homeautomation

Where To Find Tech News for IoT, Wareables, Smartphones and #yourlifeintech

The Internet is a big place and finding tech news online about #yourlifeintech isn’t hard but finding good, interesting, news sources is another story.

Maybe you want to read more about IoT, or perhaps you’re more interested wareables than Internet security or you’re just interested in how technology is tangling itself throughout culture or just looking for the latest news in the war on encryption.

Now it’s your turn to share! Below is a list of online news sources that we used to discover news, reviews and articles for the #yourlifeintech weekly digest. Each morning take a quick browse through the headlines and if you discover something fun, interesting or absolutely amazing share the link with us on Twitter @binarybound or post it to the binarybound facebook page.

#yourlifeintech /news, articles

#yourlifeintech /reviews

#yourlifeintech /art, music, fiction

Oh, and here are some of Today’s Headlines

*If you’re a content publisher and would you like us to consider your site for #yourlifeintech then please send an email to /editor/at/binarybound/com/ with the URL.

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How Many Hubs Does It Take To Control Your Smart Lightbulb?

None. HomeBrite’s smart LED lightbulbs setup with the flip of a switch, install of an app and pleasantly don’t need an additional hub for you to control them.

I have to admit that I wasn’t too interested in automating my home until I purchased my first HomeBrite LED bulb from Home Depot for $14.95. My lack of motivation was primarily the cost of entry and the fragmented nature of protocols from the ubiquitous Wi-fi and Bluetooth to the unfamiliar ZigBee, Insteon and ZWave. The more I looked into the idea, the more complicated and expensive it became. Every manufacturer has their own app to control their smart devices from light bulbs, door locks and egg containers to garage doors and security cameras. Then I found an app called Wink, as well as a website called IFTTT and I saw the world of home automation in all its powerful possibilities and convenience for the first time, but even better, everything I needed to start dabbling now had a small startup cost of $14.95 thanks to Feit Electric’s HomeBrite LED Smart light bulb.

Feit Electric (@feitElectricInc) isn’t a newcomer to the light bulb industry. They have been around since 1978 and chances are if you unscrew a light bulb in your house you’re going to find their name on it. HomeBrite, is their new venture. They describe it as “a Bluetooth Smart Mesh LED Lighting System offering consumers an exciting new way to personalize and control home lighting, from the palm of their hand.” Products include: dimmable LED bulbs, high-CRI Enhance LED bulbs, LED retrofit kits, and Linear LED Tube offerings.

How it works and How I used it
Unscrew your old light bulb then screw in the HomeBrite LED bulb. Through either the Apple’s App Store or Google’s Marketplace, download the HomeBrite app and once installed you’re ready to flip the switch and power-on. The HomeBrite LED bulb with flicker once. This indicates that it is working and available in the Mesh network, which is basically a LAN (local area network) of connected nodes. Thankfully, you don’t need an understanding of networks to use your light bulbs. All you need to know is how to flip on a light switch and use an app.

screen12The app, self-titled “homebrite”, will automatically scan the Mesh network and add any new bulbs it finds during startup before displaying a list of your bulbs. At first they will be named “Bulb1, Bulb2, etc” but you can easily rename them to something that makes sense to you. I have one named “Bedroom – Dresser”, as well as two others named “Living Room – Fireplace” and “Living Room – Chair”.

The list view will display a lightbulb icon so you can quickly recognize the bulb type, as well as a slider where you can adjust the bulb’s brightness and a power-icon. I found that the more bulbs you connected the more valuable this view became versus the apps default wheel view. The default wheel view fills the enter screen with a lovely dashed circle representing the bulbs brightness. It easier to adjust this feature and wiping the screen to the right and left toggles between all the bulbs but as you can imagine the more bulbs you have makes this view less attractive from usability perspective. Sometimes it’s just faster to pick from a list or group.

screen9After I got my third bulb I set up some groups. The first group of bulbs was for the living room. Through HomeBrite’s group settings I added “Living Room – Fireplace” and “Living Room – Chair” to a group titled “Living Room”. The advantage to doing is that I can now control all the bulbs in the “Living Room” at the same time. If the mood strikes, I can quickly dim all the lights in the room with the slide of a finger. Putting bulbs in a group doesn’t mean that I can’t control them individually either. If am I reading on the couch and the “Living Room – Fireplace” bulb is distracting from the fire then I can easily view the list of bulbs and tap the power-icon to turn one in the group off.  By turning it off outside the group settings I won’t then change the group setting for that bulb.

My favorite features of the HomeBrite app, however, are scheduling and setting timers. You can can schedule an individual bulb or a group of bulbs. I use this feature to control the “Bedroom – Dresser” bulb to automatically come on at 6:25 AM. On these darker winter mornings, it makes it a lot easier to wake up in a bright room. I also have the same bulb scheduled to come on at 5:03 PM so when I get home the bedroom isn’t dark. The only big downside that I found with scheduling is that you can’t control the brightness, so your bulbs will come back on at the previous brightness level last set.

screen15

Sometimes, if you know you’re heading to bed or leaving a room early and just don’t want the lights left on, you can override the schedule by selecting the individual bulb from the wheel view and turning on a timer. It’s easy and amazing how often I use this feature. Since it’s a one-off action, the timer settings do not effect any room or bulb schedules or scenes. Scenes simply modify a groups setting.

Unfortunately, one other downside is that these Bluetooth bulbs do not connect to the Internet. If they did, you could set a savvy schedule through IFTTT so when you arrive home (at a specific GPS location) the “Living Room” group of bulbs will turn on. Although, Bluetooth can interface with Wi-Fi networks and maybe through a HomeBrite firmware update, Wink or Smart Things Hub this one day could be possible. Until then we are stuck in a more or less static schedule realm, which is still cool and I don’t have to remember to turn my living room lights off before I call it night and go to bed.

screen17But, what happens if the person controlling the lights with their phone isn’t home? You can still turn the bulbs on and off like a normal light. However each time the bulb is turned back on at the switch it will blink once. this could get annoying which is why I avoided installing the bulbs in locations where on/off frequency was high. You can also create an account through the HomeBrite app and save your apps settings to the “cloud” and then someone else can install the app on their phone and using the same login could also control the bulbs as well as configurations. It’s not an ideal solution but it works.

The app works well but has some bugs and room for improvement. One bug is that the bulb’s state is not always accurately represented. This is more obvious when viewing a group of bulbs than viewing the individual list of bulbs. Another bug is sometimes the app won’t discover the Mesh network and require your phone’s Bluetooth to be turned on and off. These bugs are certainly are not deal breakers in my opinion and as HomeBrite’s smart-product line grows I am sure we will see the app mature not only in design and user experience but also reliability.

Pros

  • Easy Bluetooth setup.
  • No account needed for basic use.
  • Affordable.
  • LED bulbs will last 25,000 hours. That’s more than 22-years based upon the average use of 3-hours per day.
  • Easy sharing with other family members if settings are synced with HomeBrite account.

Cons

  • UI/UX of app doesn’t support Retina screens.
  • Schedules don’t support dimming.
  • Syncing settings back to your account is not automatic.
  • Only can control through a Bluetooth Mesh network where your phone needs to be in the same area in order to control.
  • No HomeKit integration

What it could do better
Again, the bulb itself is perfect. The app, however, could use some smarter UI/UX design.

Buy or Not buy?
Definitely buy; maybe even 3 or 4.

Source
Purchased product at Home Depot $14.95/ea

Website
http://www.feit.com/homebrite/

Online Support
http://www.feit.com/homebrite/homebrite-support.html

IRS hacked, Moore’s Law Is Dead and Google shuts-down Picasa #yourlifeintech week 7

Twitter’s iconic little blue bird flew itself all over last week announcing a change to their timeline that has left everyones feathers a little ruffled. Twitter announced that will be displaying timeline content by relevancy, departing from its chronological roots, which as their active user base shrinks in Q4 may have not been the wisest decision.

Instagram FINALLY supports multiple user login, kickstarter reached their 100,000 project milestone, Runkeeper jogged into the arms of Asics, Google’s AI software can now be legally considered the “driver” of a car and plenty of new rumors about Apple’s iPhone 7 as well as the release date of Samsung’s S7 announced.

And, India banned Facebook Basics.

Here is a quick glance-summary of a few top headlines and our favorite reviews from Week 7 (Feb07-Feb14), 2016.

1 Obama’s new cybersecurity plan sticks to the basics
Keep your operating system and apps up to date, two-factor authentication and please, please use some common sense when surfing the Internet and opening e-mailed attachments from people you don’t know. And, maybe hire a professional.
Source: Wired

2 Donate Your Old USB Drives to Fight North Korean Brainwashing
One of my favorite stories this week. Instead of tossing your old USB flash drives into that never-seen-again junk drawer, consider sending your chunk of cheap flash memory into North Korea, and it becomes a powerful, even subversive object—one that a new activist project wants use to help chip away at the intellectual control of the hermit kingdom’s fascist government.
Source: Wired

3 More signs Verizon is reportedly looking to buy Yahoo! and Time Warner buys MySpace
Back in the early days of the Internet these two dinosaurs ruled the territory, but maybe now it’s time to let evolution take its course.
Source: USA Today/Engadget

4 The RIAA now counts audio visual streaming numbers towards artists total album sales and still gets it all wrong, but are you really surprised?
Source: Wired

5 IRS website attack nets 101,000 e-filing taxpayers credentials.
Maybe they should have piloted President Obama’s Cybersecurity Plan? LOL
Source: Arstechnica

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6 GMail now warns you if your freinds aren’t using secure email
With more and more net-security stories taking shape these last fews weeks, with the IRS being hacked, Mac OS X Sparkle hijacking and hackers exploiting power-grids through air conditioning units, maybe using secure email isn’t that bad of an idea or inconvenience.
Source: Arstechnica

7 Thousands of Mac OS X apps vulnerable to hijacking
You don’t hear the words Mac, hijacking and vulnerability in one sentence all too often, but this exploit is actually a scary one for Mac users and fixes may be slow coming since it requires all developers using Sparkle to update their apps and there isn’t anything Sparkle can do universally.
Source: Arstechnica

8 Einstein theory of general relativity confirmed as LIGO detects gravitational wave from black hole merger
Yes, space, gravity, or something like that has waves just like the ocean, but I will let the die-hard Big Bang Theory fans explain it all.
Source: Forbes

9 Moore’s law is dead or nearing to very close to it’s end
Yep, another one of those brainy news stories that rippled through the tech world that I am going to let the brainy people explain; something about circuits doubling every year on computer chips.
Source: Arstechnica/Fast Company

10 Apple owned 2/3 of Smartwatch market in 2015
Source: TechCrunch

11 Google plans to shutdown Picasa Spring 2016
Source: The Verge

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Our favorite reviews for week 7
1 Killing the password with wearables
http://www.wareable.com/wearable-tech/kill-the-password-pin-2290

2 MiPow Playbulb Sphere Lights The Night…Anywhere
http://geardiary.com/2016/02/12/mipow-playbulb-sphere-lights-the-night-anywhere/

3 Double the storage of your macbook
http://the-gadgeteer.com/2016/02/13/tardisk-can-double-the-storage-of-your-macbook-in-5-minutes/

4 Booq Cobra Brief
http://geardiary.com/2016/02/14/booqs-cobra-brief-is-a-traveling-professionals-best-friend/

Our upcoming reviews &articles
1 Moov Now, your AI personal trainer
2 Lose It!
3 Making fitness wearables work for you