smart home

Cortana, Harman Kardon to take on Amazon Echo, Google Home

Cortana, Harman Kardon to take on Amazon Echo, Google Home

If you thought Amazon and Google were the only ones battling out in the still niche smart living room speaker arena, Microsoft would beg to differ. Just as it poised Cortana as the cross-platform smart assistant to beat, it is now also positioning her/it to be the cross-device smart assistant to challenge them all. That means Cortana in your desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone, Xbox One, and, yes, smart living room speaker. And to accomplish that, it has enlisted the help of famed audio masters Harman Kardon.

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TP-Link Smart Plug Mini works with Amazon Alexa with no hub needed

TP-Link Smart Plug Mini works with Amazon Alexa with no hub needed

TP-Link has debuted a new product called the HS105 Smart Plug Mini that has the ability to control connected devices from anywhere using the Kasa app. The device is also fully compatible with Amazon Alexa with no hub needed for connectivity. The HS105 is designed to be small at 1.5-inches thick and allows consumers to plug the device into an outlet without blocking outlets nearby.

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Google Home Netflix, Photos support appears for some users

Google Home Netflix, Photos support appears for some users

When Amazon Echo first launched, very few knew what to make of the canister smart speaker of the future. Eventually, however, it bloomed and soon became the buzzword of smart home hubs. That same pattern might be repeated with the Google Home, which is only now starting to become rather interesting. Although it hasn’t been officially acknowledged yet, some Google Home owners have reported that they’re starting to see Netflix and Google Photos in a new Videos and Photos section for Google Assistant.

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Google Home Actions let users talk to third-party services

Google Home Actions let users talk to third-party services

Google Home might be a bit behind something like the Amazon Echo, but there is still a chance that it could overtake it. Depending on how much and how quickly third-party apps and services flock to Google’s smart speaker. That entails that Google Home has a platform for third-party developers to hook into. Fortunately, for both users and developers, Google has one, “Actions on Google”, and is now calling on developers to start building actions to get the conversation flowing.

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Blink XT outdoor security camera goes on pre-order

Blink XT outdoor security camera goes on pre-order

We have been impressed, though left wanting for more, by Nest’s attempt at bringing its security camera to the great outdoors. Nest, however, is hardly the only game in town. Blink, which also has an indoor home security camera and cloud storage, is almost stepping out of its shell. Introducing the Blink XT, whose only real difference, aside from the price, is that it is fit to be used outdoors, under sun, rain, or snow. All while still providing the same key benefit of the regular Blink camera.

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Make your home smarter – 8 of the best smart home devices in 2016

Make your home smarter – 8 of the best smart home devices in 2016

Homes are getting smarter, little by little. Despite recent troubling reports of how the so-called Internet of Things are ticking security time bombs. Those software issues, however, are more likely to get fixed, hopefully sooner rather than later, rather than the dozens of smart home appliances and products to disappear from the market.

Setting up a smart home can look like a daunting task, with so many moving pieces and so many choices. Of course, it doesn't have to be and you don't have to go all out all at once. To get you started on the road to home automation heaven, here are 8 of the best products, in different categories, to check out when you're planning to take your home to the future.

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Amazon and Intel team up against Google in IoT

Amazon and Intel team up against Google in IoT

Amazon and Intel are teaming up to spread Alexa, with stronger voice control skills as well as faster ways for third-parties to build devices with the assistant baked in. The news, announced at Amazon's AWS-focused re:Invent conference this week, sees Intel renew its efforts to get its silicon into places where, traditionally at least, you might expect to find ARM-based processors. However it's also a big deal to Amazon, which faces stronger competition from Google and others in the smart home.

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Kwikset Kevo Convert turns your existing lock into a smart lock

Kwikset Kevo Convert turns your existing lock into a smart lock

When it comes to locks for your home or office, Kwikset is one of the biggest names in the industry. While most of us have normal locks that have physical keys on our homes, there are some smart locks out there that you can open remotely or with a keypad rather than keys. The catch is that you have to replace the lock on the outside of your doro normally and that can be an issue for people in a homeowners association or those who just like the look they have.

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Sphero Force Band now allows Force gestures to control IoT home devices

Sphero Force Band now allows Force gestures to control IoT home devices

Earlier this year, toy-maker Sphero debuted the Star Wars Force Band wearable, making the previously released robotic BB-8 even cooler than it already was. Basically, the wristband allowed the small droid to be controlled with hand movements. Now Sphero has one-upped itself once again, introducing the ability to pair the Force Band with various smart home apps and appliances, all powered by IFTTT.

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Eight Smart Mattress has four foam layers and one layer of tech

Eight Smart Mattress has four foam layers and one layer of tech

Everything is going smart these days, it started with our phones years ago and more recently our watches. Today even your mattress is getting smarter in an effort to help you sleep better. I think we can all get behind tech that helps us to sleep better and wake up more refreshed. The Eight Smart Mattress has four layers of high-density foam and a technology layer that is able to track sleep.

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Neato Botvac Connected gains voice control via Alexa

Neato Botvac Connected gains voice control via Alexa

Amazon's Alexa now works with the Botvac Connected with devices like Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. This is just the latest in a long line of devices that are making the jump to smart home congruity with Alexa, making Amazon a voice command leader with several devices for smart home enthusiasts. This is the first official collaboration between Amazon Alexa and Neato - and it probably won't be the last.

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Yi Dome Camera goes after the smart home security market

Yi Dome Camera goes after the smart home security market

Yi Technology, a Chinese company closely associated with and funded by Xiaomi, entered the US market guns blazing with an affordable action camera to take on the king of action cameras, GoPro. Since then it has expanded into the home camera segment and it is now doing yet another round, this time with security in mind. The not dome-looking Yi Dome Camera offers 360-degree coverage while the Yi Cloud subscription offers near unlimited storage space, all at the fraction of what everyone else is requiring from consumers.

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