Displaying items by tag: Smart Home

Amazon and Microsoft announced that Alexa, Amazon’s AI personal assistant, will soon be able to communicate with Cortana, the personal assistant for Windows 10, and vice versa. Users of Amazon’s Alexa-controlled Echo speaker will be able to turn on their device and say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” or turn to their Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa.”

The two US technology giants said Alexa and Cortana will begin talking to each other later this year. Under the agreement, Microsoft customers first will be able to access Alexa via Cortana on Windows PCs, and later on Android and iOS devices, said Andrew Shuman, corporate vice president, Cortana Engineering.

Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana's unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email – all using just your voice. Similarly, Cortana customers can ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, interact with many of the more than 20,000 skills built by third-party developers, and much more.

"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal."

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said, "The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience.”

Tractica analyst Mark Beccue speculates that Amazon and Microsoft have mutual interest in developing the ability for their AI assistants to communicate, because neither company has enough presence in the mobile space to stand alone.

He told TechNewsWorld: “Neither Microsoft nor Amazon have the market penetration that Apple and Google do. Their virtual assistants are not very multimodal yet. Maybe they feel stronger together.”

Both Amazon and Microsoft have their own strengths that they can bring to the table; for example, Microsoft is stronger in productivity and search, whereas Amazon is known for e-commerce and has a vast ecosystem of skill applications, including many related to smart home technologies.

Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba has taken its first venture into developing artificial intelligence home devices by launching its voice assistant speaker, which has drawn comparisons to Amazon’s ‘Echo’.

Alibaba’s voice assistant which will be a low-cost device has been named ‘The T-mall Genie’ after its e-commerce platform T-mall. It will retail at $73.42 which is significantly less than that of its US competitors Amazon and Google’s Alphabet which range between $120-$180 dollars. 

The ‘smart home’ voice assistants are activated by voice commands to perform daily tasks such as searching for weather reports, changing music, using AI to control other ‘smart home’ devices. China’s top technology firms have all expressed their ambitions to become global leaders in relation to AI – which has been evidenced by companies like Amazon and Alibaba increasingly competing in the same markets.

China’s search engine colossus Baidu, has also invested heavily in emerging technologies, and recently announced its investment with the Chinese government for an artificial intelligence lab, whilst it recently launched its own device which was based on its own Siri-like ‘Duer OS system’.

Alibaba’s ‘T-mall Genie has been specifically programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a user recognized by the system utters the words ‘T-mall Genie’ in Chinese. In a demonstration which was streamed live, engineers ordered the device to perform a series of tasks such as order some Coco-Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV.

In addition to its foray into AI devices, Alibaba has continued to invest heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalize on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy. Analysts have claimed it has striking similarities to strategies already adopted by Amazon.

Published in Internet of Things

Nokia and China Mobile are deploying millions of home gateways to provide residential customers across 29 different provinces in China with access to fiber-based ultra-broadband applications and intelligent home services.

"This important announcement furthers Nokia's role as a key technology provider in China,” said Federico Guillén, president of Nokia's Fixed Networks Business Group. “Our home gateway solution provides China Mobile with the ultra-broadband access technology they need to capitalize on IoT and deliver new services that support their evolving customer needs. We are very pleased to continue our close work with China Mobile and look forward to helping them deliver on their commitments."

Under this contract, China Mobile will deploy home gateway units with Nokia's solution to over 30 million users during 2017. Using established fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks, which bring greater service experiences and gigabit speeds to customers, the new gateway will extend internet coverage in the home and enable IoT communications between devices and sensors. The ability to flexibly add software functions and enhanced analytics capabilities allows China Mobile to deploy and deliver a new intelligent home experience and associated services.

"China Mobile is progressing fast as a converged telecommunications operator -- with more than 31 million FTTH subscribers -- and has proven it can successfully leverage its extensive fiber access network to deliver ultra-broadband applications such as 4K TV services and Gigabit access to customers across various provinces,” said Roland Montagne, principal analyst at IDATE. 

Roland added, “With the addition of intelligent home gateway technology, China Mobile will be able to further differentiate its services, providing consumers with enhanced internet coverage in the home and  a more seamless experience for connecting various devices and sensors."          

Published in Telecom Vendors

LG had big plans for CES 2017 and didn’t disappoint the crowds. The South Korean tech giant unveiled its latest innovative robotic helpers that go far beyond your average kitchen appliances. LG’s Hub Robot, for example, was revealed as well as its Mini-sized counterpart. The robots can control smart home devices, play music, offer advice on commuting times, and overall make life a bit easier. LG appears to be competing with the Amazon Echo, by also revealing its Airbot assistant.

The LG Hub Robot features a circular "face" with a screen displaying what looks like eyes perched atop a white body. The robot can re-orient itself to face the user and move along to music that it’s playing. The screen can also display images and videos, although how exactly it accesses these wasn’t disclosed by LG.

LG’s Airbot is able to guide wayward travelers through busy airports. It can also provide useful travel information on its large display, and talk you through steps to get through an airport when you get lost – perfect for traveling children. The Airbot is already being used by travelers at South Korea’s Incheon airport, according to reports, so it seems likely that we could see it in action in other airports around the world in the future.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee of when that will happen, or how much the robots will cost. LG hasn’t revealed such details yet. LG has teased the Hub Robot before, and also announced other home appliances at the press conference, including a smart fridge featuring Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, and a robot lawnmower.

Published in Gadget

Amazon launches new smart home device

Written on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 12:14

Amazon has announced details about developing a new smart home device aimed at fending off competition from market competitors Google and Apple. The world’s largest online retailer is planning to capitalize even further on the surprising success of its voice-controlled home gadgets by introducing a new premium Echo-like speaker to the marketplace.

The new smart home device will have a touchscreen measuring around seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the voice-based Alexa digital assistant. Those who have developed the new device hope it will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments and news.

The latest Amazon speaker will be much larger in size and will tilt upwards so the screen can be seen when it sits on a counter and the user is standing. High-grade speakers will make the smart home gadget sound much better than other Echo devices currently on the market. Amazon’s new smart home Echo device is expected to be announced as soon as the first quarter of 2017, although the company, which has its HQ located in Seattle Washington, declined to comment.

So-called smart home gadgets are one of the latest computing battlefields fought over by the largest technology companies. However, they have so far failed to match the popularity of smartphones and personal computers. Amazon’s hardware track record has also been mixed, with the disappointing launch of the Fire Phone in 2014. Its Echo speakers have been a surprise hit though, with Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimating US sales of more than 5 million units since 2014.

Amazon’s planned expansion of the Alexa-powered line coincides with growing competition from Alphabet’s Google Home speaker and Apple’s interest in building a home device using its Siri digital assistant. The new Amazon device will use an optimized version of Fire OS, the software that runs Fire TV set-top box.

Published in Gadget

Nokia recently announced a new Smart Home solution that lets network operators quickly offer new services to residential customers seeking a digital home solution for the Internet of Things. The solution supports an array of sensors, plugs and other connected devices essential for the delivery of home security, automation and smart metering services, providing customers with a fully integrated, simple, plug-and-play experience.

With the number of IoT connected devices expected to grow from 1.6 billion in 2014 to between 20 and 46 billion by 2020, network operators are seeking new ways to help subscribers leverage the  Internet of Things in all aspects of their lives. Providing operators with a single box solution, Nokia's smart home gateway lets subscribers easily monitor and control everything inside the home with a smartphone or a tablet, including temperature and motion sensors, door and window sensors, smoke detectors, light switches and security cameras.

Jonathan Collins, Research Director for Smart Home at ABI Research said: "The broad Smart Home market is still fairly young.  As a leading IoT segment there is clear potential for rapid growth and with that, new revenue opportunities for network operators.  However, critical to growth will be providing interoperability between myriad devices. Increasingly operators must ensure that the residential smart home device they deploy can support multiple protocols in a single device, including Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave."

To help streamline and simplify installation in the home, the Nokia Smart Home solution provides network operators with three key elements. The first element is a single device that acts as an Optical Network Terminal (ONT), residential and smart home gateway. The second is a mobile application (on IOS and Android) to control the home. Finally, an end-to-end IoT management platform controlling the Smart Home ecosystem, with some predefined use cases and management of all smart devices in the home.

Available to all network operators by the end of 2016, the new smart home gateway provides a fully integrated, simple to deploy solution to other over the top (OTT) technologies and can help network operators capture a piece of the growing smart home market, which is forecast to grow 24% to $39 billion between 2015 and 2020.

It also adds to Nokia's IoT portfolio which, over the last six months has grown to include more network infrastructure including IoT services, specialized vertical solutions, IoT devices, IoT Community, along with the recently announced IoT platform and gateway.

Published in Internet of Things