Meet the Smart Home: What the Jetsons got wrong…

The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference is place where visionaries of the technology industry share their insight on a wide range of perplexing ideas. The topics that will be discussed during this intellectually inspiring conference are being selected now through a panel of voters in order to prepare for SXSW, which will be taking place in the spring of 2017. Vice President of Grid Connect, Adam Justice, has submitted a proposal to speak at this conference with the assistance of Richard Gunther, the Director of Client Experience at Universal Mind.

The proposed topic is geared around the infrastructure of the smart home industry; where it is today, where it will be in the coming years, and what technology will enhance the market itself. Justice and Gunther plan to explore the way the smart home has been portrayed by the entertainment industry throughout history, and then compare that to what the smart home actually looks like today. The inaccurate preconceptions of the smart home’s capabilities will finally be brought to light, allowing for a more precise prediction of how the Internet of Things (IoT) will propel the industry and turn this visionary’s dream into a consumer’s reality. This will be a very intriguing presentation as the complex state of the industry will be dissected by a couple of the smart home industry’s thought-leaders.

In order to show support for Grid Connect and vote for this exciting topic to be presented at SXSW, simply click on the link below. Once on the website, it takes a matter of seconds to register an account, then a vote can be casted by clicking the thumbs-up button. We appreciate the support!

VOTE HERE: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/66706

Here's What People Have to Say about the ConnectSense Smart Outlet

We know that getting started with creating a smart home can be a daunting task.  That's why we’ve designed the Smart Outlet to be easy to use and include a setup process that only takes a couple minutes to complete. There are also some great features for controlling the product like Siri Voice control and support for Apple HomeKit.  In addition, we remain committed to adding new and exciting features to the product going forward.

While we don’t expect users to have any issues with the Smart Outlet, we have a friendly and knowledgeable support team that is ready and willing to help.  We also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of our products as well as a 1-year warranty!

Finding information on products is not always easy, so we decided to make it easier by putting everything in one place.  We have highlighted some of our favorite reviews from customers on Amazon and the press below.  Feel free to provide feedback on the Smart Outlet and share it with us through a review or by contacting us; we love to hear from customers and are always looking for feedback on our products!

Consumer Reviews:

Great Scott! – 5/5 Stars

This is a HUGE upgrade from those little outlet timers we used to use! I ordered my Smart Outlet and it was delivered within two days which is great because I was super excited to play with it! It came in a neat package so I posed it with some Pellegrino and took a photo. The device fits perfectly into our outlets and its simple design blends in perfectly with any home. The fact that it works with Apple HomeKit is a major bonus! I plugged the Smart Outlet in and within minutes, I downloaded Connect Sense's app and added my device. Don't laugh, but there was great satisfaction in scanning the device number with my phone's camera to add it (as opposed to manually entering the numbers)!

The Future is Here!  - 5/5 Stars

I LOVE both of my ConnectSense smart outlets! I have wowed many friends by using Siri to adjust my lights, but more than that it's just practical. I use one outlet in my main living area to control two separate lamps (also my primary phone charger via USB) and the other in our master bathroom to control/monitor power to my wife's hair dryer and hair straightening iron. For the living area I set a rule to turn on the living room lamps at sunset and they go on without me even thinking about it. I haven't used the timer functionality yet, but I will give that a run in the next few days when I go out of town. The customizability and ability to set rules based on solar events, time, and on/off status really set this *dual* outlet apart from some of the other options I looked at. I hope that Apple + ConnectSense are able to build on this functionality in the future (e.g. geo-based rules when my phone nears home or connects to Wi-Fi, day of week scheduling, and countdown timer to turn an outlet on/off 'x' hours after it was turned on.) Like another one of the reviewers, it did drop the Wi-Fi a few times, but that was easily resolved for me by unplugging/replugging the outlet. It also looks like that's being corrected by forthcoming firmware update.

Helps you control and monitor the power in your home – 5/5 Stars

One of the things I dislike during the holidays is turning the Christmas tree lights on and off. After the tree is decorated and presents are stashed underneath, it can become very difficult to plug and unplug the tree lights. I can’t tell you how many times I stumbled over my own feet trying to turn on the lights. This is one reason I love the insurance of smart outlets into the connected home space. While I’ve had the opportunity to test out a couple of different kinds of smart outlets, I am particularly fond of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It works with Apple HomeKit and has a very simple installation process. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet makes it possible for you to control certain non-smart devices with Siri. For example, say you have a lamp that is not WiFi capable and neither is its bulb. You could plug the ConnectSense Smart Outlet into the wall and then the lamp into Smart Outlet. You could then control the power signal to the object from your phone, or through Siri. This type of option is particularly useful for Christmas-time when you want to do things like turn your lights on and off. Saying, “Siri, turn off the Christmas tree,” to your phone is very liberating.

Press Reviews:

Mashable - Apple may be working on an app to control home products, report says

In an article about Apple potentially releasing a Home app to provide HomeKit users with more control over devices, ConnectSense received special mention for being one of the best products in the first batch of HomeKit-enabled products.

Grid Connect's ConnectSense Smart Outlet ($79), which will run on Apple's HomeKit platform, turns existing products in the house like lamps, older game consoles and dishwashers into smart appliances.

iLounge-  Review: Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet

The ConnectSense Smart Outlet was ranked higher than other competing HomeKit outlets, such iDevices’ Switch, in iLounge’s series of HomeKit product reviews. The Smart Outlet was highly recommended and received an “A-” grade due to its seamless integration with HomeKit as well as its user-friendliness.

The ConnectSense Smart Outlet works well and does a great job of providing all of the necessary HomeKit functionality with some nice bonuses and a solid app at a very reasonable price. Not only are you getting two outlets for $80 — the same price you’d pay for two iHome SmartPlugs — but you’re also getting controllable status LEDs and a 2.4A USB charging port in the mix.

Electronic House - Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet

In this review, Lisa Montgomery is enthralled by the simplicity within the elegant ConnectSense Smart Outlet. She is very impressed with the user-friendliness of the outlet as well as its ability to interact with other HomeKit devices. It is described as an affordable way to automate a home.

Often, it’s the simple stuff that makes the most sense. Case in point: The ConnectSense Smart Outlet from Grid Connect. On the surface, the Wi-Fi device, which plugs into a standard electrical outlet looks very vanilla—featuring just a couple of wall sockets and a USB charging port. The port itself frees up the outlets for other purposes, which is cool. But what makes the ConnectSense something to get excited about is its ability to respond to voice commands.

c|net - Grid Connect ConnectSense Smart Outlet review

The Smart Outlet landed an overall positive review in an article written by Andrew Gebhart. He was very enthusiastic about the usability and performance of the device. The fully-functional outlet does exactly what it was designed to do. The part that stands out is the ConnectSense app, which is extremely useful for HomeKit regardless of if the outlet is being used or not.

The ConnectSense app deserves particular praise, as it lets you control all of your HomeKit devices, not just Grid Connect's, and makes it easy to group them into HomeKit's organizational buckets such as rooms and zones. I dismissed the app when discussing all HomeKit apps back in November, but the Grid Connect team obviously worked on it a lot since then.

King 5 - Eco-Friendly Gadgets for Your Home and Car

Technology reporter Brain Westbrook reported on the amazing capabilities of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It was listed as an economically friendly way to manage an environment. In his review, he discusses the power of the Smart Outlet and its compatibility with Apple HomeKit, making it perfect for iOS users.

ConnectSense is another simple to install, easy-to-use, accessory. Plug the smart outlet into your standard outlet for the ability to control your devices from anywhere. No need to buy "smart" appliances, with the Smart Outlet, you can tell Siri to turn on a device from anywhere.

Live Smart - ConnectSense Smart Outlet lets any device work with Apple HomeKit

Live Smart is a website devoted to providing readers with quality content based on popular smart technology. In this article, ConnectSense’s Smart Outlet is considered a perfect device for transitioning to a smart home because it enables users to use any regular device. The Smart Outlet gives any home owner complete control over their home environment.

While the idea of a fully-fledged smart home is our idea of heaven, not everyone is ready to make the financial leap to a gang of brand new shiny smart gadgets. But ConnectSense wants to give us all a taste of the action with this clever little smart outlet… There’s also some fun to be had with ConnectSense’s own app, which gives you remote access to the power usage of any devices plugged into the outlet. You can control and monitor both of the ports on the outlet separately, which gives you complete freedom with whatever two devices you decide to plug in.

 

For more information about ConnectSense products, here are some more press reviews that are worth checking out:

Appliance Design – ConnectSense Smart Outlet

Computer World - CES 2016: 8 interesting HomeKit accessories

Digital Trends – Growing List of Devices Compatible with Apple HomeKit

EIWA Wrestling – Eco-Accommodating Contraptions for your Home and Auto

Electronic House - ConnectSense Wi-Fi Smart Outlet Works with Apple HomeKit

Famadillo - ConnectSense Outlet

GadgetSin – ConnectSense Smart Plug Supports Apple HomeKit Technology

GottaBeMobile -  How to Turn Almost Anything into a Smart Appliance

HerezWhat - Smart Phones Smart Lamps Now its Smart Home

iMore - Perfect HomeKit Gifts for Everyone You Know!

Luxury Magazine - Tech Goes Green: 10 Gadgets that Save Power and Water While Making Life More Comfortable (Page 176)

MacRumors - ConnectSense Review: The Smart Outlet Offers Two HomeKit-Enabled Sockets and a USB Port

MacSources - ConnectSense Outlet Review

MacVoices - MacVoices #16064: CES - ConnectSense Brings Apple HomeKit Compatibility To Home Automation

MyInforms - How to Turn Almost Anything into a Smart Appliance

NBC 5 Chicago - Weekend Web: Wi-Fi Controlled Outlet

On CE – The HomeKit-Enabled ConnectSense Sensors

Parenting Bytes - Screenagers

PhoneDog – Best Tech of February 2016!

ShakerBuzz – Cool New Tech (Feb. 2016 Edition)

Sound and Vision – ConnectSense’s HomeKit-Enabled Smart Outlet is Smart and Sensible

Tech50+ - Dads & Grads – Part II – Gifts for the 50+ Dad

TeQreation - Simple Yet Effective Smart Home Solution for #iOS by ConnectSense

The Bleeding Edge - Bleeding Edge TV 573: ConnectSense Smart Outlet with HomeKit Review

WiFi Calling & Messaging -  Father's Day Gift Idea: ConnectSense WiFi-Enabled Smart Outlet to Easily Automate Your Home

iOS 10 Infographic: 22 Influencers on the Most Exciting Features

Uninstall.io asked 22 tech influencers about the most exciting features to be released with Apple’s iOS 10 this fall. Interest ranges from the developer-friendly release of SiriKit to 3D touch and the addition of widgets. Others, including our very own Adam Justice, were excited about the addition of the Home app, an update which will significantly improve the interoperability of devices in a smart home. Check out the Infographic created by Uninstall.io to learn about the other intriguing new features offered in iOS 10.

Read more, here: http://blog.uninstall.io/ios-10-infographic

A Smart House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

At the WindyCityThings conference this year, the Vice President of Grid Connect, Adam Justice, spoke on the current standards in the Internet of Things (IoT) world. The amount IoT devices are estimated to increase to 25 billion by the year 2020. In the smart home space, there really needs to be some sort of established standard in order for that growth to happen and to have integration between devices. There has been rapid growth and expansion for these types of standards within the past couple of years. This isn’t only an issue at the consumer level, it is an issue for the industrial IoT as well.

In terms of IoT standards, the IoT is moving extremely quickly. So things that are discussion now will be totally different than the things in discussion a couple months from now. The issue is that every manufacturer is doing their own thing and moving along too quickly. Initially the solution for the smart home seemed to be through proprietary companies. This is essentially one company trying to do it all, such as Nest or SmartThings, but in reality it is very difficult for one company to do everything and have a hub at the center of the IoT.

Standards are extremely important for the IoT because it really allows us to have interoperability, and with interoperability comes adoption and increased functionality of the smart home. In addition to this, there would be an improved experience for consumers. At this point in time, the IoT operates with an app for every different product, so consumers need to have a folder or page on their phone with an assortment of apps that all do different things. Having a system like this isn’t really a better solution to the standard devices we have today. People often wonder “how is this any easier than just turning on the lights myself?” This is because sorting through pages of apps and finding individual devices can be a cumbersome task. In order for there to be widespread adoption, there needs to be better standards in place to help improve the user experience.

Another important thing to consider is that no individual company knows how to do everything well. The companies with hub solutions often fail because they are trying to do too many things at once. So even though they have a lot of the features people are looking for, each individual aspect isn’t up to par, thus reducing the overall user experience. Instead of using this method, there needs to be different companies that have expertise in their field, contributing something to a broader system. A great example of this would be a company like Chamberlain that knows garages. There is no reason that another smart home company should go out and try to make a new and better garage door opener because Chamberlain already knows how to do that well. So they can contribute with their MyQ system to the broader smart home ecosystem.

As far as standards go, there seems to be new organizations and standards created regularly. Standards are being adopted through all different layers of technology. There is an application layer, a networking layer, and plenty of other layers along these lines. With these layers, come standards such as security layer standards and cloud standards; there are plenty of opportunities for different standards in different areas. However, the one we will primarily focus on are the application layer standards.

One of the standards that has been around for a while now is one that is called Alljoyn, which was established by the AllSeen Alliance. AllJoyn is an application layer protocol dedicated to enabling the interoperability of IoT devices. It is supposed to make it easier for devices to communicate, getting deeper into the networking layer, focusing on applications. This standard is primarily supported by Qualcomm, the Linux Foundation, Cisco, Microsoft, LG, and HTC. Some of the big pros for this is that its open source and internet access is not necessarily needed. It was created by Qualcomm and they seem to be heavily “driving the ship” and not really letting a lot of others contribute to it. This has been a standard that has been out for a while, but when examining the market, there aren’t really a lot of consumer products adopting it. So even if this is the best standard out there, if it doesn’t get adopted, it doesn’t do too much to help the industry.

Another popular standard is the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), which was recently rebranded to the Open Connectivity Foundation. This is also an application layer protocol with the goal of interoperability. Major supporters of this are Intel, GE, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Dell, Samsung, and Cisco. A lot of these companies are the same companies that supported the AllJoyn standard. These companies are supporting different standards, hoping that they can be a part of which ever one wins out. This standard is open-source, so there is collaboration between all of its supporters. It’s still very early in development, they released the framework early in 2015. They seem to still be in the process of figuring out their purpose as well as their identity, that’s why there was a name change.

The next big standard can be found in Apple HomeKit; which Grid Connect is very familiar with as we have a product that supports HomeKit. This is a common network protocol that features end-to-end encryption. Similar to devices operating on iOS, security and privacy are at the center of this protocol as it is something that is very important to Apple. A couple key aspects of HomeKit are that it is very easy to set up, Siri voice control is built in, and there is one common app for controlling any and all devices. At Apple’s developer conference, WWDC 2016, they announced the Home app for iOS10 that will be used to control smart devices. They are still leaving it open for third party developers to develop common apps to control devices. This seems to be a great step forwards in terms of interoperability. It will be really important as we head more towards automation of the home. This means going beyond opening an app and just telling the voice assistant to turn on the lights or do something along those lines. Users have the ability to set up “if this then that” functions or even create scenes so that when they leave their home, automation can do something like turn off the lights, adjust the thermostat, and close the garage door. Joining Apples NFI program will provide anyone interested with more details.

Apple’s standard is being developed extremely quickly because they are the only ones working on developing this standard, unlike the previously discussed standards. That being said, this is only a great standard for iOS users. Those using Android and other platforms are essentially cut off from this standard. That being said, it does seem to have the most traction in comparison to other major smart home platforms. There have been a lot of HomeKit products introduced to the market thus far and there are a lot more coming soon.

The next thing to examine is the “Works with Nest” program, which has been around for a long time.  This is essentially reliant upon Nest as the center of home automation. Unlike HomeKit and some of these other standards, which are network layer communication. This is an API level, device to device integration, going towards the cloud. This doesn’t allow for connection between edge devices, internet is required to do anything. It seems to be pretty simple and easy to set up, which is why a lot of people integrate with it. However, those integrations don’t seem to be entirely useful as it’s more of a checkbox people want to checkoff to be in the smart home space. Since the Google acquisition of Nest, things seem to be a bit troublesome. There are some issues with the new CEO and things of that nature. It will be very interesting to see where this platform goes over time.

Another major platform on the Google side is called Brillo and Weave. Weave is Google’s answer to HomeKit. Brillo is essentially a stripped down version of Android, so it is a high horse power, computing intense platform. It doesn’t really belong on end devices as it is more for things like routers or something with a lot of computing power. Weave is a device to device protocol, so it includes cloud services and is very similar to HomeKit. It has one app, easy setup, and device to device integration. It looks as if it will be a really solid solution for Android, but it does appear to be a couple years behind HomeKit. Everyone at Google’s conference this year was waiting to hear more on Brillo/Weave, but the conference passed and there was no mention of it. So it appears to be in somewhat of a building mode, but they should not be counted out. One of the major ways people are going to choose their smart home ecosystem is going to based off of what they have in their pocket and what will work with that. Android has a huge market share and that is something that needs to be addressed, especially in comparison to what Apple is doing.

Exploring Apple's New Home App

The beta version of Apple’s Home app may be the ultimate smart home control hub that HomeKit users have long anticipated. Many of the previous issues with HomeKit are being resolved  with this app as it offers a simple and user-friendly interface for controlling any smart home device. The app starts off with some introductory pages to help users understand how to actually use the app to control their devices. If a user doesn’t have any devices installed yet, there are options for adding devices as well as setting up scenes and automations.

The home tab of the app is the central hub for controlling the user’s favorite accessories and scenes. The Home app does a good job of letting users rearrange items and customize them for their needs. There is also a lot more control given over certain devices, such as being able to change the brightness and color of smart lights. In addition, the rooms tab provides the ability to see the devices and scenes for individual rooms. These are just some of the powerful features of the app. Its overall simplicity and ability for customization allows for easy setup and installation of any HomeKit device, offering more control over smart devices. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet is one of the many HomeKit devices that can be setup and controlled with ease from this app.

The automation tab can be utilized if the user has a fourth generation Apple TV or current iPad. These additional Apple devices allow for homeowners to access powerful controls such as geofencing, schedules, and triggers. This essentially gives HomeKit users much more control and functionality for their favorite smart home devices. The app is not perfect at the moment, most likely because it is still in its beta version, but we can expect the HomeKit experience to be substantially improved with the Home app.

Read more: http://www.cnet.com/news/exploring-apples-home-for-homekit/