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.
Whirlpool's smart appliances have already had some voice assistant control, but they're about become particularly AI-savvy. The company has unveiled a 2018 lineup where many appliances support both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, letting you control most of your home using the smart speaker (or mobile app) you prefer. You can check the time left on the washing machine, start the dishwasher or change the temperature of your fridge without lifting a finger.
A self-locking mailbox could someday flag down delivery drones and intelligently screen your driveway for intruders. Columbus State University computer scientist Lydia Ray presented the technology, called the ADDSMART project, during a 20 October session at the annual IEEE Ubiquitous Computing, Electronics, and Mobile Communication Conference in New York City. The project aims to achieve two goals: clearly marking addresses for autonomous vehicles, and reducing the energy and data storage costs of home surveillance systems. An early prototype mailbox attachment suggests that the trick, in both cases, may be radio-frequency identification. Powered by an Arduino Yun processor, one component of the ADDSMART device controls a high-frequency 13.56-MHz RFID reader, USB camera, passive-infrared motion sensor, solenoid lock, and an onboard Wi-Fi module.
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.
It's been a banner year for the smart home, with new players and new products flooding the market. It's never been easier or less expensive to convert an ordinary home into a technological wonderland. The biggest developments have come with the widespread adoption of voice control, with Amazon's Echo family way out in front in terms of new products and third-party support. But the Noon Lighting System, which shipped late in the year, is easily the most exciting smart home product we've seen to date. We reviewed a lot of great products this year--and we encountered a few dogs as well--but this list represents our picks for the best of the best.