Home Automation

Netatmo Welcome Review – Nest Cam’s face-recognizing rival

Netatmo Welcome Review – Nest Cam’s face-recognizing rival

If a smart home is truly smart, it should know who’s inside it. That’s the argument Netatmo makes with its new Welcome camera, promising Dropcam-style streaming video but combined with facial-recognition. At $199 it matches Nest Cam’s sticker, but without the need to cough up for the cloud if you want to look back through captured footage, and Netatmo says its person-spotting skills should cut the number of false-alarms down, too. I put on my most welcoming expression to see if the learning camera would find me memorable.

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Amazon Echo now available to pre-order for anyone in the US

Amazon Echo now available to pre-order for anyone in the US

Echo, Amazon's connected speaker/digital assistant, is no longer limited to special customers with trial invites. Amazon has announced the device is now available for pre-order in the US, priced at $180, with plans to start shipping on July 14th. First introduced late last year, the Echo basically acts like a voice-activated digital assistant, except in a speaker instead of your smartphone. Users can give it instructions like play music, as well as connected home tasks turning off the lights.

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Freescale’s Sage smart oven blends Uber and Nespresso

Freescale’s Sage smart oven blends Uber and Nespresso

Freescale has cooked up a connected appliance proof-of-concept that it says could be the Nespresso of convenience meals. Dubbed Sage, the solid-state RF oven promises the ease of use of a microwave but producing food that's actually worth eating rather than a rubbery mess, thanks to its ability to precisely control where, when, and how much heating energy gets directed at the ingredients. The result is a single oven that can simultaneously cook multiple different meals, all in different ways.

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Nest isn’t trying to own the Smart Home, and that’s okay

Nest isn’t trying to own the Smart Home, and that’s okay

Nest now has three products, a freshly-firmware-flashed thermostat, a 2nd-gen Nest Protect, and a new Nest Cam, but it’s a fairly humble play for the smart home, at least on the face of it. At a time when Apple is not only launching HomeKit but working on its next big update, that might seem naive, but Nest CEO Tony Fadell isn’t worried. Instead of trying to make Nest the dominant brand, Fadell is apparently content for automation to be a group effort.

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Nest Safety Rewards promises Protect insurance cut

Nest Safety Rewards promises Protect insurance cut

Nest is teaming up with insurance companies to offer a price cut on coverage for those with a Nest Protect smoke alarm installed. The scheme, dubbed Nest Safety Rewards, will trim up to 5-percent off home premiums, Nest says, for those who give information on their Protect setup to their insurance company, though initially it'll only be offered via a pair of firms.

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Nest Protect 2nd-gen adds Split-Sensor and silencing

Nest Protect 2nd-gen adds Split-Sensor and silencing

Nest Protect has been updated, with a smaller, more effective second-generation version promising more convenience and safety features. The revamped smoke and carbon monoxide alarm now uses a brand new twin-sensor system which Nest claims is both even faster at detection than before, as well as less likely to go off accidentally such as when you're burning the toast.

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Nest Cam adds 1080p and new stand to Dropcam

Nest Cam adds 1080p and new stand to Dropcam

Nest has revealed its latest product, Nest Cam, a streaming security camera. First fruit of the company's Dropcam acquisition back in June 2014, the new camera bears a distinct resemblance to models like the Dropcam Pro, with a rounded top section atop a newly-slimmed stand that also offers wall-mounting. Inside, there's 1080p video support along with both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Nest updates to protect from smoke and temp extremes

Nest updates to protect from smoke and temp extremes

Nest is pushing out a new software update for its smart learning thermostat, further integrating it with the Nest Protect for handling fires. The new firmware, which is being released today, will automatically control the HVAC system to avoid pushing smoke around the home. Meanwhile, it will also include the ability to warn users if their home is reaching dangerously high, or low, temperatures.

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Misfit adds fitness dash and smart home control to wearables

Misfit adds fitness dash and smart home control to wearables

Misfit is revamping its fitness tracker, with an online dashboard and added smart home integration, while Apple HealthKit support gets a boost. My Misfit is a new browser-based hub for reviewing health data from the Misfit Shine and Flash wearables along with the Beddit sleep-tracker; it'll have a count of steps, calories, and distance travelled, along with overviews of weekly and monthly trends.

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How HomeKit embraces Siri, Apple Watch and iCloud

How HomeKit embraces Siri, Apple Watch and iCloud

Apple is bolstering HomeKit, bringing more smart home kit under the automation umbrella and adding Apple Watch, Siri, and iCloud integration to boost usability both when at home and away. The new functionality, based on iOS 9, will see HomeKit potentially take on a more serious role thanks to integration with security systems, while improvements to the setup process should make home automation installation less of a headache. However, there’s good news for those with existing gadgets they don’t want to replace.

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Apple’s plugging HomeKit’s biggest shortcoming

Apple’s plugging HomeKit’s biggest shortcoming

Apple’s HomeKit in 2014 was a promising start but lacked depth; it’s only with the arrival of iOS 9 that the smart home platform will begin to seem truly useful rather than a gimmick. What will arguably make the biggest difference to actual users is the new support for Event Triggers and Conditions. That will allow for conditional macros: strings of not only actions, like lights turning on and doors unlocking, but the rules and exceptions that govern them.

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Philips Hue Dimmer Switch and brighter bulb incoming

Philips Hue Dimmer Switch and brighter bulb incoming

Philips has a new remote control for its hue wireless lights in the pipeline, along with a brighter version of its color-changing bulb. The new products, revealed during regulatory testing at the FCC, include an update on the original hue bulb with an 800 lumen version. However, it's the new Hue Dimmer Switch which is arguably more interesting, given how it potentially addresses a common complaint among those with the remote-controlled bulbs installed in their homes.

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