The Week in Smart Home: Sonos hints at new speakers, and more

OnePlus TVs, Apple TV remotes, and more privacy probes

Sonos hints at new speakers
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This week in not-so-surprising-news, it turns out that Microsoft also reviews some voice recordings made by its AI, Cortana. This could have been Bixby's chance to shine, but Samsung's voice assistant was MIA at the company's Unpacked event, with nary a mention of the long-awaited Galaxy Home smart speaker.

But that was far from all that happened this week. For the rest of the week's news from the smart home, read on.

The Week in Smart Home: Sonos hints at new speakers, and more

New Sonos speakers could be here any day

Sonos sent us an invite this week to its “biggest event of the year,” on 26 and 27 August, where it will unveil some new hardware. The invites, which went out on Thursday, have prompted speculation as to what the speaker company might unveil.

Two recent FCC filings led The Verge to speculate there may be a refreshed Sonos Connect coming, the device that lets you connect speakers in your home to your Sonos Multiroom audio system. Also, possibly a portable speaker.

A new Play:5 and Play:3 are also possible, maybe with some voice assistant capabilities. But other than the fact that both devices include Bluetooth Low Energy, there’s nothing more than rumors for now. We’ll just have to wait a couple weeks to find out.

The Week in Smart Home: Sonos hints at new speakers and Ring continues to defend its police partnerships

Can law enforcement get doorbell video just by asking?

Ring’s police partnerships came under more scrutiny this week, after Fresno County sheriff public information officer Tony Botti said that police can essentially bypass Ring users and go directly to Amazon for any video footage it spots on Ring’s Neighbors app.

"If we ask within 60 days of the recording and as long as it's been uploaded to the cloud, then Ring can take it out of the cloud and send it to us legally so that we can use it as part of our investigation," Botti, whose department partners with Ring, told Gov Tech.

Ring has denied the claims however, saying that it requires a valid, legal demand before releasing any video without the owner’s permission.

The company’s partnerships with hundreds of police departments across the country has raised concerns among a number of digital rights groups, who see what the Amazon-owned company is doing as the start of a “privately run, for-profit surveillance state.”

Ring believes its partnerships are helping make neighborhoods safer and giving the police access to valuable information to help them do their jobs better.

The Week in Smart Home: Sonos hints at new speakers and Ring continues to defend its police partnerships

Privacy watchdog looks into Alexa recordings

Amazon is also in hot water for its privacy issues with Alexa, its digital voice assistant. The National Data Protection Commission in Luxembourg, which is the lead supervisory authority for Amazon in the EU, says it has been talking with the company about human review of voice recordings.

While it has not launched a formal privacy probe, the authority told the BBC that citizens could file a compliant if they had concerns. "Unfortunately, at this stage, we cannot comment further about this case as we are bound by the obligation of professional secrecy,” a spokesperson said.

This week Amazon announced it had added a way for users to opt out of their recordings being used as part of the company's review program.

Apple and Google, who have also been under scrutiny for similar practices, fall under the eye of Ireland's data watchdog, which told the BBC that it was in contact with both firms.

"The Data Protection Commission is engaging with both Google and Apple to establish further details on the processing of personal data in the context of the manual transcription of audio recordings collected by these companies' digital assistants, and to establish how the companies concerned believe that such processing of data is compliant with their GDPR obligations, further to which we will be making our assessments and conclusions," a spokesperson told the BBC.

The Week in Smart Home: Sonos hints at new speakers and Ring continues to defend its police partnerships

Crestron's $1,000 remote gets Siri, Apple TV support

If you are fed up with losing that tiny, slippery Apple TV remote, there's good news - assuming you have a high-end Crestron home automation system.

The company announced this week that its programmable touch screen remote will be the first to work with Apple TV, Siri, and HomeKit. The TSR-310 controls your smart home through a 3-inch touch screen that can now be programmed to control the Apple TV. The voice input button on the remote now also supports Siri voice control.

The remote costs $1,000 and can be bought through certified dealers. Might be cheaper to just buy a couple Apple TV remotes however.

The Week in Smart Home: Sonos hints at new speakers and Ring continues to defend its police partnerships

OnePlus' 'unique' smart TV gets closer to reality

Handset maker OnePlus is branching out to the smart TV market, as it announced last September. This week My Smart Price spotted a listing on Bluetooth SIG that indicated the OnePlus TVs will come in 43-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch sizes, will support Bluetooth 5.0, and have a Bluetooth-enabled remote. The smallest model will be India-only and the largest exclusively for China, to begin with.

The listing on Bluetooth SIG also describes the OnePlus TV as “unique Android.” TechRadar speculates this could be to do with “The remote and connectivity options – perhaps using Bluetooth to cast and display content from Android smartphones, or running more of a mobile OS interface than the usual Android smart TV."

The TVs are expected to appear in 2020.

TAGGED    smart home

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