The week in smart home: Anki's cute robo assistant arrives and more

The smaller stories from the past seven days

Anki's cute robo assistant arrives
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You'd better believe it: it's The Week in Smart Home, our weekend roundup of all the smaller stories and nibs from the last seven days.

On The Ambient, we've been playing with the new Amazon Echo Plus and the Echo Dot. Meanwhile SimpliSafe and Nuki launched a new smart doorbell and smart lock, respectively, and it wasn't a great week for Facebook.

Here are the stories you might have missed.

The week in smart home Anki's cute robo assistant arrives and more

Anki's Vector robot goes on sale

The cute little Vector robot, which appeared on Kickstarter in August, launched this week. But despite looking like an ugly Aibo, Vector is actually a voice-enabled assistant bot capable of doing tasks like setting timers and answering questions. It also has a 720p camera which it can use to recognize faces and be aware of its surroundings, ensuring it won't drive off any countertops you might place it.

Anki has even bigger plans for it though, including Alexa and Tile integration, hooking it up with your security cameras, and even have it send text messages on your behalf. The bot costs $249.99 - we'll be getting one in to test out shortly.

The week in smart home Anki's cute robo assistant arrives and more

August gets a new look

August this week announced a new version of its smart lock, this one coming in a satin nickel color. All other features remain the same however, and it comes bundles with the Wi-Fi Connect Bridge too.

Why satin nickel? August says this is an incredibly popular choice with people buying bits for their door. The fact August and Yale are both owned by Assa Abloy might have a little something to do with it.

The week in smart home Anki's cute robo assistant arrives and more

A robot to help the aged

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker once told us not to put our elderly relatives in care home. "Can't have much fun when they're all on their own," he crooned. Well Cocker - get a load of this. Robotics engineers at Trinity College Dublin have created a prototype robot for social care. Stevie, as he's named, would help the elderly and disabled in their own houses and in care homes, performing certain tasks and interacting with people.

He'd also be able to connect to various smart home devices, like temperature sensors, to monitor the environment. While Stevie doesn't have the friendliest face, the idea is certainly a good one. The team's next step is to pilot the bot in a few care homes around the US and Ireland. God speed, Stevie.

You can read more over at Interesting Engineering.

The week in smart home Anki's cute robo assistant arrives and more

A spike in smart home problems

Some new research from those smart home lovers over at Parks Associates has revealed that a lot of technical problems with smart devices are being left unresolved. In 2018 12% of smart home device owners in the US are reporting technical issues in the smart home that don't get fixed, which is up from approximately 5% in the previous three years.

"The number of reported problems declined, but the jump in unresolved problems points to issues getting more complicated and difficult to diagnose," said Parks senior analyst Patrice Samuels. According to the report it's connectivity problems across all types of devices that are the key culprit.


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.

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