Aquanta and its smart water-heater controller are back with new promises to slash your energy bill

PCWorld

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for fully 18 percent of the typical household's annual energy consumption, second only to the amount of energy consumed to heat and cool their residence. And because the typical tank water heater keeps 40 to 50 gallons of water piping hot 24 hours a day, seven days a week--whether or not anyone is home to use it--20 to 50 percent of the energy is completely wasted. Following an aborted crowd-funding campaign in late 2014, Aquanta (formerly Sunnovations) is now taking pre-orders on its Aquanta "learning" water-heater controller, which it expects to ship in July. In a note to its would-be backers when it cancelled its Kickstarter campaign, the team said while its campaign was unsuccessful, the exposure it garnered lead to "a sizable number of large and exciting strategic and distribution partners to contact us." Fast forward 18 months and Aquanta CEO Matthew Carlson tells me his company has "had test units in the field for more than a year."


Google Assistant can order around LG's connected appliances

Engadget

LG has placed its trust on Google Assistant and has given it the power to control its smart appliances. While it teamed up with Amazon earlier this year to give its refrigerators built-in access to Alexa, its partnership with Google is much bigger in scale. Now, you can control any of the company's 87 WiFi-connected smart home appliances by barking out orders through a Google Home speaker or through a compatible iOS or Android smartphone. Once you're done setting voice control up through LG's SmartThinQ app, you can use commands within a Home speaker's range or through a phone to tell your fridge to make more ice or to tell your AC to adjust the temperature. If you have an LG washing machine, you can ask Assistant how much time is still left before your load is done.


This Kickstarter campaign wants to help you turn everyday objects into smart devices

Mashable

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission. With smart devices popping up left and right, the rush to go totally Smart House like the '90s Disney Channel movie can get overwhelming. These devices are super helpful, but it'd be nice if smart home life was more personalized, organized, and well, simpler. A Kickstarter campaign aims to simplify smart modern living by transforming everyday objects into smart objects: meet CliQ, the smart wireless sensor that could turn virtually any object into a smart device for truly personalized automation. CliQ is tiny yet mighty -- attach it, assign when and where it works, and violà: previously manual tasks are now automated.


Is Viv the Future of Personal Virtual Assistants?

#artificialintelligence

As video content matures and proliferates and VR content creates new interactive environments and as the way we access software and apps changes and evolves, PVAs or personal virtual assistants will radically influence the interface with the internet and these new layers of content and virtual experience. Viv is just four years old, but by the time IoT and VR matures, she will be ready to make the smart home, smart city and billions of connected devices truly come to life. While we assume it will be one of the tech giants: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft; disruption doesn't usually come from an established player whose interests and investments are scattered. Just as VR represents a new platform of information, content, advertisement, marketing and social media, and digital experiences, VPAs like Viv could represent another springboard to the future.


Petnet SmartFeeder review: Robot pet feeder meets smartphone app with mostly good results

PCWorld

When I first heard about the Petnet SmartFeeder, I bristled. How could something so basic as feeding a pet be in search of a smart solution? I deposit a half-cup of dry kibble in my dog's bowl twice daily--done and done. Is no human endeavor sacred? I can see that there are times when an automatic pet feeder makes sense: an unpredictable work schedule, say, or an impromptu invite, either of which could step on the toes of your pet's meal time.