Apple TV review: Big steps forward, but not a revolution

Susie Ochs for MacWorld:  Apple finally updated its Apple TV set-top box, which had remained virtually unchanged for years, since going 1080p in 2012. The new version is faster, easier to use, and less frustrating, at least most of the time. What it isn’t is a revolution—everything Apple added already existed in its competitors. An App Store and a microphone-equipped remote for voice search are both excellent features to have, and they bring the Apple TV closer to the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. But Apple still has a ways to go. The Remote app for iOS doesn’t work with this new model, for example, so we’re back to entering passwords one letter at a time by clicking with the remote—that’s actually a step backward from where we were. You still can’t enter your cable-provider credentials in one place and see a list of all the network apps you could log into. Without categories in the App Store, you can’t even find a list of all the games.   Cont'd...

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X explained

Theo Nicolakis for TechHive:  Have you ever seen a presentation explaining the difference between the second and third dimensions? If you were to step into a 2D world, it would be like living inside a piece of paper—an entire universe completely flat in its existence. Objects could exist only on a single plane, left, right, straight ahead, or behind. In mathematical terms, you would have only an X axis and a Y axis. In a 2D world, the concepts of “up” or “down” do not exist. There is no Z axis. Jump back over to the third dimension and you’ll encounter an entire world of sights and sounds above and below in addition to all around. Step into a 3D world and you’ll immediately feel as though things are more realistic, more natural, more true-to-life. Imagine how difficult it would be to explain to a person living in a 2D world what the 3D world looks like, feels like, and sounds like.   Cont'd...

UPDATE - Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

In this ongoing article we will take a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options that are available now. Updated 10/29/15

New Flight: Despite Hurdles, Drones Are Taking Off

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) spent more than $4M over the past two years lobbying to make it easier for filmmakers to use small drones for film-making.

Savant unveils The Savant Remote, combining the convenience of a universal remote with the power of home automation

Users can control over 380,000 of today's most popular entertainment devices and switch easily between their favorites. The high-resolution touchscreen eliminates the need for extra buttons by elevating additional controls when necessary. Control happens wirelessly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi without requiring any line of sight between the Remote and your entertainment system. Homeowners can also use the Savant Remote to control their lights with the new Savant Lamp Control, creating instant ambiance in any room with a tap. Voice commands offer another simple method of control. Users can simply say "FOOD NETWORK" to watch their favorite channels, or "APPLE TV" when they want to browse for a new movie. Homeowners can also use voice controls to activate their own Savant scenes, like "RELAX," which could cue up a mellow Sonos playlist and dim the lights, or "GOODNIGHT," which would turn everything off. Personalized profiles give every family member their own remote experience, with all their favorite channels and scenes just a tap or voice command away—while limited-access profiles let guests enjoy the benefits of Savant when they're visiting.   Full Press Release:

Comcast's home automation app links with Nest, Lutron and more

By Dan Herscovici, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Xfinity Home in Home :  Xfinity Home customers are now able to control the August Smart Lock, Chamberlain MyQ garage controller, and the Lutron Caséta wireless light controller and dimmer directly through the Xfinity Home app on both iOS and Android devices. In addition, Xfinity Home now works with the Nest LearningThermostat. Over the past few months, our team has been working on a Software Development Kit (SDK) that makes it easier than ever before for partners to integrate their smart devices into the Xfinity Home ecosystem. This includes a testing and certification program to ensure all hardware that integrates with Xfinity Home meets key levels of quality, compatibility and security. Smart devices that have gone through our process will be certified under the "Works with Xfinity Home" program and will eventually include branding that makes it easy for customers to identify compatible smart home devices when shopping online and in retail stores.   Cont'd...

3 Smart Thermostat Startups That Could Save on Your Energy Bills

Challenging Nest and Honeywell are three startups with different approaches to use your thermostat to save you money.

Nest Gets Into the Smart-Lock Game by Going Old School

CADE METZ for Wired:  Today, Yale, the company, unveiled a digital lock that taps into the “smart home” system designed by Nest. The Google-owned Nest makes Internet-connected thermostats, security cameras, and smoke detectors that also handle carbon monoxide, but that’s not all. It also offers a variety of tools that let other companies connect their own devices with the various Nest gadgets. The idea is that you can control all these devices with a single smartphone app—and that each device can talk to the others. You can, say, set your security camera to start recording when someone opens your door lock—or program your door lock to say something when you step into a house full of carbon monoxide. But the new Yale lock, dubbed Linus, is a little different from other devices. It’s the first third-party device designed to communicate with Nest gadgets directly, via a wireless network set up inside your home. Previously, such devices could only reach Nest gear in a roundabout way, over the Internet. And this has its drawbacks.   Cont'd...

CliniCloud Raises $5M For Its Connected Home Medical Kit

Fitz Tepper for TechCrunch:  CliniCloud, a company that is building a connected home medical kit, has just announced a $5M seed funding round and a new retail partnership with Best Buy. The round was led byTencent and Ping An Ventures. Founded by Dr. Hon Weng Chong and Dr. Andrew Lin, Clinicloud is a device that digitally records respiratory and cardiovascular sounds. The devices records these biometrics by utilizing a stethoscope and non-contact infrared thermometer, both of which connect to your phone. Measurements recorded with these devices are then displayed inside the CliniCloud app, where the data can either be analyzed or sent directly to a doctor. The company also has a partnership with Doctor on Demand, which will let users video chat a doctor and allow them to use CliniCloud to access heart and lung sounds in real time, as if you were at the office in person. Additionally, CliniCloud is working on implementing machine learning to eventually automatically diagnose illnesses using the device. The company explained that respiratory and cardiovascular sounds alone can help identify a large number common conditions, including Asthma, Pneumonia, and Congestive Heart Failure. The device will be available online in October, and in over 500 Best Buy stores starting in November.  Cont'd...

This startup's connected outlets can make your smart home even smarter

By Stacey Higginbotham for Fortune:  I’m testing a $160 package of three outlets from a startup called Zuli. The outlets allow me to plug in any device and turn it on and off remotely, set schedules, gather energy consumption, and, if the device is a lamp, I can dim it. But the real magic comes into play when you have three of these outlets plugged into your home, because then they can track where you are and offer presence awareness. Presence is big. To get to a truly smart home, devices need more context, and knowing where people are in the home is a crucial piece of context. For example, one of the most popular Internet connected devices in the home is probably the Nest thermostat. It can sense when you are home or away based on a proximity sensor in the thermostat. But because thermostats are usually located in out-of-the-way locations, a lot of people find themselves working away in an isolated corner of the house only to realize their thermostat has switched to away mode because they haven’t walked in front of the thermostat in a while.   Cont'd...

Storage Challenge: The Degree of Content Value

Hard drives will continue to be used when price, capacity and availability are the primary considerations. Flash will win where speed, ruggedness, form factor and fragmentation are important factors.

CHROMECAST AUDIO COULD ARRIVE SEPT. 29, WILL WI-FI ENABLE YOUR HOME SPEAKERS

By Chris Leo Palermino for Digital Trends:   While we reported about the Chromecast 2 earlier today, it sounds like that’s not the only Chromecast that Google will be debuting on Sept. 29. The tech giant is also working on Chromecast Audio, a separate device focused on “Wi-Fi-enabling the speakers in your home,” according to 9to5Google. Allegedly called “Hendrix” internally, the music-focused Chromecast will attach to speakers via a standard 3.5mm headphone cable. The new device will allow users to listen to music and other audio like podcasts (and maybe even online radio?) via wi-fi from Android devices or the Chrome browser. Chromecast currently supports Google Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and — as of recently — Spotify. It will have ‘multi-room support,’ which means that it may have the ability to play the same audio through multiple speakers.   Cont'd...

Apple Reveals Future 'Home Automation Hub' for Apple TV in 'Siri Remote' Trademark Filing

When launching the reinvented Apple TV device last week Apple noted that the all-new Apple TV was built from the ground up with a new generation of high-performance hardware and introduced an intuitive and fun user interface using the 'Siri Remote™.' Well, the trademark symbol presented beside 'Remote™' may be a little premature as Apple just filed for this trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Although the filing was made public today, the actual date is noted as being September 9, 2015, the day that the Siri Remote was officially launched during Apple's Hey Siri San Francisco event. One more thing: Apple hints in their trademark filing that Apple TV will become the hub for home automation as we predicted back in 2014. Apple's idea of a home automation system may have humbly started with an Apple patent application filed back in January 2010 regarding a smart-home energy management dashboard system. Then came word that Apple was about to introduce a new smart home platform during their 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). That became reality with the introduction of Apple's new HomeKit that revealed "Siri Integration" as noted as the last point of the slide presented below from WWDC 2014. In a Patently Apple special report covering Apple's WWDC event specifically on HomeKit, the following was stated: …it's very possible that Apple could be thinking of integrating their new Home App right into Apple TV and finally bringing to market a true in-home digital hub that we've been waiting for. Is it a pipedream? Only time will tell.   Cont'd...  

IoT Journey: 50B Connected Things Means … 50B Connected Things

If your company wants to stake a claim with the Internet of Things, you first need to develop a distinctive "way to play"-a clear value proposition that you can offer customers.

Wireless Multiroom Audio: Room For More?

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Sales growth is slowing in wireless multiroom audio even as more companies enter a market whose top brand – Sonos — enjoys almost a 90 percent dollar share of the market at the retail level. So you’d think the market would be in the midst of a shakeout, shrinking margins, and a downward spiral in average selling prices. But you’d be wrong, at least for now. Some audio suppliers see ASPs and retail-level margins holding steady or rising as high-performance audio brands begin to play in a market established by Sonos 10 years ago. And they aren’t too worried yet about slowing growth because the household penetration rate is still very low. Only 2 percent, or 3 million, of the country’s 116 million households have wireless multiroom-audio speakers, according to estimates from Yamaha, which entered the market in August.   Cont'd...

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