The week in smart home: Sonos is having a mega weekend sale

And all the other news you need to know

Sonos is having a mega weekend sale
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We're still reeling from CES 2019, which was a big show for the smart home. It seems the rest of the industry is doing the same, because for the most part it was a rather quiet week.

Yes, there were some bits of news. The Polk Command Bar became the first third-party Alexa Multi-Room Music speaker; Alexa learned to adapt its speech patterns based on what it's reading; and, finally, we got some clarity on the future of Cortana (it's basically a skill at this point).

But that's not all that happened. As always, we've assembled together some of the lesser stories of the week that we missed for your perusal. You can also head to our dedicated news section to get even more news.

The week in smart home: Project Alias stops your speaker from listening

Get a Sonos Beam for $50 off in time for the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is just a couple weeks away, so this is a good time to upgrade your audio/visual setup. Sonos knows that, so it's throwing out some deals to get you interested. First up is the Sonos Beam, with built-in Alexa, for $349 - that's $50 off its regular price. All of the bundles with Beam with are getting the $50 off too.

As for Sonos' non-smart speakers, you can get the Playbase and Playbar soundbars for $599 each - that's $100 off. Similarly, the Sub will be priced at $599, also taking off $100. Finally, if you're looking to get a complete set, you can get the Playbar or Playbase with a Sub for $1,198, saving yourself a sweet $200.

You can snag any of these deals on Sonos' website now.

Project Alias silences your smart speaker

Privacy is obviously a major issue with smart speakers. These things are always listening for specific wake words, and if it breaks for any reason, it's very easy for it to just keep recording whatever you're saying.

It gets especially nervy if your device randomly thinks it heard you say the wake word and activates, as it happens with my own Google Home Mini. One way to pacify this is Project Alias, a new device from designer Bjørn Karmann.

It's a fungus-looking blob you put on top of your smart speaker. It produces white noise that effectively disables your smart speaker of choice. It also has a Raspberry Pi processor and a microphone that listens for a custom wake word that you can create in a companion app. If it hears it, it deactivates the white noise and lets Google Assistant or Alexa listen to you.

Karmann isn't exactly selling these. But you can put one of these together on your own, as Karmann has put the code on GitHub and even provided the 3D printing instructions.


The week in smart home: Project Alias stops your speaker from listening

Yonomi gets Sonos control

Yonomi has quickly become one of - if not the - most simple and powerful smart home automation tools on the market. It already featured a lot of integrations, but one of Yonomi's popular is getting an upgrade.

You could already control your Sonos speaker with Yonomi, but now you can do it from anywhere in the world. Before, you needed to be on the same Wi-Fi network as your speaker to use it. Now it connects via a secure connection in the cloud, which Yonomi says also delivers a more reliable and faster connection.

The entire integration has been rebuilt with Sonos' new Control API, which essentially ties your Yonomi cloud account to your Sonos cloud account. Elsewhere, there's more reliable device discovery, faster and better executed routine support, better speaker grouping, support for Sonos playlists, and support for line-in and TV in support. All you're going to have to do is update your app and make sure your Sonos account is connected to Yonomi.


The week in smart home: Project Alias stops your speaker from listening

Alexa gets a skill for fans of The Sims

The Sims is one of the most popular video game franchise of all time, so it's no surprise that - like Skyrim - there's an Alexa skill. The skill is actually built for Sims superfans. It'll play 140 songs in the game's custom, and adorably/annoyingly incoherent language, Sim-lish.

You'll also be able to go through 200 Sims-related trivia questions. If that isn't enough, Alexa will be able to tell you little nuggets of information about the franchise's history. In a nice bit of reversal, The Sims 4 is also getting its own voice assistant in the game.

Lin-Z will live in a smart speaker and can be placed anywhere in your Sims' home. You can then direct your Sim to ask it questions, get the weather and, hopefully, control its little Sim smart home.


Top smart home deals

Every week we scour the web for the best smart home deals - check out our pick of this week's biggest bargains below.

This week's best deals

Roborock S4 - Save $40
Roborock S4 - Save $40
Amazon
$359.99
Lifx smart light bulb - Save $20
Lifx smart light bulb - Save $20
Amazon
$39.99
Blink XT2 2-Pack - Save $45 (Prime exclusive)
Blink XT2 2-Pack - Save $45 (Prime exclusive)
Amazon
$134.99
Google Nest Hub - Save $20
Google Nest Hub - Save $20
Walmart
$129

TAGGED    smart home

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