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IoT news of the week for August 7, 2020

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Which costs count when it comes to connected hardware? Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has accused Amazon of predatory pricing for selling Alexa devices at a loss. Amazon has admitted to subsidizing the costs of its devices when they go on sale, but Spence’s comments made me recall a statement made last month by June CEO Matt Van Horn about Google and Amazon being able to subsidize the cost of their cloud bills associated with their connected devices. (He cannot.) Which in turn raises an interesting question about what it means to sell a connected device at a loss. When the cost of a physical device also includes backend cloud costs to keep that device up to date and online, what does the actual bill of materials entail? And what advantage might a large cloud provider have over competitors that still have to shell out a dollar a month for every device they sell? (Protocol— Stacey Higginbotham

Google WiFi is getting some Nest WiFi features: Is your smart home network built on the older Google WiFi products? If so, you can get additional features found in the newer Nest WiFi products, but you’d have to completely rebuild your network. To make this easier, Google is reportedly adding a network import feature to the Google Home app. Once you redo your network, either manually or through the network import feature, you’ll have features found on current Nest WiFi products, such as in-app speed tests, Google Assistant integration, and guest network passwords on your smart displays. (9to5 Google— Kevin C. Tofel

Use a Raspberry Pi to sync Hue lights with TV content: I love, love, love the Philips Hue Sync that Stacey bought me for the holidays last year. By using it and Hue Playbar lights, the wall behind my TV lights up with colors in sync with whatever I’m watching. Now, thanks to an open source project called Harmonize, you can get the same effect without buying the Sync product. You’ll need your own Hue lights, of course, but this Python app running on a Raspberry Pi provides the same effect! (GitHub— Kevin C. Tofel

Samsung’s new smartwatch is a multisensor threat: Announced this week, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 can be ordered with a starting price of $ 399. It works with both Android and iOS, although it’s better with the former, and has the usual bevy of wearable sensors. Or does it? Samsung included a heart rate sensor, which is table stakes for any fitness wearable these days. However, the Galaxy Watch 3 can also monitor blood pressure, blood oxygen, and heartbeat rhythm through an ECG sensor. Some of the features are still awaiting FDA approval and so aren’t available, but my how far we’ve come with sensors in wearables! (Samsung— Kevin C. Tofel

Maybe I was right about the Amazon Echo Frames: A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Echo Frames. I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t think they did enough for the $ 250 price (more if you have to fit prescription lenses). Plus, Alexa still doesn’t compete well on general information requests. Geoffrey Fowler shared his own review this week, at one point saying “the Frames just barely get the job done.” He was also annoyed by too many proactive suggestions and notifications from Alexa, although he was able to limit those after digging into the app settings. It’s well worth a read if you are interested in buying the Echo Frames and want a second opinion. (Washington Post— Kevin C. Tofel

Amazon’s edge computing service is now generally available in Boston and San Jose: Amazon Web Services announced a deal with Verizon Wireless to provide an edge-computing service that provides lower latency by moving the computing to the carrier networks in cities. AWS made the first Wavelength services in Boston and San Jose and will expand it the rest of the Bay Area later this year. So far customers are using it for roadside safety services, factory automation, and live streaming entertainment. For those confused about what aspect of edge computing this is, think of it as the carrier edge as opposed to an on-premise factory server or even computations happening on a sensor. (Silicon Angle— Stacey Higginbotham

How to disconnect from an abusive partner: A new site created by the Clinic to End Tech Abuse (CETA) in New York City provides a checklist for victims of domestic partner violence as they seek to escape their living situation. The list is heavily focused on social media accounts and apps, but also makes mention of smart home devices such as thermostats and cameras. It moreover covers elements such as location sharing on mobile devices and in browsers, as well as other ways your information could be shared, such as through Google Photos settings. It’s daunting and upsetting to think about how much effort someone has to go through to disentangle their lives from an abuser, but I’m glad this lists exists. (CETA— Stacey Higginbotham

Would you pay 1% on top of your home’s cost for healthy indoor air? How much would you pay for a home built to prioritize clean air and better ventilation? Gene Myers, CEO of Thrive Home Builder, believes that for only 1% of the cost of the home, he can add indoor air quality features that homeowners want. He calls this program 1% for Health, which is honestly a terrible name in that it reinforces that only those in the upper echelons of our nation’s income bracket can afford these features. But if the building techniques and technologies start at the top and costs drop because of widespread adoption, I’m all for building healthier homes enabled by smarter technology. (Green Builder Media— Stacey Higginbotham

Owlcam dashcams launch again with a new owner: Last year, dashcam company Owlcam went silent on Twitter while customer support faded away, and based on LinkedIn activity, its employees were headed elsewhere. That left both customers of the first two Owlcam products in the lurch — including new customers, as Owlcams were still being sold in various retail channels. This week, however, Owlcam has “relaunched.” The company’s IP and manufacturing is now owned by Xirgo, while CallPass has taken responsibility for the Owlcam brand and front-facing customer relationship. CallPass actually took over customer operations in May, and says that 40% of prior Owlpass subscribers have renewed, which is a good sign. Would I buy an Owlcam over a similar product right now? I’d think long and hard, possibly waiting at least a few months to see if the new ownership keeps things moving forward. (Owlcam— Kevin C. Tofel

The post IoT news of the week for August 7, 2020 appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis


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