IT SEEMS EVERYTHING at CES is connected to the Internet. Not just the obvious stuff like TVs and speakers and washing machines, either. Little things. Light bulbs. Fans. The sorts of things you might grab on a whim at Home Depot or Best Buy or one-click at Amazon because, hey, that might be neat. If a clear trend has emerged from CES, it’s this: The next great wave of devices is packed with chips and transmitters and sensors that enable everything to communicate with everything else.So now what?
The emerging Internet of Things (IOT) is enabling the use of smart devices, such as Edyn, in surprisingly down-to-earth places. And because this crowdfunded smart garden gadget is now available on the shelves of one of the biggest home improvement stores in the U.S., it’s not just for early adopters anymore.One of the most entertaining parts of covering technology and gadgets is reading the press releases and pitches from startups that are convinced that they’ve built the next best thing, and which could really change the world… as long as changing the world consisted of turning your phone into a remote control for your lights, or turning your trash can into your grocery list maker.
I love Wi-Fi lightbulbs and I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it. So I wrote about it in this week’s column for the American-Statesman, which you can find in Tuesday’s print edition or on MyStatesman.com.
In the column, I talk about my sudden obsession with lighting and how it’s caused me to comb eBay for good deals on Philips Hue lights and to hit the Home Depot for Cree Connected lightbulbs. If you can get these devices at a low price, they’re great early-adopter toys that can enhance the mood of your home and offer all kinds of benefits.
Google acquired home automation company Nest for $3.2 billion last year, Samsung acquired smart home technology vendor SmartThings for a rumored $200 million, and products compatible with Apple’s HomeKit technology are scheduled to arrive this spring. Oh, and AT&T’s Digital Life home automation service is now accepting third-party applications, just months after AT&T agreed to license the platform internationally.
Google, Samsung, Apple and AT&T are just some of the bigger names in the connected home space. From Philips to Wink, from Lowe’s to Home Depot, from the Thread Group to the AllSeen Alliance, the number of companies setting their sights on the home automation sector is growing by leaps and bounds.
Cree, which makes the No. 1-selling LED bulb, is entering the “smart bulb” market.
The Durham-based LED lighting company announced Thursday that the Connected Cree LED Bulb will be available from Home Depot online and in stores later this month. The price for the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb: $14.97.
Home Depot has made some valiant efforts in the home-automation business so far, launching the Wink smart-home platform in July of this year and slowly adding to the store’s smart-home offerings.
But the category has not been a full-time job for many of the execs involved, primarily in the electrical department, where you can find Home Depot’s smart stuff.
That is changing now with the appointment of Amanda Parrilli as Home Depot’s first director of home automation, hired recently to champion the category both internally and to the masses.
Connectivity and home-automation are taking another giant step toward mass-market adoption this holiday season as Walmart, Sears and Target take aim at the nascent category.
Following big-box pioneers Lowe’s, Home Depot and Staples, the latest chain-store triumvirate is entering the category to varying degrees, with Target testing the waters, Sears rebuilding its CE business around it, and Walmart going whole-hog with a 1,700-store rollout this month.
One of the best reasons to set up a home automation system is to gain remote control of lights around the house from anywhere, near or far —so you can, for example, dim a group of lamps in the living room all at once when you’re about to watch a movie, or switch on and off different lights at different times while away to make a vacant home seem occupied. But setting up such a system can be a daunting and costly task for most people. So General Electric, the company that sold the first commercially viable light bulb invented by Thomas Edison, now is aiming to make the job as simple and inexpensive as ever —with Link, a new remote–controllable light bulb it’s selling only at Home Depot and select Target stores.
Home improvement stores, destinations for the do-it-yourself consumer, have long sold the hammers, nails and tools people need to fix up their houses.
Now large chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s are selling virtual tools — sensors, Wi-Fi enabled appliances and software — to help those customers monitor and control their homes from their smartphones.
It’s an attempt to tap into the Internet of Things — technologists’ term for a network of connected sensors, devices and objects. In its early stages, the Internet of Things attracted tech companies such as Nest, the connected-thermostat manufacturer bought by Google in January for $3.2 billion, and SmartThings, a Washington, D.C.-based startup selling home automation kits.
It’s a sign of the times and a testament to consumer demand when one of the largest home renovation stores is helping to boost clean transportation technology.
Home Depot, which is now offering 30 different types of electric vehicle (EV) charger models for sale online, up from 5 in 2011, according to a recent TreeHugger article.