Siri Can Now Play a Helpful Role in Controlling Your Smart Homes

Apple seems to be focusing on making you upgrade your homes as well as your gadgets this year. After it first announced a release date for the first smart home devices, the company is now focusing on getting their personal assistant, Siri, to help you out inside your smart homes.

What this means is that Apple made Siri compatible with certified products to give you the ability to control appliances via voice commands. This is a good thing given that most if not all manufacturers are now interested in joining the Internet of Things. Why? Well, everything nowadays is made or will be made with a microchip and yes, that includes your fridge, doors, lighting and so on.

Also, if you think Apple is the only one focusing on smart homes, think again! Google just announced it is also working on its own piece of code that will help you control things in your smart homes, having Microsoft and Samsung promoting their own solutions too. In addition, the list of manufacturers is most likely to get bigger by the end of the year, but it will also depend on how comfortable you are with having microchips in your appliances. What we do know is that your toaster will not try to kill you.

If you are interested in purchasing some smart devices to upgrade your home, Lutron Electronics and Insteon are two manufacturers now selling wireless hubs that allow you to control the lighting inside your house. Other manufacturers have also placed their products up for pre-order and are working on other home solutions, so you can now browse and save some cash for future home improvements.

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Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul Turning on Xbox One Console via TV Advert

The new Xbox One advert which features Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul is causing headaches for some Xbox One users, just as the actor says “Xbox On” at the start of the advert, the voice command turns on the Xbox One in the advert, but it’s also turning on Xbox One consoles in peoples houses, as their Kinect is detected the audio coming from their TV. This has left many users to take to social media to vent their frustrations, albeit ones that I can’t help giggling at.

“Aaron Paul just turned my Xbox One via the Xbox advert. (Which triggered the IR [infrared] blaster to switch my TV off..)” tweeted Qassim Farid, a UK-based tech blogger.

Chesterfield-based Tom Neal wrote: “@Xbox your new TV advert is annoying the hell outta me. Aaron Paul keeps turning my console on… #stooooop”

This issue comes up in the same week that Microsoft begins to retail their Kinect free Xbox One bundle and they didn’t really do anything with the Kinect at their years E3 either. With features causing issues and the hardware now being removed from new bundles, not to mention talks of unlocking more GPU power by disabling the Kinect device, it looks like the life of the Kinect is getting shorter and shorter.

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Kickstarter Projects Aims To Make Voice-Controlled Houses a Reality

There are all sorts of smart devices on the market, giving users the ability to control just about anything in your house and even your car, at least to some extent. However, in most cases, the user experience is not as satisfying as it should be when using the latter devices.

A Kickstarter project is aiming to solve this barrier through a project called Homey. The device bearing the same name is nothing more than an orb measuring 4.3″ in diameter, but the developers hope that it could become the next big thing in terms of smart homes.

Homey is thought to be a device with multiple connectivity inputs, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, ZigBee and Z-Wave, as well as Infrared, which can control almost anything in the house with the help of voice commands. Homey is connected to a Raspberry Pi Computer Module, running on custom software, and also features a companion app for iOS and Android devices, which grants users the ability to easily customise Homey’s settings. The device is also designed to give visual feedbacks on commands with the help of its multi-coloured LED ring placed in the middle.

Emile Nijssen, the creator of Homey, has been inspired by the Star Trek series when designing the device at hand, having users relying ultimately on voice in order to control their home. In addition to the above, Homey gives developers the opportunity to build applications which are then published to the device’s Labs section.

The project is hoping to raise €100,000 through crowdfunding on Kickstarter in order to begin production. The current estimated amount raised is €95,000 and there is no doubt about the project being funded. The lowest amount which individuals can pledge for a Homey device is reported to be €229, having its estimated delivery set in June 2015.

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Xbox One Update Scheduled For February 11, To Bring Support for USB Keyboard

When Microsoft launched the Xbox in November last year, Microsoft’s next-gen console performed better than expected. The company saw 3.9 million units being shipped to retail stores all around the world. Now, Microsoft can start improving it, and the changes are likely to be seen sooner than expected.

The Xbox one will see a few features added later on, as well as regular updates for security and other minor fixes. A upadate is reportedly scheduled for February 11, having Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer, reveal that it will feature “behind-the-scenes updates”, helping developers in building applications and games for the console, along with an interesting improvement.

Whitten says that the update will also include a Kinect voice commands improvement, making them more fluid and responsive. Does it have something to do with the Cortana news floating around for Windows Phone? Maybe so, but don’t expect to hear her voice in your console now. Although, some improvements might be seen in the upcoming April update for Windows Phone personal assistant as well.

Other features consist of the ability to see and manage storage space on the console, as users will be able to find out exactly how much storage their content is taking up. The ability to control installed line-ups will be included as well, making download queries much easier, My Games and My Apps will be displayed in separate lists, an addition of a boot progress indicator to help track updates as they load, and these are just a few of what’s to come next.

One addition is quite mentionable though. The new update also brings support for USB keyboard to Xbox one. Is Microsoft aiming to bring PC gamers to the console area? All we need now is a mouse support.

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‘Intel Jarvis’ To Be Intel’s Offline Voice Recognition Earpiece, Ironman Suit On?

Both voice recognition and personal assistants from Apple and Google, namely Siri and Google’s Voice Search, require an active internet connectivity to be ‘usable’. Each voice command needs to go through to Apple or respectively Google’s servers to be processed, and afterwards come up with what you asked. And voice recognition software is becoming extremely accurate nowadays, though its only weakness lies in having to send the actual voice data to be processed into commands.

However, Intel has reportedly taken interest in this matter and come up with a solution. And that solution is the ‘Intel Jarvis’, a wireless earpiece which will reportedly be able to process voice commands on handsets locally, without the need of sending them over to other third-party servers to determine the command given. This could mean a goodbye to messages such as Siri’s “Siri not available” message when attempting to use the feature without an active internet connection.

The local commands will also take less time before receiving a response, since the commands are generated locally, and with the help of a third-party partnership, it has created a device capable of translating human voice into software command on-the-fly. But don’t get too excited, because the local app support has not been determined yet, since Intel hasn’t even sold the earpiece to any mobile manufacturer yet. But when it does, it shouldn’t take long until we see the earpiece devices and support added for it.

While neither Siri nor Google Voice Search is reportedly being used on a massive scale, should Intel’s ‘Jarvis’ be a game-changer or, to put it plainly, a ‘superhero’ gadget?

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Motorola Touchless Control App Can Unlock Your Phone By Speaking Out Your PIN

Have you ever wanted a device that will listen to you even when it is locked? There are times when your phone’s voice commands are useless as you still have to unlock your device before using them, and that is not at all possible if you are doing something that requires both of your hands. But look no further, because apparently Motorola has recently introduced a new update to its Touchless Control app over on Google Play, which would ensure that your smartphone will be more versatile even when it is in a locked state, as extra Google Now commands should now be able to jive with your smartphone when it is idle and locked.

You will be able to unlock your PIN simply by speaking it out, and Touchless Control will do all the rest. A new tone is also introduced when you say “OK Google Now.” Apparently, this particular update does seem to be made available only to devices that have Android 4.4 KitKat as the operating system of choice, which pretty much rules out the recent DROID family, at least until Motorola and Verizon do something to remedy that situation soon.

Unlocking your phone using your PIN is not really practical, especially in a crowded place. I mean you have a PIN for a reason, otherwise you would just say something like “Phone Unlock”. We hope that Motorola will update the feature soon and maybe add a feature to unlock the phone with a specific phrase rather than use your PIN.

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