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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2017 0 comments
Last year, my HVAC system developed a leak in its drain pan. After spending many hours cleaning up the thoroughly soaked carpet in both a walk-in closet and an adjoining bedroom, I spent many additional hours attempting to fix the leaky drain pain. It turns out I’m not much of an HVAC repair technician, because two weeks later, the pan leaked again. This time, however, I was alerted to the impending soggy carpets (and another day of using the carpet steam cleaner) by the incessant (but, ultimately, pleasant) beeping of the Fibaro Flood Sensor I’d installed after the initial deluge. If the water leak had been from my water heater in the laundry room or kitchen sink, for example, there would likely have been much more water damage done by the time I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the beeping. That’s the beauty of having a water main shut-off valve installed and connected, at the very least, to a water sensor—or a more involved home automation system. The problem is, however, I’m definitely not a reliable plumber (although I have been known to sport a plumber’s butt now and then)—and nearly all of the automated water main shut-off valves available today require the knowledge, tools, and talents of a good professional plumber to install. With the exception of Dome’s Z-Wave-enabled Water Main Shut-Off Valve, that is...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2017 0 comments
The stupidest thing about most smart homes is that you have to fire up your smartphone any time you want to do something as simple as remotely opening a lock or turning a light on or off. Don’t get me wrong. I like my smartphone. But the reason why I wear a Martian Aviator smartwatch is because I like my smartphone to stay in my pocket and only make an appearance when I absolutely need to use it. (Of course, since I’ve been keeping it in my pants pocket, maybe I should be looking into getting a pair of Spartan Boxer Briefs…) The problem is that the smart device industry has ignored the dire need for small, simple input devices that are portable, don’t require a hard-wired power connection, and are compatible with a wide range of smart home systems. French automation company, NodOn, appears to have cornered the market—and, unlike what usually happens when one company has a near total domination of an industry segment, when NodOn’s smart devices become available in the US market within the next few months, they promise to be quite affordable.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2017 1 comments
Linkplay is a “a leading WiFi audio solution provider,” which basically means they make the core communication hardware and software that speaker manufacturers can use to design new wireless, streaming speakers without having to engineer everything from the ground up. In other words, a loudspeaker manufacturer—such as Fabriq or Jam Audio, two of the first companies to embrace the Linkplay solution—can concentrate on the thing it does best (make speakers) and get the digital backend from Linkplay. Another huge bonus of incorporating Linkplay into a streaming speaker is that Linkplay provides integration with Alexa Voice Service, wirelessly and hands-free.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2017 Published: Jan 09, 2017 0 comments
Bixi is one of those so-called smart devices that actually serves a useful purpose. It goes beyond that, though, because this small-and-very-portable touch-free controller can be used inside your home’s kitchen (when your fingers may be covered with gunk from cooking), on the dash of your car or truck (when you shouldn’t be taking your eyes off the road to stare at a controller), or even on the handles of your bicycle (where trying to use a phone app directly could be catastrophic)—whenever and wherever you want control of an app, smart device, or an entire smart home system. In fact, the people behind Bixi say it is already compatible with more than 300 apps or devices. Some of Bixi’s less obvious uses are as a snooze alarm, a game pad, or in combination with other Bixis as...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2017 0 comments
I’m a huge fan of household robots; but one of the biggest negatives about the current generation of domestic robots is the expense—if you want something that is more than just a curiosity, that is. Robot vacuum cleaners from Roomba, the pioneer of the robot vac industry, can suck as much as $900 from your bank account. While I think most of the models are definitely worth the money, the difference between something being worthy of the cost and being in a price range that most people can afford is oftentimes a gap not easily closed. It’s affordability—combined with its connectivity—is what makes the new lawn-mowing robot from Robomow so exciting.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2017 0 comments
Connected health technology, tracking devices, biometrics, and anything else remotely related to a cough, cold, or sleep disturbances abound at CES 2017. Some look pretty suspect, while others appear to have some actual scientific merit behind them. NeuroMetrix was exhibiting the company’s Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology. Here’s how NeuroMetrix tells it: “Quell combines neurotechnology to treat chronic pain with a sophisticated app to personalize and control therapy, while tracking progress.” At first glance, Quell looks like it’s a standard TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device in a fancy leg wrap. But it’s quite a bit different than the little zap-happy, stick-on electrodes TENS users will be familiar with.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2017 1 comments
Here’s a brief rundown on the most unusual piece of clothing I’ve seen so far at CES 2017. From SPARTAN, the new SPARTAN Boxer Brief is the underwear for the 21st Century connected man.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
Lockitron’s latest smart door lock iteration, the Lockitron Bolt, is unlocking a new level of affordability in DIY smart locks. Unlike the original crowdfunded Lockitron, the fit over existing deadbolts, the Lockitron Bolt is a full replacement deadbolt device that includes a Key Match feature allowing for the Bolt cylinder to be used with the homeowner’s or apartment renter’s original key. Since the Bolt is designed to replace an existing deadbolt—rather than fit over an existing mechanism—the new smart lock is smaller (1.1-inches deep, 7-inches tall, and 2.75-inches wide) with a knob that is only 0.7-inches deep. The center point of the knob is 1.2 inches from the bottom of the unit, so there is plenty of room for use with separate doorknobs and doorhandles.

The standard Bolt has...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
I always thought that Invoxia’s original Triby was a great concept, but that the cosmetics of the “Smart Portable Speaker with Alexa Voice Service” were a little too childish. The new model, the Triby IO, maintains all the smartness, portability, and Alexa integration found in the Triby; but it’s packed into a smaller chassis with a more sophisticated, grownup design. Magnets mounted on the rear of the Triby IO allow for it to be securely-but-temporarily placed on a refrigerator or other metal surface, while retaining the convenience of a portable, battery-powered, Wi-Fi-connected device.

The Inovoxia Triby IO adds...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 05, 2017 Published: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
NuBryte, a relative newcomer to the smart home automation playground, is adding to and expanding on the company’s initial NuBryte Touchpoint touchscreen console with more flexibility in applications plus less expensive add-on, non-touchscreen light switches.

NuBryte’s Touchpoints combine many of the most...

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