smart home

New Alexa skill has Amazon Echo reading 60,000 recipes

New Alexa skill has Amazon Echo reading 60,000 recipes

The Amazon Echo connected speaker can turn a number of activities into passive ones, such as reading the news or e-books out loud for users, book travel plans, track orders from Amazon, and even send text messages. But one category where the device has been lacking is in looking up and reading cooking recipes. That's finally changing, and just in time for the holidays.

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Sunflower uses drone, lights to monitor homes from outside

Sunflower uses drone, lights to monitor homes from outside

Most smart home security systems aren’t so smart, argues Sunflower Labs. It says that 95% of the alarms raised turn out to be false ones to the point that police dispatchers have become numb to them, which is a very dangerous attitude. And for real situations, those security systems only alert you when it’s too late to do anything, when some is already at the door of has gone through the window. Sunflower Labs, naturally, proposes a smarter solution, one that combines an autonomous drone and inconspicuous lawn lights to pinpoint when, where, and who is approaching your castle.

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Big Mouth Billy Bass makes for the best Alexa hack

Big Mouth Billy Bass makes for the best Alexa hack

Alexa, Amazon's digital voice assistant that powers the Echo connected speaker, has already been used in a number of homemade hacks, such as using it to control a power wheelchair, remote start a car, and even have a Tesla Model S back out of a garage. But none of those compare to developer and artist Brian Kane's latest use of the technology: getting Alexa to speak through a Big Mouth Billy Bass animatronic fish.

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TCL Xess brings its giant Android screen to Amazon

TCL Xess brings its giant Android screen to Amazon

Not so long ago, Alcatel introduced what was, and still is, an odd Android device. It was basically a gigantic 17.3-inch Android tablet that is meant to be used upright and not meant to be carried around much. The Xess was scheduled to go on sale last April but it is only now that it is showing up for retail on Amazon. And while it’s being sold under parent company TCL’s name, it’s really the same Xess as before, but with one subtle shift in focus: Amazon Alexa.

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4 things to know before you buy Google Home

4 things to know before you buy Google Home

The Google Assistant has escaped, and it's haunting your house. No longer is it trapped in your phone or your browser: instead, the power of Google's so-called Knowledge Graph now gets a new enclosure, the vase-esque Google Home. Like Amazon's Echo, it reacts to voice rather than touchscreen or buttons, and like Amazon's assistant Alexa, it promises to streamline your day and entertain your evenings with its personalized knowledge of your tastes and interests. Sounds great, right? Turns out, there are a few things you ought to bear in mind before you bring Home home.

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Living with Google Home

Living with Google Home

The Google Assistant has been bundled into the browser, added into Android, and squeezed into Android Wear: now, it's getting a sleek object d'art for the smart home. Google Home is the search giant's take on the smart speaker space, a direct challenge to everyone's current favorite virtual PA, Amazon's Alexa. At $129, Google Home undercuts Echo (though not Echo Dot) and, if your digital life is already in Google's cloud, it promises a more streamlined way to consume that data around the home.

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Netatmo Presence subscription-free security cam gets priced up

Netatmo Presence subscription-free security cam gets priced up

There's no shortage of connected security cameras out there, but your options are limited if you don't want to pay a monthly fee but still want on-demand video recordings. Netatmo is aiming to fill that niche with its Presence camera, on sale today. Announced back in January at CES, the camera has been a long time coming but the wait may be worth it if you want to avoid another subscription.

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Omate Yumi is an Android, Amazon Alexa powered home robot

Omate Yumi is an Android, Amazon Alexa powered home robot

Omate made a name for itself back in the heyday of smartwatches, bucking the trend by putting a full Android OS inside the tiny wearable. Just recently, it made another pioneering effort by putting Amazon’s Alexa front and center, almost literally, of its Limited Edition of the Omate Rise smartwatch. Now with smartwatches believed to be in a slump, Omate is breaking out into new territory, combining everything it has learned so far. The result? An unexpected venture into the niche “family robot” market with Yumi, which puts a face and body to Alexa.

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How Sense with Voice will save your sleep with big data

How Sense with Voice will save your sleep with big data

If logging your runs is the current peak of the quantified self, then sleep is the next big frontier, and Hello is pitching its new sleep tracker as the centerpiece of that. Sense with Voice builds on the original no-wearable design with new voice controls, smart home integration, and a growing amount of behind-the-scenes data courtesy of the company's new Chief Scientist, Professor Matthew Walker, who I caught up with ahead of today's launch. Turns out, there's more to bad sleep than just nightmares.

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Bixi lets you control devices with Jedi hand waves

Bixi lets you control devices with Jedi hand waves

We’re probably still a few decades away from a Minority Report computer display and interface and we’re definitely a few fictional universes removed from having enough Midichlorians to be Force-sensitive. So anything that gives us a semblance of telekinetic abilities, with hand-waving of course, is more than welcome. And there are a lot of those today. But what sets Bixi apart, at least based on its promise, is that it is the smallest, cheapest, most accurate, and most rugged gesture recognition device you’ll ever need to control anything from your smartphone to the GoPro camera sitting on your head.

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Logitech Harmony gets Amazon Alexa support

Logitech Harmony gets Amazon Alexa support

Logitech Harmony has received Amazon Alexa support, it has been announced. Those with a Logitech Harmony Hub can interact with their entertainment room devices using an Amazon Alexa device like the Echo or Echo Dot. This marks the latest instance in which Amazon’s personal assistant devices can be used to control and interact with connected ‘smart’ Internet of Things devices.

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With ENERGY STAR nod, Philips Hue unlocks smart bulb rebates

With ENERGY STAR nod, Philips Hue unlocks smart bulb rebates

Philips' Hue connected bulbs have clinched coveted ENERGY STAR certification and could potentially get more affordable, the light specialist will announce this week. The certification, which Philips plans to detail at the ENERGY STAR Products Partner Meeting, makes the company's Hue platform one of the first connected lighting systems to qualify not only for ENERGY STAR's badge of approval, but utility subsidies that could make upgrading to smart bulbs considerably cheaper. I caught up with Todd Manegold, senior director of Hue product marketing, to find more.

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