IoT News Roundup

ABI Research gives sunny outlook for beacon industry; Electric Imp debuts vertical platform for manufacturing; CNET decides smart home could use some work; ThingWorx 7.0 features new device-management tools.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

CNET Smart Home Trail Results: Mixed But Promising
Last year, a group of CNET editors took their work home with them. They relocated to a model smart home in Louisville, Ky., into which they installed a bevy of wirelessly networked products to remotely control and access everything—from the lighting to the doorbell to the fire alarm and the vacuum cleaner. The team has now begun reporting its findings. "Much more needs to be done to help educate consumers around the nuances and complexities of smart home technology," the editors said in a statement. And CNET's Smart Home website contains a number of video reviews of the appliances and systems that were evaluated inside the home.

For example, editor Ashlee Clark Thompson reviewed Samsung's Wi-Fi-connected oven, which enables such features as using a phone to start pre-heating the oven before getting home. But Thompson calls out Samsung's "finicky" app that can be difficult to pair up with the oven. What's more, given oven performance that is "just okay," she found it difficult to justify the appliance's $3,000 price tag.

While the technology and user interfaces that power smart-home products could use improvements, the editors still consider the category promising. They say many products "present significant upside potential."

CNET teamed up with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, one of the sponsors of the living laboratory project, to co-develop a definition of the smart home. The resulting definition—the purpose of which is largely to serve as a marketing tool for the real estate and insurance industries—is: "A home that is equipped with network-connected products (aka 'smart products,' connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself."

Additional criteria: "In order to be categorized as a smart home, the property must have a smart security feature that either controls access or monitors the property or a smart temperature feature, in addition to a reliable Internet connection." And it must have two additional features from a list of eight options, which include lighting, safety and appliances.

Travelers' Insurance, another sponsor of the living laboratory experiment, recently announced that customers with qualifying smart-home devices, such as smart smoke detectors and security systems that alert homeowners through their smartphones, are eligible for a discount on their homeowners insurance.

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