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Nest Builds More Security, Flexibility Into Smart Home Products
March 20, 2018
The Nest Hello video doorbell and the Nest x Yale Lock are now available, along with a new Nest Temperature Sensor -- the latest addition to the company's smart home lineup. Owners of the Hello video doorbell can use the Nest app for iOS or Android to see and converse with people without opening their door. The x Yale Lock -- a tamper-proof, key-free deadbolt -- also connects with the Nest app.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Phones, Simple Phones, and Sparkling Water on Tap
March 13, 2018
Oh, look, it's a new flagship smartphone duo from Samsung. Shockingly enough, they're called the "Galaxy S9" and "Galaxy S9+." They have a similar appearance to the previous year's models, but there are also a few differences, such as a new camera and stereo speakers. There's a 960-frames-per-second slow motion mode, and there's the option to add music to clips or turn them into GIFs.
Voice Shopping Set to Skyrocket
March 6, 2018
The U.S. voice shopping market will rise from its current $2 billion valuation to $40 billion by 2022, according to a survey by OC&C Strategy Consultants. The trend is being driven by a surge in the number of homes using smart speakers, from the current 13 percent to 55 percent by 2022. It's likely that Amazon will continue to dominate this channel, the survey results suggest.
Amazon Buys Ring to Make Homes, Deliveries More Secure
March 2, 2018
Amazon has agreed to buy Ring for $1 billion, the companies have disclosed. Ring users already could use the Echo Show to see and hear visitors at the front door. The deal means Ring can further its "mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods by providing effective yet affordable home security tools to our neighbors that make a positive impact on our homes, our communities and the world," Ring said.
Apple's HomePod Could Leave a Lasting Mark With Customers
February 15, 2018
Apple's new $350 HomePod could make an impact in several ways. In addition to providing listeners with highly praised sound quality, the smart speaker literally could make an impression on some of the wood surfaces it touches -- in the form of white rings. The HomePod can stream music to those who have an Apple Music subscription. It has a few other capabilities too.
Are Smart TV Designs Taking Home Security for Granted?
February 15, 2018
Millions of smart TVs from Samsung and some streaming devices from Roku recently were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, allowing intruders to take control and remotely change channels and volume settings, among other things, according to Consumer Reports research. Vulnerabilities were discovered not only in Samsung televisions, but also in TVs from TCL and other Roku-compatible brands.
Intel's Fake 5G Olympic Hail Mary
February 12, 2018
If there ever were a time when perception Trumped reality, this would be it. So much of what we see these days that looks real just isn't. I can connect a lot of this back to Steve Jobs, who was the master at this in the tech world. However, I'm worried that too many people don't realize that there were several times Steve missed jail by the skin of his teeth, largely because he did amazing work under pressure.
With 4K HDR, Olympics May Be More Colorful Than Ever
February 8, 2018
The parade of Olympic athletes entering Pyeongchang could be quite colorful for a few reasons. Athletes from North and South Korea will enter together for the first time in more than a decade, and viewers at home will be able to see the ceremony and some events like never before. NBCUniversal has decided to make the XXIII Olympic Winter games available to cable and satellite partners in 4K HDR.
Critics Love HomePod's Sound but Rap Its Smarts
February 7, 2018
Critics have begun weighing in on Apple's HomePod smart speaker, and they're loving the device's sound but don't have much affection for its smarts. The HomePod's sound outclassed top-shelf competitor SonosOne, according to Matthew Panzarino. "The HomePod was the 'best' sounding. It's nuanced and subtle with great separation and clarity across all kinds of music," he wrote.
WiFi Routers Riddled With Holes: Report
February 6, 2018
Most WiFi router vendors have not patched numerous firmware vulnerabilities discovered more than two years ago, according to a new report. OEM firmware built into WiFi routers use open source components that contain numerous known security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. Insignary conducted comprehensive binary code scans for known security vulnerabilities in WiFi routers.
Alexa Now Can Dash Off Text Messages to Android Phones
January 31, 2018
Amazon on Tuesday introduced new functionality that enables its Alexa virtual assistant to send and receive SMS messages on devices running Android 5.0 or higher. Carrier charges may apply. Alexa, the software that powers the Echo line of smart speakers, can play and send personalized messages from contacts for users who have set up voice profiles.
Privacy-Minded Smart Speaker May Struggle to Get to Know You
January 31, 2018
Mycroft AI earlier this week announced that its Mark II smart speaker achieved full funding on Kickstarter in just 6.5 hours. As of Wednesday, pledges reached more than three times its $50K goal -- with 23 days remaining in the campaign. The Mark II is positioned as an open source alternative to the dominant Amazon Echo line of smart speakers and its main challenger, the Google Home device.
Apple's HomePod Set to Barge Into Hot Speaker Market
January 24, 2018
HomePod, Apple's long-awaited entry into the torrid smart speaker market, will be available Feb. 9. The HomePod will be offered in white and space gray. It can be pre-ordered at Apple's website for $349 starting Friday. Unlike other smart speakers, which support a variety of music services out of the gate, HomePod will support the Apple Music subscription service exclusively.
Google Device Bug Chokes Home WiFi Networks
January 18, 2018
A bug in the software used by Google Cast devices such as Chromecast and Home can slow down or crash WiFi networks. The problem -- initially believed to be isolated to a particular router model made by TP-Link -- appears to affect models made by other manufacturers, including Asus, Linksys, Netgear and Synology. Complaints on a Google user forum brought the problem to light earlier this week.
Gadget Ogling: CES Edition
January 16, 2018
Roader's Time Machine Camera is designed to hang around your neck and, for up to seven hours of battery life, constantly capture what it sees. When you hit a button, it saves the last 10 seconds of footage and the following 10. You can send a low-resolution version of that 20-second clip to your smartphone immediately, and if you'd like to save a high-resolution version, you can grab that too.
Google Assistant Makes CES Splash
January 10, 2018
Since launching the original Echo smart speaker in 2014, Amazon has expanded its line of Alexa voice-activated devices to reach a dominant position in the marketplace. Realizing it has a bit of catching up to do and possibly may need to redefine the ground rules, Google this week put the consumer electronics world on notice that this no longer is a one-horse race. Google threw down its gauntlet at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
CES 2018: Artificial Intelligence at Home and Behind the Wheel
January 9, 2018
Artificial intelligence dominated CES 2018 in a big way on Monday with major announcements on connected car advances and home system technologies. Google all but declared war on Amazon with its Google Assistant voice technology making its presence known at nearly every turn on the showroom floor. LG rolled out a new lineup of high-end AI OLED and Super UHD televisions infused with its ThinQ AI technology and Alpha 9 technology.
The End of Silicon Valley
January 8, 2018
A recent article on the institutionalized sexual exploitation going on in tech companies is eye-opening. It comes on top of the realization that social media companies like Facebook are destroying the U.S., and former Facebook executives have been dissociating themselves from the company. Further, news recently broke of a big, industry-wide security problem.
Roku Takes a Different Angle on Voice-Controlled Home Entertainment
January 4, 2018
Roku on Wednesday announced new software and a licensing agreement for OEMs to develop smart speakers, soundbars and multiroom audio systems that will allow customers to control their home entertainment devices with simple voice commands. The company also introduced Roku Entertainment Assistant, a new smart speaker technology that allows customers to use voice commands on supported Roku-enabled devices.
E-Commerce Trends in 2018: Voice, Subscriptions, Personalization
January 4, 2018
The mushrooming popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home will fuel e-commerce in the coming year. "You're going to have a whole new frontier of commerce space driven through voice and brand recognition," said Michael Levine, marketing vice president at Photon. "It's going to be a different type of playing field for these brands.
Gadget Ogling: Special Deliveries, On-Demand Drinks, and Magical Masks
December 20, 2017
BoxLock Home is a smart padlock designed to allow delivery persons to leave your packages in a secure place when you're not around. The driver scans the package and goes through a verification process to unclasp the lock and place your package inside the container. Of course, you'll get a notification when the process is complete. I'm not really sure I need it, but I'd rather not have a box lying in clear view of everyone on the street.
The Tech Wars of 2018
December 11, 2017
We are coming up to the end of the year, and it's a good time to look forward. Stepping outside of politics and the obvious war between the Democrats, Republicans and common sense, there is the war between Amazon and Google, which likely will redefine the growth of digital assistants. There's also the war between Intel and Qualcomm in the personal computing arena.
Google and Amazon Square Off, Ignoring Customers in the Middle
December 7, 2017
A long-simmering dispute between Google and Amazon has escalated into a front-burner feud, following Google's decision to block its YouTube video service from Amazon's Echo Show, effective immediately, and from its Fire TV, effective Jan. 1. Google apparently decided to cut off YouTube as retaliation for Amazon's refusal to carry its products, including Chromecast and Google Home, on its website.
AWS Gives IoT a Boost With New OS, Services
December 2, 2017
AWS shone a spotlight on IoT and machine learning technologies earlier this week, with the announcement of a new operating system and several new services designed to encourage radical expansion of their deployment and use across multiple industries. The new OS, Amazon FreeRTOS, simplifies development, deployment, security and maintenance of microcontroller-based edge devices, according AWS.
BlackBerry: The Most Important Mobile Company of the Future?
November 20, 2017
If you are like many, when you saw this headline you likely were surprised BlackBerry was still around. As BlackBerry phones left the market, the company fell out of sight. However, behind the scenes it has been moving into industries like automotive. Also, it remains the leading vendor providing mobile security to our politicians, military personnel and major corporations.
Newly Revealed Flaw Could Subject IoT Devices to Airborne Attacks
November 17, 2017
Billions of voice-activated IoT devices may be subject to external attack due to BlueBorne vulnerabilities, Armis revealed. Hackers could exploit BlueBorne to mount an airborne attack, using Bluetooth to spread malware and access critical data, including sensitive personal information. More than 20 million Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers could have been impacted by the flaws.
Amazon Cloud Cam Joins Burgeoning Smart-Home Ecosystem
November 9, 2017
Amazon has begun shipping its latest smart home product, a security camera that works with its Alexa personal assistant and Echo speakers. The Amazon Cloud Cam allows customers to live-stream activity inside their home 24/7. It features 1080p full HD resolution, two-way audio for communicating with family members or pets, night vision technology, and sophisticated identification algorithms.
Sony's Aibo Resurrected From Robot Pet Cemetery
November 2, 2017
Sony has revived its robot dog, Aibo, which it put down, so to speak, in 2006. The autonomous entertainment robot brings fun and joy to the entire family, Sony claimed. It can bond emotionally, give people love and affection, and let them experience the joy of nurturing and raising a companion. Aibo has ultra-impact 1- and 2-axis actuators that let it move smoothly and naturally along 22 axes.
Fake News: Amazon Wants a Key to Your House
October 30, 2017
I'm getting tired of headlines that present something you might want to do as something you'd have to be crazy to do. Last week was a case in point: Headline after headline shouted out that Amazon wanted to get a key to your house. The initial reaction was hell no -- but the reality is far more nuanced. You see, there are a lot of folks who live in places where their front entrance isn't secure.
Noon Home Debuts New Way to Light Up Your Life
October 26, 2017
Noon Home officially launched on Thursday and simultaneously unveiled its Noon Smart Lighting System, after two years of raising funds and developing products in stealth mode. The Noon Smart Lighting System blends ambient, task and accent lights to layer lighting, improve the way a room looks. It consists of a Room Director switch and companion Extension Switches, which communicate via Bluetooth.
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How do you feel about accidents that occur when self-driving vehicles are being tested?
Self-driving vehicles should be banned -- one death is one too many.
Autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives -- the tests should continue.
Companies with bad safety records should have to stop testing.
Accidents happen -- we should investigate and learn from them.
The tests are pointless -- most people will never trust software and sensors.
Most injuries and fatalities in self-driving auto tests are due to human error.