Last week I went to CEDIA to see what’s what in the high-end of smart homes. This industry has been dominated by vendors like Insteon, Control4, Savant, Crestron and others that many are unfamiliar with. But along with the tried and true names in the AV space, there were names more familiar to the average consumer, such as Google, Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.
Apple’s HomeKit was a huge trend with multiple new products launching that are compatible with the Apple smart home ecosystem. For example, this iDevices switch connects to other iDevice switches so it can function as a remote or the in-wall replacement for a three-way switch.
When discussing lights, it’s worth mentioning Lutron’s new mid-level line of connected home products for installers. Lutron historically had its Radio RA 2 protocol embedded in switches that professional installers put in homes and programmed using desktop software. It also has a line of DIY switches under the Caseta brand that I use and love. They are self-installed and use an app to program them.
The new line of products called RA2 Select sits between these offerings. It has an app programming environment but requires an installer. But once the gear is in the home the homeowner can program it themselves. This is part of a big CEDIA trend, the idea of hiring an installer to come in as do-it-for-me.
We talk about that in the special edition podcast (embedded below). There are a few other things I want to highlight from the show. First, SmartThings hub software and associated radios aren’t going to be in your Samsung TV despite what the company said two years ago at CES. Instead, it will be in routers and the existing SmartThings hub.
Second, I saw the coolest smart home hub system in NEEO, which is a startup out of Cupertino. The hub has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-wave radios and the remote has the ability to recognize who is holding it by using a sensor to map an individual’s palm. The ability to recognize the person holding it means the content suggested on the remote is tailored to the individual. This is terrible if your partner is holding the remote and is a Bachelor fan.
Speaking of pretty, Savant showed off an updated version of its TrueImage feature that lets homeowners control devices in their homes by tapping on a picture. Savant has technology that can map a photo of a room to the tech that is inside it, allowing a user to touch a picture of a light to turn it on. This used to require a professional photographer and a professional installer to create, but now those with Savant can take their own photos on their phones and replicate the experience.
Tim McInerney of Savant says the TrueImage experience will come to normal consumers as soon as this year, although he was cagey on how it would work.
And yes, the Amazon Echo was everywhere.
Sonos wasn’t there. No, really. The company rented space on the floor of the trade show only to direct people to a showroom elsewhere. Installers who signed an NDA were able to glimpse the new gear Sonos is expected to launch on Oct. 4.
For more on products I saw and trends from the show, download the podcast episode I created there. And thanks to Ring who sponsored this special edition podcast.