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European Custom Installer

System Integration for the Connected Home

Home Automation

ABB Controls Home With Ultra-Compact Touchscreen

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ABB TouchscreenABB announces the ABB-free@homeTouch 4.3-inch-- an ultra-compact touchscreen controller designed for use with the ABB-free@home home automation system.

The touchscreen has a mounting height of just 8mm, making it more versatile for installers with little room to play with than the company's larger 7-inch touchscreen, whose mounting height is of 29mm. It features a capacitive display with a continuous glass surface but, unlike the 7-inch version, lacks IP30 certification.

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The Wifi Kettle Saga, Or When The IoT Goes Wrong

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Smart devices promise to make life easier by automating previously laborious tasks. But British data specialist Mark Rittman got exactly the opposite with his Smarter iKettle, a wifi-enabled take on the humble kettle that turned boiling water for a cup of tea into an 11 hour saga.

ikettleTold through a series of tweets, Rittman's tale of a smart kettle failing to be, well, smart, started at around 9am. All Rittman wanted was command the kettle to boil water via companion app, only he ended up receiving messages to "connect to kettle network before proceeding." Being a man with some knowledge of coding Rittman proceeded to investigate the code powering the iKettle, and discovered the base station was actually failing to communicate with the kettle itself!

Three hours into the investigation failed to produce any results-- if anything the situation got arguably worse, as popular Twitter account Internet of Shit discovered Rittman's story, slowing down Rittman's progress. An hour later Rittman revealed how the iKettle was insisting for more network calibration, and further digging into the code revealed how the kettle lacks software allowing integration with a number of smart home control platforms, including SmartThings, IFTTT and HomeKit.

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Netatmo Monitors Home Air Quality

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French hardware startup Netatmo announces a means for customers to monitor indoor air quality-- the Healthy Home Coach, a cylindrical device acting as a climate monitor for the home.

Netatmo Home CoachSimilar in shape and size to Netatmo's Welcome Camera, the Healthy Home Coach records air quality, humidity, temperature and noise data, before offering advice on how to improve indoor quality of life based on the companion mobile device app. After all, according to the company a poorly ventilated room can lead to high indoor pollution, dry air can cause itchy skin and humid air encourages the growth of mold.

Users can also set different profiles depending on the use of the room in question-- for instance, the device can be more sensitive if used in a room occupied by a baby or a child with asthma.

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Janus Releases Control4 KNX Driver

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Janus Control4Janus Technology releases a new Control4 KNX universal thermostat driver-- one designed to integrate simply to work in conjunction with the existing Control4 KNX network driver.

The company says it developed the driver embedded with knowledge of various manufacturers and models, and the different ways of controlling them. Current manufacturers include ABB, Gira, Jung, Basalte and Zennio, among others. Janus says it can add support for more thermostats on request "within a few days."

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Crestron Gets Amazon Alexa

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Crestron is the next company to announce the integration of Alexa with its products-- meaning customers can control their smart homes via voice commands enabled by the Amazon service.

Crestron AlexaThe company says Alexa allows users to create fully customised voice controlled scenes and settings, since integration is not limited to basic functions. Instead, one can choose from an "unlimited range" of voice control options, and installers can easily define Amazon Alexa skills using new software modules interfacing with both Smart Home Skill API and the Alexa Skills Kit SDK.

“Crestron customers expect a truly integrated home technology experience,” the company says. “We’ve been collaborating very closely with Amazon Alexa engineers to make sure we offer an uncompromising voice control experience that is every bit as seamless and satisfying as tapping a button on a beautiful Crestron touch screen, remote control, or designer keypad. You can ask Alexa to set the mood for dinner, or to play a movie in the bedroom, or let her know it’s too cold in the bathroom. Just say the word and your Crestron system responds immediately.”

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iDevices Bundles Smart Home Essentials

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iDevices announces as a simpler means for introducing customers to possibilites of connected devices-- Smart Home Essentials, a kit packaging ten light bulb adapters and plugs together with necessary support.

iDevices EssentialsThe specific devices included the Smart Home Essentials kit are x3 iDevices Switches (indoor connected plugs), x5 Switches (indoor connected plugs) and x2 Outdoor Switches (rain-tight connected plugs). All are compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa, and require no additional central hub or gateway.

A companion iDevices app allows users to add devices to home networks, securely pair them with smartphones or tablets, add them to a room, set dynamic schedules, and add custom photos and names. All devices are compatible with other products with HomeKit and Alexa support.

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Control4 Gets Amazon Alexa Voice Control

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Control4 AlexaControl4 announces integration with Amazon's Alexa and its various enabled devices, including the Echo Dot, Tap and Fire TV, through a Smart Home Skill providing customers with simple and intuitive voice controls.

The Control4 skill for Alexa allows for a variety of preset scenes-- for instance a "Cooking" scene can raise the lights in the kitchen, lower the shades and turn on the TV to a preset food channel with a single voice command. In addition, a verbal "Alexa, turn off house" command can shut down the house by turning off all lights, lowering the thermostat, locking the doors and arming the security system.

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