4 Companies Creating a Connected Home That Aren't Apple

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As technology continues to take an even larger role in people's everyday lives, companies are working to capitalize on the growing trend by creating gadgets that make homes "smarter."

In New York City, tech journalists were offered a look at gadgets that will take traditional home items to the next level at Pepcom's Digital Experience! event.

United States' consumer spending on furnishings and durable household equipment has steadily increased since 2013, with spending more than $293 billion for the first quarter of 2015 compared to more than $278 billion and $281 billion in 2013 and 2014 respectively, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. And spending on smart thermostats alone is expected to increase 51% generating $282 million in 2015, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Ecobee, based in Toronto, Canada, showed off its new ecobee3, a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat designed to monitor and control temperatures throughout the home through multiple sensors. The ecobee3 can support up to 32 individual sensors, allowing it to control temperatures throughout an entire home instead of just an individual room, according to a company spokesperson.

The company's ecobee3 will launch on July 7 and will support Apple (AAPL) HomeKit, which will allow users to control their home's temperature using Siri on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, along with the ecobee app. The ecobee3 will be available on Amazon   (AMZN), Best Buy (BBY), Home Depot  (HD) and Apple Stores across the country. An ecobee3 with one sensor retails for $249, with an additional pack of two sensors retailing for $79.

But the ecobee3 was the only company at the event that said it was HomeKit compatible, so here's a look at four products that aren't teamed up with Apple that are making homes smarter:

Ring Doorbell

This is not your average doorbell.

The Ring Video Doorbell, made by Ring, includes a 180-degree HD camera that begins recording once someone rings the bell. It also includes a two-way audio system, so users can speak to the people at their door through their app without actually being home. Motion sensors built into the device can also trigger the system to record.

While the Ring Video Doorbell, which is designed to prevent break-ins, requires either an iOS or Android smartphone, users do not have to have to have their phones on them to know someone is at their door if they buy the Ring Chime. The Ring Chime plugs into any outlet and notifies users if someone is at their door, so their phone is no longer required to be nearby. The Ring Chime was released in May and will being shipping at the end of July.

The Ring Video Doorbell retails for $199, plus a monthly fee of $3 a month or $30 a year, and comes with six months of video cloud storage. The Ring Chime retails for $29.99.

Both products are available on the company's website, or at Best Buy and Lowes (LOW).


Canary is a home security system that includes everything from a wide-angle camera with audio recording to a 90+ dB siren that can be activated remotely from the company's app. The product also monitors for things such as air quality, temperature and humidity. A cylindrical tube, the Canary is only 6 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter. 

Once Canary notices a change in its environment, it will send push notifications to the user's smartphone, where they can watch a live feed from their Canary app. The product is very sensitive to changes, but eventually it will adapt to users' schedules, learning when to record and when not to, according to a company spokesperson.

Canary, which launched in the last week of March, is available at Best Buy, Amazon, Version and Home Depot. It retails for $249 with no monthly fee or contract. Canary currently offers users cloud storage for up to seven days at a time for free, but in July the company plans to introduce larger storage packages, which a company spokesperson should range between $4 and $20.

Simplicam by Closeli

Simplicam by Closeli is the first and only home monitoring video camera that offers facial recognition, according to a company spokesperson. The Wi-Fi-enabled device can remember up to 10 faces so that when they walk by the camera, it will not begin recording. It takes about a minute to program in each person's face into the camera, according to a company spokesperson. 

Like Canary, Simplicam features a wide-angle camera and night-vision capabilities. Users can also speak with people directly through their app using the system's two-way talk function.

Simplicam retails for $150 and is available on Amazon and the company's website. One day of cloud storage costs $5 per month or $50 per year, and 11 days of storage costs $13 per month or $139 per year.


Before it was purchased by Google  (GOOGL) last year for $3.2 billion, Nest was already making technology-enabled thermostats. Following its $555 million acquisition of Dropcam, Nest released this week the Nest Cam. The Nest Cam is not that different from the Dropcam Pro, except that it records 1080p video instead of 720p.

The Nest Cam features many of the same benefits as other home security products on display, such as night vision capabilities and two-way talk. But what sets the Nest Cam apart is how well it syncs with the other Nest products, according to a company spokesperson. For instance, if the Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, the Nest Cam will begin recording so users can see what is happening.

Live footage from the Nest Cam can be streamed through the company's app on iOS or Android. And as part of the Nest Cam release, Nest announced its own cloud service called Nest Aware, so users are not limited to just live streaming. A subscription-based service, Nest Aware will start at $10 for 10 days of recordings, but will offer packages with storage of up to 30 days of recording. The Nest Cam retails for $199.99.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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