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...  

Home security systems 101: Things to consider

Janet Thomson for Curbed:  When we talk about home tech, we’re often focused on products from technology juggernauts or new startups, but home security systems, the predecessors to today’s smart home ecosystems, have been used for decades (the first system was invented in 1969 by Marie Van Brittan Brown, and it featured a closed-circuit television system, a remote controlled door, and two-way communication). Today there are literally thousands of options on the market, ranging from DIY kits to hardwired systems built into your home. How to choose? We went to the home security experts to understand the differences between systems and key features you should consider before installing.   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...

COMMODORE HOME - YOUR SMART HOME FOR 1983

Brian Benchoff for Hackaday:  The Internet of Things is a horrific waste of time, even though no one knows exactly what it is. What would make it better? Classic Commodore gear, of course. Now you can run your smart home with a Commodore 64 and Commodore Home, the newest smart home framework from [retro.moe]. Commodore Home comes with the standard smart home features you would expect. The home lighting solution is a dot matrix printer, a few gears, and string tied to the light switch. Activate the printer, and the lights turn on and off. Brilliant. Multiple light switches can be controlled by daisy chaining printers. Security is important in the smart home, and while the intruder alarm isn’t completely functional, future versions of Commodore Home will dial a modem, log into a BBS, and leave a message whenever an authorized person enters your home.   Cont'd...

Integrated Control with MMS-5A and Crestron SmartObject™ Technology

From a video projector-based home theater to window treatments, advanced use of security cameras, home automation and whole-house entertainment, the Integrated Concepts show home is an ideal environment to highlight the ever evolving world of the connected home.

Z-Wave smart-home gadgets announce new IoT security standards

Ry Crist for CNet:  Less than a month ago, hackers took control of an ocean of unsecured connected home devices, then essentially crashed the entire internet by using them to flood the web's largest internet management company with bogus traffic. Now, the makers of smart gadgets that communicate using Z-Wave are ratcheting up their security standards to help reassure consumers that their products don't come with glaring vulnerabilities. "No one can afford to sit on their hands and wait," says Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance. "Consumers deserve IoT devices in their home to have the strongest levels of security possible. IoT smart home technologies that don't act will be left behind." The new standards are called the "Security 2" framework, or S2 for short. Aside from shoring up encryption standards for transmissions between sensors, cameras, and thermostats that broadcast using Z-Wave, S2 also mandates new pairing procedures for each device -- namely, unique PIN or QR codes on the devices themselves.   Cont'd...

IU leads $1 million NSF-funded smart-home effort to advance health and independence in older adults

Indiana University Bloomington:  As part of a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Indiana University has received over $670,000 to establish "HomeSHARE," the first networked system of smart homes designed to advance research on older adults. The funds from the NSF's Computing Research Infrastructure Program will support the installation of high-tech sensors and other equipment in the homes of 15 elderly volunteers throughout the city of Bloomington. The project is an effort to improve the quality of life of elders through the unobtrusive collection of high-quality research data. "As far as we're aware, this is the first large-scale research infrastructure project focused on smart homes," said Kay Connelly, an associate professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, who is the leader on the grant. "Typically, research infrastructure awards help maintain complex systems like supercomputers, or the purchase of advanced equipment. In this case, we’re looking to generate research data from people who enroll in a long-term study."   Cont'd...

Researchers' Belkin Home Automation Hacks Show IoT Risks

Mathew J. Schwartz for BankInfoSecurity:  As if the internet of things didn't seem secure enough, now we have to worry about apps on our smartphones posing a risk too. That's just one of the takeaways from the discovery of two zero-day vulnerabilities and one hardware-bypass flaw - now patched - in Belkin's WeMo line of home automation products. The flaws, and how to exploit them, were demonstrated Nov. 4 at Black Hat Europe by two researchers from endpoint security software firm Invincea, in a presentation titled: Breaking Bhad: Abusing Belkin Home Automation Devices. Belkin bills its WeMo apps as being "designed to address simple automation needs without the hassle or expense of whole home automation." Compatible products include everything from "smart" LED light bulbs, power switches and baby video monitors to coffeemakers, slow cookers and heating controls. In November 2015, Belkin reported that 2.5 million devices using their technology were in the market.   Cont'd...

The smart home could soon be running on its own.

Alfred Ng for CNet:   Legrand sees a future where your smart home learns based on your habits and behaviors -- even knowing when to turn on the lights for your 3 a.m. bathroom run. The French-based electrical equipment company hopes to make smart homes autonomous, where shades open and the coffee maker gets started before you wake up. Like iOS's automated traffic helper, that uses your frequent locations and tells you how long your commute will be, Legrand wants to use the same data, but apply it to your alarms.   Cont'd...

Wirebutter Advanced Home Automation Powerboard

Julian Horsey for GeekyGadgets:  Anyone looking to add a little more advanced home automation to their living quarters might be interested in a new advanced piece of hardware called the Wirebutter, which has been specifically designed for Internet of things applications and home automation. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the new system which has been designed by Anthony Salerno based in Melbourne Australia. Wirebutter has this week been launched by a Kickstarter to raise the funds it requires to go into production. The project has pledges starting from as little as AUD $65 for earlybird backers. Article:  

Why iRobot's Colin Angle thinks the smart home starts with a robot vacuum

Matthew Lynley for TechCrunch:  Robots — and the smart home in general — are a hot topic, and it’s one where an enormous amount of investment is happening right now. There are many companies like Nest and Ring that are trying to target segments of the home in the hopes of making everything smarter. But it’s easy to forget that the home is still a physical space, and in order for everything to work together, it has to understand what that looks like. And iRobot, the makers of a robot vacuum cleaner, have been trying to crack that problem for more than 20 years. Until robots can figure that out, and talk to each other, it’s going to be an uphill battle to build a truly smart home, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing 2016. “In the virtual world, it’s very easy to understand everything about the environment because it’s inside the computer,” Angle said. “If you have a simulated room you’re inside the computer. You know precisely where things are. In the robot industry, we almost dislike simulations because they are doomed to succeed.   Cont'd...

For Visio, PDF is the new DWG

During discussions with the Visio product team I realized that PDF is the new intermediate file format for Visio, not DWG. For example, PDF's from AutoCAD are plotted at a specific paper size and scale, perfect for Visio.

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