Toys for Tots: Toys are Getting Smarter, More Educational but Riskier

All of the great "toys" are simply logical extensions of technology you're begging to use yourself and will help your kids be light years ahead of you when they're your age!

iRobot Takes Next Step in the Connected Home with Clean Map™ Reports and Amazon Alexa Integration

iRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT), a leader in consumer home robotics, today announced updates to the iRobot HOME App that expand the value of connected Roomba vacuuming robots within the smart home. New Clean Map reports provide visual post-cleaning maps that display information about the robot's cleaning performance, such as the dirtiest floor areas and total space cleaned, while the integration of Amazon Alexa™ voice activated control will make communicating with a Roomba vacuuming robot a breeze. "iRobot is aggressively pursuing opportunities within the connected home to improve our customers' experience with our cleaning robots," said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot. "The latest updates for the iRobot HOME App make cleaning with an iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot even more user friendly, with voice-activated commands, enhanced mapping features and useful post-cleaning reports. These are exciting next steps towards our vision of an ecosystem of home robots that work collaboratively and further enable the smart home." Full Press Release:

Celebrity Cruises brings smart home automation to its latest ship class

Julian Chokkattu for DigitalTrends: Celebrity Cruises has unveiled a new ship that was completely designed in 3D. The Celebrity Edge won't be operational for some time, but the company offered a sneak peak at how technology will improve a guest's experience on the ship. At 1,004 feet long and 128 feet wide, the Celebrity Edge can carry 3,373 guests in total, as well as 1,320 members of the crew. It features 1,467 staterooms, 14 passenger decks, 12 passenger elevators, and more. As Carnival highlighted in its announcement earlier this year, Celebrity Edge will feature "friction-less arrival," meaning guests won't have to wait in long lines for a check-in process. This will work through a combination of facial recognition software and geo-fenced beacons. Cont'd...

High Resolution Audio for Great Sound

Headphones, speaker drivers and amplifiers credited with the Hi-Res Audio logo must produce a bandwidth of 40kHz and digital inputs and processing must be capable of handling at least 24bit/96kHz.

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...

Is Home Theater Dead?

While I doubt people will ever get tired of sitting in front of a great pair of speakers, the way technology is progressing seems to bring technology to a more and more personal level.

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.

Understanding Trade-offs in Microdisplay and Direct-View VR Headset Designs

There is currently some debate about which VR headset architecture will create the "best" images with the "best" form factor at the "right" price. In writing this white paper, we started the process by framing the issues as a choice between microdisplay-based designs vs. direct-view panel designs.

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:

PureLink Case Study: Broadcast Industry Application

This installation required a switching system able to bridge the SDI and A/V systems gap.

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