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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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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2017 Published: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
Switchmate is dramatically expanding the company’s line of incredibly simple smart devices for home automation and security developed for do-it-yourselfers who want to convert existing dumb homes or dumber apartments into smart homes or smarter apartments. The original Switchmate is a battery-operated motorized cover that is held in place over an existing in-wall rocker or toggle switch by magnets. When the Switchmate receives the appropriate command, the mechanism inside does the exact same thing you would do with the fingers on your hand: it quickly flips the toggle or rocker switch from off to on (and vice versa). Switchmate says the smart switch conversion can be done in as quickly as one second, although my experience is that it takes more like two or three seconds for the physical installation.

The new Switchmate smart switch will include...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 05, 2017 Published: Jan 06, 2017 0 comments
AXIS says the company’s Gear is “the first shading solution designed specifically to motorize existing window shades.” In addition to being one of the few devices engineered for use with traditional shades and curtains (basically any window treatment with a “loop” chain or cable), the Gear is one of the simplest, easiest, least-intimidating smart home automation device to install I think I’ve ever seen.

Gear consists of a...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 04, 2017 0 comments
In general, air purifiers have always seemed a bit like, um, smoke and mirrors to me. After all, most of them just sit in the room; and, frankly, I can never tell if they’re actually doing anything at all other than taking up space. It only took about 30 seconds for the Airmega folks to give me visual confirmation of their claim that the company’s Airmega Smart Air Purifier models remove more than 99 percent of the particulate matter in the air in the room...
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 04, 2017 0 comments
On the eve of CES 2017, Smart sensor-maker, Roost, announced the availability of the company’s latest smart sensor that’s designed to alert homeowners to dangerous or destructive conditions occurring in their homes.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 04, 2017 0 comments
With the ever-loving number of products that are introduced at CES each year, it never takes long before you come across a gadget that causes your brain to stop functioning for a second under the heavy processing load of trying to figure out just why in the hell something like that would ever have reason to exist. Jooki, “an award-winning, figurine-controlled wifi speaker that develops children’s independence and imagination, away from screens” fell into that category when I read the initial press release. In fact, I had absolutely no intention of even taking a cursory look at something that seemed so stupid and had such a silly name. But Jooki was at an event featuring a number of startup companies with “smart” or “connected” products, and—out of the sheer goodness of my heart—I sat through what I thought would be a quick (but painfully dull) demo. It turns out that Jooki wasn’t quite what I thought it was.

The problem is that Jooki is hard to explain in a way that does it the justice it deserves. Seeing it in action, on the other hand...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 13, 2016 0 comments
It’s too easy to make things complicated, especially when it comes to gift giving—and, ironically, smart home automation systems. In my opinion, 2016 has already been way too complicated, so here are some simple smart home things for you to consider putting on your KISSH (Keep It Simple Smart Home) holiday gift list.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 28, 2016 0 comments

The so-called “smart home” has had a sleepy, low-key year in 2016 as it recovered from several years of over promising and under delivering. The fact is, though, that there are plenty of stellar smart devices on the market. Many of these gadgets can be incorporated into a whole-house automation system or used solo as one of the many parts found in a “clever home”. Here are some of the devices that have “I Want” written all over them.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 14, 2016 Published: Nov 15, 2016 0 comments
I wish smoke alarms were sexier. Most of them are dull, white pucks that try to look as unobtrusive as possible. Even the squarish Nest Protect with the swirling perforation pattern on the cover isn’t something that most people will want to highlight as it hangs on the wall or ceiling. But there’s no doubt that smoke/carbon monoxide alarms save lives. The American Red Cross says that the organization’s Home Fire Campaign, which has “a goal to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25% by 2020” by getting more smoke alarms installed in more homes, has already demonstrably saved 111 lives in the short time since the program began in 2014. And since it’s recommended that you should check the working status of the smoke alarms in your home on the days when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends every year, it’s a good time to take a brief look at Roost’s brand new and—at $80 MSRP—nicely affordable RSA-400 Smart Smoke Alarm...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 02, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Nexia Bridge, $87; Trane XL824, $334

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Nexia Diagnostics monitors real-time HVAC performance
Z-Wave-supported Nexia Bridge built into thermostat
Minus
$9.99/month subscription fee
Cloud-based automation works slower than local systems

THE VERDICT
The Nexia system is unique in that it appeals to both do-it-yourselfers and those who want it done for them. Its combination of a simple programming structure with an assortment of welcoming and intuitive user interfaces makes it a system you’ll actually enjoy using.

I was beginning to worry that we’d run out of acronyms. After all, what would we do if we had to speak or write actual words instead of just using three- or four-letter shorthand? Saying “do-it-yourself” is so much more time-consuming than “DIY.” Thank goodness there’s a new acronym making the rounds: DIFM, which stands for do-it-forme. Although people have always wanted to have things done for them, the appearance of the acronym DIFM is the result of the wicked hangover that the DIY smart-home industry is suffering, after a couple of years when rapacious startup enthusiasm sucked all of the rational oxygen out of the air. The fact is that there are plenty of rooms in the smart home to accommodate the yourselfers, the for-me-ers, and the dedicated custom installers.

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