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...

A smart home scoreboard for CES 2017

Rich Brown for CNet:  How about a good, old-fashioned technology arms race? You could just buy a smart light bulb set, but for a lot of consumers (reportedly more than 5 million of you, as of November 2016), it's Amazon's voice-activated Alexa that will be the entry point for controlling devices around your home. Along with Amazon, Apple continues to grow its Siri-powered HomeKit smart home system. Google has also entered the fray with its own blandly named smart home AI, Google Assistant, which featured prominently in Google's Echo-imitating Google Home speaker in November 2016. That's a lot of industry power competing to put a virtual assistant in charge of your home, and that's why our scoreboard for tracking new smart home devices announced at CES 2017 is focusing on voice control.   Full Article:

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.

The Weird and Wonderful Smart Home Tech of 2016

John Elliot for Mansion Global:  Next week entrepreneurs, developers and enthusiasts will descend on Las Vegas for a first look at the latest smart home technology at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, which begins on Jan. 3. But before we fully embrace 2017 and the endless smart home product possibilities it will present, we’re taking a look back at a few of the more under-celebrated (some might say “strange”) devices of the past year. These products all purport to solve a problem plaguing the masses, and while they may miss that mark, they are still intriguing and entertaining, if not entirely applicable to everyday life.   Full article:

With smart home security the defining factor, Zmodo adds devices and features

Bruce Brown for DigitalTrends:  Zmodo has added more devices and tighter integration and control to its smart home monitoring product lineup. Called Total Smart Home Vision, the company stresses the priority of bank-level security while adding more devices and making it easier for customers to design and control their own smart home configurations. Zmodo started by adding more devices to its existing lineup of Wi-Fi-connected monitoring devices that include the Torch camera-equipped smart door light, Pivot temperature, and humidity sensing 360-degree panning camera, Greet smart doorbell and camera, Replay multiple camera recording system, and the Beam combination Wi-Fi range extender, night light, and smart home hub. The comprehensive list of new devices will include smart thermostats and vents, curtain controls, gas and carbon monoxide sensors, garage door openers, irrigation systems, and wireless cameras.   Reflecting its roots as a monitoring company, the Total Smart Home Vision is secured from home devices to cloud storage by AES 256-bit bank-level encryption accessible only by your personal account.   Cont'd...

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:  

This Small Device Detects Cyber Threats In Your Smart Home Devices

Jennifer Hicks for Forbes:   By 2025, IDC says that 80 billion devices will be connected to the internet. In the near future, Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be approximately 25 billion IoT-enabled devices. If you need more proof of rapid consumer adoption in practical terms, Amazon Echo has sold 5.1 million smart speakers in just the first two years of being on the market.  Now, let's look at the data from all this connectivity. Planet Technology gathered some Internet of Things (IoT) statistics and came up with an infographic that puts the upsurge in connectivity and the data it generates into perspective. If a byte of data was a gallon of water, today in 2016, it would only take 10 seconds to fill the average house with data. By 2020, it will only take two seconds. That's a lot of data being collected by your smart home devices from your intelligent fridge to your connected washing machine, baby monitor and thermostat.   Cont'd...

Comcast wants in on your smart home. Here's how it'll get there

Roger Cheng & David Priest for CNet:  When Fraser Stirling was 16, his father asked him what he wanted to study in school. His answer: industrial design. His father, who's been an assistant principal and a soccer coach, wasn't pleased. "[He] said that was not a proper job for a man in his house," Stirling recalled in a thick Scottish accent. "He wanted me to get a job where I could actually make some money." Twenty years later, Stirling is in charge of designing products for the unlikeliest of companies: Comcast. Yes, the nation's largest cable company, known for delivering "The Walking Dead" to your TV and making you wait hours for a repair technician, is (kinda) entering the hardware business. Comcast has unveiled its first family of products specifically designed by the company to serve its Xfinity Home business.   Cont'd...

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...  

UW Engineers Achieve Wi-Fi at 10,000 Times Lower Power

From Jennifer Langston at University of Washington's UWToday:   A team of University of Washington computer scientists and electrical engineers has demonstrated that it’s possible to generate Wi-Fi transmissions using 10,000 times less power than conventional methods. The new Passive Wi-Fi system also consumes 1,000 times less power than existing energy-efficient wireless communication platforms, such as Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee. A paper describing those results will be presented in March at the 13th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation. The technology has also been named one of the 10 breakthrough technologies of 2016 by MIT Technology Review... (full article)   (paper)   (hackernews technical discussion)

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.. .

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