CES is the biggest consumer technology show that gathers tech companies from all around the world in Las Vegas, every January, to show off their latest efforts. So what’s there to look for in 2018 when it comes to smart home hubs & gateways?
The smart home sphere is still pretty far from using a single smart-home standard. With every new gadget in our home we’ve got to choose between Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc. So, it looks like smart home hubs are not going anywhere — they play an integral part in smart home building.
Though, there’s still a room for improvement. Let’s check what 2018’s got to offer!
WeMo HomeKit Bridge by Belkin
Are you using WeMo products? Then we have good news for you — the WeMo HomeKit Bridge. It’s finally up for sale after the company announcement at CES 2018. The bridge connects all compatible WeMo gadgets and syncs them all up with Apple HomeKit. So now you can control your WeMo devices by asking Siri or by using the Apple Home app. What a great alternative to the untimely buggy WeMo app.
Brief Overview of the WeMo HomeKit Bridge by Belkin:
- Enables your Wemo devices to work with Apple HomeKit
- Allows to control Wemo connected lights and appliances from anywhere away from home
- Features a sleek, compact design that blends in seamlessly with your home décor
- Simply pairs with your existing WiFi network
- Dimension: 2.55” L x 5.8” H x 5.5” D
- Power Micro-USB Port: 5V/1A DC
- Power PSU: 100-240V AC
- Operating/Storage Temp: 32° F to 104° F
For more details check the WeMo HomeKit Bridge landing page.
Elgato Eve Button
The Elgato Eve Button is an accessory to an Apple HomeKit hub (Apple TV or iPad). With this button you can command accessories and scenes without your iPhone. The Eve Button offers you three options for control: single click, double click, or hold. So, let’s say you have a connected lamp, you can use the Eve Button to turn on the lights by pressing the button once, or dim the lights to 50% by pressing the button twice, or turn the lamp off by pressing & holding the Eve Button.
Let’s put it this way, the Eve Button is perfect if you’re looking for instant, tactile control. Plus, it’s a nice alternative to voice assistants. However, it’s pretty expensive compared to other similar products: the Lutron Pico Remote for Caseta Wireless is cheaper and offers more options for control. Same as the Audio Pico Remote that you can use to control Sonos speakers, or Flic buttons that comes in a set of three. Though, if you’re looking for a HomeKit specific button, then the Eve Button is a great choice.
Brief Overview of the Elgato Eve Button:
- Direct control, no iPhone or iPad needed
- Scenes control
- Compact & portable design
- Bluetooth Low Energy
- CR2032 Replaceable battery
- 52 x 52 x 13 mm / 2.1 x 2.1 x 0.5 in
For more details check the Elgato Eve Button landing page.
Milo by Hogar Controls
A smart hub is the heart and brain behind any smart home setup. It connects all your smart gadgets together and allows you to control them from one place for simple and seamless performance. And while a hub is a viable part of any smart home ecosystem, it’s still just a small box that connects to your router. But what if a hub was something more than just a box?
Meet Milo, a smart speaker with a built-in Z-Wave Plus hub featuring Google Assistant and onboard touch controller. Milo can truly function as a smart home hub since it supports Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and Wifi. Plus you can use your voice for effortless control of your smart home gadgets since Milo is using the Google Assistant. The closest competitors to Milo are Echo Plus that supports only Zigbee and Homey hub which we’ll talk about next.
Milo will be available in March 2018 for $149, which sets a great starting point (Echo Plus is currently less expensive).
Hogar Controls is also releasing the Pebble — a wireless 3D Touch Button to control smart products in your home. Just like the Eve Button, the Pebble offers seamless tactile control over your smart gadgets. The button features disc design and can be programmed with up to 10 actions. You can use Pebble to create additional control zones. Just pair it with the Milo and use it as an add-on device in any room of your home for added scene control.
And just like Milo, Pebble will be available in March 2018 for $49 with a one-year warranty.
Brief Overview of the Milo Hub by Hogar Controls:
- Native voice and touch controls
- Streaming entertainment (news, weather, music, and podcasts)
- Compatible with Airplay and Chrome Cast Audio
- Uses the Google Assistant
- Compatible with Z-Wave Plus™ along with Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Lux sensors on top of device for triggering different scenes
- One-touch scene control buttons
- Elegant and sleek design
- Compact & lightweight
- Available in black/white
For more details check the Milo Hub landing page.
Homey by Athom
Europe’s popular smart hub is coming to the US. Homey is a powerful little orb that supports over 8 wireless technologies: Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi, Bluetooth, Infrared, 433MHz, 868MHz, and NFC. So you can control devices like your TV, non-networked sound system, and even your computer.
You can speak to Homey through your favorite voice assistant, since the hub is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Plus, you can even use Facebook Messenger to send it a text if you’d like to control it over chat.
The only downfall is the price, it’s £269 in the UK, so we’re expecting it to sell in the US for around $350. Though, it’s just our speculations.
Brief Overview of the Homey by Athom:
- Your entire home in your hand
- Works with over 40,000 devices
- Learns new devices by installing Apps — just like a smartphone
- Control via Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant
- Plays your favorite music to any speaker
- Logs your energy usage to create custom energy saving reports
- Compatible with Z-Wave Plus, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and RF
For more details check the Homey landing page.
Symbio by Toshiba
Toshiba introduces the new Symbio smart home solution that combines capabilities of six products: a smart home hub, wireless security camera, smart speaker, voice control with Amazon Alexa, an intercom, and a smart sound detector — all in one easy-to-use device.
You can control Symbio with your voice when you’re at home or use the Toshiba Smart Home app for remote control. The app works with iOS and Android smartphones.
Now let’s look closer into specs: the device supports Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Wifi technologies, it comes with a 1080p, full HD, wide-angle camera, has a built-in security siren and audible alarm, along with temperature, humidity, and ambient light sensors. Plus, it features two-way audio, Amazon Alexa voice control, a smart sound detector for babies and pets, and an intercom for simple communication between Symbio and phones. The price? Not that bad, plus it’s available on Amazon now.
When we talked about a hub being “a small box that connects to your router” — well, not anymore. Toshiba’s brought hubs to a brand new level launching this six-in-one smart home solution. We’ve yet to test Symbio, but as of now it’s clear that Toshiba brings a new perspective on what a hub can be.
Brief Overview of the Symbio by Toshiba:
- 1080p Full HD, wide-angle, low light camera
- Security siren, audible alarm
- Sound- and motion-based smartphone alerts
- Two-way remote communication
- Built-in environment sensors (e.g., temperature, humidity, ambient light)
- Touch-free voice activation
- Proprietary far-field voice recognition
- Amazon® Alexa voice control
- Amazon® Alexa information services
- Wi-Fi®, ZigBee® and Z-Wave® wireless radio technology
- Compatible with iOS and Android™
- Get alerts from crying baby using loud noise detector
- Activate music remotely
For more details check the Toshiba Smart Home website.
CES 2018: Smart Home Hubs/Gateways — Our Thoughts
The fact that you can use your hub as a camera, voice assistant, or speaker is awesome, though how about we focus more on security? The more standards we use in our smart home setup, the more points of exposure we open ourselves to possible threats.
And since there’s no single smart-home ‘standard’ yet, we need to be smarter about how we implement and use IoT gadgets in our homes. We’re looking forward for the year 2018 to bring secure solutions into the smart home sphere.