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It’s been an interesting week here at the house. I have been working trying to figure out the best setups with Christmas Light schedules, Using the T-Link LB100 Smart Bulb in my Garage Entryway (Laundry Room/Cubbies for Kids). I am also looking at installing some Sansi LED Pot lights in my basement tv area to see the difference. I’m excited.
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However, in terms of news, our Automate Your Life Team has seen some news on using Keep Lists from Google. It looks like Google realizes that your lists should have a designated app to work with Google Assistant. We found out that Wyze Motion and Contact Sensors sync up with Alexa now (no hub required). I got a chance to play with Onyx Communicators from Orion Labs. I really really like it a lot – there is some function having a walkie-talkie for Mom and Dad, or Parents and the kids in a large amusement park – I’ll explain. The Echo Flex is pretty sharp and responsive. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough. You heard that Apple, Google, and Amazon have teamed up to join the Zigbee Alliance – right in time for Star Wars to release their new movie. I think the coincidence is uncanny. Please note that links provided may provide proceeds to Automate Your Life.
Google Keep and Google Assistant
Google is Keeping their to-do list available for Google Assistant. If you’ve been using Google Assistant to access to-do lists or shopping lists, you can now access and Sync your Google Keep lists. However, once you sync Google Assistant with Google Keep, all new additions to lists will now be updated to Google Keep and not the generic Google Assistant service. Make sense? I have been using a number of list services, including Google Assistant, Google Keep (sometimes) and Wunderlist. It would be great if I can have all my lists in one place. Let’s hope that Google Keep can ‘keep up’! (It’s because it was too easy to put the pun there).
You know we’ve talked about Google’s Ambient Computing earlier during the MadebyGoogle event announcement. Now Google has provided a ‘home’ button on the display (may roll out in the next month to various devices). It has not shown up on my Lenovo Smart Display yet. The intent of the Ambient mode is to focus on Intent-based rather than App-based actions. So, your Android phone or Google smart display will have the information you need based on your search, calendar, previous phone calls, texts, etc. This is pretty powerful stuff. It just got started, so I don’t have any immediate expectations of effectiveness right now.
Wyze Motion and Contact Sensors now work with Alexa
Pretty cool that Wyze Motion and Contact Sensors will now work directly with Alexa. This is exciting for those with Alexa built into the home. Now you can get Skills made for your home and not worry about trying to find another sensor on the market that may work with Alexa. The cost of these sensors provides so much value considering the price and its functionality. So, now if your kid opens their door at night, you could program Alexa to tell them to get back into bed, or ‘Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad’ – (Quote Russell Peters, Comedian). It would be fun to program that. I dare you. double dare. Now come to think of it, Russell Peters would be a good voice to have for Alexa, don’t you think?
On a side note; I noticed that just the Wyze contact sensors (have now been picked up by Google Home too!
Onyx Communicator by Orion Labs
Automate Your Life received a pair of Onyx by Orion Labs some time back. I was able to get my hands on them a few months ago. The Onyx Communicator is a small portable device that clips on to your shirt or apparel. You use the device a one-button walkie-talkie between other devices. So, I can be across town doing some shopping, and my wife could press her communicator button and contact me. I can do the same. It’s connected via Bluetooth on your phone. No matter where you are, you can be in instant contact with the other. No concern for range. I have taken this out to do some shopping and even out with the kids doing some tobogganing on a nearby hill. I placed it in my ski jacket’s internal pocket. I just pressed my chest pocket, held it down, and talked to my wife at the house. It worked great. I can see the application for keeping tabs on each other in busy locations. I am excited to use these communicators. It makes me feel like I’m a Captain of a Starship. I will be sharing my experience in future blog posts. You can take a look at the Orion here: https://bit.ly/2PHD3Tb.
The Echo Flex must have sold like hotcakes in the past month. When Amazon announced the Echo Flex on the 2019 Amazon Devices Event, I think a number of tech sites thought it was neat, but wondered how the Echo Flex could find it’s way into every room. I believe Amazon has answered that question. The Echo Flex is starting to find it’s way into every room in the house, including Garage, Hallway, Pantry and Bathroom. The durable design keeps dust out. You can add a motion sensor or night light. The response time is really quick too. Brian tested out how fast Alexa can respond and how fast the integration is for other automation triggers like lights. It’s super quick. Much faster than you would expect. Anyhow. Amazon is on to something; Get Alexa and Integration into every room. I think I’m going to get one to see if it’s as good as people say. Do you have one? You can find them here: Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or Amazon UK.
Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance and Amazon to create new IP Open Standard
Ok, the story here is that Apple, Google, and Amazon are going to create a new Open Standard for the Zigbee communication protocol. They are going to call it: Project Connected Home over IP. When you hear the big names, you start forgetting that Ikea just joined; remember, we talked about that last week. There is so much to unpack here. Let’s be quick and start here first:
- What we are hearing is that there is a ton of work going to happen to make an Open Standard by late 2020.
- It does not mean Z-Wave is done. Z-Wave products are being used in tons of good products already, like Aeotec, and Samsung SmartThings. Silicon Labs (maker of Z-wave chips) has a plan of their own!
- The communication will be IP based. This makes it really easy for developers to create more integrated products.
- It may mean that WiFi devices will now be better integrated; less separate apps maybe?
- The big tech companies have been working on this for some time, including Thread and Zigbee in their devices ahead of time.
- The focus is to develop a standard that uses Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Weave, and Zigbee’s Dotdot platform via open source via Project Connected Home over IP.
All that said, please check out the following articles and videos to get you up to speed:
- Zigbee, Z-Wave and Thread IoT Explained
- YouTube Video on Zigbee vs. Z-Wave
- YouTube Video on Google’s Secret Protocol, Thread.
That’s a great deal of information for one Friday. Happy Weekend. Take Care and Enjoy Your Christmas Holidays! Remember, Don’t Hate Automate.