Mattel's Aristotle Connects Wired Child, Smart Home

Elaine Low for Investors.com:  Alexa, play digger, digger," the redheaded, still-learning-to-speak toddler in the video appears to tell a small electronic device on a bedside stand.

The family's new Amazon.com (AMZN) Echo Dot, one of the more popular voice recognition personal assistant devices, replies:

"You want to hear a station from porn detected, porno ring tone, hot chick amateur girl …" Frantic relatives scramble to shut off the device as it veers into some highly NSFW (not safe for work) language.

The now-viral video is a prime example of how cutting-edge language recognition tools fail when faced with kid-speak. Toy maker Mattel (MAT) recognized the failure as an opportunity: a market niche for a kid-focused, parent-controlled smart speaker amid a growing connected-home market.  Cont'd...

Study: Insurers adopting smart home policies

Will Koblensky for Insurance Business:  A combination of consumer demand and industry interest could create a wave of smart home technology and IoT disruption for home insurers in the near future.
According to an NTT Data report, 59% of surveyed home carriers say they’re making “strong progress” adding smart home technology to their coverage while 77% of those carriers are ramping up IoT initiatives.
“We know that there aren’t that many products already out there, so these are initiatives designed to get them into the game,” Normand Lepine, insurance data and analytics lead for NTT DATA said.
“We believe a lot of what’s going on right now is around strategy, potentially infrastructure. There are still a lot of challenges and they (carriers) know that. Until they really understand how this is going to be beneficial, they’re still going to go slowly.”  Cont'd...

Eaton Demonstrates Electrical Advancements in Residential Home Construction and Automation

Eaton News Release:  Power management company Eaton supplied the automation-rich and aesthetically designed electrical solutions from the service entrance to the wall plate for The New American Home® 2017 and The New American Remodeled Home® 2017 located in Orlando, Florida. Through its participation in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) showcase homes, Eaton is demonstrating the solutions advancing home automation in new construction and improving the design and livability of existing homes. 
Both homes will be showcased during the 2017 NAHB International Builders' Show® in Orlando, from January 10 to 12. Builders can see and learn more about the Eaton residential solutions incorporated at the showcase homes at Eaton's booth W3490 at the 2017 NAHB International Builders' Show.   Full Press Release:

It's a year of integrations at CES 2017

Jenny McGrath for DigitalTrends:  This year, at CES 2017, companies already have their door locks or cameras on the market — and if they don’t, they’re just partnering with other companies who already make those things.
It’s a year of integrations at CES 2017. Airmega, a smart air purifier that debuted last year, announced its integration with Amazon’s Alexa. Users can now turn on or off the device with their voice, or ask their Echo or Dot for an update on the air quality. Lutron’s big announcement wasn’t a new dimmer or shades but its integration with SmartThings and expanded capabilities with Nest via the Alphabet-owned company’s camera. Garage-door-opener maker Chamberlain used CES to tell customers it will make products that work with Apple’s HomeKit starting in July of this year.  Cont'd...
 

Sony's New High Definition TV Has a Screen That's Also a Speaker

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:  It's been a while since a new TV raised any eyebrows, but Sony Corp. has just unveiled a new product that's creating a bit of buzz at the annual CES industry gathering in Las Vegas.   Sony's XBR-A1E Bravia 4K is the electronics maker's first commercial foray into the niche market for televisions that use OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, technology. While the vivid, power-sipping screens have found their way onto smartphones, the cost of making them has so far limited their appeal for TVs. Only LG Electronics Inc. has made a serious effort to sell OLED TVs. Panasonic Corp. also unveiled an OLED TV at this year's CES.

What's different about Sony's new A1E TV, however, is that the screen doubles as a speaker. By vibrating the display itself, Sony said it will be able to offer the "perfect unification of picture and sound unattainable by conventional TVs." This is possible because OLED screens don't require a backlight, according to the Tokyo-based company.   Cont'd...

LG ROBOTS TO TAKE CENTER STAGE AT CES 2017

By leveraging powerful analytical processing power, LG’s robotic lineup will be able to navigate complex environments and decipher the most efficient and effective path to accomplish tasks, making people’s lives easier at every touch-point.

Innovating beyond LG technologies already found in the LG HOM-BOT automated vacuum cleaner, LG’s first non-cleaning robots are equipped with AI technologies enabling them to be employed in the home, in tandem with other smart appliances, outdoors, as well as in public spaces:

LG’s “Hub Robot” designed for home use will double as a smart home gateway and a personal assistant for consumers.
Another robot previewed at CES 2017 will demonstrate new capabilities for tending to one’s yard and garden.
LG’s robot lineup will also include models designed for commercial use in public spaces such as airports and hotels to help improve the traveler’s experience.

LG’s new robot collection will be unveiled at LG’s CES press conference on January 4 at 8:00AM PST at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and on display at LG’s booth (Central Hall #11100) in the Las Vegas Convention Center from Jan. 5-8.

LG Pushes Smart Home Appliances To Another Dimension With 'Deep Learning' Technology

Press Release:   To advance the functionality of today's home appliances to a whole new level, LG Electronics (LG) is set to deliver an unparalleled level of performance and convenience to the home with deep learning technology to be unveiled at CES® 2017. LG deep learning technology will allow home appliances to better understand their users by gathering and studying customers' lifestyle patterns over time. This process never ends and improves over time to provide customers with new solutions to everyday problems. 
"Deep learning technology is the next phase in the evolution of smart appliances, and as an industry leader, we have the responsibility of being an early mover," said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG Electronics and Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. "But even more important than what appliances are capable of will be how companies behave when entrusted with data. At LG, we believe performance and convenience do not mean having to sacrifice security and privacy. They can and should exist simultaneously." Full Press Release:
 

How to upgrade your home audio system without spending too much

David Nield for T3.com:  If you're looking to get better sound for your music, movies and podcasts around the home, then there are a dizzying number of options to sort through - no matter what you're looking to do, chances are there's a smart bit of kit out there to help you do it.

For this particular feature we're going to look at reasonably-priced but top notch audio hardware - you really can break the bank with a home audio system, but if your budget's more towards the lower end of the scale, these are some of the devices worth a look.  Cont'd...

iOS 10.2 improves Apple HomeKit with expanded smart home notifications

Neil Hughes for Apple Insider:  Monday's release of iOS 10.2 brought meaningful changes to Apple's HomeKit platform, giving users the ability to receive instant alerts for a variety of new connected device types in their home.
iOS 10.2 adds support for notifications from a variety of HomeKit accessories, including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door and window detectors, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors.  By default, upon updating to iOS 10.2, users will begin receiving notifications from devices that now support the feature.  These can be enabled or disabled by opening Apple's Home app and selecting the appropriate device via firm press on 3D Touch devices, or long press on non-3D Touch devices. Tap the "Details" button at the bottom, and then scroll down to "Status and Notifications."
Here, users can decide whether the accessory will send notifications every time a sensor is triggered. This can allow the user to receive alerts no matter where they are, such as if a HomeKit smoke detector or motion sensor were triggered.  Cont'd...
 

Google now lets developers write apps for the Assistant on Google Home

Frederic Lardinois for TechCrunch:  Google today announced that all developers (and not just those in its private preview program), can start bringing their applications and services to the Google Assistant, starting with what the company calls “conversation actions” on Google Home. This allows developers to create back-and-forth conversations with users through the Assistant and users can simply start these conversations by using a phrase like “OK Google, talk to Eliza.”

While the Assistant also runs on the Pixel phones and inside the Allo chat app, Google says it plans to bring actions to these other “Assistant surfaces” in the future, but it’s unclear when exactly this will happen.  Cont'd...

Microsoft takes aim at Amazon's Echo with Windows 10 HomeHub feature

Tom Warren for The Verge:  Microsoft is planning to build a HomeHub feature into future Windows 10 updates to better compete against devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the feature is currently in the planning stages, and the software maker is expected to introduce a “HomeHub” in updates due in 2017 and 2018, and not the upcoming Creators Update.

Windows Central reports that the feature will “crush” Google Home and Amazon Echo, but The Verge understands that HomeHub is designed to be a service and feature that will run on any Windows 10 PC and turn it into a machine where Cortana can be summoned from the lockscreen to provide useful information. Windows Central previously reported that the HomeHub was a voice-activated speaker that was supposed to be unveiled at Microsoft’s Surface hardware event back in October. Those reports were inaccurate, but Microsoft is planning a software feature with the same name.  Cont'd...

Amazon, Intel Partner to Advance Smart Home Tech

ANGELA MOSCARITOLO for PCMag:  From Amazon Echo and the Nest Learning Thermostat to Philips Hue light bulbs and the August Smart Lock, there are already loads of gadgets on the market that can make your home a little smarter. Now, two tech giants — Amazon and Intel — are coming together to "advance the Smart Home ecosystem and extend natural language capabilities to consumers everywhere."

The companies on Thursday unveiled two new technology initiatives to further that mission. For starters, they're working together on Intel-based smart speaker reference designs that will feature Amazon Alexa. The new designs are meant to "help hardware manufacturers accelerate their development of voice-enabled devices with the Intel platform and Alexa Voice Services," Intel and Amazon said. Developers and manufacturers should be able to check out the designs at some point in the first quarter of 2017.  Cont'd...

Top 10 Smart Home Technologies for Older Homeowners

Claims Journal:  Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, wireless doorbell cameras, and keyless entry are among the top 10 smart home technologies for homeowners age 50 and older, according to new research from The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab.

“Smart home technology can make life easier for people of all ages, but it can be especially beneficial to those ages 50 and older as their lifestyles change,” said Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence. “Keyless entry is convenient for active households, especially if there are multiple generations living under one roof. Wireless doorbell cameras can provide safety and peace of mind to families who travel or to individuals who live alone.”  Cont'd...

China's LingLong launches DingDong smart home speaker

BBC News:  A Chinese firm has unveiled the country's first voice-activated smart home speaker - its answer to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home.

The DingDong, by technology company Beijing LingLong, uses voice interaction to do tasks such as playing music and switching on home appliances.

The device is said to understand Mandarin, Cantonese and basic English.

A study by Juniper Research suggests China's smart home market could be worth $22.8bn (£18.3bn) by 2018.

Beijing LingLong is owned by Chinese online retailer JD.com - which is selling the DingDong for 698 yuan ($100, £81).  Cont'd...

Why iRobot's Colin Angle thinks the smart home starts with a robot vacuum

Matthew Lynley for TechCrunch:  Robots — and the smart home in general — are a hot topic, and it’s one where an enormous amount of investment is happening right now. There are many companies like Nest and Ring that are trying to target segments of the home in the hopes of making everything smarter.

But it’s easy to forget that the home is still a physical space, and in order for everything to work together, it has to understand what that looks like. And iRobot, the makers of a robot vacuum cleaner, have been trying to crack that problem for more than 20 years. Until robots can figure that out, and talk to each other, it’s going to be an uphill battle to build a truly smart home, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2016.

“In the virtual world, it’s very easy to understand everything about the environment because it’s inside the computer,” Angle said. “If you have a simulated room you’re inside the computer. You know precisely where things are. In the robot industry, we almost dislike simulations because they are doomed to succeed.  Cont'd...

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