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Gigaom published my report on the new Thread standard.  In it, I look at what exactly Thread is, what it means for the other standards, and what the long-term future could hold.

Below is a chart comparing Thread to the other smart home wireless standards from the report.

You can find the report here.

I’ve been doing some deep work on smart home IP and one of those areas is around trademarks. Let me say there are some interesting things you can find when searching trademark databases.

Looking around in the space, a few things become apparent:

One is that Samsung likes to get in early on markets from a paper processing perspective, even if they might not actually do much for years. 

Two is that D-Link likes really bad puns as potential trademarks such as “Home is where the smart is”.

But most interesting, to me at least, was that Dish Networks might be planning to get into smart home related health monitoring services.

Now granted - trademark filings are purposefully broad and often just a  ”eh, this might be something we’re interested in.”

But even so, I think it’s interesting that Dish has envisioned a smart home-based health monitoring business that incorporates wearables as something the might want to roll out at some point under the broader “Dish Smart Home Services”.

It should be noted that Dish filed for a number of use-cases and services associated with the term “Dish Smart Home Services” (including smart energy), so it looks like they might be planning a variety of value added smart home services of which health monitoring would be one. And again, it might be they aren’t seriously planning to enter any of these markets. 

But given the fast growth of managed smart home services, I think there’s no doubt that the company is probably at least considering how they might want to enter the smart home market.

Last week, Smart Home Ventures debuted a new smart home hub called Pēq, which will be available through Best Buy on August 31st.

I caught up with Ted Schremp, the CEO of Smart Home Ventures, to hear about the new platform.

You can learn more about Pēq at

You can subscribe to more Smart Home Shows at

Wi-Fi video cameras have been around for over a decade, but if you’re like me and you got in early on the game, your only reward for being an early adopter was a poor user experience.

Mine was one of the first D-Link network cameras, and the nicest thing I can say is that overall the experience wasn’t optimal.  One can hardly blame D-Link, however, since back then there wasn’t an easy way to archive video in the cloud or monitor what was happening back at the homestead through a smartphone.

Well, it’s 2014 and that’s all changed, because Dropcam figured out a way to harness the cloud and mobile to create the first appealing and affordable consumer Wi-Fi netcam.

The company first started developing software for third-party video cameras back in 2009, but by 2012 they’d developed their own. The company shipped the Dropcam HD (later renamed just the Dropcam) in January 2012 and it didn’t take long for them to have a hit as consumers embraced the Dropcam’s ease of use and cloud-based video archive.


The Simplicam from Arcsoft

Flash-forward a couple years, a new model (the Dropcam Pro) and a few hundred thousand units later, Dropcam had established itself as the undisputed leader in the consumer Wi-Fi video camera market by the time Google/Nest swooped them up for over half a billion dollars.


So now, with Dropcam being backed by Google/Nest and all the resources that brings with it, not to mention a strong consumer brand, this market should be be game-set-match for them, right? In other words, aspiring Wi-Fi camera makers should just pack it up and go home.

Not so fast.

Sure, often times early advantages in markets can be defendable, but time has shown that early advantages in embryonic markets are remarkably tenuous, even for large companies. Just ask 3Com (home networking), Palm (PDAs), Diamond (MP3 players) and so on: consumers have no real allegiance early in markets, particularly if a) the incumbent fails to innovate b) they inconvenience the consumer by forcing a ‘platform tax’ (Windows Media Center anyone?) onto them or c) a competitor offers a truly differentiated or price-competitive product.

While I think it’s too early to see if the first two factors plague Dropcam post-acquisition, I definitely think there’s still room in the market for innovation.

That’s good for Arcsoft, who today introduced the Simplicam Wi-Fi video camera with a feature that I think most people would find pretty valuable: it tells you if that thing it’s seeing in your house is Fido or an unexpected human visitor. That’s because the camera has facial detection capabilities, which gives the camera the ability to tell a human face from other types of objects.

And while facial detection can’t tell you who the person is (that would be facialrecognition), Arcsoft’s VP of Marketing, Caroline Tien-Spalding, told me on the Smart Home Show that facial recognition and identification features are currently in development (she also noted that moving from detection to recognition brings with its additional concerns about privacy).

The Simplicam also offers a price advantage when it comes to cloud recording. The company’s entry price point for archiving is $49 a year, which gives a consumer access to the last 24 hours of video.  Dropcam’s entry point for cloud video archiving is $99 a year.

Will it be enough? Too soon to tell, but given that we at NextMarket forecast the Wi-Fi smart video camera market to reach $466 million by 2019, there’s no doubt it’s worth taking a shot.

This article was first published in Forbes.

You can listen to our conversation with Simplicam’s Caroline Tien-Spalding below:

I had missed the news earlier this month that Dropcam had sent out an email canceling preorders for their Tabs products. 

Now we know that this happens all the time when a company gets acquired.  Future products get dropped because the acquirer a) has a competitive offering b) they realize that the product was just smoke and mirrors or c) conflicts with their broader world view in terms of technology direction.

If I had to guess why Nest cancelled Tabs, I’d say it came down to the following: 

Google/Nest believes the smart home network should be built on top of Wi-Fi/Thread. 

Thread is based on Nest’s own internally developed technology, and there’s no doubt that they want all of their products either built around Wi-Fi or Thread.  

Both are IP. Wi-Fi is the long-haul, power hungry technology that is built into nearly everything.  Thread will handle the chores for lower-power devices where Wi-Fi doesn’t necessarily work.

And Tabs were neither. Tabs use Bluetooth LE, which meant if we were playing the hugely popular kid’s game “which wireless radio doesn’t belong?”, Bluetooth LE would be the correct choice.

Tabs are possibly competitive with future Nest products.  

I think Tabs offered a unique low-cost home awareness product to the market. 

Now they’re gone, which makes me wonder, at least a little, if Nest was working on other home awareness products. Sure, they kinda already had one, in a sense, with the Nest Protect, even if the Protect as a whole-home awareness solution is kind of a force-fit. 

Bottom Line

I think the main reason for Tabs getting dropped is the product would have been an odd duck in a WI-Fi/Thread dominated product line up envisioned by Google/Nest. Google is very much a believer in product line simplification in the home these days after the early mess that was Google TV (and the continued balkanization issues around Android).

Still, I also can’t help but wonder if they have something in the pipeline around whole-home presence awareness that was competitive with Tabs.

The first Smart Home Week in Review edition of the Smart Home Show!

Mike breaks it down with his all-time favorite home automation journalist Julie Jacobson of, and Electronic House technology editor Grant Clauser!

Go to for full show notes with links to stories as well as subscribe options.

Check out and as well!

Topics/Show Notes:

-The new pēq smart home hub, how it compares, what Best Buy will do with it (link)  
-Wink got put under review by Amazon (but later taken off review) (link
-What’s the word on the street around Thread? (link)
-Let’s speculate about Apple TV becoming a smart home hub, shall we? (link)
-Is Savant going to IPO? (link)

Lots of other great stuff. Listen!

Email us at if you like this new weekly catch up on all things smart home.

Ok, say you were to rank all of the important activities of life: work, play, exercise, sleep, sex, eating.

While the results may vary by age, there’s no doubt that most of us would put partaking in food and drink as one of the most important. After all, not only is eating necessary to live and something we do three or more times a day, it’s something most of us often find immensely enjoyable.

But it’s even more than that.  Consider all the various aspects of eating: the cost, the nourishment and health impacts, the social nature of eating.

And then there is the act of cooking itself. Whether you view it as a mundane task, a hobby or an art form, it’s something many spend a considerable amount of our life doing and learning how to do.

So it’s not surprising that with food being so all-consuming (apologies) that the kitchen is fast becoming a hotbed for innovation in the Internet of Things era.  Companies big and small are starting to apply a combination of smart apps, cloud, sensors and other technologies to make the kitchen more responsive and intelligent.

Here are a few examples:

Smart Appliances

No matter what the kitchen appliance, chances are one of your favorite white goods manufacturers has released a “smart” version that is connected and controllable via an app. Samsung, LG and others have Wi-Fi connected fridges, GE has a smart stoveWhirlpool WHR +2.04% will help you remotely clean your dishes, and Crockpot and Belkin can help check in on that stew you’re making from work with a connected Crockpot.

Quantified Cooking

Combine a sensor-enabled scale with a smart app and big data and what do you get? Quantified cooking. The inextricably linked nature of cooking and health have made food choice as much about monitoring the impact on our bodies as it has about simple sustenance, which has meant the arrival of numerous new devices that help us measure and quantify exactly what we are putting in our bodies. From connected cups to smart scales, it’s possible to now know how much and of what each food item has.

Expertise In a Box

Used to be you’d have to spend a significant amount of time and resources to be able create gourmet or specialty foods from scratch at home . However, with the arrival of connected cooking devices, channeling your inner Gordon Ramsey is becoming easier by the day. Whether its app controlled sous vide cookers or smart thermometers, technology is helping to bridge the gap between average folk and a trained chef. Heck, you can even become a brewmaster in your own home nowadays with a beer brewing appliance.

So take note everyone who eats (I’m assuming that’s most of you), things are a-changing. How we cook, measuring what we eat, the cleaning and storing of our food all are about to change significantly over the next decade in the Internet of Things era. The application of mobile, cloud, sensors and other enabling technologies are being embraced today by both big appliance makers and and new disruptors who are on a mission to reinvent the kitchen.

This post was first published in Forbes.

Yesterday I had a chance to catch up with Kevin Meagher (pronounced “Mar”), the VP and General Manager of Lowe’s smart home group.

It was a wide ranging conversation in which we talked about the rollout of Iris, how consumers perceive the smart home today, and what Lowe’s has learned about how to sell smart home products at retail. 

I also asked Meagher about Bluetooth Low Energy.  The Lowe’s Iris hub does not include the technology which, to be fair, makes sense since the company spec’d the device out three years ago when BLE wasn’t really yet a thing.

Now, however, that’s changed, so I wanted to know where he and Lowe’s stood on the technology since many newer devices in categories like locks, smart bulbs and cameras are integrating Bluetooth LE.

His answer? 

"It will be in our next hub."

When, I asked?

"Late Q1 of 2015."

Asked and answered!

Another interesting part of the conversation was about the company’s agnostic approach to hardware and smart home. Meagher made it clear that they will not only sell Iris compatible hardware, but also will sell smart home gear that works with other systems, even devices compatible with Wink/Home Depot’s smart home platform.

Makes sense. The reality is that there’s a significant amount of balkanization in the space, and given that most consumers are still in the learning phase about the smart home, one of the worst things the industry could do early on is create confusion and ill will by selling lots of incompatible gear. 

This is not to say that Lowe’s having a fairly open approach to which systems it sells through retail will avoid the problem completely. I still think the smart home industry face some customer confusion and bewilderment at all the options and standards as it becomes more mass market, and the biggest irony here is the arrival of about three or four new “standards” in the last few months - all with the proclaimed aim of trying to solve the problem of too many standards - will very likely contribute to the confusion. 

Meagher and I talk about this as well.

In general, it feels to me that he and Lowe’s had a very sensible and thought-out approach to selling consumer IoT and smart home gear at retail, so I suggest you give the conversation a listen to hear what he has to say.  You can do so by clicking play below, downloading the podcast or subscribing to the Smart Home Show in iTunes

Guest: Dan Martell, CEO of Clarity.FM

This is part two in our look at the future of work. If you’re a consultant, freelancer, analyst, or someone who charges by the hour for their expertise, you should listen to this podcast. Things are changing as new marketplaces enable folks with deep expertise to connect with those who are willing to pay for it and charge down to the minute for this knowledge.

You can learn more about Clarity.FM at, you guessed it,

You can listen to more NextMarket Podcast - and find out where to subscribe -

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