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Z-Wave Alliance

Smarter consumers, smarter homes

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Consumers see more clearly how smart home devices can directly benefit their lives, and are planning to purchase more smart home devices in the future, according to a consumer survey commissioned by PlumChoice Inc., a provider of premium technical services for IoT and cloud brands, and the Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of leading global companies deploying Z-Wave.

According to this second annual consumer benchmark survey, titled, “2016: Year of the Smart Device,” 52 percent of all respondents plan to buy a smart device in the next two years, and of those who own smart devices, 84 percent said they may make another smart purchase in the next two years

“It’s clear from our data that not only has the smart home arrived, but the benefits of adding connectivity to the things in our home are finally being realized,” Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance, said in the announcement. “It’s exciting to finally see consumers understanding the value of connecting multiple devices together and to see categories like smart security, thermostats and safety grow year over year.”

The report helps device makers and their partners understand current connected and smart home device ownership, interest in future purchases and perceived smart home device benefits. In addition, it outlines the services that brands can tie to these products to drive more revenue and consumer loyalty, and highlights the need for companies to provide consumers a user experience that allows their smart home devices to fit easily into their lives.

With the majority of consumers reporting owning a total of four to six smart home devices (61 percent having interconnected some of those devices), interoperability becomes a key factor as consumers add more connected devices, according to the report.
   
“The smart home industry is thriving, and many companies are recognizing that their success is dependent on a seamless consumer user experience,” Noelani McGadden, vice president of IoT at PlumChoice, said in the press release. “Last year was a pivotal year for the smart home industry, with the number of people who own a smart device increasing by a staggering 259 percent. As smart home device adoption continues to grow, brands must cater to consumers who are expecting support services as part of their purchase, and at the very least provide installation support.”

According to the report, smart appliances (smart refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc.) and smart smoke detectors are among the smart home products with the highest year-over-year growth, with 267 percent and 250 percent respectively
   
All types of services and support expected from brands increased since 2015, with installation support listed as a top need at 68 percent, the report found.

The survey also examined consumer behavior—including purchase drivers and rate of adoption—of homeowners compared to renters, along with comparisons between age, gender and current device owners.

To see the full report, click here.

The future of IoT: Taming security's wild west

TechSec 2017 panel discusses regulation and standardization in the Internet of Things
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03/29/2017

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—A lot is being done when it comes to ensuring that IoT devices are cybersecure, integrated and valuable to end users. Five panelists at a TechSec Solutions session explored exactly what the industry is doing to rein in the technology.

Smart home presence up at CES 2017

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LAS VEGAS—With the 2017 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show wrapping up on Sunday, it is always fun to see what technology trends are coming out of the show and how these will influence the security industry.

Over the past few years, the smart or connected home has made its way into the fabric of the show, growing in size and presence each year. Many prominent companies in the industry made big announcements at the show this year, including some notable unveils from ADT, Vivint, Alarm.com, Nortek Security & Control, Bosch, and Z-Wave Alliance, which featured its Z-Wave Experience Smart House demo area.

Vivint CMO Jeff Lyman told Security Systems News, “The show was marvelous for us—we doubled the size of our presence there this year having learned a lot from doing it last year for the first time in 2016. We were really pleased with how the show turned out. There is a large smart-home presence at CES, and it is a growing section of the show.”

Lyman also talked about the company’s big announcements at CES, most notably Vivint Sky, the company’s new smart home assistant that uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to manage all of the devices in a connected home. Vivint Smart Home also announced a new Flex Pay option with Citizens Bank, as well as partnerships with Airbnb and Vivint Solar.

Steve Connor, director of product marketing for Nortek Security & Control, like Lyman, pointed to the growth of the smart home at CES, telling SSN, “The Smart Home section had solid traffic and this time we saw a lot of our dealers, which was nice, and different from past years. The show went very well for us and we had some big announcements.”

Most notably, Nortek Security & Control unveiled its new 2GIG Vario Hybrid Security System, which Connor said is the culmination of “a lot of hard work and innovation.” The complete Vario system consists of a security control panel with on-board hardwire inputs and outputs, which can add wireless capabilities to take advantage of 2GIG’s existing wireless solutions. [Note: An article on this is coming soon, so check back on the site over the next few days for my full interview with Connor.]

Another top provider on the residential side, ADT, made a big splash at CES this year as well, making several announcements including expansions to its Canopy platform, which brings the company’s professional monitoring to various smart device partners in an on-demand offering, as well as new integration partners and ADT Anywhere. ADT also announced that its Canopy offering will be available with the launch of LG’s Smart Security product—an all-in-one security and home automation device with video capabilities. Also at CES, ADT announced integrations with Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3 smart watches.

CES also offered glimpses at the future, with self-driving and autonomous cars, including one unveiled by Bosch with biometric capability, as well as drones and robotic technology as part of an overall security system solution.

Speaking of drones at CES, Alarm.com announced at the show plans to develop autonomous, video-enabled drone applications to extend the capabilities of smart home and business security systems. Alarm.com’s multi-sensor awareness and property intelligence, together with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform, will deploy drones to investigate unexpected activity. The drones will be designed to autonomously navigate through the property and provide a high-resolution video feed to the property owner. Alarm.com also unveiled at CES its Insights Engine, a multi-sensor learning capability that recognizes and proactively responds to unexpected activity around a property.

I look forward to speaking with Alarm.com's chief product officer Dan Kerzner later this week to get more on this interesting development for the company.

And while we are on the topic of new and emerging technologies, I would be remiss if I did not get in a shameless plug for SSN’s TechSec Solutions show, where we will be looking at how to leverage new technology over a day and a half of educational sessions, networking and product displays. Click here to register and get the early bird discount!

Hope to see you at TechSec in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 27-28!
 

Z-Wave Alliance aims to secure IoT

 - 
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of global companies deploying the Z-Wave smart home standard, is adding a security requirement to its long-standing interoperability certification.

According to Mitchell Klein, Z-Wave Alliance executive director, the Alliance Board of Directors voted to mandate all devices receiving Z-Wave Certification after April 2nd, 2017 to include the new advanced Security 2 (S2) framework, an important addition to the Alliance’s certification program that will require manufacturers to adopt a stronger level of IoT security.

“The recent spate of hackings and DDoS and other things going on are more or less happy coincidences and not motivation on our part, and the reason I put it that way is because something as complex as the S2 Security protocol that we’ve established has been in development for more than four years,” Klein told Security Systems News. "No one can afford to sit on their hands and wait—consumers deserve IoT devices in their home to have the strongest levels of security possible. IoT smart home technologies that don't act will be left behind."

Klein said that the update is backwards compatible, so any devices that are running on the current chip sets can be firmware updated to include S2 without having to make any hardware changes, and the updates can be pushed.

“The reason why we moved forward with it is because we wanted to ensure that as we got more and more complex devices, and more and more complex systems, that security becomes a base part of all devices and everything in the system,” Klein explained. “In order to achieve that, we had to take it up a level and make sure that it is going to run on the current chip set, so that our members don’t have to go and change or redesign hardware.”

Z-Wave's S2 framework was developed in conjunction with cybersecurity hacking experts, giving the already secure Z-Wave devices new levels of impenetrability, according to Klein. “We are so confident that this is hack proof, that we actually post the S2 protocol on the website and it is publically available,” he said.

Klein said that by securing communication both locally for home-based devices and in the hub or gateway for cloud functions, S2 also completely removes the risk of devices being hacked while they are included in the network. By using a QR or pin-code on the device itself the devices are uniquely authenticated to the network as well. Common hacks such as man in the middle and brute force are "virtually powerless" against the S2 framework through the implementation of the industry-wide accepted secure key exchange using Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH), he said.

Finally, Z-Wave also strengthened its cloud communication, enabling the tunneling of all Z-Wave over IP (Z/IP) traffic through a secure TLS 1.1 tunnel, removing vulnerability.

By changing the way security is implemented, Klein said that there are a number of improvements. “You will find that the response time from things like door locks, which actually had to require authentication, is much quicker, and with much less overhead (single exchange as opposed to a back and forth exchange),” he said.

For 2017, from a technology perspective, Klein said there will be discussions about a new generation Z-Wave chip. “We have a lot of things up our sleeve on what that is going to do and I think that is going to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces,” he said.

Z-Wave Alliance to include integrators

End users will soon be able to find certified installers through Alliance
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09/02/2015

FREMONT, Calif.—Mitchell Klein, the new executive director for the Z-Wave Alliance, said the alliance is broadening its scope to include integrators and installers.

Got design in mind?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

You’ve heard the old real estate sales mantra: “Location, location, location.” For many in the residential security industry today, the new mantra is “Design, design, design.” 

At ISC West this year I met with a long list of security pros, from manufacturers to dealers to providers, most of whom proclaimed that on top of tech advancements their equipment was made “to look good.” 

They’re right. Their designs are looking good.

Panels, switches, sensors and more are sleek with a European-design feel. They will be less than obtrusive when mounted on a wall. No more huge black or brown boxes in the front foyer—these blend in. 

The equipment, mostly white and thin, reminded me of the first, very early, iBook I owned. So pretty and neat, small and clean. That was a number of years ago, and my iBook eventually met its demise, but I still remember it fondly, mostly for how it looked in comparison to other bulky laptops of the day. 

“This is the year of industrial design,” Avi Rosenthal, board member of the Z-Wave Alliance and VP of security and control for Nortek, told me early on at the Las Vegas show.  His comments resonated as I visited other booths after that. 

For homeowners, form is equally as important as function for all products, he and others said.

“It’s the ‘wife-acceptance’ factor. She’s the one who decorates, so the devices must look cool on the wall,” Rosenthal said.

Who wants something big, dark and ugly hitched to the wall just inside their front door? Not me. Neither did former ADT exec Christopher Carney when deciding on the look of his new Abode home resi system.

The pursuit of aesthecially pleasing design extended into the ISC West booths themselves this year. Honeywell, for example, had all of its products—from fire to resi—on interactive display in one big, nicely appointed space—think of an Apple store. 

Nortek had a new, interactive booth, too, with each of its sister companies representing myriad slick-looking products. 

How big a deal is this whole aesthetics thing to you and your companies? Are you feeling the need to adapt to the latest trends in home décor? Are you hearing this from your customers? 

If your products are less than pretty, you might want to consider how good design might add to your bottom line.

Z-Wave Alliance offers its own brand of ‘Shark Tank’

 - 
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Z-Wave Alliance, the consortium of companies deploying Z-Wave’s wireless control products and services, has launched Z-Wave Labs, a competition to support and provide incentive for IofT innovation on the Z-Wave platform.

Winners—one chosen each month for 12 months—will receive alliance membership and IofT development kits.

“We’ve all watched ‘Shark Tank,’ ” Avi Rosenthal, an alliance board member and VP of security and control for Nortek, said in an interview with Security Systems News. The logical question was “how do we do a Shark Tank for Z-Wave,” Rosenthal said.

The group wants to hear from “passionate” start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to bring Z-Wave products to market, he said.

“The beauty of this is that there are no bounds. People have wonderful imaginations,” Rosenthal said.

The alliance will provide no financial help, but “we will assist them, we will mentor them. It’s a great opportunity for them within the alliance. We will recognize them and give them guidance. It’s like when your little brother starts college,” Rosenthal said.

According to the alliance, the competition is open to private companies of any size and to individuals 18 and older as of March 1 of this year who submit their Z-Wave product innovation through an online application. Each entrant must submit an application before the 15th of each month in order be considered for that month's contest. Applications can be for products in any IoT related industry, including residential, commercial, automotive, healthcare, energy, security and aging-in-place.

Judges will choose winners based on innovation, functionality, engineering and design style, ingenuity, breadth of applicability marketability and ease of use. Winners will be notified and announced at the end of every month and featured on the Z-Wave Labs  website and on social media. 

Each winner will receive access to the Z-Wave IoT 500 series development kits from Sigma Designs and a year of alliance membership, which provides the opportunity to

participate in alliance trade shows, working groups, PR and marketing opportunities and other related activities. Winners will be paired with mentors from the Z-Wave community in their related industry to provide technical and marketing and business development support.

Go here to learn more about Z-Wave Labs, apply for the competition and read frequently asked questions.

 

 

 

Z-Wave Alliance aims for big debut at big show

Member pavilion at ISC West to feature demo from atop Mount Everest
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04/08/2015

CARLSBAD, Calif.—The Z-Wave Alliance made its presence known at ISC West in a big way this year—including broadcasting a live home automation demonstration from the top of the world.

New options driving connected home growth

Home safety products top homeowners’ wish list of additional features
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07/17/2013

DALLAS—A survey of consumers by Parks Associates found that the more features homeowners have in a home control system, the more likely they are to recommend the system to family and friends.