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The Smart Home Talks Z-Wave at CES

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Z-Wave LogoIf there’s any kind of smart home device in your house, there’s a very good chance that it communicates using Z-Wave. The protocol is oriented to the residential control and automation market and designed specifically for low power and low data rate communication, making it ideal for battery powered devices. Todd and Jamie find out more on this largely unknown wireless technology from Mitchell Klein, Executive Director for the Z-Wave Alliance.

Develop in the early 2000s, Z-Wave is now supported by over 300 manufacturers producing over 1500 certified devices for the smart home, from simple door switches and sensors to central heating and security systems. Operating in the 900 MHz frequency, Z-Wave has a theoretical range of 100 m, but typically this is much reduced by the density of building construction materials. However, unlike Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Z-Wave uses a mesh network with devices acting is intermediary nodes, passing on messages. Consequently, interoperability is key to Z-Wave and all Z-Wave devices will work with other Z-Wave devices.

Mitchell talks about the current state of the Z-Wave market and discusses some of the future possibilities for the technology, including interacting with systems like Amazon Echo.

Todd Aune bridges the technology gap with the The Elder Divide and Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.

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TikTeck Sells Direct to Consumer

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

tikteckTikTeck are coming to market with the sole purpose of bringing affordable products direct to the consumer and cutting out the middleman. With only a few gadgets available, Daniel chats with Rex Chen, VP Product Development of TikTeck to find out what’s in store.

In the first wave of products, there’s a Bluetooth-controlled smart LED bulb displaying 16 million colours for only US$9.99. You don’t need me to tell you what a bargain that price is. The companion smartphone app runs on both iOS and Android, providing group controls and timers, much like some of the market leading apps. Available for pre-order now with delivery expected end of February.

TikTeck RoverCombining both security and fun, the next product is a wireless camera rover. It’s a digital video camera on a remote controlled buggy which can be steered and monitored by wifi from a smartphone. US$69.99 when it goes on sale. I want one – the black version in the interview looks positively menacing.

Finally, TikTeck have a smart finger ring that measures heart rate and tracks activity and sends the data back to the smartphone by Bluetooth. It looks far more like a man’s ring than it does a fitness tracker. Price not finalised but likely to be in the $50-$100 range.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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UniKey Powers ERA Touchkey into UK

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Unikey logo

With a string of successful smart lock products such as the Kwikset Kevo, UniKey are expanding out of the US and into other worldwide markets, but it’s not simply a case of taking a US product and selling it abroad as each country has its own size and security requirements . Don discusses the problem with Dirk from UniKey and looks at the first smartlock product from UniKey for the UK’s residential market.

The ERA Touchkey has been developed in partnership with ERA, a long established British manufacturer, to bring a smart nightlatch to the UK. The lock is really simply to use….touch the lock, the lock talks to your smartphone (which can stay in your pocket or bag), checks your credentials and opens the door if authorised. It’s clever enough to tell if the smartphone is on the inside or outside of the door, to stop the door being unlocked to intruders because your phone is nearby inside the house.

The ERA Touchkey will be available in the first half of 2016, but no details on price.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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SureCall Boosts Phone Signal in the Home

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Surecall Logo

SureCall’s EZ 4G is a user-installable mobile phone signal booster for homes and offices that unlike most other products does not require an outdoor antenna. The EZ 4G consists of large receiver antenna which is placed in a window or other surface where there is at least some signal. A second smaller transmitter connected via coax cable then rebroadcasts the signals within the room. Don Baine chats with Frankie Smith to get some more details.

The EZ 4G works with all carriers and technology from 2G to 4G to deliver improved indoor mobile phone signal coverage for all phones or SIM-equipped devices within range of the transmitter and works with both incoming and outgoing calls. If there’s any kind of signal in the area, the EZ 4G will boost it.

The EZ 4G system will be on sale in January for US$399 MSRP from good online retailers and big box retail stores. SureCall has a full range of signal boosting systems for homes, offices and vehicles.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com

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Kwikset’s Z-Wave Protocol Locks Provide Peace of Mind

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Kwikset logoEveryone wants to keep their homes safe and secure. Kwikset is the largest lock manufacturer in the world. They make a whole series of products that can replace the door locks in your home with an updated, IoT version.

Todd and Marlo spoke with Director of North American Sales and Business Development for Kwikset, Larry Goldman, at CES 2016. He discussed Kwikset’s new line of door locks that operate in the Z-Wave protocol. Z-Wave is a wireless technology that is similar to Bluetooth. The difference is that Z-Wave has been designed specifically for security and is part of the IoT platform.

Kwikset offers a series of products that replace the door locks in your home. It ranges from a simple keypad door lock to a touch screen door lock. These door locks operate wirelessly and run on 4 AA batteries (which can easily last for a year). You can connect these door locks to an app on your phone that will let you see which doors are locked or unlocked, to lock the door remotely, or to let someone in while you are not at home. This technology brings homeowners peace of mind.

Marlo Anderson is rounding up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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CentraLite Smart Switch Talks to Smart LED Bulbs

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

CentraLite LogoThe Internet of Things is made up of several smart devices and appliances. The trick is to figure out what to do with this technology to make it work best for you in your home. CentraLite is “the man behind the curtain” that makes the IoT devices for a lot of companies that you have heard of.

Daniel spoke with Director of Marketing for CentraLite, Jason Whatley at CES 2016. CentraLite is an IoT device manufacturer. They make things like smart sensors, thermostats, in-wall switches, and more for companies you’ve heard of like Samsung’s SmartThings and Lowe’s Iris system. CentraLite has been making IoT devices since before there was an “internet of things”.

One of the devices CentraLite makes is a Smart Switch. It solves two problems that home owners who use Smart LED bulbs have. One problem is that turning off the Smart LED bulbs kills the power to those bulbs. The other problem is that there isn’t a convenient way to turn a Smart LED bulb on or off without pulling out your smartphone. The Smart Switch is a device that goes over an existing light switch in your home. It locks out the switch and provides dimming buttons that talk to the LED Smart bulbs.

Daniel J. Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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Essence Behaviour Analysis for the Smart Home

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Essence LogoComing from a background in home securityEssence have used their understanding of monitoring to develop a range of products for the smart home to enable independent living for those people who might otherwise have difficulty looking after themselves. Jamie and Daniel find out more from Rafi Zauer, Essence Head of Marketing.

The smart home market is exploding at the moment and there are hundreds of companies peddling hubs and sensors. What sets Essence’s SmartCare apart is a focus on unobtrusive monitoring and pattern analysis to detect when a dependent person’s daily routine changes, potentially by illness, in order to alert family members to a problem.

By using PIR motion detectors and door sensors, a pattern of behaviour is built up and deviations from the pattern can be escalated to relatives to follow-up. It’s all passive detection; there are no cameras and as such this provides an important level of privacy. Data is passed to a cloud service which in turn passes alerts to an app on a tablet or smartphone.

With an increasingly older population who want to remain in their own home, these kinds of systems will be increasingly relevant.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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StoAmigo’s TackApp Gives You a Personal Cloud

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

StoAmigo Logo

StoAmigo gives people a personal cloud with access to their files at home or back in the office from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Todd sits down on the sofa with Randy Creighton, VP Legal and Business Affairs at StoAmigo and talks through some of the background to the products and the key benefits of StoAmigo and the TackApp.

StoAmigo firmly believes in the benefits of the cloud but unlike many other cloud storage vendors, StoAmigo thinks that control and ownership of the data and files should remain with the individual, using storage that is already available. Wherever the information is held, it should still be possible to get to it from all over the world.

StoAmigo brings together storage from multiple sources into an “access anywhere” cloud and key to the ecosystem is StoAmigo’s TackApp which joins local device storage from PC, Mac or Android into the cloud. All the software is free to download so there’s no risk in trying it out.

As expected from a cloud service, files can be shared securely with other people too. StoAmigo takes this a little further than others, providing information on when files were accessed and whether they were viewed or downloaded. This gives even greater control and ownership over the data.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com, and special thanks to our CES partner, StoAmigo. Download and try out TackApp for free for Windows, Mac and Android from the links here.

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Iris by Lowe’s Has Unique Uses for Health and Safety

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

IRIS-Lowes-LogoIris by Lowe’s Companies Inc. is a do-it-yourself home automation and security system that ties hundreds of sensors and products together in one easy to control and monitor system. Health Tech Weekly host Jamie Davis, the Podmedic chats with Kris Bowring from Iris Home Systems at Lowe’s at CES 2016 about the unusual and inventive ways their customers are using the Iris system to monitor and manage the health and safety of the customer’s loved ones.

This is a trend we are seeing more and more often at CES. Consumers are not just using the electronic technology they see there but also adopting the technologies into new and inventive uses. For example, you are worried your elderly mother lives alone. She won’t get a monitoring service to notify responders and you if she falls or has a health emergency. That’s okay, you have access to the customizable Iris System.

You get a couple of motion sensors to place around the home in strategic locations. Then you add a few door/window sensors and place them on the medicine cabinet doors and kitchen cabinet doors to make sure that not only is Mom moving around her home but she’s taking her medicine and making food for herself.

All of this is monitored by a mobile app that unobtrusively lets you know when the system is activated at any time you want. Your mother gets her much-cherished independence and you get the peace of mind knowing that she is okay and doing well each day, throughout the day.

This is just one example of how the Lowe’s Iris Home System customers are using creative and unique solutions using common home monitoring and safety tools. Check out the whole video below for more about this amazing story and learn how others help their loved ones in interesting and unique ways.

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Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly which can be found at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic, and health journalist.

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CES 2016 Wrap Up Show & TPN Picks

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

The TPN Team present their 2016 TPN Picks to 10 companies that we felt had the best new products at CES 2016. Off the 1000’s of companies booths we walked by these 10 where tops by our team.

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