How Amazon's Alexa Could Drive the Connected Car Revolution

Harsh Chauhan for The Motley Fool:  From pulling up location coordinates to finding a free parking spot or opening the garage door, virtual assistants in cars are going to play a key role in powering the connected-car revolution. The voice-enabled virtual assistant space is becoming hotly contested among tech giants.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), however, seems to be taking the lead in this market with its Alexa Automotive platform, which is powered by the Echo voice assistant. The company has lined up deals with some of the biggest automakers, and is also receiving support from third-party accessory manufacturers such as Logitech (NASDAQ:LOGI) that could give Alexa a major push.

The Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas last month showed that Alexa is finding favor among carmakers, as Ford (NYSE:F) and Volkswagen (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) both said they had signed up to use the platform for services including weather updates and navigation. This is a big deal for Amazon; it needs to sign up big automakers for Alexa to steal a march on rivals such as Microsoft's Cortana and Alphabet's Google Assistant.  Cont'd...

In The Smart Home, Whoever Owns The Hub May Own Retail Too

Nikki Baird for Forbes:  According to our research at Retail Systems Research, retailers are very bullish on the future of the Internet of Things, or IoT. They are most excited about opportunities to interact with consumers via their mobile phones and even consumers’ own IoT devices (think wearables). For them, IoT is not about saving money. It’s about driving customer experience.

But what they are ignoring is how the IoT ecosystem looks set to evolve. Retailers will in no way be at the center of the IoT ecosystem. Just look at smart home technology: connected refrigerators, lights, ceiling fans, curtains, door locks – you name it – all increasingly connect to some management framework for all of those devices. Think “operating system for the smart home,” even though it’s a little more sophisticated than that.  Cont'd...

Gilbert apartment complex joins 'smart home' movement, experts question if trend will take off

Farai Bennett, Cronkite News via AZCentral:  The apartments at Vistara at San Tan Village look like many other “luxury” units available in the Valley, with their granite countertops and walk-in closets.

But step inside one of the Gilbert complex’s apartments, and you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and play music with just the press of a button.

The 366-unit complex has partnered with Clare Controls to make the apartments “smart.”

The complex is marketing its apartments as the first in Arizona to offer this kind of technology. It’s part of the “smart home” trend the public may recognize through consumer products such as Amazon’s Echo and Wink Hub 2.  Cont'd...

TrackNet Launches Tabs™ IoT Home and Family Monitoring Solution for Busy Families

The Tabs hub provides Wi-Fi coverage over an entire residence and Tabs sensor coverage over entire neighborhoods with significant benefits not only to consumers but also to operators and service providers deploying Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). For operators and service providers, the Tabs hub installed within customers' homes accelerates and scales LPWAN deployments much faster than a solely tower-based approach, easily provides deep indoor coverage and significantly reduces the network deployment capital and operation expense. 
Each Tabs solution starts with a wireless hub, which provides the Tabs sensor coverage over an entire neighborhood or high-rise development, delivering immediate benefit to the consumer. Each solution further includes a Tabs extender, which is a Tabs sensor hub but not a full Wi-Fi router, to ensure coverage over the locations most frequented by families such as school, day-care, or a friend's house. 
As more users install Tabs hubs and extenders, they collaborate to build or improve network coverage over an entire city or region, giving the users additional benefit for locating children, pets, elderly or things.   Full Press Release:  

Smart Home Automation & Monitoring Devices to Exceed 770m by 2021, Realising 1000% Growth

A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that smart home automation and monitoring devices will grow to over 770 million globally by 2021, representing an eleven-fold rise from just 68 million estimated in 2016.

The new research, Smart Home Markets: Entertainment, Monitoring, Automation, Health, Metering, Appliances 2017-2021, found that increasing adoption of platform evangelism and openness to partnerships is boosting third party development of devices, especially in developed markets.

Indeed, North America, Far East & China and West Europe will account for almost 75% of all households adopting the technology in 2021.  Subscription Services Lose Traction,  Cont'd...

How technology could help you live in your home for longer

Starts at 60:  For many of us as we get older, our wish is to remain living independently in our own home for as long as possible.  As we live longer and healthier lives, staying in your home for longer is becoming a more and more realistic goal.  With the help of technology, tens of thousands of Australians over-60 can expect to live independently in their home much later in life.

Aged care and home care providers such as Feros Care are making investments in the sort of technology that will help you live in your home for as long as you can.  The technology, which includes smart home integration and wearable devices, is finding its way into the homes of more and more over-60s.   Feros Care’s LifeLink General Manager Anthony Bacon said assistive, smart technologies were improving the independence, safety and health of older Australians who want to live independently in their home for as long as possible.  Cont'd...

Voice calling could soon come to smart home speakers

Business Insider:  Smart home speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home have been thus far positioned as novelty personal assistants, but this could soon change. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Amazon and Google are looking to integrate a voice-calling feature to the speakers, adding valuable functionality for users and giving the tech giants more insight into users' home lives.

If the companies manage to launch the feature, it would impact not just the smart home experience, but the mobile one as well.  Cont'd...

Dyson invests in AI-enabled smart home technology

Grace Bowden for Retail Week:  Dyson has launched a new research and development facility in Singapore dedicated to integrating artificial intelligence technology into its products.

The electricals brand, which opened its first UK retail store last July, has invested $412m (£331.7m) in the research facility, which opened this month.

The brand’s new facility, called the Technology Centre, features working labs where research and development teams will focus on expanding the use of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices across the business’ product range, as well as developing its use of AI.

Speaking at the launch event, founder James Dyson said: “Almost every product can benefit from AI – lighting, purification, cleaning — everything that you see in a room needs artificial intelligence.”  Cont'd...

Can A Smart Home Replace Security Guards and Video Camera Surveillance?

Craig Bretzlaff for IoT Evolution:  All homeowners are concerned about protecting their property against burglars and break-ins, especially those in the luxury market. Home automation is quickly becoming a reality, allowing individuals to control certain aspects of their home through the simple click of a button on an internet-connected device. Since security guards and video camera surveillance can significantly increase security overhead, smart homes can offer a way to lower those costs while still maintaining a keen eye on one’s property.

What is a smart home? A smart home is a home that is equipped with devices that can transmit data. These devices can control lights, electricity, and locking systems - which can be accessed remotely from an internet connected device, like a cellphone or tablet. The home automation market is predicted to grow, with experts putting its market value well over $10 billion by 2020 (Source). The ability for technology to integrate naturally within a home may seem strange now - like an amenity only applicable to multi-million dollar mansions -  but in a decade the IoT technology will likely become standard in many middle-class homes.  Cont'd...

Why Vivint Smart Home Is One Of The Most Innovative Companies Of 2017

Fast Company:  The company's device-subscription packages are opening the door to the connected home of the future.

"We’re taking what’s very complicated and simplifying it for the consumer," says Vivint Smart Home cofounder and CEO Todd Pedersen. The Provo, Utah–based company solves the most common problems with intelligent appliances—namely that they’re often difficult to set up and don’t play nice with any other internet-connected devices—by approaching smart-home technology as a subscription-based service.

A lot of companies develop a single product, Pedersen says, "but if you try to add additional services and products to your home, they’re completely uncoordinated." Instead, Vivint’s 1.2 million customers sign up for packages that include the installation of hardware (both its own and that of other companies, such as Nest); 24/7 tech support; repair services; and the seamless coordination of everything—from doorbell cameras to thermostats­­—via the Vivint app. Last year, this strategy increased annual revenue by roughly 15%, to more than $650 million.  Cont'd...

Amazon rolls out free smart-home consultations

Ángel González for Seattle Times:  In a bid to spread the gospel of home automation, Amazon.com has rolled out free consultations from in-house experts that help customers build out a connected home.  The Smart Home Consultation advisers come to consumers’ homes to demonstrate smart home products, including the hugely popular Echo line of devices, and make personalized recommendations on what gadgets to buy.

The service is now available in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Jose, Calif.  The service comes amid a big push by Amazon to give Alexa, its voice-activated digital assistant, an edge in a brewing war among tech companies for dominance in the artificial-intelligence market. Cont'd...

Brilliant uses voice and touch commands to control your smart home

Dean Takahashi for VentureBeat:  Is the smartphone on its way out?

San Mateo, Calif.-based Brilliant Home Technology announced that it has created the Brilliant Control, a smart lighting solution that gives anyone in the house the ability to access music, climate control, and other common smart home devices with just a simple touch or voice command. No smartphone is required.

The Brilliant Control aims to replace existing light switches with a device that responds to both touchscreen and voice commands. Brilliant Control is available for preorder starting at under $200 at www.brilliant.tech. The device has a 5-inch touchscreen with 1080p resolution.  Cont'd...

Year-Over-Year Home Automation Revenue Grew Over 50 Percent

According to global information provider, The NPD Group, annual 2016 U.S. dollar sales of home automation products experienced growth of 57 percent versus 2015. Security and monitoring products continued to lead the category, making-up over 60 percent of dollar share. Smart entry devices, such as smart doorbells, saw an increase in dollar and unit sales of 171 percent and 206 percent, respectively, when compared to the year prior, according to NPD's Retail Tracking Service. 
While awareness levels of many smart home devices have fluctuated, smart doorbells are an item within the smart entry space that saw growing awareness and ownership. Smart doorbell awareness increased four percentage points, and ownership increased two percentage points, according to the Connected Home Automation Report from NPD's Connected Intelligence. 
Networked video cameras continue to be the most common component of today's smart home, as nearly one-third of smart homes have this feature installed. In fact, over the last year consumer demand for multi-packs of IP cameras has increased 129 percent in U.S. dollar sales versus 2015*.   Full Press Release:

Electrolux to Acquire Fast-growing Smart Kitchen Appliance Company Anova

Electrolux today announced it has agreed to acquire Anova, the U.S. based provider of the Anova Precision Cooker, an innovative connected device for sous vide cooking that enables restaurant-quality results in the home. The acquisition provides a significant opportunity for profitable growth in this emerging product category. Anova's direct-to-consumer business model and digital focus are also of strong strategic interest to Electrolux. 
Anova was founded in 2013 and is growing rapidly amid popular acclaim for its innovative product, which was rated best cooking gadget of 2016 by reviewed.com.   Full Press Release:

EchoStar Pushes Fitness Overlays for Home Automation

Steve Donohue for The Donohue Report:  Dish Network sibling EchoStar has developed a system that could link a subscriber’s home fitness equipment with a television and home automation system.

Dale Moutain, a software engineer for EchoStar and SmarDTV, is named as inventor on the patent application published on Thursday. EchoStar submitted the application, titled, “Fitness overlay and incorporation for home automation system,” last October.

Abstract: Systems and methods for displaying fitness information with an electronic device may include receiving multimedia content at an input of the electronic device. The electronic device may provide the audiovisual content to a display device. The electronic device may also receive fitness information, and may provide this fitness information to the display device.  Cont'd...

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