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...

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...  

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:

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:  

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...

Go Green… Save Money?

Sure, it's good for the planet. But smart home energy management can save you money in some unexpected ways.

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.. .

Safety and Home/Away Use Cases Dominate Smart Home Interoperability Matrix

Parks Associates:  New research from Parks Associates finds smart home solutions that coordinate safety and home/away event scenarios could help a device manufacturer create cross-platform brand loyalty similar to Apple's dominance in CE device ecosystems. The IoT research firm finds U.S. consumers are more likely to own multiple CE products from Apple than from any other CE brand, with loyalty based largely around its mobile platforms. The emerging smart home markets do not have a dominant cross-platform player yet and represent an opportunity to establish a new population of brand loyalists.  "Apple has built a strong base of brand loyalists—82% of Mac users who purchased a smartphone chose an iPhone. By comparison, only 38% of non-Mac users who bought a smartphone chose an iPhone," said Brett Sappington, Senior Research Director, Parks Associates. "But cross-platform loyalty is difficult to achieve. Beyond Apple, ecosystem-based thinking among U.S. consumers is not natural; manufacturers must bridge this gap through product development and marketing that emphasize brand-specific benefits in use cases that apply across computing, mobile, and entertainment platforms.   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...

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