By Wares February 28, 2018 Smart home & security

A round-up of some of the latest local and international smart homes category news.

Smart speakers – stack em high!

Smart speakers are now the fastest growing category in consumer technology according to a recent report from Canalys which estimates the category will grow to 56.3 million shipments globally in 2018.

Amazon and Google will, predictably, lead the charge but are set to face more competition as other players enter the category.

Also predictably, the US will remain the leading market for smart speakers with shipments predicted at 38.4 million units compared to the China at a far off second place with 4.4 million units.


Being smart in the bathroom

Kohler is one of many companies vying to tie into the smart home market starting with Verdera, its stylish, Alexa enabled mirror.

As well as giving traffic updates, playing music and the many other regular uses of Alexa while doing your toilette, Verdera lets users control the lighting and other KOHLER Konnect products, effectively acting as a smart bathroom hub.

Uses include warming the toilet seat, controlling the shower heat and pressure and filling the perfect bath. Verdera will come in 24”, 34” and 40” size options.

Not just a smart speaker, more than a router

Winner of the CES 2018 Innovation award, Lyra Voice (above) is a two-in-one 802.11ac mesh Wi-Fi system and voice assistant with powerful stereo speakers, a microphone and integrated Amazon Alexa voice control.

Part of the Lyra mesh Wi-Fi system family, Lyra Voice is a tri-band, AC2200-class device that communicates with other connected Lyra hubs to provide whole-home coverage with no Wi-Fi dead zones.

The system also integrates seamlessly with trigger and automation services such as IFTTT, making it easy to turn a traditional house into the connected smart home. Lyra Voice can be configured and controlled easily using the intuitive Lyra mobile app.

ASUS Lyra Voice, will be available in the first half of 2018. Pricing will be announced at launch.


D-Link HD Wi-Fi Cameras

D-Link ANZ is now offering two new affordable HD Wi-Fi Cameras. The DCS-8000LH Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera (above) and DCS-8100LH HD 180° Wi-Fi Camera offer premium features, including advanced video monitoring capabilities and wide viewing angles, in HD video quality. These cameras can also be controlled through platforms such as Google Assistant, IFTTT and, of course, Amazon Alexa, which is now available in New Zealand.

Both models offer compact sizes, HD 720p video, 5 metre night vision and easy access through an app. The DCS-8000LH is the smaller offering at just 9.7cm high with a 120° degree wide-angle lens while the DCS-8100LH  offers an 180-degree field of view, motion and sound detection, 4x digital zoom and H.264 support for video streaming.

Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus

New Zealanders can finally join the smart home revolution, and get Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant set up in their homes, with enabled devices, Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus now available at Noel Leeming and JB Hi-Fi.

Although Echo products stream other streaming music services (Spotify etc), Amazon‘s Music Unlimited on-demand streaming service has also just launched here and in Australia with a catalogue of 45 million plus songs.

Just for clarification, Amazon Echo is the core Echo product with voice activation and music playback while Echo Dot is the more affordable, smaller, puck-shaped version which you can connect to an external speaker or use as a standalone device to access Alexa.

Echo Plus does all the above, plus it‘s got a built-in smart home hub to connect compatible smart devices like lighting etc., all using voice.

Alexa by the way has a new voice for its combined “Australasian“ (Australian and New Zealand) edition, along with “local knowledge and skills built by local developers“.

Amazon has also made the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) available to developers who are interested in building skills for customers in Australia and New Zealand.

Developers are already using the kit to create localised Alexa experiences for customers, including Sky Television, Air New Zealand, 1 News, Newstalk ZB and ZM.

For example, SKY TV is building a skill so Kiwis can ask Alexa questions to make it easy to find something to watch and Air New Zealand has built a skill allowing its customers to check upcoming flight details with Alexa. 

As for Amazon’s competitors in smart home, Google’s Home smart speaker and the just launched Apple HomePod are now available in Australia but there is no word so far as to when they will officially arrive on our shores.

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