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The Haus is closing its doors

The Haus is closing its doors

Some sad news from the Home Automation market… After not even one year of opening its doors, the home automation university “The Haus” based in Denver is closing its doors for good. The company assets are being auctioned online.

The company Xssentials offering their Ebode home automation solution started “The Haus” at the end of 2015. When I visited them in March 2016, they had just opened their doors to integrators and dealers of home automation systems. Top of the line classrooms, wide open spaces, top notch kitchen and food areas, etc did provide the right atmosphere.

The Haus specialized in training companies on home automation equipment using Savant’s home automation system in conjunction with Sonos speakers, Nest Thermostats and Audio/Video solution for Home Theaters. They did not offer any other smart home controller or hubs as part of their training and their focus was more on training the companies on the market, selling techniques, forecast and lead generation.

Savant is not a market leader in home automation and with their limited set of functionality compared to all the other vendors, the adoption from customers of Savant was most likely very limited. Having talked to a couple of people, who had been approached by integrators, the main focus of those integrators was to sell the ease of use of the Savant system. The most common question I received asking me for my personal opinion and advice, was about comparing Savant with the Logitech Harmony system.

Logitech’s Harmony system with different remote controls and their new POP home switch offering is very similar to Savant’s system. The Logitech system supports A/V components, Sonos speakers and Philips Hue bulbs. The Savant system also offers Lamp modules for $99 in addition to the items listed before. Those modules are proprietary light switches from Savant and given that those are simple WiFi controlled on/off switches, people are questioning the value compared to other remote controlled light switches talking Z-wave or Zigbee.

In either case both of those solutions are considered smart home solutions, but their range of functionality is very limited and their interoperability with other protocols and/or vendors and/or devices is non-existent or extremely limited.

The POP system is very comparable to the new Fibaro “Button” product enabling one smart skill e.g. turn lights on, start playing Sonos music, etc. Neither the Savant system or the Logitech Harmony system are offering whole house home automation. They do offer a great consolidation of multiple remotes especially with surround systems and having the option to turn lights on/off and play Sonos music are nice, but is this a true smart home? At least the Comcast XR11 remote has a sophisticated voice recognition implementation.

Rather than speculating, facts are that “The Haus” is closing its doors. Not enough demand or interest, a portfolio which wasn’t deep enough, their company added value wasn’t high enough compared to the investment required in terms of time and/or money and many other ideas come to mind. Regardless of all those ideas, one home automation company is closing its doors and that is sad.

I wish all “The Haus” members the best going forward and hopefully other opportunities will come up, allowing those members to continue having a career in the Home Automation market, which is still a massively booming market.

Ecobee3 Lite

Ecobee3 Lite

Ecobee released a new product – the Ecobee 3 lite. Unlike other competitors, where they release a gen 2 or gen 3 product, Ecobee has downsized the features for households which don’t need all the fancy features allowing them to bring the price down significantly.

In order to allow a lower price point features like the remote sensors, GEO fencing, etc had to go. All the main features of a smart thermostat are still there with the same look and feel and even the interface is the same.

If you don’t need the follow me feature using the remote sensors or if your HVAC system doesn’t provide the option to heat certain parts of your house separately, then you don’t need the Ecobee 3 and you have the option now to go with the Ecobee 3 lite. Remote sensors cannot be added later to the Ecobee 3 lite, but having the option now to downsize the price for features you really need is convenient and helps with your budget.

The Ecobee 3 comes at $249 while the new Ecobee 3 lite has a price point now of $169. This price difference is not insignificant. Time will tell, how many households require the higher feature rich model especially as all the other features are still there e.g. IFTT, support for Amazon Alexa Echo, Echo dot, IFTTT, Samsung, Wink, Vera, etc integration for home automation.

CEDIA 2016 Part1

CEDIA 2016 Part1

Fibaro Portfolio

Water leak, smoke detector, motion sensors, dimmers, the buttons, swipe and wall plugs.

Fibaro Hubs

Fibaro Home Center 2 and Fibaro Home Center Light

Fibaro Light Controller

The new Fibaro Light controller hub launching in October 2016!

Fibaro Systems from Poland has officially launched their controller hub in US. The distributor homecontrols.com is reselling the Fibaro Home Center 2 hub and will soon be offering the new upcoming Fibaro Home Center Light controller. I was able to get pictures of that new mini hub at the Cedia conference.

The new Fibaro Home Center Lite (HCL) is a complete Z-Wave home automation gateway. Don’t let its tiny size fool you – Home Center Lite is all you need to run your entire home – communicating with sensors, activating lights, appliances and heating, and even alerting you if it detects threats such as fire, flood or break-in. The Fibaro HCL is tiny – measuring just 90 x 90 x 33mm. It uses a new ARM Cortex-A8 processor to deliver high-speed performance while using very little power. HCL is the smallest Z-Wave controller available and still packs a punch big enough to manage any Z-Wave system with up to 230 devices.

The differences between Fibaro Z-Wave Controllers – HC2 and HCL The Fibaro Home Center Lite (HCL) is a very powerful Z-Wave controller packed into a tiny size. It is capable of running your entire home, but does have some import ant differences compared to the Home Center 2 (HC2). The main differences between the Fibaro HCL and the HC2 are:

Plastic casing (HC2’s has an Alloy Case)

  • No LUA
  • No LiLi
  • No VoIP
  • No Satel integration

Also notable are the Fibaro swipe product line and their latest button product line. Swipe has been available in US for some time now and there are plenty of use cases especially the hidden implementation ones, which did create a lot of attention. The button is a nice product line for places, where a physical switch or a physical scene controller doesn’t exist.

Fibaro Button
Fibaro Doorbell

Last but not least Fibaro showcased their prototype of their doorbell aka intercom system at the Cedia conference. The size of their doorbell was a little bit bigger than Skybell and their software had some minor glitches but it was working well for a prototype. No details were shared about features and functions e.g. ONVIF support, Area masking, cloud recording, etc.

Ring Doorbell

Skybell

August Doorbell

Yale Doorbell

Last but not least Fibaro showcased their prototype of their doorbell aka intercom system at the Cedia conference. The size of their doorbell was a little bit bigger than Skybell and their software had some minor glitches but it was working well for a prototype. No details were shared about features and functions e.g. ONVIF support, Area masking, cloud recording, etc.

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Ring Doorbell

Ring Doorbell showcased their 3 models. The standard Ring, their Pro version and their flush mount doorbell.

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Skybell

Skybell showcased their new slim look which reminds everybody of the Ring Pro from a Look & Fell perspective.

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August Doorbell

August showcased their doorbell in conjunction with their door locks and their integration and collaboration between their product lines.

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Yale Doorbell

Yale showcased their different approach by using the peephole of the door for a doorbell system. Optional Z-wave modules for this doorbell will ship approx. in November 2016.

Nest Products

Nest showcased their product lines which consisted of their Nest Gen 3 Thermostat, their Nest Smoke detector and their Nest cameras. Their latest product line is their outdoor camera, which is only available with a hardwired connection.

Sonos Products

Sonos showcased their existing product lines with no new products.

A different company showcased an enclosure for in-wall installs for Sonos speakers, where the enclosure was almost as expensive as the speaker itself.

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