Modern "smart" home standards have more than a few dumb things about them, like the fact that certain hardware often locks you into a specific ecosystem of supported devices and software. If something works with Alexa, it doesn't always mean that it will work with the Assistant or Siri, and that's not even mentioning the whole obnoxiousness of "hubs." Thankfully, a new open standard is being developed by some of the biggest names in the smart home industry, with Amazon, Apple, and Google all backing a new open-source approach via the imaginatively titled "Project Connected Home over IP." It's a complicated-sounding name, but what really matters is the fact that future smart home products will be more inter-compatible and secure. Read More
Smart light bulbs are great, but you have to give up the use of your wall switch — if the switch is powered off, the smart bulb stops functioning. One solution is an in-wall smart switch, but if you live in an apartment or other rented property, you might not be able to replace fixtures or change electrical systems. If so, smart home company Third Reality has the product for you — the RealitySwitch Plus. Read More
Today Amazon took the wraps off a tremendous pile of Echo and Alexa-related hardware. Chief among the standalone Echo devices are the redesigned Echo Dot, Plus, and Show, as well as a slightly mysterious invitation-based Echo Auto. As expected, they're mostly incremental improvements, with better and louder sound or added Zigbee hub functionality.
Amazon's Alexa is one of the most popular and widely used digital assistants out there, and now it has a whole new generation of hardware available for pre-order. Let's take a look at each individually. Read More
I look around at my hallway console nowadays and see a Canary camera, a Google Home, and a SmartThings Hub v2. Not to mention the Synology server, router, and a few other miscellaneous tech items. The idea of having all three integrated in the same device, saving space and unnecessary wiring is quite appealing, and that's what Toshiba's new Symbio aims to do.
It's a 6-in-1 device: a 1080p wide-angle "low-light" camera with sound and motion alerts, a smart sound detector for babies and pets and even legacy alarms around the house, a Bluetooth and WiFi streaming speaker with ODMD driver, a voice control interface with Amazon Alexa built-in, a smart home hub with ZigBee and Z-Wave radios, and an intercom for communicating between Symbios and phones. Read More
We've seen levitating Bluetooth speakers and connected smart cameras before, but the Moon, a fully funded Indiegogo project, melds those technologies in a $209 ($330 at retail) floating robotic eyeball and base that can also act as a smart hub for your home. That is, if it ever ships. The typical crowdfunding caveats apply. Some Indiegogo projects don't have much of a future, and this is 1-Ring's first.
The Moon, which comes from 1-Ring Inc., comprises a wide-angle lens embedded in a sphere made of plastic, aluminum, and rubber. When the smart camera is levitating above its base unit, it can give its owner a 360-degree scan of whatever room it's placed in. Read More
There's a fantastic sale for home automation gear going on today. Over at My Digital Discount right now you can pick up a handful of smart connected motion sensors, outlets, thermostats, locks, and a whole package of the lot together in a quick start bundle. Prices range from 60% off to 76% off, which is a tremendous savings. All the items are for Samsung's SmartThings / ZigBee, so if you don't run a system that will work with their stuff, you're out of luck. Read More
Google's mesh router system only launched in late 2016, but it looks like a new version is already in the works. An FCC filing from Google appears to describe a new version of Google Wifi. The model number is different than the current device, and one of the wireless bands is missing. What's up with that? It looks like Google is ditching the ZigBee IoT protocol. Read More
I bought an apartment in October. You can imagine the joy at the thought that it'd be my future family's home, terror at the sight of the mortgage value on the signed contract, and all the excitement about getting to set up a house from scratch. I could pick everything that I loved from design to materials to colors to organization, and yes, also automation.
I wanted lights that turn on when the doors open, A/C units that cool the place when I'm coming home and the outside heat is too much to bear, cameras that catch intruders the moment they are detected, a washing machine that notifies me when the load is done, colored lights that coordinate with whatever I'm watching on TV, blinds that open and close with the sunset and sunrise, and much more. Read More
When Google unveiled the Nexus Q at I/O on Wednesday, there were cheers. But not until the designers and creators of the hardware came on stage to explain what it was for a good 5 minutes. Hell, they even put together a fantastic video showing the process of manufacturing the Q (in the good 'ol US of A!). Seriously, if you haven't watched it - watch it. The production values are outstanding.
And Google topped it all off by giving everybody at I/O a Q to... do stuff with. But what?
The Q is fairly limited in its capabilities at the moment. Read More