Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Amazon spent years to bring Echo from an idea to an intelligent, voice-controlled product that could play music, order groceries and read the news out loud. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos demanded perfection, bringing latency levels to below 1.5 seconds, and the result is that Echo and its virtual assistant Alexa are a hit. In less than two weeks, Echo hit a million pre-orders, which took the iPhone 70 days to achieve. Amazon is now letting third-party hardware manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. Continue reading Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Alphabet Tops Apple, Still Growing Core Business, Other Bets

Google’s parent Alphabet finally sailed past Apple as the world’s most valuable company, as shares rose 4.2 percent, to a market capitalization of about $560 billion, compared to Apple’s $539.7 billion. Alphabet posted 14 percent revenue growth in its core Internet businesses, including search, YouTube and Android, rising to $74.54 billion from 2014’s $65.67 billion. Revenue from its “Other Bets,” or moonshots, rose 37 percent to $448 million, up dramatically from the $12 million in revenue reported in 2013. Continue reading Alphabet Tops Apple, Still Growing Core Business, Other Bets

Google to Spin Off Autonomous Cars as Alphabet Company

In 2016, Google will spin off its driverless car unit, currently part of Google X, as a standalone business under the Alphabet aegis. With more than 1 million miles clocked on public roads, the company already has a hefty lead on competitors, including Uber Technologies, which has raised more than $10 billion towards its own work creating an autonomous car. Google first plans to launch a service, with fleets of large and small vehicles deployed in closed areas such as college campuses, military bases and corporate complexes. Continue reading Google to Spin Off Autonomous Cars as Alphabet Company

Google Now a Subsidiary of New Parent Company, Alphabet Inc.

In a move that surprised Wall Street, Google created Alphabet Inc., a new publicly traded parent company. Google will be a subsidiary of Alphabet, with Google executive Sundar Pichai as its new CEO. Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will run Alphabet, which will include all of Google’s other ancillary businesses. Brin will also run Google X, the company’s experimental laboratory. Since the announcement was made after the close of trading on Wall Street, Google shares rose 6 percent in after-hours trading. Continue reading Google Now a Subsidiary of New Parent Company, Alphabet Inc.

Target Display Educates Shoppers About the Connected Home

Target recently joined forces with Local Projects, the New York design studio that worked on the interactive installations of the 9/11 Museum, to build a new retail space and test lab in San Francisco that leverages interactive storytelling to help illustrate how smart products work. Open House is arranged as a 3,500-square-foot model home filled with the latest Internet-connected gadgets, from Drop’s smart thermometers and scales in the kitchen to Withings’ wireless blood pressure monitors and Sonos speakers in the bedroom. Continue reading Target Display Educates Shoppers About the Connected Home

Today is Final Day to Purchase Google Glass Explorer Edition

Today marks the last day that Google Glass in its current form will officially be available for $1,500 as part of the Explorer Program. Late last week, the company announced that it would stop selling the smart glasses and the device would no longer be developed by the Google X research division. However, Google Glass is expected to continue as a standalone project with former Apple exec Tony Fadell in charge. Fadell is known for helping to design the iPod and inventing the Nest thermostat. Google purchased Nest last year. Continue reading Today is Final Day to Purchase Google Glass Explorer Edition

New Universal Remote Controls All Your Smart Home Devices

While universal remotes are primarily used to control cable boxes and TVs, Cupertino-based startup NEEO is taking the idea a step further. The company claims its universal remote can control a home theater system and almost every smart device that a homeowner could imagine. The NEEO touchscreen remote works with over 30,000 Internet-connected gadgets such as the Nest, Philips Hue and others. It also uses hand recognition software to create profiles for each user. Continue reading New Universal Remote Controls All Your Smart Home Devices

Google Bolsters its Cloud Computing Services with New Tools

Google’s cloud computing customers just got faster connectivity options and tools to share data between devices in real time. The tech giant announced its new Google Cloud Interconnect, a new service that gives developers three options for fast connectivity to Google’s servers. Google also started integrating technology from its latest acquisition of Firebase, a startup that specializes in real-time backend service, and has developed a “Triggers” tool for Google cloud computing. Continue reading Google Bolsters its Cloud Computing Services with New Tools

Internet of Things: Retailers to Promote Smart Home Devices

Retailers are gearing up to support a range of connected home devices for the upcoming holiday season. Best Buy’s new Connected Home department is scheduled to deploy in more than 400 stores by Thanksgiving, featuring more than 100 smart home products. Other big box retailers including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples have unveiled new programs and products in their stores designed for the connected home. We can also expect to see specialists and tech support trained in smart home products. Continue reading Internet of Things: Retailers to Promote Smart Home Devices

Nest and Google are Aiming to Design Smarter Home Devices

With Google’s vast resources, Nest CEO Tony Fadell is hoping to bring home appliances and consumer electronics together in a new line of sleek connected home devices. The plan is to develop a line of smart refrigerators, TVs, light bulbs, thermostats, smoke alarms, and security cameras that can all interact with each other. In typical Google fashion, Nest wants anybody to be able to connect to their hardware, so they released a developer program for other companies. Continue reading Nest and Google are Aiming to Design Smarter Home Devices

Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

ETCentric community member Lee Lanselle forwarded us news that Samsung has acquired SmartThings, maker of smart-home controllers, for around $200 million. While SmartThings will continue to operate independently under CEO Alex Hawkinson, its three facilities are expected to move to Palo Alto to become part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center (run by former Google and AOL exec David Eun). SmartThings, which is owned by Physical Graph Corp., began in 2012 as a Kickstarter project. Continue reading Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

Thread Group Formed to Promote IP-Based Networking Protocol

Google-owned Nest, maker of smart thermostats and smoke alarms, was one of seven companies that announced a new consortium yesterday called the Thread Group, which plans to promote the online connection of devices through a new IP-based, wireless networking protocol called Thread. Chris Boross, president of the consortium and head of technical marketing at Nest, said the group is looking at “250 products per home network” in order to “provide ample room for growth in the future.” Continue reading Thread Group Formed to Promote IP-Based Networking Protocol

Wink App Controls Smart Devices from Different Companies

For homeowners with a variety of smart devices and appliances, operating within the Internet of Things can be complicated because many hardware makers manufacture products that do not work with devices from other companies. Wink, however, is a smartphone app that connects all of those products, from Samsung smart TVs to Philips Hue smart light bulbs. Earlier this week, Wink also launched a series of Wink-enabled devices from 15 manufacturers. Continue reading Wink App Controls Smart Devices from Different Companies

36 Million Smart Homes Coming to U.S. and Europe by 2017

Analyst firm Berg Insights forecasts that the number of smart homes in the U.S. and Europe will reach 36 million by 2017, with sales of $9.4 billion per year. The second edition “Smart Homes and Home Automation” report indicates the U.S. had 3.5 million smart homes at the end of 2012. Berg defines smart homes as those with connected products that work in conjunction with apps or a Web portal. However, most of today’s smart homes simply include products such as a Nest thermostat. Continue reading 36 Million Smart Homes Coming to U.S. and Europe by 2017

Connected Home: Google’s Nest Agrees to Acquire Dropcam

As part of its push to become the dominant OS for connected devices in and around the home, Google’s Nest Labs will purchase Dropcam for $555 million. Dropcam’s Web-connected video-monitoring service streams live to mobile apps and sends alerts based on activity in the home. Google acquired Nest, founded by Apple designers Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, earlier this year for $3.2 billion. The acquisition of Dropcam is expected to generate privacy concerns. Continue reading Connected Home: Google’s Nest Agrees to Acquire Dropcam

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