Home Automation

Amazon Echo update reads news headlines so you don’t have to

Amazon Echo update reads news headlines so you don’t have to

Amazon has just released a software update for its internet-connected, voice assistant-powered Echo speaker that brings several new options to the list of voice commands it can follow. Probably the most impressive is the ability for it to read news headlines when asked, but the update also includes improved controls for smart home set ups, along with in-depth settings for alarms and timers. The new software version is available now to Echo users.

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Logitech Harmony Elite remote sports even more buttons

Logitech Harmony Elite remote sports even more buttons

Those who have been bemoaning about how our TV and entertainment system remote controls have become overloaded with buttons might want to look the other way. That's because the new Harmony Elite, Logitech's latest remote control for its smart home unifying platform, has just gotten a few more of those. Of course, those additional tactile controls are there not to confound but to make sure you have fast and easy access to the most common and most important actions. Like turning lights on or off.

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SmartThings Interview: Talking Samsung’s IoT starlet with CEO Alex Hawkinson

SmartThings Interview: Talking Samsung’s IoT starlet with CEO Alex Hawkinson

SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson is having a busy year. His company acquired by Samsung, and its second generation smart home platform now shipping, not only is Hawkinson now responsible for one of the leading automation systems, but arguably at the center of Samsung's entire Internet of Things ambitions. I caught up with him at IFA 2015 last week to talk openness, the value of a corporate parent with deep pockets, and his HomeKit frustrations.

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Philips Lightstrip Plus flexes brighter, bendier LED strips

Philips Lightstrip Plus flexes brighter, bendier LED strips

Philips' is giving its Hue Lightstrip remote-controlled lighting a pro-style upgrade, with the supercharged version brighter and more flexible than before. Hue Lightstrip Plus sticks to the same core theory as its predecessor - a self-adhesive strip of color-changing LEDs, which can be snaked around kitchen cabinets, run along skirting boards, or underneath breakfast bars - but addresses some of the lingering comments from early adopters.

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SmartThings V2 shipping as home monitoring service goes live

SmartThings V2 shipping as home monitoring service goes live

SmartThings' second-generation home automation hub is shipping in the US, with the new box adding a backup battery in case of power outages. First product from the company to launch since its acquisition by Samsung, the SmartThings Hub V2 can now run for up to ten hours even if its power connection has died, and also supports a select array of offline functionality so that your smart home still works even if the internet goes down.

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New Nest 3rd-Gen: Should you upgrade?

New Nest 3rd-Gen: Should you upgrade?

Just when you'd learned to love that nosey "learning thermostat" on the wall, watching as you and your family went about your day, here's Nest with a new model. Nest v.3, announced earlier today, promises much the same as its predecessors, with intelligent understanding of when people are home and when they're away. Question is, should existing owners be thinking about upgrading?

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Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit Review

Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit Review

Dimming lights used to be easy with incandescent bulbs, but the new age of LEDs can be a flickering, migraine-inducing mess. Philips believes its Hue Wireless Dimming Kit is the answer, the combination of a simple white bulb with an equally straightforward remote that can be left on a coffee table or easily wall-mounted. Though Philips is pitching the $40 set at novices, there's plenty for the Hue enthusiast to find appealing, however, not least the remote control.

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Amazon gives smart bulb devs the keys to Alexa’s voice

Amazon gives smart bulb devs the keys to Alexa’s voice

Amazon is further opening up its Alexa voice-control system, the engine at the heart of the Echo speaker, to smart lighting companies. The Alexa Skills Kit was launched back in June, breaking the cloud-based digital assistant out of Echo and allowing it to be embedded in new devices and taught third-party skills. Now, with a new Alexa Lighting API, those skills are expanding to deal with more complex sets of wireless bulbs.

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“Alexa, turn on SmartThings integration” says Amazon

“Alexa, turn on SmartThings integration” says Amazon

Amazon's cylindrical Echo home assistant is gaining another automation ability, hooking up with Samsung-owned SmartThings for the speech-controlled smart home. While it's not the first such integration we've seen Echo add in the months since Amazon launched the chipper speaker, it could well be one of the most far-reaching, thanks to SmartThings' broad compatibility with a huge - and growing - number of third-party automation devices.

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Smart homes: how close are we from the house of the future?

Smart homes: how close are we from the house of the future?

Yesterday, Google unveiled its newest product: OnHub. While technically a network router, it was also subtly a building block of Google own ambition to be the center of your home. And the search giant is hardly the only one. Somewhat a subset of the so-called Internet of Things that aims to connect anything and everything to the net, smart homes and smart appliances have become the byword of many tech companies as well as appliance makers. But are we really on the cusp of making that hi-tech future a reality? Or are we still taking baby steps?

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Samsung’s SmartThings Hub v2 starts pre-order

Samsung’s SmartThings Hub v2 starts pre-order

Samsung seems to be on a roll. After unveiling the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ and announcing the actual launch of Samsung Pay, the company's year-old subsidiary is also making a big splash. Delayed by almost half a year, SmartThings is giving the green light for pre-orders of its brand new Hub device. Although owners are not required to upgrade to this new version, some might consider it worth the purchase considering a crucial update to the capabilities of the smart home central brain.

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