Tags Lights

An App Manages the Brightness of Petzl’s New Headlamps to Maximize Battery Life

When you’re heading out for a night run, or hiking through the woods after dark, a working headlamp is almost as important as the shoes on your feet. So Petzl is upgrading its hands-free headlamps with Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity to intelligently manage brightness and battery life.

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Photo

Andrew Liszewski

January 14th

Gadgets

The Very American History of Christmas Lights

The Very American History of Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are a uniquely American tradition. That’s not just because the first electric Christmas lights appeared in America. The tradition embodies a certain American-ness, an ingenuity and hunger for innovation, that’s easily overlooked. America doesn’t just make things. America makes things spectacular.

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Adam Clark Estes

December 24th

Uncategorized

Smart Home Combo Review: HomeKit Elgato Eve temperature / air quality sensor and Avea Flare mood light

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The Elgato Avea Flare is an egg-shaped mood light with an iPhone and Watch app available to control the scene and colors displayed. It sits in the corner of a room or garden and discreetly glows. I tested the standalone unit, but you can also buy the Avea Bulb which is the same concept in a different form. The Elgato Eve Room ($78) is an indoor climate detector — it measures air quality, humidity and temperature. This data can then be reviewed through an iPhone app to act upon or using your voice with Siri questions. The Eve sensor (pictures below) is meant to be tucked away and out of sight, on a shelf or wall, silently checking up on your interior air quality.

These two products are from the same manufacturer, but they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of smart home gear; one has a clear functional purpose and the other is a ‘smart’ whimsical decoration. Both integrate with iOS via an iPhone app and both make cool additions to your life. I’ve been using both for a few weeks; read on for my full review of these smart home devices from Elgato …

Let’s start with the Flare. It’s a 16 color self-standing mood light — hidden inside the egg-shaped casing is a 60 lm LED. It’s not going to be your primary light in a room, it isn’t bright enough for that. It’s meant to add some atmosphere — think of it as a glow casting colored rays over the corner of a room. There’s also an alarm clock mode, so you can have it naturally brighten at 8am every morning to help you get of bed.

You can turn the light on or off using physical buttons in the base but the main control mechanism is the Flare app. Pairing the Flare uses Bluetooth, which worked flawlessly for me but mileage can vary with any Bluetooth device in regard to connection reliability and range. The app features a list of large tappable tiles representing different scenes, such as Burning Wood or . Most of these provide subtle color changes through a couple of hues but there are are some crazy extravagant options for parties, like the high-paced ‘Candyland’ theme which rapidly cycles between every color of the rainbow.

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If you don’t fancy one of these ambient mood settings, you can pick a solid color. You can also tweak the vibrance and output brightness across all of these modes. And the Flare app comes with an Apple Watch app, so you can change all of these settings from your wrist. Alas, like many third-party watch apps, this is slow and a bit clunky.

In terms of physical size, the Flare is about half a metre high. It’s egg shaped and all white, so it’s a pretty modern accessory in terms of design. Its appearance fits most modern (and outdoor) home decors, but if you have a traditional style interior, it could stick out like a sore thumb. You can’t put this thing out of sight for ambience — it isn’t big enough to cast any light. The body of the device has to be exposed to the room for it to have any impact. The Flare is wireless, with a plate for inductive charging at night. I just leave my on the charging pad at all times.

The Avea Flare is cool. The big issue with the Flare is the lack of HomeKit support. The Avea range was developed before Apple was ramping HomeKit approvals to manufacturers. This limits the Flare a lot. You are forced into controlling the Flare through their own app, you can’t integrate into automated smart home workflows and you can’t turn it on and off with Siri either. These limitations are frustrating as a person that wanted to be invested into an Apple ecosystem. It feels like a dedication to the old, deprecated technology as the iOS integration for HomeKit devices versus proprietary Bluetooth accessories is unparalleled.

The Flare is really nice as a light, but is lacking compared to its competitors because of this one point. It’s difficult to recommend this in a comparison against Philip Hue smart lights, for example, which offer rich HomeKit integration features.

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The Elgato Eve Room is different. It feels modern, predominantly because it does support HomeKit. The Eve Room is a small puck-sized sensor that sits on a tabletop or shelf. It doesn’t make noise, it doesn’t light up. So what is it doing? Passively, every ten minutes, it reads the temperature, humidity and air quality. It stores this information on an internal chip and shares the data with your iPhone through the Elgato Eve app.

The heating system in my flat requires a lot of manual tuning so the graphs provided by the Elgato are extremely useful. I can see if it got too hot overnight, whether I can leave it off during the day to save some energy, etcetera. Previously, I relied on a cheap and cheerful digital thermometer. One immediate benefit of the Eve over what I was using before is the air quality measurement:  my old thermometer had no way of knowing the parts per million ratio of the air. With the Eve, the app shows this data in a graph with color-coded sections to represent the quality scale, from Excellent to Poor.

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The advantages of the Eve are clear: you can see more than just the current reading, use a familiar UI with simple touchscreen controls, check this information on your iPhone and coalesce the info with other smart home devices via HomeKit. You can set up triggers to automatically turn on the smart plug connected to your desk fan if the room starts getting too hot. If the Flare supported HomeKit, you could change the color of the room based on the temperature. Still, the interoperability of HomeKit means you can achieve something similar with an Eve coupled with Philips Hue lights.

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HomeKit support means that you can also access all the data via Siri. Just ask your phone or watch ‘What’s the temperature in the Living Room’ and it will tell you. The same for humidity … Siri doesn’t seem to support air quality measurements however, because I could never get that phrase to work. You also have to account for the occasional problem where Siri can’t find your device at all — this appears to be systemic issue with all HomeKit accessories and not related to the Eve specifically. For me, Siri fails to find the sensor very infrequently but when it happens, it is annoying especially on the Watch where Siri can be slow. The Eve app never failed to read the data.

I only have one Eve sensor setup in the living room, but the system supports buying more and tracking data independently for every room of your house. Bigger houses may benefit from multiple sensors, but I think one sensor is just fine. The variation of temperature in your home will be relatively small. And you can always pick up the Eve and move it to a different room if you want to track another climate for a while.

I honestly didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The Eve Room is a really nifty little gadget, appropriate as a holiday gift or any time of the year really. There is certainly a big novelty factor to the product, but it’s also genuinely useful. The iPhone app lets you see a lot more info than you normally can with wall-mounted thermometers and with a far prettier user interface. The inclusion of HomeKit lets you take the Elgato Eve to the next level, making it a core part of the smart home.

You can buy the Elgato Eve for $78 and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do. For the Avea Flare moonlight, as outlined above, the lack of HomeKit is frustrating but it’s still a nice mood light with iPhone and Watch app and still worth picking up if you can find a deal. Perhaps wait for the next generation Avea Flare which will undoubtedly include HomeKit support. You can also buy Avea Bulbs, but again why would you when you can get the superior Philips Hue equipment?

Check out my HomeKit gift guide for more product recommendations for your smart home.


Filed under: Apple Watch, HomeKit, iOS, iOS Devices, Tech Industry Tagged: bulbs, Elgato Eve, lights, review, sensor, smart home

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Photo

Benjamin Mayo

December 21st

Apple

Mac

Can Christmas Lights Really Play Havoc With Your Wi-Fi?

A telephone regulator has warned that festive decorations can spoil your festive internet fun. Here’s the science.

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Photo

Andrew Smith

December 2nd

Uncategorized

Christmas Lights Might Slow Down Your Wi-Fi

Did your Netflix stream grind to a halt as your loved one set up the Christmas decorations? According to British telecoms watchdog Ofcom, it could be the fairy lights that slow down your Wi-Fi network at this time of year.

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Jamie Condliffe

December 1st

Uncategorized

New HomeKit-enabled Philips Hue lights and bridge box already available to buy online

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As we reported last week, Philips is readying new HomeKit enabled smart home accessories, including new lights with better color reproduction and a HomeKit-compatible bridge box, for early October launch. However, it seems that some of the new products have appeared on sites like Amazon and Best Buy a bit prematurely, as Philips is yet to officially acknowledge the new devices.

This is not a complete list of what Philips has in the wings, more should surface soon …

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Combined with the new bridge box, the Hue lights finally bring full support for Apple’s HomeKit technology allowing you to control Hue lights using integrated apps on the iPhone and with voice commands through Siri, such as ‘turn off all the lights’ or ‘start the party scene’. The Hue Bridge only supports HomeKit light protocols however, so devices like the Hue Tap will not be included in the HomeKit ecosystem.

One user on Reddit has already got his hands on the new gear and has posted some photos of the new products. It also confirms that one of the new Hue lights can indeed max out at 800 lumens, as we claimed in our report from last week.

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We had heard an official launch was planned for October 6th. This may have been brought forward given the advance listings on Amazon and other sites. Hue lights were already popular; the addition of HomeKit integration will only continue their trajectory into the smart home.


Filed under: HomeKit, iOS, iOS Devices, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple iPhone, Home Kit, homekit, Hue, integration, iOS, lights, Philips hue

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Photo

Benjamin Mayo

October 4th

Apple

Mac

This is Philips’ $60 bridge to connect Hue lights to Apple’s Siri-controlled HomeKit platform

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Following confirmation from Philips that it plans to support Apple’s HomeKit platform for its popular iPhone-controlled Hue lighting system, images of a bridge device that will let existing Hue products work with Apple’s platform have leaked online (via iCulture).

Accessory makers can’t add support for Apple’s HomeKit to products with software alone, but earlier this year we detailed Apple’s specs for building HomeKit hardware bridges that will allow existing home automation products to tap into the platform. Philips appears to be planning an imminent launch of such a device as images leak online through a lighting retailer in the Netherlands that jumped the gun on an official launch.

philips-hue-bridge-voor-homekitIn the image to the right we get our first look at the small Apple TV-looking “Hue Bridge” device that will allow the current lineup of Philips Hue lights to interface with HomeKit. In exchange, Hue users that invest in the bridge will gain access to Siri voice commands for controlling lights and likely other HomeKit features for grouping devices through an update to Philips’ companion app. We recently gave you a first look at HomeKit features in the real world with our review of iHome’s new iSP5 SmartPlug

No word yet on an official launch from Philips on the Hue Bridge, but the retailer listed a sales price of 60 euros before removing the listing earlier today (pictured below).

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We’d expect Apple will talk more about HomeKit at its upcoming press event on September 9th later this month. We reported that Apple is planning to introduce a new Apple TV, which acts as a hub for remote access to the Siri-controlled HomeKit platform, alongside new iPhones and an official launch for iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan.


Filed under: HomeKit, iOS Tagged: Apple, Apple TV, BRIDGE, homekit, Hue, images, leak, lights, Philips, Sept. 9

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Jordan Kahn

September 3rd

Apple

Mac

Video: This dancing drone is a beautiful painter of light

To show off the world’s most precise drone system, PRENAV made this video demonstrating how exact their drones can be. The drone basically plots points in the air and then becomes a dancing array of light that’s oh so fun to watch. The PRENAV system supposedly lets drones write letters and draw shapes in the sky too but I’m totally cool with watching the lights.

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Casey Chan on Sploid, shared by Casey Chan to Gizmodo

August 26th

Uncategorized

Apple’s planned iOS 9 ‘Home’ app uses virtual rooms to manage HomeKit accessories

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Apple’s plan to manage upcoming HomeKit-compatible accessories could revolve around a new iOS app called “Home,” according to sources familiar with the app. Introduced at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, HomeKit is an Apple initiative designed to encourage accessory makers to integrate “connected home” accessories such as Wi-Fi garage door openers, smart thermostats akin to Nest’s Learning Thermostat, and wireless door locks with iPhones and iPads. Using Siri or the Home app, users will be able to remotely control parts of their homes directly from iOS devices…

While HomeKit’s capabilities are interesting in theory, they have only been modestly demonstrated due to ongoing development delays, reportedly including HomeKit-specific code that will be embedded in new accessories. But according to a source, Apple has quietly continued to work on the HomeKit framework and Home app, which could shown alongside iOS 9 at WWDC. The Home application is currently represented by a “house” glyph atop a dark yellow background, and is said to be “fairly basic” in its functionality, including:

  • Wirelessly discovering and setting up compatible HomeKit devices
  • Creating a virtual representation of rooms in the home to easily organize and connect HomeKit devices
  • Utilizing the Apple TV as a hub connecting all of the HomeKit devices
  • Offering a series of screens to help users find new HomeKit devices and apps

Just as Apple’s HealthKit framework worked with the Health app to create a signature new iOS 8 feature, HomeKit will rely in part upon the Home app to securely manage a connected home full of accessories and data. Indeed, a major HomeKit manufacturer has told us that its accessories do not have a release date, as “our launch timing is greatly dependent on Apple’s launch.”

While the new Home app is currently embedded in iOS 9 builds for Apple employees, sources have warned that the Home app’s currently minimal functionality may indicate that it is not ready to show to the public, and so it remains unclear whether it will be announced at WWDC in June. It is also possible that the new Home app could remain solely for internal usage and Apple could push for customers to control their HomeKit devices solely via Siri and accompanying App Store apps.

Nonetheless, in response to rumors claiming a HomeKit launch delay until the fall, Apple did confirm that HomeKit accessory announcements would be made in June. “[We] already have dozens of partners who have committed to bringing HomeKit accessories to market,” Apple said, “and we’re looking forward to the first ones coming next month.” Sources have previously indicated that Apple is also working on its own in-house HomeKit hardware, but no launch timetable has been provided.

Image via Getty Images


Filed under: Apple Watch, Apps, iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Apple, appliances, devices, Garages, Home.app, homekit, iOS 8, iOS 9, iPad, iPhone, IPod Touch, lights, locks, speakers, Technology

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Mark Gurman

May 20th

Apple

Mac

Gorgeous silk lamps bloom like flowers when you turn them on

Studio DRIFT made these lovely lamps that feel alive because they've been designed to bloom like a flower. It's a beautiful idea that's even more gorgeous when you see it happen, I would love to walk into my living room and have these ethereal lights dance for me as they descend and shine up the room.

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Photo

Casey Chan

March 17th

Uncategorized
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