4 Ways Technology is Turning Old Homes into Smart Homes

Advancements in information technology and communication, coupled with associated computational power are offering a wide range of applications and systems for turning homes into smart homes. Although the idea of a smart home might seem far-fetched in some parts of the world, the technology is already here and gaining much popularity. A recent study indicated that 2017 was one of the best years for smart home companies. Furthermore, the future seems more promising with the industry set to realize $53.45 billion by 2022.

What is a Smart Home?

Your home might already be smart to a certain degree if you already have automated appliances using electronic controllers and built-in sensors. Basically, a smart home contains various electronic and electric appliances wired to a central computer system that controls their operation, or are connected and communicating with each other over Wi-Fi.

The concept of smart homes is more advanced than simple automation of things like your home heating system or automated dishwashers. The idea introduces a centralized home control system. Usually a computer programmed to monitor and handle most of the tasks that you do on your own.

Here are some of the ways technology is turning old homes into smart homes:

Integrating Devices

There two ways that you can get yourself a smart home today. First, you can have your old house retrofitted with technological devices and appliances that will make it smart. Second, you construct a home with smart technology built in from the ground up.

In both cases, integration of devices is made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of smart appliances. For instance, you can lock up, turn lights on and off, and deactivate alarms using your smartphone or other designated electronics.

Remote Surveillance and Security Systems

The ability to install smart appliances and control various functions of your home using computer systems has also necessitated the need for surveillance. Technology has made it possible to enhance the security systems of your home using smart surveillance security systems like remotely controlled cameras and motions sensors among others. Many of these home security or surveillance systems can be monitored from your smartphone or another personal device. 

Home security and surveillance play a particularly important role for aging family members. Access to technology can make all the difference for seniors. While there are activity monitors and other tech solutions for seniors, smart home features can ensure an extra level of security for your loved ones as they age.

Energy Efficiency

Technology has made it possible for the appliances and devices in your home to consume energy in a more efficient manner. Smart home appliances utilize technology that empowers your devices to turn off and on automatically, because of this they are reducing energy wastage. In addition to these smart devices, homes can also embrace renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. Solar panels work to protect the environment and save money on home energy bills

Enhanced Control, Customization, and Efficiency

Using smart home technologies, you can become more efficient in how your control everything in your home. From stretching from adjusting radio volume to maintaining security, to running appliances efficiently from a single centralized system. You do not need to manually control everything since devices automatically adjust to your preprogrammed preferences.

Overall, technology advances have introduced various ways and appliances for smart homes that provide enhanced comfort, convenience, security, surveillance, and convenience. In other words, you can say that like other things that technology touches, smart homes are the future of households.

Here are a couple more articles we think you’ll enjoy!

IFTTT: Applets That Increase Security, Productivity and Fun

IFTTT, a free web-based service is an acronym for “If this, then that”. It is perfect for people like me who don’t know how to code but want a better integration between Internet-enabled apps and services running on a variety of gadgets. Some portals like Slack now play “nicely” with Google Drive but NOT everything runs as smoothly as this. For instance, we have both Dropbox and Google Drive for downloading photos yet because these two don’t communicate, what we download on one isn’t automatically uploaded on the other.

Applets bring your favorite services together to create new experiences. — IFTTT

IFTTT is one of the popular productivity apps popular for Android devices – in fact, it already installed on mine. iOS version is also available. With the number of productivity apps easily downloaded for free, it is easy to get trigger happy and download more than what’s of practical use. Between business, personal, and social apps, it can be confusing and time-consuming. With IFTTT, simple tasks can be automated and since its launch in 2011, applets had been created to do just that.

In 2014, IFTTT was already valued at $170M and with over 600 apps that work with popular platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Slack, Telegram, Facebook, Dropbox, Spotify, YouTube, Google Calendar, Evernote, Skype, Salesforce, MailChimp and more, on IoT devices (Alexa, FitBit, Android etc), a buy-out by Google, Amazon, or Apple may be in the offing soon. In fact, Microsoft has already developed “Flow” and it already has a major competitor, Zapier.

Each applet has a trigger and a resulting action. For instance, if you like a photo on Instagram (trigger), this can immediately be sent to your Dropbox account. A few of the popular things it can do through its “trigger-and-action mechanism” are:
  • Automate web application tasks like posting the same content on various social media accounts.
  • Track mention of companies in RSS feeds.
  • Automate switching on the light with detection of motion.

IFTTT enables you to have better control when using Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant while keeping you informed about news feeds and weather forecasts. You can be alerted on your chosen search words and even back up “files, contacts, photos”.

Among the many ready-to-use Applet collections on the IFTTT site are:

  • Applets for Google
  • Applets for iOS
  • Applets for Android
  • Applets for Voice Assistant
  • Applets for Photography
  • Microsoft Applets
  • Applets for IoT
  • Applets for Cars
  • Applets for News
  • Applets for Weather
  • Applets for the home (keeps you comfortable, safe, secure) and more.

However, the paradox of choice from such an extensive array is paralyzing so IFTTT has provided shortlisted Applets for:

  • Marketing
  • Small Business Owners
  • Shoppers
  • Educators and
  • Bookworms.

There are even Applets for Weddings and Music Lovers! With IFTTT, it’s different strokes for different folks – something ultra handy when you are dying for seamless integration between home and office. If you hate to drop the ball on anything (especially work-related tasks), IFTTT is a true GIFT. But beware since some users have found out that performance is less than ideal – it does crash on occasion. But for those who have made it work, it quickly becomes the indispensable interface between your apps and smart devices in your connected life.

Want to create your own Applet, here’s how!

 

OnePlus 6 Security Flaw Fix Is On Its Way

Security Flaw Fix For OnePlus 6 Is On Its Way

Security researchers discovered a flaw on OnePlus 6 but said a fix is on its way.  They discovered the vulnerability on the OnlePlus 6 lets you bypass the phone’s locked bootloader with any modified boot image.

The company acknowledged the vulnerability and said it will push out a software update to fix the issue.  Physical access to the phone is needed to take advantage of its vulnerability.

The OnePlus 6 Security Flaw

The perfect pixel alternative.  That is the OnePlus 6.  But it features a security that will thankfully be fixed in a software update.

Edge Security LLC president and XDA Developers forum member Jason Donenfeld said the OnePlus 6 features a vulnerability that let him bypass the locked bootloader with any modified boot image.  What is weirder, Donenfeld said, is he did not have to turn on USB debugging.  This is a usual requirement when you mess around with your smartphone.

The Solution To The OnePlus 6 Security Flaw

Despite the security flaw on the OnePlus 6, there is still a good news.  And that it, someone will need physical access to your OnePlus 6 to take advantage of the flaw.  Then they need to plug the phone into a computer, restart the phone into fastboot mode, and transfer any arbitrary or modifies boot image.

But wait, there is more good news.  OnePlus said it is aware of the vulnerability and that they are in contact with Donefeld.  They have also confirmed that a software update will be out shortly to fix the issue.

This is another serious oversight on the part of OnePlus.  They have had issues before involving the Engineer Mode app, the Factory Mode app, and the stolen credit card information.  Hopefully this security flaw on the OnePlus 6 will not do too much damage on the image of the company.  They must roll out the software soon to solve the issue and repair whatever damage the flaw has created.

Update and inform yourself with the latest technology.  Learn more about the latest innovations and other informative news which you can use and apply.  Visit this link and be one of its patrons  https://www.patreon.com/technewsgadget.

 

Ring’s Smart Doorbell Has Its Flaws

Flaws Of Ring’s Smart Doorbell

The Smart Doorbell from Ring shows some flaws despite password changes.  The vulnerability of this gadget lets people snoop even after a password change.  Ring urges folks not to share login details and promises to do better and address this issue.

Smart Doorbell’s “Malfunction”

You may spend less time running to and from your front door, but you may also be cutting down on your home’s privacy.  According to reports, popular video doorbells from Ring have major security flaws.  It does not require users to re-log into the doorbell app when a password has been changed.

This means that anybody, besides yourself, who used to have access to your Ring doorbell app may still monitor the activity taking place outside your front door.  Regardless how how much time has passed, the app never asks users to sign in again even after a password change.

Ring’s Response To The Problem

Ring was notified of the issue in January.  The company claimed that they have removed users who were no longer authorized.  But tests conducted showed that “for several hours”, unauthorized users were still able to access the app despite a change in password.  According toe Ring’s CEO Jamie Siminoff, removing unauthorized users from the platform slows down the ring app.  This flaw presents a serious problem.  Not only could someone be watching your front door.   He or she may also download videos, or control the doorbell as an administrator.

The Effect Of This Issue On Amazon

Amazon recently acquired Ring for $1 billion.  This issue does not go well for Amazon.  The company is planning to use Ring doorbells as part of a secure solution for delivery programs like Amazon Key.  This program allows delivery personnel to drop off packages directly into someone’s home.  If Ring doorbells cannot even protect against unauthorized users, Amazon will have a hard time convincing prospective customers.

According to Ring, more security measures are on the way.  For now, smart doorbell users are advised to avoid giving  access to your doorbell untill the issue is resolved.

 

 

Disappearing Email and Security Nets in the Gmail Early Adopter Program

Google, one of the Top 10 in Reuter Thomson’s Global Technology Leaders of 2018 is innovative and as expected, answered the call for better control over security issues post-Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. But is the much-hyped disappearing email really new? To be honest, this feature which some quarters hailed as millennial makeover is interesting but not original. Apart from being around in Outlook, Snapchat and Android for years, disappearing email was something that was possible in Google itself circa 2012. Google did a Houdini here since this DIY version is no longer possible with a past revamp of the “tool” in Google Docs. Currently, the script in “tools” is abbreviated and is not as easily changed as in the following video:

Currently, Gmail has around 1.4 Billion users and some of them could be enjoying the benefits of confidential mail if we are to believe Google’s announcement last April 25. This option prevents recipients from copying, forwarding, and downloading mail that has been sent – something that will eventually be circumvented by the unscrupulous but a welcome change nonetheless. It gives you leverage over how long you want the message to remain in the recipient’s Inbox before disappearing into thin air or becoming inaccessible. In addition, passwords (SMS and non-SMS)  can be enabled for individual mail.

The implications are alarming as it could be a two-way sword. If you are at the receiving end, there would be no proof to show and information can’t be readily referenced. A question of ethics arises because when mail is sent, who owns it – the sender or the receiver? At present, the confidential mode does not yet acknowledge this shared ownership, but in the future, can we expect Gmail to inform recipients that the message will disappear and ask their consent?

Google just gave Gmail a huge makeover — here is what’s new from CNBC.

The new Gmail also comes with two-factor authentication and better phishing safeguards. A most useful feature is the “Task Integration” feature which enables smoother workflow and better productivity (all to-dos in one place); something extremely utilitarian especially for business or enterprise clients who tend to use other apps like Trello, Asana or Basecamp for better project management.

Don’t get too excited about taking it for a spin as it’s not yet available for everyone. Google does promise a global rollout soon but Administrators of G-Suite for businesses or schools can already opt-in and activate the changes from the Admin Console.

“Instead of getting a notification every time a new email hits your inbox, you can now tell your Gmail app to ping you only for the most important 3 percent of your incoming messages.” — CNBC

The new Gmail is a boon for consumers worried about the sanctity of data and how their private information is being used. It will also work smarter, giving you the option to prioritize emails – plus getting Smart Replies on your desktop. On May 8, there will be a Google’s I/O developer conference  (as the heels of F8) so we can expect more interesting revelations. Though the changes are belated, the new Gmail has cool options worth trying out.

Your Security System May Be Smarter Than You

As a homeowner, you know the importance of a security system. You’ve seen the stats and heard all the stories about how a security system has prevented this break-in or that accident But what can your security system actually do and what makes it smart?

Monitoring from Any Device

A smart security system allows you to monitor every aspect of your home automation from the device of your choice. It will alert you on your phone, tablet, or computer thanks to modern apps, whether you’re away for work or travel. Depending on the features you have, you can even adjust the thermostat, turn off the lights, or arm the alarm remotely. Now you don’t have to stress about whether you turned off all the lights before you left. You can just check.

Cameras

You can’t be everywhere at once. That’s why having a security camera is a vital part of your home security set up. The camera can detect movement and even record visitors that come to your front door. That way you don’t have to worry about strange people casing out your house. You can also use the cameras to monitor what is going on in your home while you are away. If you are worried about a house sitter or how your kids are doing when you are out, you can quickly check in on your phone.

Glass Breaking

Did you know that an alarm system can tell if one of your windows broke? They have special sound sensors that are tuned into the frequency that glass makes when it breaks. This is a great feature to have on your downstairs door or windows. You can also set the alarm to beep when a window is opened.

Motion Sensor Lights

You don’t want to leave your outside lights on all the time, but it can be helpful if someone is walking up to your door or is trying to sneak around your home. Enter motion-sensor lights. These lights will only turn on when they sense movement, which means you get the benefits of having your lights on without having to spend a ton of money on your power bill.

When it comes to home security systems, they can be a great addition to your home. They help you feel the peace of mind knowing that no matter what happens you will be alerted. You and your loved ones can sleep in peace knowing that you, your pets, and your belongings are protected by a system that’s even smarter than you.

References:

10 Advantages of Security Systems

Protect Your Home Security Automation

Parts and Components of a Security System

What’s the Latest in SmartHome Technology?

As the new year heats up, so do the latest roll-outs in digital and smart home technology. Compared to some of the new kids on the block, RoboVacs from past years might as well hang up their wheels and move in with the push broom.

Smart Furniture Turns It Up

The ubiquitous end table gets a major overhaul in 2018 and graduates from just above egg crate, to a sleek useful tool that’s one step away from a server robot. Take the Sobro brand that’s ushering in the future with its line of tables. These units sport touch panels to control electronic devices, integrated Bluetooth speakers, and built-in refrigerator drawers for binge-watching or entertaining. Electronic devices fit right into the USB charging ports or (in some models) wireless charging stations.

 

Smart Stoves Get Connected

Though a personal chef hasn’t been packed into a range just yet, the science is there in the rampant burst of digital integration of phones, computers, televisions, and coffee pots. Amazon’s Alexa is just a peek at what’s coming up. General Electric has begun to get the old kitchen in on the action with its line of WiFi connected wall stove and full ranges. According to GE, a person can direct their stove via their phone to preheat the oven on the way home from work, change the oven temperature from anywhere, and adjust cooking times and temperature while watching TV.

 

Laundry Just Got Interesting

FoldiMate is one of those contraptions you wanted someone to invent forty years ago. Is it Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons with her torso that could do magical things with household drudgery? This automatic clothes folder comes close. Feed it fabric and it returns a perfectly smooth, stacked origami pile. It takes the old out of fold and replaces it with too much fun. FoldiMate makes a bold claim that laundry folding is completed in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee, and it consumes very little energy to do the heavy lifting. This machine might not be connected to the Internet, but it’s smart nonetheless.

 

Automation Goes Beyond Thermostats

An upsurge in digital tech aimed at homeowners has expanded from the simple, timed gadgets that controlled the holiday lights. The big promises made by automation are reducing costs and saving time by having the tech learn your habits. Digital locks with keyless entry can be controlled on or off premises. Climate controls adjust when people are home and when they are out. ADT features alarms, automatic security, and even smoke detectors in their automation programs.

 

As chips get smaller and communication integrates, the gadgets get better, faster, stronger, and smarter. These hybrids of old and new are riding the coattails of the high-techs featured in speculative movies and may surpass them faster than anyone imagined.

Apple seeks to incorporate fingerprint security form AuthenTec

Just recently in the Black Hat Convention, it was highlighted that Apple had the best security in smartphones today. Apple was so good at keeping the iOS secure, that in fact, app developers have increasingly become lax at maintaining their individual security. It was so lax to the point that developers no longer put in any fail-safes in the apps they make.

This reliance on Apple security can lead in to a one-hack-conquers-all scenario, since once the iPhone has been hacked, there is no longer anything stopping the hacker from hacking the user’s apps in the iPhone.

There is not much that Apple can do about that. All they can do is manage the iPhone and make it more secure from attacks from the device and operating system level.

With security in mind, Apple seeks to acquire security giant AuthenTec. This is a really surprising move, as Apple is usually known to purchase start-ups when they are looking for new technology to incorporate in their products. AuthenTec is already pretty established on its own right, and this deal might come off a whole lot pricier than Apple’s previous purchases.

AuthenTec already licenses their security tech to other tech companies like Apple’s lawsuit buddy, Samsung. Their fingerprint security technology has also been incorporated in computers for HP and Dell. Acquiring AuthenTec is pretty much a leap closer to increasing security, not only for the iPhone and iOS, but also for their Mac computer lines.

What people are most interested here is the possibility of fingerprint scanning technology in Apple’s future iPhone designs. This will provide yet another way to firmly secure the device. Fingerprint security has already made a large headway in Japan, where they have a world of mobile phones all to their own. If Apple can successfully popularize that feature to the rest of the world, Apple will be seen as once again a “game changer”.

There are plenty of bogus fingerprint scanning apps out there in the App store and Play store. With the thousands of downloads they get, it is pretty much a measure of how many would really want such a feature to exist in their devices.  Would you want to keep your device safe with a lock made from your fingertips?

Image sources: mactrast.com, biometrictimeclock.info,

Google attacked for privacy concerns

Google is currently being attacked for privacy concerns due to the issue of gathering information to be used in their products. If anyone has been using Google maps in countries like the USA, you would notice that there is a “street view” option. This allows you to view in a 360 degree angle the area that you have searched. You are able to see a panoramic street view photograph of the area, allowing you to familiarize yourself with a location or route before you even visit it, a very useful tool for anyone planning to travel. I for one would love to have this for other countries as well. The recent attack, though, may just prevent this from ever happening.

During the time when Google Maps has scoured the streets to gather street view material, they have also gathered some public information from unprotected Wi-Fi access points that they have passed by during that long drive. This has been tagged by Australian Senator Stephen Conroy as the ‘single greatest privacy breech’ in the history of privacy.  This has later on been flagged as point of attack in a case against Google in Europe, which may further boil down in other countries. They want Google to stop doing what they were built to do; to stop gathering information.

Let’s face it. On a near daily basis, we use Google search. People use it for school, work, and even for personal reasons. We use a multitude of Google’s other services such as Gmail and Google Maps. Having a Google account has increasingly become more important if you own an Android handset.  That is because they have been successful in creating a search giant that people have grown incredibly attached to that provided them a very broad range of services with just one account. All of these are actually covered by a privacy policy that registered users must agree to and may review as necessary.

Yet, many people now cry “privacy”. If you want privacy, secure yourself. Don’t go on the internet. It is quite funny when people cry that they have been stalked, or they have been searched using Google after they publicly posted about their daily antics on the web using blogs, social networks and forums. People purposely share information to the public, then cry when the public sees it. Looking at it that way, you have caused your own problems. It’s Google’s job to prowl the net for public content and allow that content to be found using their search engine. Face it, there has come a time when you have used Google to find these publicly available content for your own purposes. They wouldn’t have been able to provide you that information if they did not prowl the web for you. Convenience like maps and street view can come at a cost of having to gather that information first before they can show it to you.

There are plenty of ways to secure the information that you don’t want other people to see or have. One way is to use secure transfers and locked access points. Put a password on those files. Everyone goes through the trouble of locking their house, their safe, and their drawers. People would lock their bags and seal envelopes when being shipped and delivered. Treat your information online as these day-to-day things. If you can go through the trouble of protecting your property, then surely you can extend that effort in you cyber properties as well. Privacy and security is everyone’s job and responsibility.

Kaspersky Lab new release improves Android tablet security

Everybody wants to protect their gadgets from unscrupulous individuals who want to have a piece of your identity. Unfortunately, some of these hackers are smart enough to circumvent the defenses that your anti-virus gives you.

Established anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab has released a new version of its program to shield Android-based tablets from malware attacks that includes theft and identity loss.

This sounds like a good news since security firms and analysts have raised questions about the security of Android apps. Google has been trying to improve security in the Android market when they released Bounce. But the latter still can’t solve all issues because hackers still found ways to circumnavigate the system.

The Kaspersky Tablet Security features:

  • Remotely lock your missing tablet to secure your personal info
  • Remotely wipe your sensitive info from you tab
  • Remotely locate your lost or stolen tablet using GPS, GSM or Wi-Fi and Google Maps
  • Enable a feature to remotely activate the front-facing camera on your missing tablet and secretly send you pictures of whoever is using your device
  • Review logs of recent activities

Let’s just hope that this latest software can do all the things that they tell you. 🙂