Can your smart home be used against you in court?

Brian Heater for TechCrunch:  On a November, 2015 morning in Bentonville, Arkansas, first responders discovered a corpse floating in a hot tub. The home’s resident, James Andrew Bates, told authorities he’d found the body of Victor Collins dead that morning. He’d gone to bed at 1 AM, while Collins and another friend stayed up drinking. This past December, The Information reported that authorities had subpoenaed Amazon over the case. The police were considering Bates a suspect in what they suspected was a murder after signs of a struggle were found at the scene. They hoped his Echo might hold some insights into what happened the night before. Amazon initially pushed back against the request, citing First Amendment protections, but ultimately conceded when Bates agreed to allow the information to be handed over to police. While Amazon’s fight has been rendered moot, this case lays groundwork for some tough and important conversations to come, raising a slew of fascinating questions around the technologies.   Cont'd...

Comcast completes acquisition of Icontrol's IoT and home security arm

Tas Bindi for ZDNet:  Comcast has completed its acquisition of Icontrol Networks' Converge business, which creates Internet of Things (IoT) and connected home security solutions. Converge already powers Comcast's XFinity Home, in that it allows Comcast to communicate with and manage security sensors that are part of Xfinity Home, and also supports home-automation devices like cameras and thermostats. While the terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Comcast SVP and XFinity Home general manager Daniel Herscovici explained in a blog post that the acquisition will give the company full control over Icontrol's research and development roadmap. Specifically, it will allow the company to accelerate the pace of XFinity Home's development, especially in the area of connected home security.   Cont'd...

Nest is working on at least 3 new smart-home gadgets right now - here's what we know

Antonio Villas-Boas for Business Insider:  Nest, the struggling connected-smart-home company bought by Google's parent company, Alphabet, in 2014, will expand its range of smart-home products with new and updated devices you can control from apps on your mobile devices, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Those new products include a home-security alarm system with window and door sensors, a key fob for arming and disarming your alarm, and a smart doorbell with a camera. The news comes after a tumultuous period at Nest, during which the cofounder and CEO, Tony Fadell, resigned amid criticism of his management style and a lack of new products. The new products would give Nest a more complete presence in the smart-home ecosystem, instead of forcing users to mix devices from a variety of companies.   Cont'd...

Extra security for your Nest Account.

From Nest: Here's how it works: the first time you sign into your Nest Account after activating two-factor authentication, you'll type in your email and password as always, but then you'll get a text with a verification code. Enter the code and you're set. To turn on two-factor authentication, go to the Nest app, tap the menu icon on the top left, then go to the category Account Security. You'll see an option there to activate "2-step verification." After you've turned it on, you'll need to sign in again. It takes a minute or two for our customers, but for hackers working from computers all over the world, things get a whole lot harder.

Sonos introduces PLAYBASE - an off the wall approach to TV sound

Sonos announced PLAYBASE, the latest addition to its wireless home sound system and the newest speaker in their home theater lineup. Inspired by the simple insight that up to 70% of all TVs stand on furniture and are not mounted to the wall, PLAYBASE is a thin, yet powerful speaker that sits discreetly under the TV. Priced at $699 US and available in both black and white, PLAYBASE will be available globally starting on April 4, 2017.  At just 58 mm in height and packing 10 drivers, PLAYBASE offers everything you'd expect from a Sonos speaker - great sound when the TV is on and music all the time when it's off. It was designed to disappear into the home. Appearing as if it was cut from a single piece of granite, it challenges conventional expectations of sound from a thin speaker. The construction comes together with no visible seams resulting in incredibly clean lines, an ultra-flat top surface, and more than 43,000 holes that make up an acoustically transparent grill.   Full Press Release:

Smart home opportunity in its infancy

Simon Quicke for Computer Weekly Microscope:  If anyone in the channel was worried that they were missing out on a booming smart home market then they can sleep more easily knowing that the Uk is in its infancy when it comes to connected homes. Some of the distributors are positioning themselves ready for the uptake of services to control features likes security and heating but according to Gartner things are still at an early stage. The assessment of the market from the analysts means that the channel still has the time to develop skills and vendor relationships in the smart home area. Gartner estimates that current adoption rates are around the 10% mark.   Cont'd.. .

The connected home window is open, but for how long?

Paul Lalancette Opinion piece for RCR Wireless News:  The potential for “connected homes” enabled by the internet of things to become a major market opportunity is no longer in doubt. The benefits for consumers, such as controlling energy costs, increasing security and having a home that learns how to behave according to personal preferences, are too promising. Offering these services represents an enormous opportunity for communications service providers, but it is not a forgone conclusion they will lead in the arena. CSPs can play a central role in delivering an easy to use yet valuable experience to consumers in managing their connected homes. The number of devices and services operating across different and fragmented platforms for the connected home is holding back its widespread adoption. For the connected home to make the jump from being used by early adopters to being commonplace, the experience has to evolve to be far more seamless than it is today. This is the window that is open for CSPs to step up and bring a truly integrated consumer experience to the connected home. But it may not be for long.   Cont'd...

Cobalt Robotics Introduces a (Mostly) Autonomous Mobile Security Robot

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Today, Cobalt Robotics (a startup based in Palo Alto, Calif.) is announcing an autonomous mobile robot designed for indoor security applications that can "work alongside human guards to provide better security than people can do alone." The key realization here is that security guards spend the vast majority of their time doing almost nothing, and even in a worst case scenario (like someone trying to break in, or a fire or other serious problem), their primary responsibility is making the right phone call as quickly as possible as opposed to dealing with the situation directly.   Full article:

Sound United Announces Acquisition of D+M Group

Sound United LLC, parent company to Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, and Polk BOOM, today announced it has completed the acquisition of the D+M Group, owner of the Denon, HEOS by Denon, Marantz, and Boston Acoustics brands. The D+M Group is the largest supplier of audio/video receivers worldwide and a leader in wireless multi-room audio. Sound United is the largest supplier of loudspeakers in North America and a leading supplier of sound bars and wireless music systems. The combined company will be known as Sound United, which will own and operate some of the most prestigious brands in the consumer audio space, providing synergy opportunities for the existing core businesses, while also unlocking the potential to expand the product portfolio and market reach. The sale was finalized on February 28, 2017 and the terms of the sale were not disclosed.   Full Press Release:

Control4 Acquires Triad Speakers

Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ: CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announced the acquisition of Triad Speakers, Inc., a leader in advanced audio technology with best-in-class, customizable speaker-solutions.  "Entertainment is integral to the connected home and our Control4 dealers are designing end-to-end experiences for family room entertainment, home theaters, and indoor and outdoor multi-room music for their customers," said Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. "The acquisition of Triad brings proven premium-acoustics experience and innovation to our company, enabling us to immediately deepen our entertainment offering and develop new integrated-audio experiences for the future."   Full Press Release:

Now Shipping: Luxul Epic 4 Routers

Luxul, a leading provider of networking solutions for professional installers, has announced today the availability of its new Epic 4 routers. The first in the Epic series, Epic 4 routers offer advanced capabilities above and beyond the traditional router.  In addition to being high-performing commercial-grade routers, the Epic series offers a platform for optimizing the user experience in smart homes, workplaces, retail establishments and more. This experience is delivered through Luxul and third-party applications running on the Epic platform. The first of these offerings is enhanced content filtering from Router Limits, with remote management tools from Domotz to follow in Q2. Additional applications, including Ihiji's remote network management tools and Luxul's award-winning Roam-Assist™ wireless controller technology are on the way. Any of these advanced features can be implemented at the integrator's discretion, making Epic routers an outstanding platform for delivering world-class support and services to their customers, along with the perfect solution upon which to build recurring revenue.   Full Press Release:

How Amazon's Alexa Could Drive the Connected Car Revolution

Harsh Chauhan for The Motley Fool:  From pulling up location coordinates to finding a free parking spot or opening the garage door, virtual assistants in cars are going to play a key role in powering the connected-car revolution. The voice-enabled virtual assistant space is becoming hotly contested among tech giants. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), however, seems to be taking the lead in this market with its Alexa Automotive platform, which is powered by the Echo voice assistant. The company has lined up deals with some of the biggest automakers, and is also receiving support from third-party accessory manufacturers such as Logitech (NASDAQ:LOGI) that could give Alexa a major push. The Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas last month showed that Alexa is finding favor among carmakers, as Ford (NYSE:F) and Volkswagen (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) both said they had signed up to use the platform for services including weather updates and navigation. This is a big deal for Amazon; it needs to sign up big automakers for Alexa to steal a march on rivals such as Microsoft's Cortana and Alphabet's Google Assistant.   Cont'd...

In The Smart Home, Whoever Owns The Hub May Own Retail Too

Nikki Baird for Forbes:  According to our research at Retail Systems Research, retailers are very bullish on the future of the Internet of Things, or IoT. They are most excited about opportunities to interact with consumers via their mobile phones and even consumers’ own IoT devices (think wearables). For them, IoT is not about saving money. It’s about driving customer experience. But what they are ignoring is how the IoT ecosystem looks set to evolve. Retailers will in no way be at the center of the IoT ecosystem. Just look at smart home technology: connected refrigerators, lights, ceiling fans, curtains, door locks – you name it – all increasingly connect to some management framework for all of those devices. Think “operating system for the smart home,” even though it’s a little more sophisticated than that.   Cont'd...

Gilbert apartment complex joins 'smart home' movement, experts question if trend will take off

Farai Bennett, Cronkite News via AZCentral:  The apartments at Vistara at San Tan Village look like many other “luxury” units available in the Valley, with their granite countertops and walk-in closets. But step inside one of the Gilbert complex’s apartments, and you can control the thermostat, turn on the lights, lock the door and play music with just the press of a button. The 366-unit complex has partnered with Clare Controls to make the apartments “smart.” The complex is marketing its apartments as the first in Arizona to offer this kind of technology. It’s part of the “smart home” trend the public may recognize through consumer products such as Amazon’s Echo and Wink Hub 2.   Cont'd...

TrackNet Launches Tabs™ IoT Home and Family Monitoring Solution for Busy Families

The Tabs hub provides Wi-Fi coverage over an entire residence and Tabs sensor coverage over entire neighborhoods with significant benefits not only to consumers but also to operators and service providers deploying Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). For operators and service providers, the Tabs hub installed within customers' homes accelerates and scales LPWAN deployments much faster than a solely tower-based approach, easily provides deep indoor coverage and significantly reduces the network deployment capital and operation expense.  Each Tabs solution starts with a wireless hub, which provides the Tabs sensor coverage over an entire neighborhood or high-rise development, delivering immediate benefit to the consumer. Each solution further includes a Tabs extender, which is a Tabs sensor hub but not a full Wi-Fi router, to ensure coverage over the locations most frequented by families such as school, day-care, or a friend's house.  As more users install Tabs hubs and extenders, they collaborate to build or improve network coverage over an entire city or region, giving the users additional benefit for locating children, pets, elderly or things.    Full Press Release:  

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