Z-Wave Alliance May Have Had Strongest CES Showing Ever
All things considered, catching up with Z-Wave Alliance at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was very familiar to every other tradeshow they exhibited at over the past few years. Their booth is filled with smaller kiosks, populated with members showing their latest solutions. It feels like a show within a show, and it is an incredibly smart way to prove the application of the Z-Wave protocol. Instead of just talking about Z-Wave, they show just how relevant it is in the today's world.
Notably, this year's booth has moved into the dedicated Smart Home section of the Sands Casino, putting them right in the middle of the action at an enormous 5,000-square-foot booth filled with 35 members and their gear. They also have the Z-Wave Experience House that people are "not just coming to see product; we have live interoperability of our products," said Mitch Klein, Executive Director for Z-Wave Alliance.
"You can see live demo's of products all the time, but they are usually brand-specific," Klein said. "But at the Alliance booth, we are actually showing off an ecosystem and how you can have a choice of different products."
Hogar Control's Milo is the Google Assistant, Z-Wave Response to Echo Plus
"Have you met Milo?"
Taking a second, recall that Amazon released their new line of Echo products in three variations. Two were simple refresh models of their Dot and Echo but the third one, the Echo Plus, occupies an entirely different space. It is was produced with the intention of keeping pace with the Google and Apple premium smart speakers hitting the market around the same time. And while the average consumer may not understand why advanced low-power protocols are useful just yet, Amazon is building esteem for Zigbee.
"In reality, it's not a big deal because the echo is not a hub its never intended to be a hub and for you to implement all the smart activities in a home you kind of a need some kind of gateway or hub anyways," Klein said. "Zigbee is not an interoperability protocol. Just having a chip in it, just doesn't mean much."
So the response from the Z-Wave Alliance was to bring Milo, a smart speaker that is as pretty is as it is functional. Packed with Google Assistant and Z-Wave, it is the direct counterpart to the Echo Plus, and the first of it's kind in the world.
On the software side, the advantages are apparent. It squeezes one of the best voice assistants on the market into the Z-Wave ecosystem, enabling Google to anchor a Z-Wave smart home. On the hardware side, manufacturer Hogar Controls made Milo look very familiar with the current cloth-wrapped-soda can look on the market. One key difference is programming scenes into one of the three physical buttons on the top of Milo that can complete the action without any wake word.
The real secret sauce also comes with the aggressive $149 price tag and the $49 Pebbly add-on that responds to 10 unique gestures, depending on the direction of a swipe. It will be interesting to see how the Milo hits the market and if integrators are looking for this kind of solution.
Abode Iota A Breath of Fresh Air in Crowded Security Market
And just when it seemed there were no new ways to repackage a smart home camera; Abode Iota offered up one of the most ingenious smart home solutions to date. Abode is a California based start-up that is releasing an everything-you-might-expect 1080p smart home security camera.
The secret sauce is the ability to act as a smart home hub or respond to an existing one, thanks to Z-Wave. Also of note, the Iota can be a Zigbee hub and plays nice with the big three digital ecosystems from Amazon, Apple, and Google.
One of the other exciting bits about Iota's software is its robust set of options it offers to homeowners. At the booth, Abode showed off the ability to turn Philips Hue lights on and off or scene set all from inside the app.
Cloud-based storage offered a look at notable events, even if the user didn't subscribe to a premium membership. Abode says that they hope to change how people think about subscriptions as well, offering 3-day, 7-day, monthly, and yearly membership so people can get the most out of their camera. For just $8, a home-owner can use professional monitoring if they leave for a weekend.