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Fans of the Lowe’s Iris smart home platform can now automate their pet doors, garage doors, hoses and window blinds. The hose timer is actually pretty interesting, especially for folks that might not have an irrigation system or just want to water some plants while they are on vacation. The automated blinds will likely also prove popular. Lowe’s has been offering the Iris platform since 2012, and was one of the first DIY providers in this market, but this summer Home Depot has gotten aggressive offering the Wink platform and a variety of other connected devices.

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Verizon will upgrade its fiber-to-the-home service to symmetrical broadband connections at no extra charge for customers. That means customers get the same speeds when uploading data as they do downloading data (So my colleague Kevin Tofel’s speeds up above should soon match up.) Verizon says this is because people are creating a lot more content, but it’s also smart marketing. Fiber doesn’t face the same constraints as copper or cable, so symmetrical speeds are a relatively cheap way of offering customers more value, especially customers irked about the ISP’s Netflix fight. The upgrades will be phased out in the coming months.

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Good news for the people who have Hue lights and are sick of opening an app to turn them on. The Hue tap remote control that lets you press a button to control your Hue lights, hit the Apple store a bit ahead of schedule. The device costs $59.95 and I’m eager to try it out to see if it helps me keep my phone in my pocket. The tap is powered by pressing any one of the four buttons, which let you program four different scenes.

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Photo by Mr. Vi/Thinkstock

Photo by Mr. Vi/Thinkstock

Kosta Grammatis, who believes broadband is a fundamental human right that should be available to everyone, has a new startup and business model. The startup, Oluvus, buys bandwidth from an undisclosed telco and then offers free mobile phone service to the U.S. The hope is that people will shell out for extra services and fund broadband services for other parts of the world. The model reminds me of Toms Shoes, where each purchased pair of shoes pays for a pair for a needy child. Whether or not Grammatis succeeds, the Wired article detailing his efforts and failures is worth a read.

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The web-based integration service If This Then That, which is trying to tie your physical connected devices to your digital services (and everything to each other), now supports the Nest thermostat. Or rather the Nest thermostat, which is the subject of a new open developer program, now supports IFTTT. So now readers could geo-fence their Nest to their phones, change their temps based on incoming emails (your ex sends an email the temp drops 30 degrees!) or whatever other recipes you’d like. Yes, all this will likely be available via the Nest developer program, but IFTTT is a way to bring in devices that may not yet be supported.

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As part of the fanfare around the launch GE-backed Quirky launching Wink as a separate company dedicated to the connected home, GE is opening up pre-orders for a connected light bulb that will work with the Wink app and only costs $14.97. For a connected, white-light LED that is a crazy low price tag. The upcoming Belkin, LG and Philips Hue light bulbs that will be white-light only are between $30 and $40 per bulb and the colorful connected bulbs are in the $60 to $100 range. TCP has connected white bulbs that are between $27-$33 per bulb, and are on the market today. The GE lights will be in Home Depot stores in the fall, so I can’t wait to see how they work.

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