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Nature Remo launched in USA on September 23rd 2020

Nature Remo launched in USA on September 23rd 2020

On September 23rd 2020 the company Nature Remo launched their new smart home device Nature Remo 3. 

The company Nature has a vision to create IoT products to realize and accelerate the distributed clean energy transition. They achieve this through driving a sustainable coexistence with nature through technology.

The company was founded in 2014 in Boston USA and raised $300k in 2016 and $1 million dollars in 2018 and $5 million in 2019.

The Nature Remo 3 comes in two version of hardware.

 

You can control any product with an infrared remote control regardless of manufacturer, model number, or year.

You can also voice control those devices using Amazon Alexa or Google Home or Apple Homepod.

The goal is to offer you a smart remote that lets you control your air-conditioner, TV, lights, and other appliances through your smart phone and smart speaker.

You download the app from the Google Play store or Apple Store, you plug in the Nature Remo 3 device and join your WiFi, then you register your account and device and then you register your appliance. That’s it. 

 

New Philips Hue LED multi-color strips for a hefty new price

New Philips Hue LED multi-color strips for a hefty new price

Philips announced today a series of new products ranging from new light strips, Hue Iris, new low-cost white bulbs, etc. 

The new Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip is designed to integrate seemlessly with the Philie Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. Any HDMI device will be able to be connected to the new light strip.

This new light strip comes in three lengths, as it was built with TV sets in mind and you will be able to order it in 55 inch, 65 inch and 75 inch.

The previous light strips were limited to a single color and did not support multi-color, which has now been addressed with individually addressable LEDs to provide quote “immerse home theater experience”.

You will be able to order this light strip on October 16th 2020 for a price of $199. Yes, this is correct. Philips is asking for $200 for the 55 inch version, $220 for the 65 inch and $240 for the 75 inch version. This is more than twice the price of the previous light strip version resulting in a 250% price increase. 

I would like to point out that LIFX has been offering multi-color light strips for under $100 for over 4 years now. But it doesn’t stop there. You will have to pay another $230 for the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box bringing your total price to $430. 

Let’s compare the new light strip with the cheapest version of strip you can find today on Amazon. There are hundreds of TV backlight LED products on Amazon.

The first one I could find supporting music sync without having to use an App on your phone or a remote to run scenes and has a built-in microphone to sync with the TV sound is the one on the right. It is currently priced at $26.59. This is 6.2% of the price for the Hue Strip and HDMI sync box combined.

The lighting experience is certainly not the same as they don’t come with individual addressable LEDs, so if you care about different fading colors at the same time behind the TV, then you could invest $89,99 for the LIFX Z TV strip, which is 21% in comparison to Philips.

The downside with LIFX Z TV strip is that you will have to use an app on your phone, a raspberry PI running proxy software, or a mac pc running the proxy software to synchronize with the sound of the TV.

Granted, Philips has the most elegant solution with the HDMI sync box and no sound interference from other sources and sound sync in real-time, but that price is simply too high.

Let’s compare value. On the left side you see my installation of 64 feet 16 million colors LED strip with remote control, built-in microphone on the switch and app control on your phone. This setup will cost you on Amazon $48,59. Yes, 64 feet of LEDs for less than $50 and it works in conjunction with your TV sound as long as you have no other sound interference in the room. 

It does not offer the individual addressable LED sections to provide multi-color fading, so you can only face from one color into the other or when the sound changes the colors fade and change, but it is always one color for the strip and in different brightness depending on your sound.

 With that said, the new Philips Hue strip has certainly benefits compared to all the other options outlined here, but the price is not justified. Let’s see how the market will adopt those new LED strips from Hue. Time will tell.

LIFX plans to attack Corona Virus Covid-19 with new “LIFX clean” bulbs

LIFX plans to attack Corona Virus Covid-19 with new “LIFX clean” bulbs

LIFX is planning to help the fight against Corona Virus Covid-19. Buddy Technologies, the mother company of LIFX announced their latest innovation by the name of “LIFX clean”. Those new bulbs are going to be released in Australia, New Zealand and Europe once they passed all safety and regulatory testing. This new product is also already in the Covid-19 testing queue. 

According to LIFX this new bulb is the “world’s first disinfecting anti-bacterial smart light”. The bulb will disinfect surfaces and surrounding air using High Energy Visibile (HEV) light. 

The first phase is scheduled for the 4th quarter of 2020. The second phase will be the launch in USA and Canada, which requires to pass different safety and regulatory requirements. 

With that said, the new bulbs will be priced at $99,99 Australian dollar, so we can expect a similar price range for US. 

Immediate concerns were raised about safety for humans and pets, the potential effects on skin or increasing the risk of cancer, potential impact on human or animal eyes, etc. Buddy Technologies addressed the Australian Share Market with a letter stating:

  • LiFX Clean is a fully functional white + colour smart light that also uses germicidal antibacterial light to disinfect surfaces and surrounding air
  • In a smart lighting world-first, by using 405 nanometre High Energy Visible (HEV) light that is safe for humans, pets and plants, LiFX Clean offers an effortless way to maximise the cleanliness of home environments
  • LiFX Clean has passed efficacy testing in laboratory testing conducted by the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology, as well as IEC and safety testing at UL Verification Services in Guangzhou
  • Whilst LIFX Clean is currently in the testing queue for efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which can cause the COVID-19 disease), no claim is currently being made that the product is effective in an antiviral capacity of any kind, including on SARS-CoV-2
  • Priced at A$99.99 / US$69.99 / CA$79.99 / €69.99 / £59.99, LIFX Clean is an affordable and accessible new anti-bacterial product, providing broad access to consumers in a time of enormous demand for cleaning products. It is expected to be released to the market in calendar Q4.

In summary… it is great to see that a company is thinking outside the box trying to help with the Corona Virus Covid-19 pandemic. Yes, a lot of tests have to be completed and certainly long-term studies will follow, but during desparate times need any help we can get.

Instead of cleaning all surfaces multiple times per day, having the light bulbs do the work for us and reducing our exposure to harsh chemicals is a good thing. There are so many other use cases for those bulbs ranging from public restrooms, public baths, movie theaters, etc using those bulbs with or without humans in the room.

A potential impact on plants has also been raised by various people and so far there is no indication of any impact on plants, but again time and testing will tell. Go LIFX and fight all bacteria!

 

 

 

LaunderPal is a smart laundry basket that takes care of your clothes and helps you manage them

LaunderPal is a smart laundry basket that takes care of your clothes and helps you manage them

An interesting idea did not get any traction. This kickstarter project didn’t get the funding needed and will probably never see the light. With that said, here are the highlights for people interested.

LaunderPal is the Smart Home Laundry Basket that recognize clothes by RFID tags and bring useful data on mobile application and server database. The idea of using washable RFID chips in combination with a laundry basked with a built-in RFID reader resulted in LaunderPal. 

The benefits outlined by the creators:

– Help you manage your clothes by indicating which clothes are inside the basket and which are not.  

– Prevent clothes from shrinking, stretching, dye bleeding, color fading, etc. by suggesting proper washing program for each clothing stack according to their Care Tag.  

– Make sure you always have clean clothes available.  

The idea of putting RFID chips on every single clothing is putting everybody off instantly. A lot of work up front to make this product functional.

The idea of the mobile app is nothing new but having to open the app, read which clothing doesn’t go with which other clothing and then finding that particular clothing in the basket is another time consuming task nobody wants to tackle. 

The idea of offering smart scan of clothing tags is a good one actually. Questionable but good. Being able to take a picture and the application knows instantly what and what is not ok with that particular clothing.

With that said, I doubt that anybody will open the app and check if that clothing piece can be put into the dryer or not. That person will probably check the label on the clothing itself.

Intesting idea of a product, but too much work for the benefits provided hence no funding goal achieved. Maybe some day someone will revolutionize this idea and bring it to the next level and to the market. 

Light-Motion combination switch

Light-Motion combination switch

GE/Jasco released a new Z-wave certified switch in Dec 2016, which was made available on Amazon in April 2017. There was no press release or announcement and many people don’t even know that such a switch even exists hence my blog posting here.

The smart hub community quickly jumped on that in Feb 2017 requesting support and given the wide support of GE switches across many smart home hubs, this switch has been integrated rather quickly (Pulse, Trane, Wink, Nexia, Honeywell, HomeSeer, Smart Security, Harmony, Vera, Smartthings and Connect).

What’s the use case for this switch? Before this switch was released you could buy a Z-wave light switch (on/off or dimmer) and then you had to buy a motion sensor separately. As an example you would install this switch in your bathroom/toilet room and then you had to install a motion sensor somewhere in the same room.

Unless you have a power outlet close and a clunky power supply in that outlet to power your motion sensor, you would have to buy a battery operated Z-wave motion sensor or use a USB outlet and wire the motion sensor with a USB cable. Most people went with battery operated motion sensors which have a standard of 4 min timeout setting to preserver battery life.

This setup required you to purchase the light switch and the motion sensor separately which costs anywhere from $35 to $45 for the switch and $20 to $35 for the motion sensor for a total of $55 to $80 dollars.The new GE26933 combination switch is selling for $55 dollars which is a very reasonable price for a combination of both.

The beauty of having such a combination switch is that the motion sensor is not battery operated and the hassle with wakeup and timeout settings doesn’t apply. As a result you can configure this switch on a very granular level and you don’t have to worry about wires coming from your motion sensor to your outlet trying to have a permanently powered motion sensor like the GE 6 in 1 sensor, which is a great product by itself.

You have a single switch combining motion and light switch into one device. In addition it is a dimmer so you can adjust the brightness above and below the actual motion window of the switch. This switch also supports “Last level” which means when you use the dimming function to lower the brightness to e.g. 50% the next time you power on those lights, it will be at 50%.

This switch comes with a variety of options you can configure via Z-wave settings. You have 19 parameter settings you can use to adjust this switch ranging from Timeout duration e.g. 5 min (default) to 30 min or no timeout, motion sensitivity from high to low with medium being the default, Light sensing on or off to the most important parameter which is operation mode with manual, vacancy or occupancy. You can find more details for those parameters here https://products.z-wavealliance.org/products/2108/configs

For smart home hub integration you switch to manual and your smart home hub will detect 2 Z-wave devices. The actual light switch and the motion sensor enabling you to create now scenes or events based on those devices or other devices from your smart home hub.

 

Most bathroom/toilet rooms have a fan switch right next to the light switch. You can now configure an event where you specify things like

if motion detected

turn on lights and turn on fan

for 5 minutes

and then turn off lights and fan

When you integrate your GE26933 switch into your smart hub system make sure to properly save those parameters e.g. Homeseer settings on the picture. Even before you set those parameters your smart hub system should find 2 devices (switch and motion) but motion will not change status as the default parameter setting for this switch is occupancy with 5 minutes.

The other benefit of having a permanently powered motion sensor is not having to deal with any wakeup and timeout values. You can go as low as 1 minute intervals for this light switch. If your switch is facing the restroom toilet with a setting of 1 minute unless the person sitting on the toilet doesn’t move for 60 seconds, will reset the timeout value continuously but again this is adjustable up to 30 min as needed.

In summary, many smart home owners were requesting for years a combination switch from the vendors and GE finally delivered and hopefully more vendors will follow. This switch can be used in many use cases ranging from garage lighting leveraging the daylight sensor to restrooms with no light or window allowing you to configure your room and lighting what fits your needs the best.

The price is very reasonable and totally justifies switching from two separate devices to a single device with the additional benefit of not having to deal with batteries and wires and two separate devices. Great addition to the Z-wave family of light switches from GE and I hope my blog post sparked some ideas for you on how to improve your smart home even further. Personally I already installed two of those at my home and I am going to add more.

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