Here's Why You're Paying $200 to Rent a Clunky TV Set-Top Box

Todd Shields for Bloomberg:  Imagine watching TV without paying the cable company for the blinking set-top box, using a gadget of your choice that makes it easy to switch between cable channels, streaming programs and online shows.

The idea, simple in concept, is proving difficult in execution.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing a plan to force cable companies to give up their control over set-top boxes, "unlocking" the marketplace as he puts it.

But he’s drawn opposition from lawmakers in both parties, not to mention some of the most active corporate lobbyists in Washington. Comcast Corp. and the cable industry -- which stands to lose $20 billion a year in box rentals -- say it’s unnecessary and are fighting it. So are Hollywood studios, DirecTV owner AT&T Inc., and CBS Corp. Even a fellow commission Democrat said Wheeler’s plan set for a Sept. 29 vote is flawed.  Cont'd...

7 Undeniable Reasons to Start Living in an Automated Home

The Internet of Things is not merely a passing trend that will go away anytime soon. It has completely changed the course of human life in terms of convenience, security, and comfort.

Apple Stepping Up Plans for Amazon Echo-Style Smart-Home Device

Mark Gurman & Ian King for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. is pressing ahead with the development of an Echo-like smart-home device based on the Siri voice assistant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Started more than two years ago, the project has exited the research and development lab and is now in prototype testing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced Apple projects. Like Amazon Inc.’s Echo, the device is designed to control appliances, locks, lights and curtains via voice activation, the people said. Apple hasn’t finalized plans for the device and could still scrap the project.

If a product reaches the market, it would be Apple’s most significant piece of new hardware since the company announced the Apple Watch in 2014.  Cont'd...

Houzz: Consumers Embracing Smart Home Technology

MEGAN SALZANO for HomeWorld Business:  Houzz’s recent home trends survey identified a growing consumer awareness and integration of smart home technology when it comes to home renovations and remodeling.

The survey revealed that 45% of renovating homeowners are incorporating smart technology, systems or devices into their home that can be monitored or controlled via smartphone, tablet or computer. Houzz’s 2016 U.S. Smart Home Trends Survey of nearly 1,000 homeowners in the midst of, planning, or who have recently completed a home renovation project, was conducted in collaboration with CEDIA.

According to the survey, renovated homes are more than twice as likely to include a smart system or device than before the renovation, 51% versus 20%, respectively. In terms of connected product category, the survey showed 25% of homeowners are installing smart devices for security and safety, 18% for entertainment, 14% for climate control and 12% for lighting. It also showed that 30% of upgraded smart home systems or devices can be controlled via a central hub and 26% include voice-controlled features.  Cont'd...

Home Tech Kickstarter Projects

Here are a few current projects that may be of interest.

Raspberry Pi Home Automation System Hits Kickstarter

Julian Horsey for GeekyGadgets:  Zip The Fish has created a new Raspberry Pi adapter which has been specifically designed to enable a wide variety of home automation features allowing you to transform any property from a single small room to a large hotel smarter, say its developers.

Watch the promotional video linked below to learn more about the Zip The Fish Pi home automation system which has been specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi.

Main Features of the Zip The Fish Pi include :

– More power for PI – Three different power supplies up to 3A each.
– Micro USB power supply input
– Uninterruptible power supply: Seamless switching between three power sources. There is the possibility to connect small or large batteries – a special chip takes care of battery health, including charge and protection.

Full article and video:

Special News Report for CEDIA 2016

Miss the show? New product announcements and news from CEDIA 2016.

The new Echo Dot gives Amazon the top spot in the smart home market

BI Intelligence:  Amazon announced the upcoming release of the second-generation Echo Dot, the smaller version of its popular Echo voice controlled speaker.

The new device will be available starting on October 20and can currently be pre-ordered. The company also announced it would be lowering the price, selling Dots in packages of six or 12, expanding into new markets, and will be offering a white version.

These four announcements will help Amazon drastically increase its total addressable market for the Echo line of products:  Click here for more...

Will Hackers Outsmart the Smart Home? Why Security Needs to Happen at the Design Level

ABI Research:  The advent of home automation and rapid rise of smart home connected devices is seeing some vendors and new startups scramble to become a part of the movement, with ABI Research forecasting 360 million smart home device shipments by 2020. But many companies are leaving major security flaws in the wake of their hurried attempts to penetrate the market, producing products riddled with bugs and unpatched vulnerabilities. Ignoring cybersecurity at the design level provides a wide open door for malicious threat actors to exploit smart home products.

“We see an alarming increase in ransomware in smart TVs and IP cameras, code injection attacks, evidence of zero-day threats, and password eavesdropping for smart locks and connected devices,” says Dimitrios Pavlakis, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “The current state of security in the smart home ecosystem is woefully inadequate. Smart home device vendors need to start implementing cybersecurity mechanisms at the design stage of their products.”

Numerous attack vectors have been identified in popular smart home communication protocols, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi. Many companies are creating and selling easy-to-tamper smart locking systems, easy-to-hack sensor systems, and products that host a plethora of software vulnerabilities.  Cont'd...

The Growth of Online Video-Based Learning

The use of written material in education has become boring to today's digital users. Neurological studies have proven that memories are reinforced when an emotion was attached to memory.

A series of tubes: What's next for home automation

Peter Sayer for PCWorld:  "A series of tubes" is one of the most famous explanations of what makes the internet work, but it's also what many Europeans use to heat their homes. That's made room-by-room heating automation difficult -- until now.

Heating systems in Europe typically circulate hot water from a boiler to radiators around the home, with the pump and boiler controlled by a central thermostat. Programmable timers can boost the temperature on winter evenings or lower it at night.

Generally, though, such control is an all-or-nothing, whole-home affair, making it impossible to heat the living room only in the evening but warm the bathroom for a morning shower. Smart controllers like Nest and its European competitors Tado and Netatmo can't change that, as the series of tubes in most homes doesn't allow for independent control of different heating zones.  Cont'd...

Too Much: IoT, IoE isn't Coming to Benefit You, the Customer

All those connected objects will yield data on how machines and people interact with them. The fact that they can't manage the data they are already accumulating doesn't bother them because more is always better.

The Apple Home arrives next week but it won't change the smart home market as we know it

BI Intelligence:  At its September event, Apple announced a new iPhone 7, equipped with faster processing, a better camera, and added features.

Additionally, the tech giant announced that iOS 10, the next version of its iPhone operating system, will be available for download on September 13. This means Apple Home will become a native app available on compatible iPhones with iOS 10 onSeptember 13.

The Home app, which manages compatible devices, is the final and central part of the Apple smart home ecosystem. The app is built off the Apple HomeKit developer framework, which was released in 2014, and it aims to conquer technological fragmentation within the smart home ecosystem.

When testing the new system, BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, found that many of the devices were simple plug-and-play devices.  Cont'd...

L U C Y Smart Home Assistant Launches On Kickstarter

Oliver Winkler has designed and developed the new smart home assistant that incorporates a touchscreen display, together with camera and voice control technology to help you manage your life.
The L.U.C.Y. home assistant has this week launched via Kickstarter with the aim of raising €100,000 and is available to back with pledges starting from just €358 for early bird backers.

L.U.C.Y. takes the form of a 17 inch display complete with companion application. Watch the promotional video below to know more about what L.U.C.Y. is capable of providing and how she can help your day run even smoother.  Kickstarter Page:

5 Ways to Improve Your Room Sound

Every room has its own sound and every surface in your room will reflect, diffuse or absorb sound to some degree. The combination of these interactions is what creates your "room sound."

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