[Deal Alert] All-time low for Amazon Key Home Kit, with security camera and compatible smart lock, starting at $169.99 ($120 off)

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Amazon announced its Amazon Key home delivery service late last year, allowing Amazon Prime members to remotely unlock and monitor their front door using a kit consisting of an Amazon Cloud Cam security camera and a compatible smart lock. Aside from being able to detect when someone is entering your home, Amazon Key can also let you grant access to an Amazon delivery personnel so they can leave your package in your home, instead of at your doorstep where anyone could grab it.

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[Deal Alert] All-time low for Amazon Key Home Kit, with security camera and compatible smart lock, starting at $ 169.99 ($ 120 off) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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WeMo Bridge adds HomeKit & Siri support to your Belkin smart home accessories

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Belkin’s popular line of WeMo smart home products was recently brought into the HomeKit fold with the release of the new Smart Bridge, a simple device that lets you control your existing WeMo devices via the Home app and Siri.
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Wirecutter’s best deals: Save $40 on a Google Home smart speaker

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This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read their continuously updated list of deals here.
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AirPort Express popping up in some Home apps, raising possibility of AirPlay 2 compatibility

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Reports are circulating that the third generation AirPort Express is popping up for users trying to add a HomeKit accessory in the iOS 11.4 beta, but the appearance is not universal, nor does the networking peripheral actually get added when selected.
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Five automation ideas to improve your smart home lifestyle

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We often talk or write about our smart homes without realizing that some folks don’t understand what it is that a smart home can actually do. That’s partially because there’s such a wide range of things we can automate or control by voice in our homes, that there’s no simple answer: The automations and smart devices I have are likely very different than the ones you have.

Still, there’s merit in laying out some examples for two reasons. First, we might actually be able to better answer the “what is a smart home” question with some practical, real world solutions. And second, sharing a few examples here will (hopefully!) inspire you to add to the list through our comments.

Collectively, we’ll all have nice group of ideas to make life easier in our smart homes. Keep in mind that these are less a set of step-by-step instructions and more of a conceptual list that you can implement or tweak based on your devices and software.

Don’t leave the door unlocked

I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s and extremely effective solution to a problem I had: My young adult children sometimes come home at night after I’ve gone to bed. That’s not the problem though. The issue is that they don’t always remember to lock the door. Since I have a Z-Wave deadbolt installed in my front door, I decided to have my smart home hub automatically lock the door if it’s been open for five minutes. If you decide to do this, make sure you don’t lock yourself out though. My lock can be opened by my phone or watch, but it also has a keypad entry system.

Start the morning right

For a while I had my downstairs kitchen light go on at a specific time so that my wife wouldn’t walk down to a dark room. Scheduling this by the time is pretty easy but there are some days she sleeps in and some days she wakes up earlier. What she always does before going downstairs, however, is take a shower with the bathroom exhaust fan on. The last thing she does, without fail, is turn that fan off before heading downstairs.

A smart switch for the fan is a simple trigger event for home automation and once that switch hits the off position, the kitchen smart light — not to mention my coffee maker with a smart plug — can be enabled at exactly the right time, every time.

Keep an eye on the kids or pets as needed

We walk our dog so this doesn’t apply to me but Stacey has a small pet door in her home so the dog can go outside. With a webcam in a nearby window, she can keep an eye on the dog, but it may not make sense to have that camera on all the time. Adding a tilt sensor, similar to ones you find with smart garage controllers, to the pet door can trigger a webcam to power on. The same approach could be used for kids going out the back door: Add a magnetic sensor to the door and fire up the webcam to make sure playtime is safe.

Sundown is a great trigger for indoor lighting

One of the first automations I ever set up was to turn on the outdoor lights at or just before sundown. It’s easy to do and although the sun sets at a slightly different time every day, most smart home hub software can adjust for this. It took me months to realize it but sundown is a perfect event trigger for indoor lights too. Sure, you can keep some or all of the  house lights off until you get home and have them light up based on geofencing, a garage door opening or some other mechanism. But why not use the sun instead of some other hardware or device?

Trigger routines and scenes based on calendar events

Stacey had mentioned a routine / scene she created for doing yoga. When asking Alexa or Google Assistant to run the “Yoga” scene, her TV turns on, the downstairs temp lowers to 75 degrees, a Lutron fan and Philips Hue lights both turn on. That’s useful but I took it a step further, and you can too for your own scenes.

Try connecting IFTTT to your Google Calendar and a supported home automation shortcut or scene. I created a 9am Yoga event as a trigger on my calendar to fire up a similar routine. Lights were dimmed and relaxing music was fired up at nine on the dot, but sadly, I didn’t do the yoga part. Not only does this alleviate the voice command, but it makes more likely you’ll actually do the yoga, or whatever event you want to carve time out for.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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AirPort Express showing up in iOS 11.4 Home app, suggests AirPlay 2 speaker support on the way

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With the return of AirPlay 2 in iOS 11.4, it appears that Apple still has some tricks up its sleeve. Readers and Redditors are reporting that the AirPort Express (the ‘latest’ model released in 2012) is showing up as a speaker accessory in the Home app.

This suggests the new AirPort Express will support AirPlay 2 to participate in features like multi-room playback alongside other speakers like the HomePod.

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How Comcast’s Xfinity Home is using Analytics and more to Drive Business Decisions

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By: Comcast’s Shuvankar Roy, vice president, Xfinity Home and Neeraj Grover, director of business analytics and reporting, Xfinity Home

Q: Why are analytics right to use to drive business decisions?

A: Analytics can help to identify the actual pain points in many parts of the business, including the customer journey. By using analytics, it’s easy to prioritize initiatives and avoid making decisions based on hypothesis, with no evidence to back up your work. Data offers significant insights into your business and can help you to course correct, as needed. Additionally, data can help you to define goals, make forecasts based on trends, patterns or the season.

To give an example, we here at Comcast are hyper-focused on customer satisfaction. For us, it is imperative to gain insights into our customers’ interactions with our front-line employees, such as technicians and customer service representatives, to help serve them better. Measuring the net promoter score or NPS at all levels including transactional, products, and employees help us to identify pain points that customers may experience from our service and products. Without these insights, we would not be able to improve or change processes and better serve our customers at every level.

Q: What type of analytics are essential?

A: To a large extent it depends on the maturity of the organization. To start with, you need Business Intelligence tools to identify and measure leading and lagging indicators. With this level of analysis, you will be able to understand what is driving an uptick and what may be causing a downward spiral.With Business Intelligence, your organization will be able to start predicting what is happening and provide corrections as needed.

As the organization matures and starts collecting more and better quality data, consider digging deeper beneath the numbers by using machine learning algorithms. These can provide further insights into top factors impacting your KPIs and help come up with a few “if-then” solutions that may help improve your metrics. We recommend testing each solution separately to see if the outcome actually enhances the indicators you want to influence.  The tests help foray from predictive into prescriptive analytics.

A particular type of Analytics can also be used for specific applications. For instance, Artificial Intelligence when paired with chatbots can offer your customers immediate access to assistance, and the text analytics can also help provide insights into areas that may need improvement.

Adoption of technology that leverages analytics to solve issues could become the critical differentiating factor to improve service delivery.

Q: With so much data/analytics that exist within a company, what are some best practices to narrow down the data that matter the most?

A: We see three factors of success for any projects: rely on extensive domain knowledge, be very skeptical of visible past trends and don’t  overanalyze,

Providing enough domain knowledge at each step of the way is key to identifying the most relevant data for any analytics study. The structure that works the best for us is having the analytics and business intelligence teams work carefully (or at times embedded) within the business units. This ensures that there is participation from subject matter experts to provide real-time feedback as insights are provided. The input and validation from SMEs ensure that the right data elements are being considered.

The other factor is to be very skeptical of apparent past trends as market conditions evolve. Lastly, avoid over analysis. In some cases getting 80 percent, accurate data is sufficient to understand directional and correct patterns which can help you make timely decisions. Avoid the pitfall of ensuring 100 percent accuracy as you may miss the opportunity to course correct in time.

Q: What type of business decisions can be made based on analytics?

A: Many decisions can be made based on analytics, but it’s important to look at the whole picture such as market conditions and what’s going on in the world. As you begin to make decisions based on analytics keep in mind these key points:

Analytics may be wrong sometimes as correlation is different from causation so take immediate corrective actions when you realize the change that was implemented is not working. Don’t be afraid to pivot and move on to another solution.

Prioritize analytics initiatives based on business goals. You can get a lot of data, and there may be many areas that need to be fixed, but you can’t do it all so narrow in on the few that will make the most significant impact to your business and go from there.

At times, be sure to complement data with other approaches. Sometimes it’s essential to conduct a few focus groups or review processes to find the triggers leading to the lagging data.

Q: Can you share an example where you made some critical business decisions based on the analytics?

A: Losing customers or churn is a measure that is key to most businesses. A while back our team leveraged decision trees and other machine learning algorithms to predict the type of customers that may have a high propensity to churn, and we identified key factors that led to it. The outcome of the machine learning algorithms identified customer engagement – the lack of activity and usage with the service – as the most impactful predictor of customer churn.

The importance of this factor led our teams to dig deeper into customers’ engagement with their services, their tenure, the services they have subscribed, and their preferred channels of engagement with us. This led to further insights into how our customers engage with each product and what service delivery steps could help drive customers to have a better experience. Ultimately, we found that customers who participate with or used the product(s) regularly led to more satisfaction with their service, which lowered churn.

Xfinity Home touch-screen

As the IoT space expands with more and more devices in a secured and connected home, the value for AI to help further improve customer service will be imperative.  Machine learning supported chatbots will become more sophisticated as they can scan for any system issues or other similar customer issues and quickly help to resolve and respond to customers. This level of customer care and service can be provided at an increased scale and response time will be quicker without adding to the cost of operations –the cost to provide the best customer service may even decrease.

The post How Comcast’s Xfinity Home is using Analytics and more to Drive Business Decisions appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Samsung Galaxy J7 (2018) with dual rear cameras, Bixby Home surfaces, could launch in India soon

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Samsung SM-J720F surfaced in benchmarks back in January this year. Now the user manual of the smartphone has surfaced on the official site confirming dual rear cameras, front camera with flash as well as Bixby Home, making it the first budget smartphone from Samsung to come with Bixby support. It also comes with removable battery, micro USB port, fingerprint sensor on the home button and loudspeaker grill on the back, next to the camera. Earlier benchmark listing revealed most of the specifications of the phone, check them out below. Samsung Galaxy J7 (2018) rumored specifications 5.5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD / (1920 x 1080 pixels) Full HD display Octa-Core (2.2GHz Dual + 1.6GHz Hexa) Exynos 7885 14nm processor with Mali-G71 GPU 4GB RAM, 32GB Internal Storage, expandable up to 256GB via micro SD card Android 8.0 (Oreo) Dual SIM 13MP rear camera with LED flash, secondary rear camera 8MP front camera with LED flash Fingerprint sensor 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS Since the user manual has surfaced on Samsung India site, it expected to launch in the country soon. Source | Via
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Mid-range Pixel for developing markets could land this summer (joined in India by Home, Nest stuff, practically everything Google sells)

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Whether you’re selling phones or powering the platforms behind them, there’s little that’s more exciting for a company seeking out growth opportunities than a rapidly expanding market. As other markets around the globe see slumping projections or sales threatening to plateau, India’s doing gangbusters, and last year sales of smartphones were up 14 percent. This growth hasn’t gone unnoticed, and today we’re checking out some signs of Google’s increasing interest in India, including rumors of a possible new Pixel phone targeting India and other “price-sensitive” markets.

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Google Home gets support for Saavn and Gàana music streaming services in India

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Google has just launched English support in India, but that’s not all. It’s also rolling out support for a few region-specific music services. Users of Saavn and Gàana can plug their accounts into Home and make them a default music streaming service. It only takes a few taps.

Saavn and Gàana are both popular services in India, but they’re available to users worldwide. They both seem to focus on regional Indian music, but there’s international content as well.

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