Home Automation

Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max ultrasonic sensor changes the UI as you get closer

Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max ultrasonic sensor changes the UI as you get closer

The Google Hub, along with the Amazon Echo Show, kicked off a new breed of smart home devices that basically combined a smart speaker and a tablet. These smart displays offered visual information and controls but, by nature, really only worked when you touch them or speak to them. It seems that Google is now mixing it up a bit by giving the Nest Hub and the Nest Hub Max some very basic presence detection thanks to the ultrasonic sensors in the devices.

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IKEA smart home shortcut button spotted in FCC filing

IKEA smart home shortcut button spotted in FCC filing

IKEA is both famous and infamous in the way it has changed the furniture market or at least the expectations of some homeowners. But while some credit it for taking a more modern spin on furniture, it only recently started making some of its products smarter by jumping on the IoT bandwagon. But now that it has a few such smart home products under its belt, the company is looking into making sure they work well together. It's next step, apparently, is to make a smart shortcut button whose sole use is to start a custom-made scene.

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Galaxy Home Mini makes an appearance, bigger Galaxy Home still MIA

Galaxy Home Mini makes an appearance, bigger Galaxy Home still MIA

There have always been doubts about Bixby's long-term viability but Samsung seems pretty convinced it will always be part of its future. But while the AI-powered assistant continues to be present in some Samsung phones, those are the only places you'd find Bixby. These days, a smart assistant is almost always in need of a smart speaker and, once upon a time, Samsung promised one as well. That could still happen but the unexpected and silent presence of the Galaxy Home Mini might be a reminder not to hold our breaths for it.

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Samsung SmartThings is getting offline Rules support

Samsung SmartThings is getting offline Rules support

Samsung is hoping to give SmartThings, its connected home platform, a boost, adding new rules support and coaxing device-makers into adding compatibility. Announced at the Samsung Developer Conference 2019 today, the company's annual developer event, SmartThings' new Rules API promises to better link together multiple devices acting on a single command or trigger.

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IKEA Fyrtur smart blinds are finally and truly available in the US

IKEA Fyrtur smart blinds are finally and truly available in the US

IKEA is either popular or unpopular depending on who you ask. To some, it's overpriced while, for others, it is actually cheaper than equivalent products from other furniture makers. At least for some smart home enthusiasts, IKEA actually offers the only affordable alternative for a very specific and niche product: smart blinds. The IKEA SmartShades, specifically the Fyrtur, has been keeping fans and hopeful buyers in the US on the edge but, finally it seems that their long wait is finally over.

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Amazon employees allegedly watch Cloud Cam clips to help train AI

Amazon employees allegedly watch Cloud Cam clips to help train AI

Amazon was the first reported to have been listening in on Alexa recorded speech for the sake of auditing them and improving the company's AI for the service. It turns out, it isn't just audio that the company is distributing to employees for that same purpose. Also fair game, it seems, are video recordings from the company's Cloud Cam and, given the visual nature of the content, is easily more identifiable and more problematic as far as keeping owners' identities private.

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Google Assistant can sound more fly with Issa Rae voice

Google Assistant can sound more fly with Issa Rae voice

Smart assistants have arguably become the centerpiece, figuratively and literally, of some people's modern lives but the way we've approached them causally belies the complexity of behind the voice technology they employ. That goes not only for voice and speech recognition but even for the voices that talk back to us in different tones and genders. Those voices have come a long from the robotic tones of their ancestors but some users would probably still prefer if these voices had some personality. And when it comes to personality, few are probably more qualified than celebrities like actress and writer Issa Rae who, surprise surprise, is making a cameo as a Google Assistant voice.

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Nest Hello doorbell now detects package delivery

Nest Hello doorbell now detects package delivery

Nest Hello smart doorbell (with camera) devices with a Nest Aware subscription were given an upgrade today in the form of package detection. This new system can send a notification to the user's phone when a package has been delivered within their Nest camera's visual range. This same system can send a notification when it believes that a package has been picked up.

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LG ThinQ app adds voice recognition to control and query smart appliances

LG ThinQ app adds voice recognition to control and query smart appliances

Not too long ago, LG gathered all its smart products, both smartphones and SmartThinQ connected appliances, under a single "ThinQ" brand. It then added some association with Artificial Intelligence and connected with the likes of Amazon Alexa and, of course, Google Assistant. It then gathered all of those into a single ThinQ app that is now gaining the ability to listen to your voice to conveniently control those devices and appliances without even lifting a finger.

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Lenovo Smart Clock has become a better Google Nest Hub rival

Lenovo Smart Clock has become a better Google Nest Hub rival

When Lenovo launched its Smart Clock early this year, it almost seemed like a perfect and more affordable alternative to Google's own Hub, now Nest Hub, smart screen. In reality, it was just a few steps shy of achieving that distinction, lacking the last few features that would indeed make it a worthy contender. Those features have finally landed courtesy of Google and the $79 clock with Google Assistant is now worth more than its selling price.

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SimpliSafe Smart Lock is a super-skinny $99 door upgrade

SimpliSafe Smart Lock is a super-skinny $99 door upgrade

Your options for a sleek connected lock are about to get more interesting, with SimpliSafe revealing its new Smart Lock for a low-profile fit on the front door. The lock is just 0.9-inches thick, SimpliSafe says, making it the thinnest on the market. However the company also promises it will be smarter than other connected locks.

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Kasa Smart Video Doorbell is TP-Link’s latest casualty

Kasa Smart Video Doorbell is TP-Link’s latest casualty

As one of the most popular brands in networking equipment, you'd expect that TP-Link would be one of those feeling the smart home and IoT market with products bearing its name. For a while, that indeed seemed to be the case and TP-Link was grooming its Kasa series to be a collection of smart home products starting off with a smart plug. But with two cancellations, it seems that the company may be re-evaluating its overall strategy in that already congested market.

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