smart home

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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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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