Smart Life Updates: Some news in brief about the IoT, smart homes and stuff – Inquirer

AS WE’VE commented a lot recently, there seems to be a turning point happening in the smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) market. We simply don’t have time to turn all of it into individual stories, so here’s a round-up of some of the more interesting bits we’ve discovered recently.

First up, earlier this week we met up with Energenie. They’re a rare breed, an English company that offers retro-fittable switches and sockets, as well as smart sockets, motion sensors, and energy monitors, that work not only with their own app but the entire IFTTT framework.

There are not many people out there doing that with British connectors, so we were even more excited when they told us that direct integration with Amazon Echo/Alexa is coming next year.

Speaking of Alexa integration, if you’re dithering about which home audio system to go down, you’ve got a lot of options. Already Sonos works beautifully with most major smart home platforms, but we’ve just discovered that DTS is adding Alexa support to its Play-Fi system in January. That’s pretty exciting as it’s the first mix-and-match system to do so, beating Qualcomm Allplay to the punch.

Another one to watch for is Logitech’s Harmony remotes which are Alexafied in the US with the UK in the “coming months”. You can already link them through IFTTT but a direct link means you are less likely to have to use a convoluted, unnatural phrase to trigger.

Logitech is also unleashing a smart button, the Logitech Pop, which is a programmable button to do absolutely anything at all, as long as its compatible. So you could turn it from anything from a master light switch and burglar alarm setter for when you’re on the way out, to a ‘release the hounds’ trigger for your desk.

And if you’re more of a pushy type, Amazon has just released a whole new batch of its Dash buttons too. These are little stick-on buttons that you put near where you use something (dishwasher tablets – dishwasher, cat food – cat bowl, condoms – bedside table) and with a single click, you can add that item to your next Amazon order. They’re fiver a pop, but you do get that as credit towards your first purchase, so they’re to all intents and purposes free, as long as you use them.

With Google Home still months away, especially for us Brits, that doesn’t mean that we’re not part of the ecosystem at all. The wildly successful Chromecast, then Cast is now being rolled into the Google Home moniker, suggesting that casting is going to be a big part of the connected home when it launches.

Finally, this time, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room – IoT devices have been the cause of some suspicion after last Friday’s massive attack on Dyn’s DNS service which brought down a whole bunch of websites.

The first company has started a recall, but let’s remember that most of the IoT stuff in the consumer market is actually cloud-to-cloud, meaning its a lot less likely to get hacked (ironically). So for now at least, let’s keep connecting.

If you’ve made anything cool by connecting smart devices, or you’ve discovered some Easter Eggs, then please do get in touch with us, as we’re only going to end up reporting more of this stuff, not less. µ

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