Home Networking, Home Automation

Nest Gets Watch Control

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Nest Gets Watch Control

The Nest smart thermostat gets a much wanted addition-- the latest 5.6.0 update to the Nest iOS app includes Watch support, allowing users to adjust home temperatures from their wrist.

The update also includes a few UI tweaks, such as a "Spaces" feature to organise Nest products according to the room they reside in, means to check all camera feeds simultaneously and the ability to share live camera video feeds with trusted 3rd parties through a password-protected website.

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iDevices Adds Alexa to Smart Home Devices

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iDevices Adds Alexa to Smart Home Devices

iDevices adds a voice control option to its HomeKit-enabled smart home devices-- Amazon Alexa, adding further flexibility to its device lineup.

Alexa-compatible devices from the company include a thermostat, an outdoor power switch and socket, an indoor connected plug and a light bulb adapter. For compatibility with the Amazon Echo these devices require initial setup via companion iOS app, with an update allowing users to add an Amazon account for Alexa support.

Once the user logs in the iDevices Connected skill is added to Alexa through the official Amazon app. In addition, all devices get connection to the iDevices IoT cloud infrastructure for no extra cost.

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Wink Relay Gets IFTTT

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Wink Relay Gets IFTTT

The Wink Relay smart home hub gets a couple of improvements via update providing the system with Fitbit and Uber integration, as well as IFTTT capability.

The Fitbit and Uber parts of the update are simple enough-- it allows users to check Fitbit stats or order a Uber taxi through the touchscreen interface.

IFTTT capability is more interesting. By logging into an IFTTT account on any browsers users can create recipes for the triggering of specific actions via the two Relay physical buttons. For example, pressing a button can send a control to a Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home hub to switch an AV system on or off.

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Apple Details HomeKit Further

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Apple Details HomeKit Further

Apple's plans for home automation might appear slow on the get go, but WWDC did have a presentation detailing the future of HomeKit-- one complete with a dedicated Home app.

Set to launch on Q3 2016 together with iOS 10, the Home app transforms iPads into a control hub. A dedicated "Home Hub" setting provides means to set up scene macros and grant remote access to individual devices via iCloud.

The company promises "more powerful user permissions" when using either iPad or Apple TV as a Home Hub, although it is still to specify such permissions. However, a support document on the iOS 10 beta covers general HomeKit setup and troubleshooting methods.

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Bluetooth Reaches Version 5

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Bluetooth Reaches Version 5

An email by Bluetooth Special Interest Group director Mark Powell reveals the next version of the Bluetooth wireless standard-- Bluetooth 5, an update promising double the range and speed of Bluetooth 4.2.

Named without a point number in the name of simpler marketing, Bluetooth 5 has the support of major technology companies (including Apple and Intel), and features "significant new functionality for connectionless services" such as location-based information and navigations. Such technology is identical to that used by wireless beacons, as well as the Apple AirDrop and Handoff features.

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Google Takes on Amazon Echo With Home

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Google Takes on Amazon Echo With Home

Among Android and software update announcements the Google I/O conference reveals a piece of hardware Amazon might find very familiar-- Home, a cylindrical speaker featuring voice-controlled smarts.

Similar in shape to an oversized salt shaker, the Home performs more or less the same functions as the Echo. It uses a set of far-field microphones to continuously listen to users and answer questions, control music, control some connected devices and even stream media from a smartphone or tablet to a Google Cast.

Powering such voice-controlled smarts is Assistant, a self-explanatory piece of cloud-powered Google software also first announced at I/O. Also available on Android smartphones, Assistant searches the internet to adjust itself to users' schedules, and can even provide images and other information for improved search results.

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The App-Connected, Air Cleaning Dyson Fan

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The App-Connected, Air Cleaning Dyson Fan

Dyson announces the Pure Cool Link-- a fan/air purifier combo add air purification and smartphone-powered monitoring capabilities to the company's range of oscillating air controlling devices.

Available in desk or tower versions, the Pure Cool Link features an ultrafine 360-degree glass HEPA filter the maker claims eliminates 99.7% of particles (such as pollen, bacteria, mold, asbestos, odours, tobacco smoke and carbon dust) from the surroundings.

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Xiaomi Takes on Smart Home With Mi Ecosystem

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Xiaomi Takes on Smart Home With Mi Ecosystem

Xiaomi reveals plans to take on the smart home market with the launch of the Mi Ecosystem-- a sub-brand covering a variety of household products, the first being the Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker.

Understandably aimed at Xiaomi's home China (where the Mi Ecosystem is called "Mijia," meaning "rice home") the IH Pressure Rice Cooker is an app-controlled means for the cooking of, well, rice. Xiaomi claims the device is high quality despite having a low price tag, with a cast iron inner pot, Neoflon powder coating from Daikin and development by former Sanyo engineer Naito Takeshi.

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Roomba Maker Presents Braava Jet Mopping Robot

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Roomba Maker Presents Braava Jet Mopping Robot

iRobot, the company behind the famous Roomba robotic vacuum, launches the Braava Jet-- a miniature version of the Braava floor mopping robot designed to keep uncarpeted kitchens and bathrooms clean.

The Braava Jet measures 17 x 17 x 8cm and can either dry sweep, damp sweep or wet mop floors. It offers  systematic (moving back and forth in even rows) and V-shaped cleaning modes, and carries around 150ml of water with which to squirt floors clean.

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How to Control Bluetooth Devices from Anywhere

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How to Control Bluetooth Devices from Anywhere

Cassia Networks presents the Cassia Hub-- a router promising to solve many of the issues limiting the capabilities of Bluetooth connectivity, such as range and the handling of multiple devices around the house.

According to the company, the Cassia Hub extends Bluetooth range to over 300m (at least in open spaces) while integrating the control of up to 22 devices. Handling such integration and control is a companion mobile device app allowing the automation of Bluetooth devices both inside and outside the home.

The Cassia Hub uses regular Bluetooth 4.0 (in both BLE and Classic flavours), making it compatible with most Bluetooth devices, be it smartphones, speakers, lights or locks. It also connects to the internet via wifi or ethernet, allowing control of connected devices from anywhere in the world via internet-enabled smartphone or tablet. A final feature has it push audio from music streaming services to Bluetooth speakers around the home, creating an impromptu multiroom music system.

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The HomeKit-Enabled ConnectSense Sensors

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The HomeKit-Enabled ConnectSense Sensors

Grid Connect adds a pair of products to its ConnectSense automation product line-- the HomeKit-enabled Temperature & Humidity and Smart Water sensors.

The two sensors connect with other home automation devices via Bluetooth LE, with HomeKit support allowing users to monitor and control via Siri on iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

The Temperature & Humidity sensor is fairly self-explanatory-- it tracks temperature and humidity in sensitive areas of the home, such as wine cellars, collection rooms, greenhouses and cold storage. It pairs with other HomeKit-enabled thermostats, enabling temperature regulation in areas lacking a thermostat.

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