Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Is there an Echo in here?

It’s pretty hard not to have at least heard about the Echo, Amazon’s personal assistant for your home. Siri-like in concept, this personal assistant waits for you to speak the keyword and responds with a natural interaction that gives the illusion of a personality better than any other to date. Even if you don’t know exactly what Echo and it’s mind in the cloud can do, you probably saw an example in one of Amazon’s television ads with Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino, Jason Schwartzman, and Missy Elliott. Essentially touch-free connected devices, using voice recognition and natural language speech technology hosted in Amazon’s cloud, Echo and it’s younger siblings Dot and Tap are changing the minds of Smart Home experts, naysayers and established brands like Sonos. It’s as close today, to what many of us dreamed of having when we first saw Captain Kirk talking to “Computer” on Star Trek or Dr. David Bowman speaking to “HAL” in 2001 A Space Odyssey. When I showed my Echo to a friend, he simply said, “I knew this day would come and it’s finally here”.


New Family Members

On March 3, 2016, Amazon announced an expansion of the product lineup with the long rumored Tap and the completely unexpected Amazon Dot, a shrunken version of the Amazon Echo with the same far-field voice recognition technology, but no amplifier or full size speaker. The idea being that you can connect an Echo Dot to your own speakers, acting as an Echo satellite of sorts, although there currently isn’t any interaction, linking or hand-off capabilities between the two, other than your Amazon user account. Ordering an Echo or Tap is as easy as anything else on Amazon and in minutes of receiving it you are controlling your compatible smart home lighting or thermostat, setting timers, asking questions, streaming music, creating reminders, and more, all by voice. 


Alexa, order me an Echo Dot!

Getting you hands on an Echo Dot is currently not as simple. You need to be an Amazon Prime member and you also must first own an Amazon Echo or an Amazon Fire TV so you can say, “Alexa, order an Echo Dot” to get one. There's also a two Dot ordering limit per household. I have my own theory on one of the reasons for these restrictions. Amazon may very well want to control the rollout so they don’t have angry customers that cannot get an Echo Dot fast enough, but I would also suggest that they want to control the experience. The Echo Dot only has a tiny speaker, and because you need to use you own speakers, which might not always be turned on, you may not use it for music as much you would the Echo with its voice controllable volume always at the ready. This could cause the experience to be diminished and that’s bad for the brand. So in these early days of the Echo and Tap, it makes a lot of sense to carefully control the user experience, right from the start.

Who's going to buy this?

Understanding the positioning of Echo versus Tap is a little confusing at first, because Amazon decided to make Alexa Voice Services (the heart and soul of Echo and the Tap devices) publicly available. So if it’s your kind of thing, there’s already an open source project that allows anyone to build their own Echo Tap-like device using a Raspberry Pi.


The Amazon Tap is a portable speaker with a charging base. In the portable version, you have to push a button to access the Alexa Voice Services, similar to how until recently, it’s been necessary to push the Home button to access Siri. So the most obvious reason why the Tap also functions this way is, it’s running on battery. The power requirements for an always listening device would be too great for what can be done with today’s consumer level technology. Richard Gunther made an excellent observation in his Home On podcast that you wouldn’t want an always listening device in public because it would get confused and just generally wouldn’t work well. So why not allow Echo-like always on listening when the Tap is on its charging cradle? I would say the reason is simply to keep cost low on the Tap and stay focused on it’s primary target market - Kids.

Love at first joke

From the time we first turned on our Echo, my kids couldn’t get enough of it. The Tap is the logical choice for kids and teens. They can take it with them and have fun with friends asking to hear jokes, requesting songs, and using whatever skills and functionality are added in the future. Since Alexa Voice Services are cloud-based, you just need a WiFi or cellular hotspot. The list of Skills (think of them as apps for Echo) and capabilities will keep growing without the need for a more powerful device. It’s function over form that can be a very effective tool in helping to build brand loyalty. I think Amazon has really knocked it out of the park with Echo and Tap. As Michael Wolf pointed out in several posts about the subject, Amazon’s disruptive strategy, particularly in connected home and replenishment services has caused a major shift that no one saw coming. A sleeper hit that has been a wakeup call for companies like Sonos to rethink their positioning and may have contributed in their recent decision to layoff an undisclosed number of people.

I hear voices 

Although many have expressed a concern about the creep factor of these always listening devices, it’s important to note that they only listen to what you say after the keyword is spoken and most everything they can do is on Amazon servers. Technically savvy Echo owners have already confirmed that their Echos have not been sending any data to the cloud until the keyword was spoken. Amazon has been very clear about what is stored and using the Alexa app available via browser or portable device, you have complete oversight and the ability to delete any stored speech recognition. There are also several built-in tools to allow for a warning before and after any recognized speech is transmitted to Amazon or complete blocking with just the push of a button on the top of the Echo devices.

This story is not about a Bluetooth speaker

Echo and Tap are not all about the devices, they’re about the services and partnerships, product replenishment and subscriptions. Amazon’s maneuvering in the smart home market has been faster than anyone anticipated and the competition is really going to have to double down to even match it.

Have thoughts you'd like to share about the Echo or Amazon strategy in the space, send me a Tweet @dougkrug and let me know! I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Nesting in a Hive or: How to Make Nest Work with Ecobee 3

I really like the second generation Nest Protect.


Despite their early mistakes, they have now produced a really good product to help protect you from harm and property from damage. No other detector available to consumers can detect both slow and fast burning fires, plus CO, plus talk to you and wirelessly interconnect. There are eight other significant features, but this is not a second generation Nest Protect review; I wrote this post to specifically focus on one particular feature.

The Nest Protect has a very special feature; in the event of a smoke or carbon monoxide emergency, it can communicate via Nest Thread protocol to the Nest Thermostat and turn off your heating/cooling system to help limit danger from smoke or CO leaks spreading throughout your home. This is a big deal and I’m not aware of any other smoke and CO alarm available today with this capability. But what if you decided a Nest Thermostat isn’t right for you, and instead prefer the Ecobee 3? I wouldn't hold your breath for Ecobee to join the “Works with Nest” program, but don't despair, there's a mediator that can easily make these competitors cooperate in perfect Harmony.



If you’re even slightly interested in home automation and you don’t have one of these, it is an invaluable intermediate hub that allows a large list of connected home products that would otherwise be isolated to connect with one another, as I wrote in a previous post.

Alright, so now that you have a second generation Nest Protect, a Logitech Harmony Hub, and an Ecobee 3, follow these simple instructions to make them work together in the event of an emergency.

1. If you’ve had your Harmony Hub for a while and it’s not running the latest firmware, you should update it first. This is done from the app on your smartphone or tablet. Click here for an easy to follow guide on how to update the firmware on your Harmony Hub.

2. In the Harmony app under “Devices”, add the Nest Protect and Ecobee.

3. Create a new activity and call it “Emergency HVAC Off”.

4. Edit the “Start Sequence” and select the name you assigned to your Ecobee Thermostat from the list of devices and click the next arrow.

5. Now select your thermostat again on the next screen and set the “Mode” to OFF and “Hold” to ON, then click the x in the upper right to close the window. You should keep the field “When to Adjust” set to Always. Now click the next arrow.

6. Leave the “End Sequence” unchanged. If you have an emergency, you will resume schedule on your thermostat manually once you are sure there is no danger.

7. Select “Sensor Triggers” and choose the name you assigned to your Nest Protect. On the next screen tap CO, then “Emergency”, then “Save”. Do the same for a smoke emergency.

8. Tap the next arrow, then once again and you’re done.

Now if there’s a CO or smoke emergency detected by your Nest Protect, it will talk to the Logitech Harmony Hub, which in turn will communicate with the Ecobee to automatically disable the HVAC system. If you have connected lights such as Insteon, Philips Hue, SmartThings, or LIFX, you can also set them to turn on if there’s a CO or smoke emergency. Similarly, you can do the same thing with a Wink Hub using “Robots”, since it also supports both Nest Protect and Ecobee.


NOTE: This method of deactivating and activating devices in the event of a CO or smoke emergency requires WiFi and Internet access. If either is disrupted it will not work. This is not true of Nest Protect to Nest Thermostat, which use Nest Thread to communicate and therefor do not require internet access to disable an HVAC system the Nest Thermostat is wired to.

Do you like this simple "hack"? Please send me a tweet @dougkrug and let me know! If you have ideas of how you would or have bridged a smart home connection with the Harmony Hub, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Disconnected Bulb

Stacey Higgenbotham's recently invited Danish UX designer Scott Jensøn from Google on the latest IoT Podcast. Scott posted a blog titled "Jeeves Must Go". In his post you can read here, he writes about the need for a low cost, single switch solution for controlling multiple bulbs. I agree with much of what Mr. Jensøn wrote, but wanted to wait until I had time to listen to the interview because you often get some variation when you don't have an opportunity to self-edit.

Scott's perspectives on connected lighting are fair and balanced, but I wondered as I listened if there was enough data behind his opinion. Something that's really lacking in the young consumer IoT industry is a coherent vision that consumers can relate to. I alluded to this in my last post "How to Choose DIY Smart Home Products". Maybe Stacey and Scott talked more about it offline. Stacey posses a tremendous amount of experience in the consumer IoT space. In any case, it got me thinking about the subject of connected lighting, and its potential versus the reality of what we have today.

A few months ago, I learned about a solution called the Lutron Connected Bulb Remote, a Zigbee connected remote that can be mounted into a North American standard wall plate with the addition of a Lutron Pico Wallplate Bracket (PICO-WBX-ADAPT), enabling the average consumer a tremendous amount of customized wireless light control, with little hassle and no need for an electrician, assuming they are competent to safely remove the old wired switch and change the wiring to the light socket so it is always energized.

The Lutron Connected Bulb Remote solves a particular problem that many people face, they need easy to use control over the lights, not the socket. They also serve as a stand alone remote of course and if you happened to have a Wink hub as I do, they can actually serve as four button remotes to trigger other actions. For example, you could program it to operate an automated window shade instead of controlling lights. Insteon is able to address these scenarios too with their remotes, switches and keypads, but at a much higher cost.

The industry is almost there in terms of implementation, but physical design is still trailing far behind. A prime example of this is when you take a Lutron Connected Bulb Remote and pair it with a Philips Hue White A-19 Bulb.
Even though Philips support staff will tell you otherwise (because they have their own remote they want you to buy), the pairing with Lutron's Connected Bulb Remote works really well, no hub or internet required (but admittedly a Wink hub sure does make setup easier). The two together give you a smoothly dimming bulb with very soothing warm light. The Philips Hue White A-19 Bulb, a Lutron Connected Bulb Remote and a Lutron Pico Wallplate Bracket together are currently about $52 from Home Depot. Try getting a licensed electrician to install a dimmer switch and connect it to a particular socket anywhere in your house for less, not to mention that it's then just a light on a dimmer. Unless you put in a connected dimmer like those from Insteon, a standard dimmer switch offers no remote control from your smartphone, no timers and no voice control with Amazon Echo or Siri via HomeKit.

Where Zigbee bulb technology falls short is there currently is no memory for it's last state. So unlike the non-volatile memory in an Insteon switch, the Zigbee bulbs don't remember the last dimmed setting and so always start on high. You have to remember to always turn the bulb on with the up arrow on the Lutron Connected Bulb Remote if you don't want the light to blast on at full. Also, while the Philips bulb offers smooth dimming and a familiar incandescent-like appearance, they don't look right in most table lamps and many sconces due to light shining from just one end of the bulb.

A relatively new offering from Cree, called the Cree Connect LED Bulb on the other hand is just a few dollars more and has a clever design that addresses both the LED cooling and light distribution issues while maintaing the standard bulb shape.
Their misstep unfortunately is they have produced a warm white that doesn't match standard incandescent bulbs or LED lights that fall close to that color temperature, and they do not dim smoothly from the Lutron Connected Bulb Remote (a pairing which is actually suggested on Lutron's packaging for the product). So while it is possible today to have an inexpensive solution for controlling multiple connected LED bulbs with a single remote or multiple remotes, it's not yet accomplished in a perfect way, not by a long shot. Another important area where all connected bulbs fall short is their inability to dim via a conventional dimmer, yet still operate as a connected bulb. I'm no hardware designer but if these things can function when dimmed externally (which most can at their minimum level), then they could be made to tolerate and sense the variable output from a dimmer switch, translating that to their internal dimming function. Sort of the tail waging the dog scenario.

Insteon's approach to a connected light switch I think is near perfect, albeit more expensive than a Zigbee lightbulb and remote. Insteon switches are able to not only control the lights they're physically wired to, but the switches can be programmed through either setup at the switch or via an Insteon hub to act as controller of other Insteon switches, as in a virtual 3-way or 4-way lighting scenario.
They hold all their settings until reprogrammed, even remembering the last dim level, as well as how fast or slow a light should turn on and off. Like the Lutron Connected Bulb Remote they can operate with or without a hub and internet connection, making them a more familiar lighting experience that will always pass the babysitter test. Insteon really shines with their very fast and reliable dual-mesh technology, but the disadvantages to their design are the cost, hard-wiring is needed and they have a requirement for a neutral wire which leaves owners of older homes little choice beyond an even more expensive installation. Insteon does have connected bulbs, but while nice in color temperature, they are expensive, proprietary and like most other connected bulbs, only cast light from the top. Where Insteon could really benefit would be to give up on trying to have only their proprietary control of connected bulbs and introduce a hub that adds Zigbee alongside Insteon. That would address the lack of choice where connected lighting and the Insteon environment is concerned, and it would give consumers Zigbee alternatives without having to give up Insteon reliability or host two hubs as I do with Wink and Insteon.

There's a lot of room for further innovation in the connected lighting space, companies like BeOnhome are proving that, but the ideas are trapped in such tall silos that innovation is only trickling to the market, one design generation at a time.

Join me in the discussion. I'm on Twitter @dougkrug posting about the latest news in IoT and smart home innovations.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Choose DIY Smart Home Products

If you read my last post, you'll see I recently discovered that one of the companies I was betting would survive what some might refer to as "The Valley of Death", seems not to have. This is where a startup's early investor capital is running out and they are just beginning to approach the break even point. Many haven't made it and many will not.

Even if the startup is actually a spinoff or acquisition by a larger corporation, they are responsible for turning a profit and if they don't or if there are product issues or concerns that tarnish a reputation, they are unlikely to make it past the initial dip or even a second, or third round of fund raising without enough momentum to carry them forward.

This is a growth industry and it's projected to be massive. The stakes are high and there will be many new companies, bringing forth amazing products and ideas, but unfortunately many will not be around to support your purchase. So if you're well to do, an early adopter who doesn't care about the risks or you're just interested in funding new companies without any monetary gain, then you may only be interested in discovering who has reliable options. If you instead need to take a conservative approach to this new idea of the smart home, then you will hopefully gain both perspectives here.

Starting out - Watch for warning signs

Your initial investment should be small. Look for a product or family of products that will solve a need or a powerful want. Spend a fair amount of time acquainting yourself with it to ensure you are happy and it meets or exceeds your expectations, but be realistic.  Be cautious of products from startups that offer "a total solution" in a single purchase. With advancements and rapid changes in IoT communications and operating layers, the total solution doesn't exist and will not exist until the dust settles and the victorious emerge.

Choose a team, but be willing to welcome free agents

As young as the Smart Home industry is, there are some established brands
and communication protocols that are a pretty safe bet, but you have to make choices and at the moment, you will encounter limitations.

The limitations can come in many forms:

• Communication protocol
• Reliability
• Speed
• Accuracy
• Security

Few offer everything, but do your homework and make sure the last point is well addressed. Even if there might still be potential security flaws (which is a risk factor you must consider), the company should have a documented and firm policy regarding the device security and updates to address any that are discovered.

Apple is one such company and although they don't make any Smart Home devices, any product that is Apple HomeKit certified should meet that criteria as long as they are operated in the Apple HomeKit environment. To encourage adoption, most manufacturers products that support Apple HomeKit certified can also allow use with non-HomeKit compatible devices such as Android smart phones. If you connect your HomeKit certified smart home devices with non-Apple phones, tablets and uncertified hubs, the HomeKit security precautions cannot protect you. You will then become partially responsible for ensuring your device is securely connected to the internet.

If you want to have maximum choice in the smart home of today, you should also expect to have multiple hubs in your house. A hub is typically in the form of a small box and is a device that connects your home network either via ethernet cable or WiFi, to the smart home devices that you want to control.
It is the translator from the internet to the language that your smart home devices speak.

Since there isn't one standard, it's best to keep your options open with at least two hubs and at least two different supported communication protocols among the two hubs. Expect to pay between $50 and $100 for each hub, depending on whether they are on sale or part of a kit that might lower the initial purchase price.

Plan how you will interact with your Smart Home

Look ahead and plan what you might want to do and how you think you might like to use and interact with your new smart home. One of the hottest smart home products this year is the Amazon Echo. What looks like nothing more than a Bluetooth speaker about the size of a tennis ball can, is in fact an assistant like no other. Echo spends it's days waiting for its wake word "Alexa", and then springs to life with the ability to control the physical world on your command. The Echo is a marvel of natural language research that is sure to impress. This well designed gadget responds very quickly to every voice that's tried it in my home and even to a visitor with a very heavy accent. He was surprised and said that Siri has a lot of trouble with his voice.

Today, Echo is able to natively control lights and outlets on hubs from Insteon, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Belkin WeMo and Wink. More are on the way and it will soon have native control of connected thermostats like those from Ecobee, Nest, and Honeywell. Echo can also control many other devices and perform other tasks via "Skills" which you could equate to apps on a smart phone or tablet. Another game changing connection service called IFTTT (If This Then That) is also available to Echo users. As you ask "Alexa" to turn OFF or ON lights in your home, tell you the weather, read you the latest news, read a book to you, convert a measurement or tell you the traffic ahead of your commute, to name but a few of it's many uses, you get the real sense that a Star Trek like future we've been waiting for has finally arrived.

If you choose Apple HomeKit compatible devices, you can control them with Siri on iOS devices, but you'll need your iPhone or iPad near by, and all the devices HomeKit can control must bare the Apple HomeKit compatible label. Amazon Echo on the other hand can control devices and services from a much broader selection, and even some devices that allow both HomeKit and non-HomeKit compatibility. Amazon Echo pleasantly responds to anyone from across a room, without shouting or having to constantly repeat yourself.

Protocols to consider

Decide what products you want and check their supported protocol before deciding how you will connect them. The current six most popular choices are Bluetooth LE, Lutron ClearConnect, Insteon, WiFi, ZigBee and Z-Wave. Each has strengths and weaknesses. None are dominant or perfect.

Strengths and Weaknesses of each:

• Bluetooth LE - Ubiquitous, secure and low-power consumption, but not yet capable of forming a mesh network, where devices help each other by repeating signals from one device to the next. This significantly limits the possibilities because the transmission range is so short. Few smart home devices exist that can address the current limitation and those that do may not be compatible with the future hubs that will support Bluetooth Mesh Networking. However, Bluetooth in my opinion is the one to watch. We will definitely see the first Bluetooth Mesh smart home products at CES 2017.

• Lutron ClearConnect - Designed for lighting control, Lutron's proprietary protocol is used in the DIY Caséta product line and is well liked by those who are using it. It also controls Lutron Serena shades and certain Honeywell connected thermostats are compatible. While an Apple HomeKit version of their hub is also available, you must use Lutron switches and dimmers. Wink hubs are compatible with some of the devices, but controlling Serena shades still requires a Lutron hub.

• Insteon - Mature protocol from a stable manufacturer that has a lot of experience with smart home and a large product selection. Most devices use a dual mesh network that utilizes both your home power lines and proprietary radio signals to repeat communications from one device to the next. The proprietary nature means the Insteon hub is restricted to controlling Insteon devices using the Insteon protocol, with the only exception being infrared devices via the Insteon to IR bridge and the just announced IP control of Sonos devices.

• WiFi - Ubiquitous and devices do not require a hub. Problems can arise from signal loss (we've all experienced that with WiFi) as each device must communicate back to the main router because it is not a mesh network. Power consumption is high and this lowers the feasibility of battery operated devices, but new methods of using low power are emerging. Known as 802.11ah or HaLow, it has just been announced and is not yet available. You're also going to need a new WiFi router, so my advice is to buy a hub and enjoy having a smart home today instead of years in the future.

• ZigBee - Supported typically in lighting products such as Philips Hue, GE Link, Cree Connected and others. Uses radio only mesh networking and power consumption is very low, but compatibility from one manufacturer's ZigBee device to the next is hit and miss. Most manufactures test and certify devices for use on specific hubs to avoid support issues and dissatisfied customers.

• Z-Wave - A large catalog of Z-Wave device are available. Power consumption is higher than ZigBee, but much lower than WiFi. Communication is radio only and setup can be challenging. More than one type of Z-Wave exist and this can be frustrating for a smart home owner who just wants things to work. The Wink hub, for example is Z-Wave Plus compliant, but some Z-Wave Plus devices simply will not work with Wink.

Which hub offers what protocol?

Oort: Homegrown Bluetooth Mesh

Zuli Smart Plugs: Bluetooth LE

Cassia Networks (CES 2016): High power Bluetooth LE, up to 1000ft open air, expect less range in the real world where buildings exist

Lutron Caséta Smart Bridge Pro with HomeKit: Lutron ClearConnect

Insteon 2245-222 Hub or Insteon 2243-222 Hub Pro with HomeKit: Insteon

Belkin WeMo, D-Link, and iDevices: WiFi (iDevices also uses Bluetooth LE)

Philips Hue 2 with HomeKit: ZigBee

SmartThings v2 and Wink: Bluetooth LE, WiFi, ZigBee and Z-Wave (Wink also supports 433MHz Lutron and Kidde for integration with Kidde Connected Smoke and CO Alarms).

[Intermediate Hubs]

Logitech Harmony Hub: Bluetooth LE, IR and WiFi (ZigBee and Z-Wave via Harmony Hub Extender)

Amazon Echo : Bluetooth LE and WiFi

Hubs to consider:

I personally use an Insteon and a Wink hub. The Wink was primarily an experiment since it was only $20. Despite all the negative things people have written about this hub, I find that it's really quite stable as long as you keep it at least 3 feet away from your WiFi router. The initial WiFi setup is tricky, but once you understand the timing required, it's pretty simple and it's not something you have to do all the time. My Insteon is also very stable. I'm a big fan of Insteon. Their products are well made, respond very quickly and they're very consistent.  Initial setup can be weird and a pain at times, but once you get the hub online, adding  products is as simlple as pressing a button. No need to walk around with the hub to set things up.

You may not think of Logitech Harmony when building a smart home, but this is a very important hub to bridge connections between devices. They support connection and control of Nest, Ecobee, Insteon, Philips Hue, Hunter Douglas, Samsung SmartThings, Lutron Smart Bridge, Honeywell, Rheem, Lifx Bulbs, and certain WiFi devices like Belkin WeMo and the August Smart Lock Connect bridge. In addition, they also offer ZigBee and Z-Wave compatibility by attaching a Harmony Hub Extender. IFTTT scripts can also be used to activate Harmony Hub Activities. They allow time-based activation, scheduling and grouping to create "Activities" that are similar to scenes used by other hubs. The ability to tie your AV control together with other home automation products is especially impressive when you control it all by voice. In my setup, the Amazon Echo handles this task.

If you're into tinkering and custom scripts, the Samsung SmartThings hub is well liked and has a large user base. The latest version has local control, so even if internet access goes down, you can still control your devices. A recent announcement from Wink stated their hubs are slated to also get local control in the next update. All the other devices I've mentioned with the exception of Bluetooth, need internet connection for a user to control devices from an app, but local control at the light switches works even if the hub is unplugged. In other words, they survive the "babysitter test" since they are familiar looking wall switches and anyone can operate them without any training or prior experience. The Insteon and Wink hubs will also continue to control device timers even when the internet is offline.

What about home security?

Of course I didn't forget. It's the most popular use case for the internet of things. I'll go into more detail in a later post, but I would advise that you strongly consider a connected stand-alone security system, the one exception is SmartThings which gets very high ratings as a connected alarm. Personally I feel the system that will protect you, your family and your valuables should do just one thing and do it well. Leave the lighting control, leak detectors and other inputs to the smart home hubs to handle. There are several good choices out there like iSmart Alarm, Scout, and Oomi. All are connected, all are relatively new to the scene.

How about connected smoke alarms?

Hands down it's the Nest Protect v2. No other manufacturer offers as many features in a single smoke/CO alarm. Don't wait, just go buy one today, your lives are worth it. To keep cost low for the rest of the house where you just need a regular smoke alarm, you can receive notifications via any phone with the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight. What I like about this more than most other options is the fact that it will phone any regular number. No smartphone required to be notified of a smoke or CO emergency in your home.

Want more? There's tons more, but for now these are the basics to help point you in the right direction and clear up some of the confusion. Keep checking back. I'll be telling you about connected security alarms in more detail, Wink's revival and return from the brink, Amazon Echo in detail, connected multi-use Bluetooth LE buttons and more.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @dougkrug posting about the latest news in IoT and smart home innovations.