Another week, another privacy debacle for the smart home. Apple is in some hot water for allegedly lax procedures around its handling of Siri voice recordings, and Ring's somewhat self-serving relationships with local police departments has come under renewed scrutiny. Google had a slightly better week as it announced a philanthropic effort to share its Home Mini speakers with 100,000 people living with paralysis.
We also got some much-awaited product news this week, including an actual launch date for the Google Nest Hub Max (yeah, it's going to need a shorter name). Plus, two new smart cameras launched - D-Link's 360 smart cam and the Blink X2, which comes to the UK. Also, proud owners of 2019 LG TVs can now get the first ever HomeKit support on a TV (sorry, if you bought an LG last year, you're out of luck).
There were a lot of other stories that didn't make the headlines on The Ambient, so we're here to get you up to speed.
Google goes quiet
Finally, Google Home speakers don't have to bellow "Okay, turning off two lights," at you when you ask them to do this simple task. A post on the Google Nest official support page outlines the upgrade, explaining that your Google Home devices will now simply chime and, if it has a screen, show you the lighting controls. The change also applies to switches and plugs identified as lights - so make sure you rename everything to "[Something] Lamp" and you'll never have to get yelled at again. Google says it's currently rolling out the feature, so if you don't have it yet, it's coming.
LaMetric launches pre-orders for Sky
Following its success with the LaMetric Time smart clock, Ukrainian startup LaMetric this week launched its LaMetric Sky for pre-order. A smart lighting concept that marries art and productivity, LaMetric Sky "brings meaning onto your wall," according to the company.
Similar in concept to Lifx and Nanoleaf‚Äôs color-changing, cloud-connected LED panel concepts, LaMetric Sky is made of borderless triangular light panels each with 32 independent color zones that can display your choice of over 16 million colors. Attach them to your wall in any shape you like to enhance your decor, or use its connected element to display useful information in an attractive way - as a clock, a weather display, or even keep a running tally of your social media followers (if you're that vain). The panels are touch sensitive and can be controlled with a tap, or by voice with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, or through an app.
Pre-orders end 25 August and include a hefty discount, $172 for a four-panel starter kit to $576 for a 16 panel starter kit, for retail these prices will be $229 to $823, so you might want to get going.
HomeKit gets another smart sprinkler and a new lock
Connected sprinkler company RainMachine announced it has added HomeKit support to it touch HD 12 and 16 smart sprinkler controllers. Its two top-of-the-line devices can be updated with a firmware upgrade, according to a post on RainMachine's site, although HomeKit is not coming to its cheaper Mini 8 line.
RainMachine manages your landscape's irrigation needs using algorithms that predict how much water it needs based on soil moisture, weather, and other factors. HomeKit support means you can add the device to your Home app, name each zone, start or stop a zone, change the default running time, and have Siri start or stop a zone or run it for a certain amount of time. Rachio is the only other smart sprinkler with HomeKit compatibility.
Mighton's Avia HomeKit compatible smart lock, a British lock designed for multipoint locking doors, looks to be making its way to the US this September, according to a story by HomeKit News. The high-end lock sports Bluetooth 5.0 tech and works with works with any lever-operated multipoint locking system - a style more common in Europe but one that certainly has its use cases across the pond.
Z-Wave gets zippier
Who doesn't love a hub? Fiddling with reset buttons, inclusion mode, pairing pain ... oh the joys. It's the Z-Wave Alliance to the rescue. The consortium, which sets the technology's standards, is looking to make pairing your devices to your Z-Wave hub a little easier with the launch of a new SmartStat pairing process. Part of the recently unveiled Z-Wave Plus 2 certification, SmartStart is incredibly similar to the current way you add products to HomeKit, just scan a QR code on the product's box with your phone and it's automatically included in the system (even before it's taken out of the box in some cases).
Ring Alarm has been using the system for a little while, executive director of the Alliance Mitchell Klein said, which explains why it's one of the easiest gateways to set up. Going forward, any Z-Wave product using the new Z-Wave 700 series chip will have to sign up for the Plus v2 certification program, of which SmartStart is a part. We say, yay!