Instead of the traditional news format, I’m going to offer you a list of small items I learned at CES.
Comcast goes big on the smart home: Comcast has made smart home services available to all of its homes that have its most advanced router that acts as a smart home hub as well as a broadband modem. This means that 15 million homes now have automation capabilities on top of their broadband service, plus capabilities that Comcast bought when it acquired Stringify. That’s mainstream!
Comcast also bets on security: Comcast is also launching a security service this year that looks super compelling from an IoT perspective. The back end provider will be Cujo, the maker of an IoT security box. However, Comcast is adding a software layer on top to make the process of setting up the Cujo network security system easier. Features like network traffic monitoring, quarantining devices that have security flaws and more, will be part of the service.
All about Ring’s news: AT CES a lot of people were talking about Ring. It acquired Mr. Beams, a wireless lighting company, and showed off motion sensors that could trigger the new lights. Ring is also close to settling its lawsuit with ADT according to several sources. Ring didn’t respond to requests for comment. Speaking of Ring’s lawsuits, here is a copy of the patent infringement suit filed by Skybell against Ring.
Samsung’s SmartThings is a hidden hero of CES: SmartThings has replaced ADT’s proprietary back end with the SmartThings’ Cloud. ADT’s automation and monitoring system now run on the cloud that supports all of Samsung’s connected devices and services. What’s really interesting is that offering a cheaper monitoring solution using SmartThings’ devices and cloud is more profitable for ADT according to Alex Hawkinson, CEO of SmartThings.
The runaway bride: Schlage was the buyer who had stepped back from acquiring Otto, the maker of the $ 700 smart lock. In a blog post, Sam Jadallah, the founder of Otto blamed the terms of a proposed acquisition deal for leaving Otto unable to raise enough capital to keep going. He didn’t name the company, but enough people at CES did. Schlage said it doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation.
The most open light switch ever: LeGrand, the maker of high-end switches and outlets, has decided to go all-in on Thread and the OCF to create as open a platform as possible for the smart home. LeGrand uses Thread radios or Wi-Fi radios in its gear and then relies on the SmartThings cloud to connect its stuff to other smart devices. It’s also going to offer a connected light switch that carries software by a company called Ivani that can detect people in a room by measuring their effect on radio waves. If this sounds similar to what Cognitive Objects, the maker of the Aura security system does, you’re right.
Sprint is unsure about NB-IoT: I chatted briefly with Jan Geldmacher, president of Sprint and asked about NB-IoT V. Cat M1. He told me that the carrier is focused on M1 for now, in part because NB-IoT doesn’t have voice capability.
Yonomi raised $ 5 million: Yonomi, which has provided a software-based smart home integration service, has raised $ 5 million with most of that money coming from Gentex, a maker of automotive equipment. While consumers see Yonomi as a way to make integrations easier, manufacturers look at Yonomi’s back-end cloud software as a way to reduce the ongoing costs of operating a connected device. For more details on Yonomi’s other business, see this story from last year.
I really like Google’s new display option: One of the big Google Assistant stories at CES was the ability to add a display to Google’s Assistant, which meant that there were a lot of Echo Show-like devices that could speak to Google. My favorite was from Lenovo, because it sounded good and looked good. It costs $ 249 for the larger version and features an elegant, bamboo integrated stand.
Sears is doing smart tech support: Amid the hype of AR and VR Sears is taking a more practical approach to helping its techs and now customers repair their appliances. For the last few years, Sears has offered TechAssist, a program that lets appliance repair techs take a video of a problem and get help from a remote colleague who knows how to handle the problem. Later this year, Sears is bringing a variation of the program to consumers with Tech Talk. Customers whose appliances break have the option of calling out a repair tech or they can call a hotline to try to diagnose and fix the problem themselves. Sears will let customers do a live video chat over the phone that helps them diagnose the problem. Then a technician can be dispatched or Sears will ship the part to the customer and they can call the video chat once it arrives to try to fix it themselves. I love this option for saving on service calls, but also for those situations where your dryer breaks and you wait for days to get a repair tech out only to find out the problem is so bad you’d be better off buying a new appliance. Soon you will be able to call in and find that out.
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