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: Encoding Environmental Intelligence with New Chip Tech

The design of truly contextual experiences — whether for utility or entertainment — requires a knowledge of both the user and the environment they are in. This becomes especially relevant when we think of what it means to build interesting mixed reality experiences. CES this year showcased a variety of computer vision AI software tools oriented towards understanding environmental context. At Eureka Park in the Venetian, however, MantiSpectra’s chip sensor technology provided a peek into the benefits for user experience enabled by environmental intelligence arising from hardware. Continue reading CES: Encoding Environmental Intelligence with New Chip Tech

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: OS-Supplier Roku to Launch Its Own Line of Smart TVs

Roku, whose software the firm claims is used in a third of U.S. TVs, will release its own line of televisions this year. The San Jose-based company, known for its smart TV OS, plans two models: the Roku Select and a higher-end Roku Plus, according to an announcement at CES 2023. Available in 11 models ranging from 24- to 75-inches, the Roku Select and Plus Series TVs will focus on streaming features associated with the brand, with prices ranging from $119 to $999. The new Roku TVs will include access to free live TV, news, and sports, plus popular Roku features like Find My Remote and Private Listening. Continue reading CES: OS-Supplier Roku to Launch Its Own Line of Smart TVs

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

Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

Amazon is introducing a voice-activated gaming feature called Alexa Game Control that lets players dictate the action. The February 2023 release “Dead Island 2” will be the first game to incorporate Alexa Game Control. Currently in private beta, the new feature will initially roll out to a wider audience only in North America. Players who want to use the technology will need either a free Amazon account or Amazon Prime. With that in place, one can activate Game Control using push-to-talk or with a hands-free Voice Activity feature that automatically detects speech. Continue reading Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

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

CES: Remote Work Advances Adoption of Smart Home Tech

The smart home sector has been evolving for at least a decade but when COVID-19 created the necessity for remote working, millions of people had a personal and very eye-opening experience in their homes. CTA senior director of member programs Melissa Matalon led a discussion with Michael D. Ham, president and co-founder of global wellness company RePure, and Ian Bryant, senior director of strategic partnerships at CEDIA, the trade group for the home technology industry. “A decade ago, health and wellness wasn’t relevant to smart homes,” noted Ham. “Now that people are spending so much more time at home, wellness is on everyone’s minds,” said Matalon. Continue reading CES: Remote Work Advances Adoption of Smart Home Tech

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

CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

Tech sales during the 2021 October through December holiday season will reach $142.5 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association, which says the projection represents “a very slight 0.5 percent increase from 2020.” A record 191.3 million U.S. adults plan to purchase technology as a holiday gift, the CTA says, adding that its 28th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report “could have important implications” for fourth quarter TV advertising. The study found that 83 percent of U.S. adults “are unaffected by or more likely to purchase tech due to the pandemic.” Continue reading CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

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

Smartphone Pioneer LG to Shutter Its Mobile Division in July

LG is shutting down its mobile business on July 31. The company announced that, “moving forward LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas.” Its current mobile phones are still for sale and LG said it will provide support and software updates “for a period of time which will vary by region.” LG just put out an inexpensive 5G phone with the $400 K92, but its global market share dipped to 1.7 percent. Continue reading Smartphone Pioneer LG to Shutter Its Mobile Division in July