Alternative Smart Home Systems: Amazon, Avi-on, Nest, Belkin, Oomi & Sage
Last updated: December 9, 2016
Lowe's Iris, The Home Depot's Wink and Staples Connect are big smart home names because their brands imply trustworthiness, stability and reliability, along with a plethora of physical locations to interact with actual human beings. Long-time wireless platforms ZigBee and Z-Wave are big smart home names because they're built into a kaleidoscope of compatible products from a kaleidoscope of big brands.
But there are plenty of other big technology brands and entrepreneurial start-ups hoping to create the better smart home mouse trap. Here's a sampling of alternatives to these current big smart home names.
Amazon Echo:Admittedly, Amazon is a big name – just not in smart home. And admittedly, the voice-activated Amazon Echo (called "Alexa" – think Siri-in-a-tube) isn't yet really a smart home platform, but promises to be a significant one. So far, Alexa allows voice command of Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue and assorted Wink smart home lighting products, along with Amazon's own new 4K Fire TV stick. But Amazon is a big enough name that developers are flocking to the Alexa concept, thanks to the $100 million the company has made available to other companies for the development of Alexa voice-compatible products.
Avi-on: Instead of Wi-Fi, this company is hawking wireless GE smart lighting and switches based on a technology called Bluetooth mesh, what Avi-on calls CSRMesh. Each device on the network spreads the otherwise short-range Bluetooth signal. Avi-on's advantage? Its smart Bluetooth devices react more quickly to commands, are more power efficient, and the network operates even when the Internet and your Wi-Fi network are down. The official Bluetooth Mesh specification came out this past spring; Avi-on simply got a head start on a technology that is revolutionizing smart home devices.
Belkin WeMo: Two things set Belkin's WeMo system apart from other, more traditional smart home platforms. First, along with the usual smart LED bulbs, connected cameras and switches, WeMo's wireless connectivity technology is built into small appliances such as a coffee maker, crock pot and humidifier for smart remote control. Second, it works with IFTTT (If This Then That), a service that lets you create "recipes" that connects apps, websites and devices to perform programmed multi-device tasks when certain conditions are met.
Nest Weave : Nest's Weave lets compatible devices talk directly to each other and to Nest's popular thermostat, smoke/C02 detector and security camera. Weave is part of the company's Works with Nest initiative, designed to integrate its products with the widening smart home product and system universe. The Linus lock by Yale was the first announced product to be Nest Weave compatible.
Oomi: Instead of monopolizing your smartphone, the Oomi system, just out of Indiegogo crowd-funding, comes with its own touchscreen controller. And instead of complex set-up procedures, you just tap the touch controller to an Oomi smart device to bring it into the system. Best of all, Oomi's wireless technology, like Bluetooth mesh, doesn't require an Internet/Wi-Fi connection. Oomi devices include cameras, security and environmental sensors, smart LED bulbs, smart switches and even a media streamer to connect your TV to the Internet.
Sage by Hughes: In addition to a smart phone, Sage can be controlled via your TV. Sage's variety of smart devices and sensors can operate on a variety of wireless protocols including Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and radio frequency (RF), or via a mobile app that also allows you, with a single button push, to call 911. However, Sage, announced in September 2016 that it would not longer be available. it seems there were executive management changes at the parent company and they decided to get out of the business. It's a shame because we really like what they were doing with this product.
If you need help installing any of these Smart Home Systems or products, you can visit HomeAdvisor.com to find a local trusted professional.