ConnectSense Introduces Power Monitoring to Smart Outlet

Smart Outlet Price Dropped to $59.95

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — (October 20, 2016) — ConnectSense, a developer and manufacturer of home automation products, announced the addition of power monitoring to its ConnectSense Smart Outlet and the ConnectSense app.

With the ConnectSense app, users can easily create integrated scenes and rules for the Smart Outlet and other home automation devices regardless of manufacturer, with just a few simple steps. Users can control their smart devices with the touch of a button or using Siri voice control.

With detailed power monitoring, users have insight into the power consumption of devices plugged into the Smart Outlet, as well as how long devices have been turned on. This allows users to adopt more energy efficient habits or to replace energy-hogging devices or appliances with more efficient choices.

Unique to the ConnectSense app is the ability to create rules based on power usage. For example, a homeowner can set a rule that says if the television has been on for three hours, turn it off. Also, for safety, rules can be set to turn off hot or potentially dangerous devices, such as flat irons, if they have been left on for an extended period of time.

More complex scenarios also can be set up to automate environments. For example, in a home theater, a homeowner can set a rule that says when the projector turns on, the room lights dim.

“We are happy to provide our customers a way to monitor their energy usage, and give them more control over their devices,” said Adam Justice, founder of ConnectSense. “Among the reasons to automate a home is to make it more energy efficient and to save money, and power monitoring will be an important tool in this effort.”

The ConnectSense power monitoring feature is available via firmware update free to existing customers in the current ConnectSense app.

ConnectSense also announced it is dropping the price of its ConnectSense Smart Outlet to $59.95. The Smart Outlet features two Internet-connected electrical sockets that enable users to control devices plugged into them using Siri via their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch. 

About ConnectSense
ConnectSense develops and manufactures home automation products, including the ConnectsSense Smart Outlet and a line of wireless sensors that monitor changes in your environment then notifies you by email or text when something goes awry. ConnectSense can be found at www.connectsense.com and on Twitter at @ConnectSense.

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For information contact:

Linda Muskin, 847-432-7300
lmuskin@teamclarus.com

Mara Conklin, 847-816-9411
mconklin@teamclarus.com

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

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.

Smart Doesn’t Always Mean an Easy Home

When the possibility of creating smart homes first became a feasible task, it turned out to be more complicated than originally anticipated. Since then, the technology has improved with more accurate sensors and voice control abilities, making it much easier to create and operate a smart home. We haven’t quite reached perfection in terms of interoperability, but smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are on pace to become universally accepted home solutions.

Smart technology is invading many households in the form of various appliances and devices, all connected to the internet. The purpose of this is to provide home owners with the ability to control devices from the comfort of their phones. Adam Justice, Vice President of Grid Connect, talks about how smart tech can ease the pain of household problems, “It solves the problem of my wife and I both being in bed and arguing over who is going to get up to turn out the lights. So you could say it solves marital problems.” Even though this is a very simple example of how IoT devices can help with home control, there are much larger and more powerful automations that can be accessed.

The rewarding feeling of being able to control a device with the touch of a button, or with voice control, does not stop at single device automation. The ability to create “scenes” allows users to command multiple devices with the use of a single voice command. Establishing scenes will make home automation so much more simple, while simultaneously improving the convenience of the installed tech.  

The ability to control both individual devices and networks of devices with a single voice command is just one of the many great features of smart technology. That being said, things can get a bit complicated when it comes to getting devices from different manufacturers to operate in a system together. There are various companies such as trying to solve the issue of interoperability, but Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon’s Echo are at the forefront of the innovation. HomeKit is the distinguished frontrunner because it is extremely easy to setup and allows users to control an assortment of devices from a single app.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/realestate/smart-doesnt-always-mean-an-easy-home.html?_r=1