New Apple HomePod Signals Big Push in Smart Home Space

Apple is gearing up to make a big play for the smart home market, according to reports that put it on a trajectory to challenge Google and Amazon. This week, the company released a new HomePod smart speaker with superior audio, enhanced Siri capabilities, and better security. But a report surfaced of Apple preparing a dedicated smart home control device to rival the displays for Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub. Although the iPad currently offers some smart home features, standalone devices are growing in popularity, kickstanding on countertops or mounted on walls. Continue reading New Apple HomePod Signals Big Push in Smart Home Space

CES: Matter Smart Home Protocol Marks Major Trend in 2023

While smart home technologies have often made a strong showing at CES, adoption has been hampered by issues of interoperability. This year at CES saw the widespread reveal of Matter (originally known as Project CHIP), a new smart home standard designed to support interoperability. Matter was originally announced in 2019 as a partnership between Apple, Google and Amazon to create an open-source smart home standard. Today, if CES 2023 is any indication, the standard is becoming more prevalent across a wide variety of connected devices and different product sectors. Continue reading CES: Matter Smart Home Protocol Marks Major Trend in 2023

CES: Samsung Introduces an Easy-to-Use Smart Home Hub

Samsung Electronics announced its new $60 SmartThings Station, which the company describes as “an easy-to-use, affordable smart home hub and fast charging pad.” The product is designed to provide consumers with “simple control and interoperability of multiple connected devices.” SmartThings Station is one of numerous solutions touted at CES that are compatible with a growing collection of smart home products, including those that are labeled as Matter devices. The Matter home automation standard, which helps connect devices built with the Thread low-power mesh networking protocol, had a significant presence at CES. Continue reading CES: Samsung Introduces an Easy-to-Use Smart Home Hub

CES: Samsung Promotes Device Connectivity, Sustainability

During Samsung’s CES press conference, chief executive and head of the Device eXperience (DX) Division Jong-Hee (JH) Han emphasized twin themes for the company at this years’ confab. First is to deliver on the promise of smart devices. “It’s about connecting all the devices that make up your life from home to workplace to car,” he said. Second, he added, is “a more sustainable future.” The company’s vice president of corporate sustainability Inhee Chung announced that the DX Division will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030, with a commitment to achieve that for the entire company by 2050. Continue reading CES: Samsung Promotes Device Connectivity, Sustainability

CES: Nanoleaf Debuts New Matter-Compliant Smart Lighting

LED lighting firm Nanoleaf is debuting innovations at CES that include “learning smart light switches” under the banner Sense+ Controls. The devices span categories such as hardwired Smart Light Switch, Wireless Smart Light Switch and Nala Learning Bridge, all of which work with Matter, a global interoperability protocol designed to help smart homes run smoothly, running on the low-powered Thread mesh networking standard. The new Sense+ Controls products feature motion and ambient lighting sensors that automate routines. The Nala Learning Bridge facilitates color-differentiated, soft-glow night lights and connects via Thread to Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Continue reading CES: Nanoleaf Debuts New Matter-Compliant Smart Lighting

New Apple TV 4K Touts Upgrades Including A15 Bionic Chip

The new Apple TV 4K went on sale online and in stores last week, offering improvements over what some say is the best streaming hardware available. The 2022 model has an A15 Bionic processor, a significant update over the A12 inside the previous model, which shipped in May. A 16-core neural engine and added RAM are among the upgrades. Starting at $129 for Wi-Fi only with 64GB of RAM, there is also a higher-end $149 version with 128GB that is Wi-Fi and Ethernet compatible and has a Thread IoT modem that supports Matter. Continue reading New Apple TV 4K Touts Upgrades Including A15 Bionic Chip

CSA Releases Global Connectivity Spec for Internet of Things

The Connectivity Standards Alliance has announced the release of the Matter 1.0 specification, a global connectivity standard for the Internet of Things, simultaneously opening the product certification program, administered through authorized test labs. Member companies “now have a complete program for bringing the next generation of interoperable products that work across brands and platforms to market with greater privacy, security, and simplicity for consumers,” said CSA. The Matter standard was developed so the devices from companies including Google, Apple and Amazon can communicate with each other via a local controller device. Continue reading CSA Releases Global Connectivity Spec for Internet of Things

Amazon’s New Alexa Developer Tools Target Interoperability

Amazon just debuted new Alexa features including one that simplifies coordinating multiple voice assistants on a single device using Agent Transfers (AT) and Amazon’s Universal Device Commands (UDC). Using UDCs, Alexa will be able to act on instructions; for instance, saying “Hey Sonos, turn up the volume” to get results for devices with Sonos Voice Control. ATs enable Alexa to transfer requests it can’t unilaterally fulfill — like “Place an order on Uber Eats” — to other assistants that can. Amazon outlined its AT and UDC plans in a white paper on design recommendations for the Voice Interoperability Initiative (VII). Continue reading Amazon’s New Alexa Developer Tools Target Interoperability

Big and Small Players Support Matter Smart Home Standard

The global smart home device market is pegged at $41.2 billion in 2022, and is expected to hit $73.1 billion by 2026, according to Global Industry Analysts. That’s one reason companies like Apple, Google, Samsung and Amazon have established smart home platforms that enable mobile phones or Alexa to change thermostat settings or turn on the lights using apps that don’t require much fuss. But when it comes to interoperating among various devices and appliances, that’s where an industry standard comes in handy, and Matter, which debuts this year, expects to fill that niche. Continue reading Big and Small Players Support Matter Smart Home Standard

Google TV Aims to Build Its Own Identity Among TV Platforms

Alphabet’s Google continues on a path of global dominance, announcing during CES 2022 earlier this month that the total number of monthly active Android TV devices has grown to 110 million in the world. Since May alone, 30 million devices were added, a growing number of them featuring the company’s new Google TV platform, with TCL reporting that it is moving about 10 million television sets a year with the Google TV interface. Seven of the world’s top 10 smart TV OEMs are currently using a Google UI on their TVs, according to Google TV director of product management Rob Caruso. Continue reading Google TV Aims to Build Its Own Identity Among TV Platforms

CES: Support for Matter Helps Drive Smart Home Momentum

Matter was a big player at CES 2022. Built around the premise that smart homes need a single, unifying interface standard that makes devices “secure, reliable and seamless to use,” the Matter alliance now has more than 220 member companies, including Apple, Comcast, LG and Samsung. Amazon announced developers can add Frustration-Free Setup on Matter-certified devices using the Matter SDK, and Google declared its Fast Pair simple setup is supporting Matter. As companies build new smart products, Matter believes that users should merely plug them in to make them operational on the home network. Continue reading CES: Support for Matter Helps Drive Smart Home Momentum

CES: Google Pushes Cross-Platform Functionality for Android

Alphabet’s Google is making its Fast Pair Service and Chromecast capabilities more interoperable as well as improving functionality with third-party devices that use Google’s own Android OS, Wear OS or Chrome OS and third-party platforms such as Microsoft Windows, Amazon’s Matter smart home standard, and others. In 2021, the average household had 25 connected devices, up from 11 in 2019, and Google wants to free users “to pick and choose the devices that work best for you regardless of brand,” says Google vice president of multi-device experiences Erik Kay. Continue reading CES: Google Pushes Cross-Platform Functionality for Android

Matter Could Soon Become Smart Tech’s Universal Language

The Amazon-led universal connectivity protocol, Matter, is being marketed as the first universal casting standard to reliably work with Apple, Samsung and Google protocols, among others. Interoperability issues that smart home inhabitants have encountered getting their devices connected are legion. A key aspect of Matter’s promise of platform agnosticism is its specs for streaming video players and TV displays, prompting speculation that Matter TV could replace proprietary casting systems, including Apple’s AirPlay and Google’s Cast. Matter is an independently developed protocol developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance due to launch in 2022. Continue reading Matter Could Soon Become Smart Tech’s Universal Language

Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Amazon stated that it would allow third-party developers to create widgets for its Alexa devices, or what it said will be “rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content.” It won’t be an advertising service, according to Amazon Alexa Skills vice president Aaron Rubenson, but users will see personalized results based on the signals they send Alexa. Comedy Central will be one of the first featured skill cards. Amazon also announced that most Echo smart speakers will support the Matter open standard for smart home devices. Continue reading Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Industry Alliance Promotes Secure, Royalty-Free IoT Standard

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), an industry group spearheaded by Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google and SmartThings and focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), has debuted Matter, an interoperable, secure connectivity standard for the future smart home. Formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance, CSA came together with those key Big Tech companies in 2019 to develop and promote an open IoT standard. Matter is a royalty-free unified IP-based connectivity protocol built specifically for IoT systems that enable communication among smart devices. Continue reading Industry Alliance Promotes Secure, Royalty-Free IoT Standard