Best Buy Finally Figures Out the Internet

Shelly Banjo & Shira Ovide for BloombergGadfly:  Best Buy's quarterly financial results on Tuesday were downright Amazon-like: Consecutive quarters of double-digit online sales growth. Hot new products including virtual-reality headsets and techy watches. Words like "exploration" and "experimentation."

Gone were the store-closing announcements of quarters past, along with talk of bad weather or other tired excuses for why consumers aren't shopping (many of which we've heard from Target, Macy's and other retailers in recent weeks). Shares surged 19 percent on the news, marking Best Buy's biggest one-day stock gain since 2001.  Cont'd...

Smart Home Startups Are on the Rebound, But Barely

Adam Rowe for Tech.co:  Funding for smart home startups is looking up. According to the latest data from CB Insights, funding amounts are on track to be 30 percent better than they were in 2015. That’s only the total amount of funding, though: The actual number of deals is still on pace to remain even. Both the amount and the number of deals are well below the smart home interest peak in 2014, however.

In short, smart home startups are showing signs of weathering the 2014 bubbleand continuing to march towards profits.  Cont'd...

Genesis Teams Up With Amazon To Bring Connected Cars To Connected Homes

PR Newswire:  "Did I lock the car?" "How can I warm up my car on a snowy morning without going outside, get my news and still get to work on time?" These are questions that can leave many car owners feeling frazzled. But not G80 and G90 owners, as Genesis is the first automaker to launch an Alexa skill, allowing remote voice commands to control connected cars. Genesis Connected Services can take care of these tasks and more from inside the home using the Alexa voice service on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The new Alexa skill for Genesis is available today across Alexa-enabled devices.

"We're excited to bring the convenience of voice and Alexa to the Genesis G80 and G90," said Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa. "With this innovative Alexa implementation, customers can now start their car, and get the heat going all just by asking Alexa from the comfort of their own home. We can't wait for our customers to try it out."  Cont'd...

Home Automation: A Growth Area For The Security Industry?

Ron Alalouff for SourceSecurity.com:  ring a replica smart home, showcasing a range of interconnected devices such as intruder alarms, CCTV, biometric readers, door entry solutions and locks, as well as wireless control of blinds, lighting and heating, and 4K video and audio distribution.

But despite the market entry of some big names such as Google’s Nest, Apple’s HomeKit, and telecommunications giants AT&T and Deutsche Telekom, are we really on the threshold of a home automation revolution?  Cont'd...

Who is best positioned to build a smart home assistant?

Jan Dawson for recode:  There has been a lot of talk recently about advancements in the smart home arena, especially about new ways to control smart home devices. I have heard Amazon’s Echo referred to as a smart home device, and just this week, web service IFTTT announced new partnerships that are intended to allow smart home devices to connect in an automated fashion to other devices and services.

However, what we’re still missing when it comes to the smart home is a true smart home assistant — a counterpart, if you will, to the smart assistants that come baked into every modern smartphone operating system. This post dives into what that means in practice, and who might be best positioned to deliver on this vision.  Cont'd...

IFTTT Looks To Cement Its Position In The Smart Home Market

Daniel Fuller for Android Headlines:  App enthusiasts and/or home automation fans are likely already quite familiar with IFTTT. One of the bigger forces in the Android tinkering world, IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and it’s actually a pretty accurate description of what the app does. Essentially, users can use triggers and recipes to make the app look for a condition to happen on a device or in an app. Once that happens, it will trigger a specified action, even if that action takes place elsewhere, so long as everything is rigged up right. IFTTT users can create a variety of mind-blowing functions, so it’s no surprise that the app found its way onto the Amazon Echo and that was apparently, only the beginning.

IFTTT has officially given the go-ahead for the guts of their app, the recipes and their capabilities, to find homes in new products. Naturally, the first wave of IFTTT recipients will be home automation products. Since IFTTT is already integrated with the Amazon Echo and programmable recipes can use an IoT hub as a conduit rather than transmitting from device to device, home automation is a natural fit for IFTTT. Using a web-based backend, IFTTT and the 40,000 some odd recipes that the firm has publicly released can now run on just about any device, and talk to just about any other device. The idea is that IFTTT will act as a backend for crosstalk between devices and services that would otherwise require a decent amount of time and money in engineering.  Cont'd...

Big-I is a smart home robot that will stalk your family

Brittany Vincent for enGadget:  Siri, Alexa and Cortana are helpful around the house, but can their respective tech follow you around the house like something out of a science fiction movie? Big-I, the personal robot, can do just that.

The robot resembles a cuddly trash can, standing at waist length with one large "eye" where the trash can's lid would be. It's actually sort of cute, when you think about it. Big-I can see, hear, move and respond to voice commands you program it with, including IFTTT-like instructions. The robot is seen in its promotional clip reminding a father to send jackets with children if the temperature is below a certain threshold. It's told to play music when the father raises his hand a specific way.

The robot's open API and unique operating system mean there's room for customization as well, in addition to integration with your smart home appliances like lights and thermostat systems. It can also be educated, meaning you could potentially train your own little personal housekeeper. Just make sure Roomba doesn't see it and get jealous.  Cont'd...

Windows 10 moves closer to smart-home centerpiece with big Internet of Things deal

Agam Shah for IDG News Service via PCWorld:  Lazy people will love Windows 10 and its ability to automate home tasks, and the operating system's smart-home credentials are getting a serious boost with a recent internet of things pact.

Microsoft wants to put Windows 10 at the center of smart homes. The company wants users to be able to tell the operating system's Cortana voice assistant to switch on a light, open a door, release food for a cat, and even check the contents of a refrigerator.

For Windows 10 to be successful, the OS will have to work with a wide range of smart home and IoT devices, and that goal has taken a big step forward thanks to a recent agreement between standards bodies the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and the Thread Group. The two organizations will work together on improving interoperability between smart home and IoT devices.

This means devices running Windows 10 will be able to connect with most smart home products and program home automation tasks based on events or times of the day.  Cont'd...

Staples abandons its smart home hopes

David Priest for CNet:  Staples has officially announced that it's handing over sales and support for its home automation system Connect to Z-Wave Products. Though the exact terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Z-Wave has purchased Staples' inventory and licensed the Staples Connect brand to use moving forward. According to representatives at Zonoff, the company that has supported Connect's software and will continue to do so with Z-Wave, users should experience no practical change to their Connect automation systems.

This transition isn't a surprise to many industry watchers. Staples stopped selling the Connect hub months ago, and rumors began to swirl that the office supply retailer might be planning to unplug its internet of things ecosystem altogether. In April, the company said it would be releasing a statement about Connect's future sometime in the coming weeks. As many users waited anxiously, Staples finally opted to keep Connect alive, handing it off to a third-party caretaker.  Cont'd...

Rentals and Smart Home Survey Finds Competitive Edge

Andrew Burger for TeleCompetitor:  Travelers are more willing to make a reservation for short-term rental housing if the housing has smart home features, according to a rentals and smart home survey conducted by Edelman Intelligence for  smart home products provider August Home, Inc.

Eighty percent of vacation guests and 92% of business travelers said they would be more likely to complete a reservation for short-term accommodation rentals that were equipped with smart home technology, such as smart door locks, lighting, smart TVs, entertainment systems and doorbell cameras.  Cont'd...

IoT alliances collaborate to advance the connected home

Smart Cities World:  Two alliances dedicated to progressing the Internet of Things (IoT) are joining forces to advance the adoption of connected home products.

The Thread Group and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) share many member companies who will benefit from this liaison agreement, and both groups are committed to driving improved cross-application interoperability and device connectivity in the connected home. 
A lack of interoperability across common technology areas is consistently highlighted as one of biggest factors preventing the IoT from realising its full potential across the product development spectrum, including silicon, software, platform, and finished-goods. The two organisations will work together to ensure that OCF’s application layer will be fully compatible with Thread’s low-power, secure and scalable IPv6-based wireless mesh network layer.  Cont'd...

Nortek Security & Control Joins ZigBee Alliance, Targets MSO Smart Home, Other Emerging IoT Sectors

Nortek Security & Control LLC, a Nortek Company and leader in the security, smart home and wellness technology markets, today announces a number of strategic expansion plans in the wake of the company joining the ZigBee Alliance. The company is announcing plans to develop products that utilize the ZigBee protocol driven by projected growth and key customer demand. This strategic growth plan serves to create a larger ecosystem of compatible devices within Nortek Security & Control's smart home product lines. Full Press Release:

HoloLens concept lets you control your smart home via augmented reality

By Luke Dormehl for DigitalTrends:  There’s no doubt that device-filled connected smart homes are on the way. The real question is how we’re going to control them.

That was the starting point of a nifty proof-of-concept project created by interaction designer Ian Sterling and software engineer Swaroop Pal during a recent HoloLens hackathon in San Francisco. Their augmented reality pitch shows how smart devices could be controlled with glances and gestures — in what Sterling calls a “virtual Zen mode,” complete with calming lights and sounds.  Full Article:

APIs: From Connected Home Into Programmable Platform

CXOtoday News Desk:  Consumers will increasingly use digital personal assistants to interact with consumer services in the connected home, says Gartner. Gartner predicts that, by 2019, in at least 25 percent of households in developed economies, the digital assistants on smartphones and other devices will serve as the primary interface to connected home services.

“In the not-too-distant future, users will no longer have to contend with multiple apps; instead, they will literally talk to digital personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant,” said Mark O’Neill, research director at Gartner. “Some of these personal assistants are cloud-based and already beginning to leverage smart machine technology.”

Digital personal assistants show the potential to satisfy wants and needs by delivering experiences that connect services, configure devices and even order and deliver products. Personalized, context-aware information can also be presented as it is wanted or needed — for example, suggestions for restaurants near planned meetings, or recommended temperature settings for the home to optimize energy consumption and comfort in line with the weather.  Cont'd...

Now You Can Hide Your Smart Home on the Darknet

Andy Greenberg for WIRED:  The Privacy Software Tor has aided everything from drug dealing marketplaces to whistleblowing websites in evading surveillance on the darknet. Now that same software can be applied to a far more personal form of security: keeping hackers out of your toaster.
On Wednesday, the privacy-focused non-profit Guardian Project, a partner of the Tor Project that maintains and develops the Tor anonymity network, announced a new technique it’s developed to apply Tor’s layers of encryption and network stealth to protecting so-called “Internet of things” or “smart home” devices. That growing class of gadgets, ranging from refrigerators to lightbulbs to security cameras, are connected to the Internet to make possible new forms of remote management and automation. They also, as the security research community has repeatedly demonstrated, enable a new breed of over-the-Internet attacks, such as the rash of hackers harassing infants via baby monitors or the potential for hackers tosteal your Gmail password from your fridge.  Cont'd...
 

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