It seems like everybody is racing to build the platform that will transform all of our homes into smart homes. But the blunt truth is that nobody's really in the lead, and a few contenders are still on the sideline. Logitech, however, is gunning for the victory with its new Harmony Living Home system.
Harmony Living Home is built with the same technology as the Harmony universal remotes that we love so much. That's what makes the release extra exciting, but I'll get back to that in a second. Basically, the Harmony Living Home is designed to be a central control for your home of connected devices — or at least the devices that are compatible with the system.
Logitech has partnered with over a dozen brands, including Nest and Philips Hue, to make sure certain devices would compatible with Harmony Living Home. From smart thermostats to smart blinds to smart locks, the system puts control of a wide range of devices in one place and even enables you to program the devices so that they interact with each other.
Like its competitors in this space, the Harmony Living Home uses a central hub to create an internet of things in your home. Appropriately, it's called the Harmony Home Hub and uses RF, IR, Bluetooth, as well as Wi-Fi to talk to various devices. The hub alone goes for $US100 on its own. For $US350, you can also buy the hub along with a touchscreen remote that can control all of your connected home devices — again, so long as they're compatible — and up to 15 of the 270,000 home entertainment devices that already work with Harmony. A non-touchscreen remote version will be available for $US150, and all of the Harmony Living Home products work with a smartphone app. All products hit stores on September 21.
Unlike its competitors in this space, the Harmony Living Home is built on the back of a very dependable system of managing many devices from a central location. Logitech's been in the universal remote business for years, and it's comforting to see it bring that experience into home automation.
We got the chance to do a hands on with the new system, and it does work great. (At least, in the controlled environment of a downtown Manhattan apartment, it does.) The app design is especially terrific, since it uses big bold controls and gradients to show you what your connected home devices are doing. Honestly, it worked so well I would personally skip the remote. I can see how some people will appreciate having a physical remote, though. Other home hubs like Quirky's ambitious Wink system lack that — as well as the ability to control entertainment devices.
Obviously, the limited number of brands that work with the Harmony Living Home system is a little bit frustrating. But it's also a limitation that other home hubs face. Eventually, hopefully, everything will be connected to everything. Heck, maybe we'll even be able to control them with our minds, and we won't need remotes any more…
Just kidding that's crazy.