Tag: "Smart Home"

Sony goes into Smart Homes

Sony today announced a collection of new products that it plans to showcase during the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany this upcoming weekend. One of the biggest additions to the company’s line-up is a new smart home speaker, called the LF-S50G wireless speaker, which looks similar to Apple’s upcoming HomePod, has a built-in Google Assistant, and is being pitched with a “high quality” music-focused message.

Users can start off music playback by saying “OK Google,” and from there they can ask the assistant for any information that it normally provides, including basic trivia, unit conversions, nutritional information, recipes, and more. The sides of the speaker have an LED clock display, while the top includes various sensors that support gesture controls for starting a song, skipping a song, and adjusting volume.

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How Google is taking over Your Home

Google’s push to place its digital assistant, the search giant’s new product centrepiece, inside every consumer appliance imaginable is edging forward.

The Alphabet Inc. unit announced on Wednesday that its voice-based chat service is now compatible with a wave of home devices, including speakers and everyday household appliances like refrigerators. A

fter arriving on Google’s smartphone and speaker in 2016, the company hopes its chat-bot can field regular search queries and become a vehicle for online commerce.

On that front, Google faces stiff competition from Amazon.com Inc., which is also trying to spread its digital assistant Alexa. For example, on Wednesday Amazon and Microsoft Corp. announced a deal to make their digital assistants talk to each other.

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What are Smart Home Systems?

Smart home systems refer to a variety of different and overlapping electrical and wireless systems that will enable a smart home or a smart house to function as a combined whole unit.

Central to understanding the nature of the systems is an understanding of the basis of what a smart home is and the various technologies that underpin it. The idea of a smart home has been around for a long time, in fact in many ways it is one of the oldest science fiction dreams that is on the verge of becoming a reality.

The typical scenario that shows the potential of a smart home normally involves someone driving home from work in their smart car. As they approach their home, their smart car communicates with their garage, and their garage doors open automatically as they arrive.

In addition, as they arrive home, their smart car will connect with their home, their lights will automatically come on within the home, their heating will come on and so will their appropriate kitchen devices, such as their oven waiting to pre-cook their dinner.

A further scenario includes their groceries being delivered at the exact moment they arrive home.

Smart home systems

This has happened because that smart refrigerator has realised that they are running low on certain items, has automatically contacted their local grocery store who have assembled the items and delivered them automatically to their home.

The grocery store new when to deliver them by accessing the drivers online calendar and working out the exact point when they would be home.

In addition the grocery store would automatically charge the amount of the groceries to the drivers credit card, which they have on account, and the amount on the credit card would be automatically debited from the drivers bank account through an online banking facility.

A few years ago, this scenario or these scenarios would have seemed far-fetched. Today they are the verge of becoming a reality for anyone who wants them. Quite literally billions of devices are being fitted with sensors that will allow them to connect to each other wirelessly over the internet, a scenario commonly referred to as the internet of things.

Smart home systems tend to be the various types of systems that would be used within a smart home such as an alarm system, a security system, a lighting control system, an audio system, a technology system and perhaps even a complete smart phone system.

In addition that will need to be a smart home management system both to coordinate all these activities, and to be able to manage them in the event of any one of them not working.  At the moment it is anticipated that the systems are will be controlled through an app or apps through someone’s smart phone, but this could well change in the future.

The push by the big tech companies to move to voice recognition technology seems to imply that this is their preferred mode of co-ordinating the mechanics of a smart home. What is perhaps being overlooked is the cyber security implications and risks inherent within any such system.

What is a Smart Home Security System?

Most people would probably give slightly different answer to the question of what is a home security system, let alone a smart home security system.

Any security system in a home is often thought of largely as an alarm system, possibly coupled nowadays with various types of CCTV cameras and other types of technology that can alert and detect intruders.

A home security system certainly can be that, but can also be a lot more.

The traditional method of securing a home has always been locks and mortar.

As time has gone on, technology has allowed more and more sophisticated devices to let people believe that home is safer.

A smart home, both now and in the future, is one where essentially all the systems and devices in the home can connect or talk to each other wirelessly, and can be centrally controlled either through a smart phone app or some type of voice recognition system.

Inevitably a smart home security system will consist of a combination of locks on windows and doors that can be controlled wirelessly, as well as a combination of burglar alarms, CCTV cameras and various other security devices.

Smart home security system

The proponents of a smart home security system will argue that the combination of all these factors, and the fact that they can be coordinated and controlled through a central wireless system makes the whole process of safeguarding and securing a home much easier.

That can certainly be debated, but to an extent misses the point.

While there certainly may be some advantages from a convenience view point of the ability to co-ordinate various connected devices, it does also leave someone’s home much more vulnerable to the possibility of being hacked.

The idea of cyber security and internet safety is one that most people are probably aware of, even if it is only the notion of computer viruses and computer malware.

Most people who have a PC or tablet in their home are likely to have some type of antivirus software installed, may or may not have a firewall activated and most likely don’t take the risk of being hacked to seriously.

The scenario changes significantly in the event of a smart home existing, and a smart home security system being the main or only line of defence against any intruder or unwelcome visitor.

There are already many anecdotal instances of baby monitor alarms being hacked by individuals who then use that device to say things and shout things that will upset or disturb the baby or child near the device.

Whilst these reports are certainly disturbing in themselves, they should also be disturbing to the manufacturers of these devices.

The vulnerability of these devices lies not only in the devices themselves, but in the continual upgrades they will need over their lifetime in order to keep them secure.