new smart home products actually put DIY home automation within your reach. Staples, the retailer known by many people mostly for back-to-school supplies and inkjet cartridges is launching a line of home automation products called Staples Connect.
The system will allow users to control their lights, window shades, door locks and more with an integrated smartphone or tablet app, and it’s all user-installable (help is available if you need it).
Staples Connect uses a platform designed by Zonoff (read more about Zonoff here), which also designed the platform for Somfy’s TaHoma system.
The system begins with a hub, built by Linksys, which connects directly to the user’s router via an Ethernet port. The hub then uses three different wireless protocols, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and Lutron’s Clear Connect, to talk to devices around the house.
Staples Connect will be compatible with a large variety of smart home products, including home surveillance cameras, DoorBot Wi-Fi camera doorbell, Yale smart door locks, Honeywell thermostats, Lutron Sivoia window shades, even Philips Hue color-changing LED light bulbs. In fact, Lutron will be introducing a new line of wireless dimmers and switches using the Clear Connect technology, which will be available for the Staples system.
Voice control of the system will be available via the ivee voice-activated assistant.
So far, this sounds like a number of other app-focused, DIY home automation and ISP/cable company home automation systems, including those offered by Verizon, Xfinity, AT&T and the Lowes Iris. There are a couple of intriguing differences here though…
First, Staples Connect requires no monthly fee, so there’s no security monitoring, though security cameras can be viewed remotely and many of the control features can also be operated remotely. Premium smart home systems may be launched down the road.
More impressive, though, is the ease of programming. The app (for iOS or Android devices) includes built-in tutorials for most devices and activities. Most devices will include a UPC code that, when scanned by the Staples Connect app, takes the user to the setup menu.
When a new device (such as a Z-Wave wireless lock or light dimmer) is detected, the app walks the user through the setup and recommends programs or activities to associate with the new device. For example, if you add a wireless door lock, the app will ask if you want to set up alerts for when the door is opened (so you know someone has come home). You can link up multiple devices to create scenes, operate your system by individual device, by room or by lifestyle activities. An “away” scene might trigger the doors to lock, the exterior lights to turn on and the temperature to be reset.
Now that’s smart home technology to write home about!
Lutron’s new Smart Bridge Pro makes Lutron lighting easier to integrate
Smart Bridge works by itself or with full automation systems
Lutron has been a leading player in smart home systems lighting control from before anyone used the term smart lighting control. Now the company has a new system that will let dealers install and program wireless lighting and shade control in only a couple of steps.
It almost seems like a DIY home automation product, similar to the Revolv, Lowe’s Iris or Staples Connect, but it’s designed to be sold through installer networks, so you’ll need a pro to make it all happen.
The system is built around the Smart Bridge Pro, a hub that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi router and sends wireless signals to all the devices you want connected. Instead of protocols like Z-Wave or Zigbee, the Smart Bridge Pro uses Caseta, a variation of Lutron’s ClearConnect wireless system.
When launched, the Smart Bridge Pro hub will cost $200 and include an iOS and Android app for controlling the system via smart phone. It will work with Lutron’s Caseta wireless dimmers (both in-wall and plug-in modules), Lutron Serena motorized shades, Pico remote control, GE’s Telligent smart bulb, and more third-party devices to come later. CE Pro’s Julie Jacobson reports that the system will also integrate with a Honeywell thermostat.
In addition to device support, the system will be able to interface with professional automation systems like Control4, URC and RTI.
The Smart Hub is also compatible with Alarm.com’s security app and systems from ELK and others.