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How is Alexa disrupting the smart home industry

by:Fishcat     2020-06-16
Google-owned thermostat and smoke alarm maker, Nest Labs, has announced it is moving further into the 'connected home' with the launch of its first security camera, called Nest Cam. \n Nest Cam builds on the features of Dropcam – the start-up \nNest acquired for $555m (£326m)\n in 2014 – including the ability to upload videos to the cloud and live stream them to a smartphone or computer. \n However, Nest has added a slew of new features including full high-definition (1080p) video quality, improved night vision and a new design with a magnetic base that can twist around, bend at an angle, or be mounted upside down. \n \'It was always a no brainer that a camera would have a place in the home,\' said Lionel Paillet, Nest's general manager for Europe. \'We spent a lot of time building on the Dropcam experience to nail it and really get it right.\' \n Nest Cam has a 130-degree viewing angle and a glass lens with a digital zoom that can magnify the picture up to eight times, allowing users to see fine details even from across the room. \n Eight infrared LEDs and new algorithms have been added to improve night vision and motion detection. Nest Cam is smart enough to tell the difference between a torch and sunlight, so it won’t get confused and switch to day mode if an intruder shines a light at it. \n \n The Nest Cam costs £159 and will be available to purchase from a range of retailers including Amazon, John Lewis, Currys, PC World and B&Q in July. \n For an additional monthly fee, users can subscribe to the Nest Aware cloud service, which allows them to scroll through 10 days of content for £8 per month or 30 days for £24 per month. \n All video is stored and processed in the cloud. This allows Nest Cam to provide more accurate alerts when it detects movement in the house, and identify areas where common false alarms occur, like shadows moving across ceilings. \n Users can make and share up to three hours of clips, including timelapses, and create custom 'activity zones' around areas of interest – such as a door – so they can be alerted to anyone coming in or going out. \n \'The cloud is not just used for video recording, but when you stream back to your phone, it can also be used for image processing – whether it's algorithmic or to enhance resolution in certain areas or just get more depth, and you do that in real time,\' said Mr Paillet. \n The Nest Cam has a built-in microphone and speaker, so the user can talk to whoever is in their home via the smartphone app. Nest said that all data is encrypted in the cloud and while it is being transmitted between devices, to ensure it remains private and secure. \n Although the primary purpose of the camera is home security, Nest also sees the potential for it to be used as an entertainment device. Nest is piloting the ability for users to stream directly to YouTube Live from a Nest Cam. \n Unbox Therapy creator Lewis Hilsenteger, American videographer Devin Graham and YouTube personality Justine Ezarik have all been taking part in the pilot, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at their lives. \n Nest said that some of the most popular camera feeds will stream directly to Nest’s own YouTube channel, so people can see live video of everything from puppies to scenic landscapes. \n The launch of Nest Cam coincides with a refresh of the rest of Nest's product portfolio, with the launch of the second-generation Nest Protect smoke alarm, new features for the Nest Learning Thermostat, and a new app for Android and iOS. \n The new \nNest Protect\n includes a sensor that can detect the small particles generated by fast-burning fires, as well as the large particles from slow-burning fires. It also carries out automatic safety checks and allows users to silence false alarms from their phones. \n \n The \nNest Learning Thermostat\n is getting new features via a software update, including safety temperature alerts to warn users if their home gets too cold, and the ability see smoke and carbon monoxide alerts from their Nest Protect on their thermostat screen. \n Meanwhile the new app has a new look and added features that make it easier to control Nest products, as well as the ability for users to view live videos of their home via a Nest Cam and record clips. \n \'We’ve built a portfolio of best-in-class products that each stand on their own while doing more together,\' said Nest chief executive Tony Fadell. \'The result? Energy saved, lives spared, and countless memories recorded and shared.” \n The new Nest Protect costs £89 and is available for purchase at nest.com. The new Nest Learning Thermostat software will begin rolling out today and will take up to two weeks to reach Nest customers. The Nest app is available for free in the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. \n The news comes after French startup Netatmo launched a new smart home camera earlier this week, that will \ncompete directly with Nest Cam\n. \n Netatmo's camera, which is called Welcome, costs £199, and features proprietary face recognition technology that is capable of recognising registered people's faces even if it only catches a glimpse of them as they walk past. It does not require a cloud subscription. \nFollow the Telegraph on LinkedIn. Share this article with your network.\n.IN-widget{margin:5px 10px;}\n lang: en_US\n lang: en_US Amazon’s Echo is already shaping up to be the best-in-class interface solution for the best selling class of smarthome products.It’s already better than Apple’s HomeKit interface and anything the manufacturers would build themselves.For people who are comfortable working with Alexa to get music played, to keep their calendar organized, and for anything else, using it to adjust their lights or adjust their climate control - which are by far the two most common use cases for smart home - will seem like an obvious thing to do. The two best selling classes of smart home products are climate control (first Nest, then Honeywell - which owns 50% of the American home thermostat market) and lighting. Lighting started off as Phillips only but sales of connected light switches are increasing in new homes and remodels, mostly led by best-in-class industry brand Lutron.So, when you get home, or get up, or go to bed, you’re transitioning. You’re doing something different in your home and want to adjust your home to meet your new needs. Turn lights off in one room, on in another, or off altogether. Turn the temp up or down or set it for bedtime. These are things people do every single day, and for people who have a little bit of money and want a little extra convenience or novelty - spending something like a thousand dollars on 1–2 $200 thermostats and $200-$500 on replacing your light switches with “connected” ones might make sense.A recent trip to an Apple Store perfectly illustrated the changes to the smart home market over the last three years: the shelf space is now about 10% of what it used to be. There used to be dozens of different products prominently displayed in the iPhone accessories section, but now there are just a few. Here are the staples:Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Plug-in Lamp Dimmer Kit (HomeKit-enabled)Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi ThermostatAnd there’s a Canary “smart” security camera, a variety of Philips light bulbs, a Schlage keypad entry doorlock, and some other stuff that’s pretty usecase specific. But the all stars are what they’ve been for five years: a thermostat and lighting control.Three years ago you would have found a half dozen door locks and lighting controls, a Chamberlain internet connected garage door, a small number of sprinkler controllers, and a bunch of cooking and kitchen appliance inventions. No longer. The selection now is from a small number of Apple Homekit-compliant brands, and that’s not an accident.The Lutron switch has its own app, which is good, but bulky, and a much more streamlined Homekit interface - which is accessible from the lock screen and gives you 99% of the functionality you’d want on a day-to-day basis in two clicks.Apple’s iOS HomeKit lighting control screen - accessible from the lock screenFor day-to-day use, my family prefers using Alexa, however, because most of them a) don’t carry around smartphones in the home and b) enjoy using Alexa to do anything. More than that, being able to walk in the house and simply say “Alexa, lights on” and have the house respond is basically the perfect smart home interaction. It takes less effort than walking to the switch, but it’s almost more pleasant and just as reliable.Apple has made control through HomeKit about as good as they possibly can, but there’s really no comparison. Once people get a taste of being able to speak commands into the air and have their environment made more comfortable, they’ll never go back to not doing it. It’s a more intuitive, natural interface for these products. It’s like my kids poking at the monitor of the first computer they’ve seen, expecting it to be as intuitive as the iPads they’d used. Not knowing that the world was coming their way.Well my kids can now walk into their house and say, “Alexa, lights on”, and every other house is going to seem like a call back to olden times when people still had to get up and walk to a switch in the dark.The challenge that Google will have is that it’s going to take another year for their product to perform as well as the Echo, and that’s another year of Amazon selling tens of millions of units of a loss-leader product to people who are already spending low thousands of dollars a year with Amazon. The implications for the industry are that Amazon is now a must-have integration, more so than iOS or Android - and that all roads to monetizing day-to-day customer interaction with a smarthome product have to run through Amazon
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