Another Amazon Prime Day is behind us, which means thousands more Echo devices coming online and hundreds more smart bulbs, locks, and other devices being activated as you read this.
You may even have grabbed some smart home gear yourself, in which case you might be arriving on this latest edition of The Week in Smart Home with renewed interest. It's here we look back at the events of the past seven days and a walk through some of the smaller stories that didn't make headlines on The Ambient.
This week, in its quest to place a Ring of Security around our homes, Amazon-owned video-doorbell company Ring caught the attention of digital rights group Fight for the Future. The organization has released a map showing the over 30 police departments nationwide that have partnered with Ring to potentially gain access to footage from your neighborhood cameras.
Meanwhile, at the ripe old age of three, Google Home might be going deaf. Users have been complaining that their Google Home smart speakers suddenly stop hearing them. Thankfully we have some fixes for you.
For everything else, read on‚Ä¶.
Alexa gets a board game
Smart speaker gaming is the hot new thing. Unveiled at Comic-Con this week, St. Noire is the first interactive, voice-powered murder mystery board game built for Alexa. Players take the role of a hard-boiled detective trying to solve a murder in the small town of St Noire, and Alexa‚Äôs technology powers the game‚Äôs interactive elements.
You won‚Äôt be talking to the AI itself. Its creators - Atari co-founder Nolam Bushnell and Hollywood creative director Zai Ortiz - cast over a dozen voice actors to speak 2,500 lines of dialogue during the game, which takes 15-30 minutes to play.
Designed for ages 12 and up, play as a team or solo as you question suspects, search for clues, and try and figure out who the murderer is (the game randomizes the killer and the victim for each round). It‚Äôs scheduled for release 15 August, and you can pre-order the game here for $39.99.
Dress up your smart speaker
If Alexa‚Äôs feeling left out of the party, you can always dress up the speaker in its very own crochet animal figure. Kenzie is a new company that wants to make the cylindrical speakers more friendly - making handmade crochet characters as decorative design covers for Echo Gen 2 and Dot and the Google Home and Mini.
The handmade creations are vying for attention on Kickstarter right now, so go check them out if you fancy personifying your AI and encouraging your children to whisper all their secrets into its ear.
Eve fixes HomeKit's bluetooth issues
Some exciting news on the HomeKit front for Eve users with houses that are more than 30 feet long - Eve has announced the Eve Extend, a small hub that extends bluetooth reach (traditionally only 20 to 30 feet) to your Eve accessories. Extend will allow you to place Eve devices further from your HomeKit hub without seeing that dreaded ‚Äúno response‚ÄĚ in the Home app.
You can assign up to eight Eve accessories to one Eve Extend, and you can have multiple in your home, helping keep your Eve Motion and Door & Window sensors, light switches, and other HomeKit gadgets more responsive. The device is available for pre-order next month at $49.95.
Apple TV gets HDR with Plex, finally
Plex, the digital media player and primo server/organizational tool for your entire digital life, announced updates to its Apple TV and iOS apps, that include finally bringing HDR support to Apple TV, and letting users dispense with a pin or password to access their content through its iOS app, instead they can use Face ID and Touch ID.
Microsoft grants Alexa and others lock screen access
Finally, we see further evidence of Microsoft embracing open platforms (or more likely just admitting that no one is actually using Cortana), as the software giant announces it will allow third-party voice assistants, such as Alexa, to active on the lock screen of Windows-powered machines. This change will come with an update in Windows 10, scheduled for September, and will mean you can shout at your PC across the room to wake up and get to work.