Meet Aros, the first large smart appliance from Quirky and GE

GE raised eyebrows last year when they poured $30 million into Quirky, a New York-based start up that serves as a kind of crowdsourced think tank for product ideas. Perhaps more important than the money, though, was that GE granted Quirky's field of thinkers and inventors access to its huge stash of industrial patents, essentially asking them to do whatever they could with them.

Now, that strategy looks ready to bear fruit, as Quirky and GE have announced the launch of Aros, an air conditioner designed specifically for the smart home. Similar to the Nest Learning Thermostat, Aros promises … Read more

Insteon home automation adds unofficial Nest support

After releasing an app update on Monday, Insteon announced this week that its home automation system is now compatible with the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. Owners of the Insteon Hub will be able to monitor and control the basic functions of their Nest directly from the Insteon app, along with any motion detectors, LED lights, or other smart-home gadgets they've integrated into their systems.

Insteon isn't the first system to claim compatibility with the Nest. In September, Nest announced plans for a partner-based developer program, naming the high-end automation network Control4 as partner No. 1. Other systems, like … Read more

The curse of the crowdfunded lock: Goji delayed until June

Citing manufacturing "adjustments," the team behind the Goji smart lock told the backers of their successful Indiegogo campaign today that there would be a three-month shipping delay. The announcement pushes the Goji's expected release date into June, and marks the second such delay for the smart deadbolt. The first came three months ago, and pushed the product's arrival back from December 2013 to March of this year.

Goji CEO Gabriel Bestard-Ribas worked to reassure his backers in an update posted on Indiegogo today. "We are 100% committed to sending you a top-quality product -- the … Read more

AT&T's Digital Life finds its way into four new markets

AT&T unveiled its Digital Life home security and automation service back in 2013. At that time it was available in just 15 US cities, but AT&T has been steadily introducing its product to new markets. Today, AT&T announced that Digital Life will make its way to Albany, N.Y.; Dayton, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Wichita, Kan., on Friday, February 21, which will bump the tally up to 63 markets.

Kevin Petersen, president of Digital Life, Inc., comments on this expansion in the official press release: "This year is going to be exciting … Read more

Belkin WeMo smart home networks in danger of hacks

Smart home networks are rapidly gaining popularity, but some security experts worry that not enough encryption controls are coming with the products.

Security firm IOActive released an advisory (PDF) on Tuesday saying more than half a million Belkin WeMo devices are susceptible to widespread hacks. The firm uncovered several vulnerabilities in these devices, which would let hackers gain access to home networks and remotely control Internet-connected appliances.

The hacks could range from a mean-spirited prank to actually posing a danger. For example, they could be as benign as turning someone's house lights on-and-off to something dangerous like getting a … Read more

Launch Center Pro requires fewer steps for most common actions

Are you tired of the repetitive tap dance that completing simple tasks on your iPhone sometimes requires? If so, then Launch Center Pro may just be the best app you've probably never heard about.

What it does is let iOS users automate repetitive tasks such as "send an e-mail to my boss," and other common actions that only require a tap of your finger. No, it's not glamorous, but it simplifies the actions you do most, and in the process, saves you a ton of time. At $4.99, Launch Center Pro is expensive, but once … Read more

Cree gets into the lighting control game with SmartCast

Cree announced their new SmartCast Technology today, officially moving the the LED manufacturer into the world of lighting controls, a place we've already seen brands such as Philips and TCP venture. With lighting fixtures equipped with integrated motion sensors and claims of a remarkably simple installation process, Cree is hoping to accelerate LED adoption by offering controls that "cut through the complexity" of automated lighting.

So far, Cree is only extending SmartCast to commercial and industrial troffers, luminaries, and downlights -- but a simplified approach to lighting controls seems like a smart idea for residential use, too, … Read more

Can Staples Connect bring order to the smart-home universe?

There's little doubt that the popularity of "smart home" products is surging. Connected devices both large and small were everywhere at CES this year, and with Google buying Nest recently, it's clear that the titans of tech are paying attention.

But with all of these new devices comes a Babel-esque smattering of networking protocols -- the "languages" they use to receive and transmit data. Some speak to your router over Wi-Fi, others speak to your tablet over Bluetooth. Kwikset, Yale and Schlage make smart deadbolts that relay information using Z-Wave, while Philips Hue bulbsRead more

IFTTT adds new environmental triggers with Netatmo channel

You can go ahead and add temperature, humidity, noise, and even carbon dioxide levels to the ever-growing list of IFTTT triggers, as the service has announced a new Netatmo channel designed especially for the Netatmo Weather Station, a two-piece home monitoring set capable of tracking environmental changes both inside and outside of your home.

IFTTT users have thus far only been able to craft environment-based recipes using the "Weather" channel, which uses forecasts, temperatures, humidity levels, and sunrise/sunset times for their region. The Netatmo channel will take things one step further by providing environmental triggers specific not … Read more

Friday Poll: What brought the heat at CES 2014?

CES 2014 is winding down, and it's been full of strange moments, celebrity appearances, and an unrelenting march of new Ultra HD and/or curved televisions.

Over the course of the week, some clear trends emerged at this annual tech takeover of Las Vegas -- some we expected, while others were a bit more surprising. Wearable technologies like new smartwatches and activity trackers dominated the show (they must be able to multiply as quickly as rabbits... or Bluetooth speakers, which appeared this year with a level of ubiquity previously met only by iPhone cases).

Unsurprisingly, 4K televisions could also … Read more