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European Custom Installer

System Integration for the Connected Home

Home Automation

Crestron Updates Studio Software

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Crestron reveals the latest release of its Studio software, version 1.6-- offering new features and system improvements for the easy creation of intuitive touchscreen UIs and custom living solutions, with no coding required.

Crestron StudioAmong the new features in Studio 1.6 is compatibility with Crestron's home automation software, Pyng. The result is "an intuitive ultra-reliable Crestron experience," as users can add Pyng Graphics applications and Triggers/Listens to Studio projects. Anything created in Studio can be easily ported to Pung, wihtout need to learn SystemBuilder or SIMPL Windows, and Studio v1.6 supports new residential products such as Roku and other STBs and AVRs.

Another enhancement comes in the shape of remote programming, with "remotes that work so seamlessly, they virtually function by themselves." For customers wanting to actually use their remotes installers can easily modify the default programming for bespoke automation technology. One can also integrate Sonos systems, with one click automatically building pages and connecting all programming.

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Nest Smart Home Expands in Europe

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Nest looks to expand further in Europe as it announces the availability of the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor, and Nest Protect products in Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Nest cam“Nest is focused on creating a home that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it,” the company says. “This expansion brings us closer to achieving our goal of helping people around the world save energy, stay safe, and feel secure in their homes.”

Such products were first available the UK since April 2014, and are currently already sold in Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK. Since then the company has seen many a change, including the departure of CEO Tony Fadell, the introduction of the Nest Cam and the acquisition of smart home rival Revolv.

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Ecobee3 Update Adds HomeKit Support

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Ecobee announces a firmware update for the Ecobee3 smart thermostat-- one adding HomeKit support to both the thermostat and the individual remote sensors making the system.

Echobee thermostatThe Ecobee3 uses additional remote sensors to keep track of ambient temperature around the house, as well as detect motion in different locations. Firmware version 3.7.0.969 allows users to access individual sensors directly from the iOS Home app. Since the sensors feature dual functionality (occupancy detection and temperature sensing) each sensor appears as 2 accessories on the app UI.

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Juniper Research: Smart Home Market to Reach $195bn by 2021

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The smart home hardware and service market is set for growth, Juniper Research reports-- revenues from entertainment, automation, healthcare and connected devices are forecast to grow from $83 billion in 2017 to $195bn by 2021.

home automationSuch growth over the 5-year period is the fastest yet, and is driven by big vendors such as Samsung, Bosch and GE Appliances adding connectivity to their products. In the meantime, the big four market leaders-- namely Amazon, Samsung, Alphabet (aka Google) and Apple-- will further solidify their position by building on current assets, such as cloud services and incumbent device bases.

The analyst says Amazon is become top dog in smart home space, thanks to innovative use of cloud services in Alexa and the ability to capitalise on its online shopping presence. It also managed to team up with a large number of complementary players in the market, leading to further growth.

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Alexa – Make My Building Run Better!

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Varun Nagaraj

by Varun Nagaraj, President and CEO of Sierra Monitor Corporation

One of this season’s best selling gifts is the Amazon Echo with Alexa. Plug it in and Echo / Alexa will run your house for you: turning on lights, locking / unlocking doors, catering to your family member’s unique climate comfort needs, and reducing your energy bill – all voice activated and without any hard-core programming. If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s cool. But if you are part of the Facility Management or Building Automation and Controls community, like I am, the Echo / Alexa will also make you and all members of our community feel old, unimaginative, and so last century. We are the dads that wear sweaters and “dad jeans”, and justify our lack of fashion sense by claiming that we are just being responsible.

Consider the venerable Building Management System (BMS). Perhaps only 20% of all the commercial real estate in the United States is managed by a BMS because the rest of the market is too small or unsophisticated to be able to handle a BMS. So a debate rages on as to how to bring the “power of the BMS” to the other 80%. And it’s not like the 20% that has a BMS is thanking their lucky stars either.

Adding new functions to a BMS isn’t easy. Opening up BMS access to system manufacturers and integrators, who legitimately need to have real-time access to their data that is locked in the BMS is difficult. Extracting the required data for analysis from the BMS is no picnic. Facility managers therefore complain about being held hostage by their BMS vendor. So in the midst of all this hand-wringing, let us pause for a second and consider my not specially talented 12 year old nephew who set up his mother’s Alexa and essentially created his “home BMS” in less than an hour; making his home instantly more managed, controlled, safe, and energy-efficient than at least 80% of commercial real estate.

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Home Control Via Holographic Wife

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Japan sets to take the assistant-equipped speaker game a step further-- the Gatebox is a device similar to the likes of the Amazon Echo, but with the addition of a tiny holographic anime character.

GateboxNamed Azuma Hikari, the virtual girl is described as a "comforting character that is great for those living alone." As such she has a very anime look, complete with blue hair, mini skirt and knee high socks, and refers to the user as "master" in an overly cutesy voice. According to the Gatebox website she also wants "to become a heroine to help people who are working hard." As one does.

A promotional video shows the Gatebox device control smart home devices, just like Alexa or Google Assistant can. A camera and microphone allow it recognise users through their face and voice, and it can set scenes based on personal preference. In addition, since it is clearly designed for lonely bachelors, Hikari sends messages to the users throughout the day via companion app, all in the name of "supporting her master every day."

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Fibaro Adds to HomeKit-Enabled Sensors

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Fibaro brings announces of trio of smart sensors-- the Flood sensor, Motion sensor and Door/Window Sensor, all featuring Apple HomeKit compatibility and low-power Bluetooth LE connectivity.

Fibaro sensorCustomers can check on the sensors through either Fibaro app or the Apple Home app found in iOS 10.

Described as the first of its kind available for use with HomeKit, the Flood Sensor is a leak detection device. It uses gold telescopic probes to detect water as soon as it appears, and Fibaro says it works on both even and uneven surfaces. A combination of LED indicator and acoustic alarm warn users of both flooding and potential tampering, and it can trigger a smart home scene and notify users on their iDevice.

The Flood Sensor also doubles as a temperature sensor, allowing users to ask Siri to check the temperature of the location housing the device.

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