CEDIA 2019 Home Automation Opinion

CEDIA Expo 2019 Highlights: Day 1

Mitch Klein speaks at CEDIA Expo 2019
After day one of this year's CEDIA Expo, it's obvious that the overlapping trend of DIY and professional markets continues to grow.

As a CEDIA Expo rookie, I wasn’t sure what to expect attending the show in Denver this year. Would it be interesting? Would I find enough DIY smart home coverage in the sea of professional and home theater products? Based on my achy feet and the step count on my watch, I would say there was plenty to see. Here are some of the interesting things I saw.

Google Home and Nest

Google Home now works with 30,000+ devices from 3,500 partners. While most households install Google and partners’ devices themselves, Google sees value in the Do It For Me (DIFM) space. DIFM professionals add value by not only installing devices, but also by helping the homeowner setup scenes and offering advice on devices to use.

Google is also beating the privacy drum hard and citing it as the reason for canceling the Works With Nest program. But there is still no timeline for Google Assistant supporting all of the automation that Works With Nest did. There is also some talk of AI-powered feedback through Google Assistant, similar to Alexa Hunches, but once again no timeline.

Powershades

Powershades is showing off its new Power Over Ethernet powered roller shades. These provide a nice, one-wire installation, battery backup, and several professional and DIY home automation integrations. They also come in at a price point lower than competitors like Lutron. For installations without POE, their traditional RF shades are still available.

ConnectSense

ConnectSense is at CEDIA Expo, showing off a new in-wall outlet that’s coming out later this year. This is a WiFi dual outlet that provides automated and manual control of both outlets. The outlet also uses NFC for easy setup and provides individual power monitoring. The new in-wall outlet will also continue the ConnectSense legacy of supporting Apple HomeKit at launch.

Leviton

Leviton had its new Smart Load Center and Decora Smart WiFi devices on display in its booth. The Smart Load Center is unique and has already rightfully won numerous awards at trade shows. It contains smart circuit breakers that allow remote diagnostics, remote on/off, power monitoring and energy bill calculation via the app. I almost want these just so I don’t have to walk out into the Colorado winter to turn off a breaker to install another smart home device.

CEDIA Expo 2019 Highlights: Day 1
Leviton’s new voice dimmer and 4-button controller join the existing lineup of Decora Smart WiFi products.

Leviton’s new Decora Smart WiFi products include the Voice Dimmer and 4-button Controller. The Voice Dimmer is a dimmer switch with Alexa built in. As far as I can tell, this is the first dimmer with Alexa. Similar models from ecobee and iDevices are on/off only. The 4-button controller is the only button controller I know of that uses WiFi. I’m curious to see how robust the scenes are that can be run from the button controller via Leviton’s own app or other integrations that support it. Both the Voice Dimmer and 4-button controller go on sale in October for $99, along with the existing dimmers, switch, and outlets.

Z-Wave Alliance

The Z-Wave Alliance gave a Tech Talk at CEDIA. Executive Director Mitch Klein reviewed the new features of the Z-Wave 700 series and what companies are doing with Z-Wave. One interesting item was a discussion around Silicon Labs developing an all-in-one chip in the future. It would contain support for Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth all in one. This is an interesting proposal, since it would potentially simplify product lines for companies that currently have separate SKUs and ecosystems for different protocols. It may also simplify setup for consumers. Philip Hue’s new bulbs are an example of this since they have Bluetooth and Zigbee in one device.

There are definitely still more vendors to see and talk to, so we’ll continue to scour the show floor and report on other interesting findings here and on Home: On.

Read more of Jimmy’s findings from Day 2 of CEDIA Expo 2019.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.