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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Apple Snatches Google’s Head of AI to Vastly Improve Siri and More

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Apple announced this week that it’s hired Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Search Chief, John Giannandrea, to head the iPhone-maker’s machine learning and AI strategy moving forward, according to a report by The New York Times. Mr. Giannandrea, who joined Google back in 2010 when the Mountain View, California search-giant acquired Metaweb (where he served […]
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Apple hires Google’s former AI boss to help improve Siri

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John Giannandrea, Google’s former head of search and artificial intelligence, is joining Apple. The hire, first reported by The New York Times, comes one day after the executive announced he was stepping down from his role at Google, itself a surprise move amid a broader executive reshuffle that now makes much more sense in hindsight.

Giannandrea, a machine learning expert who joined Google back in 2010, is a huge get for Apple, which has struggled for years to make progress in fast-moving and increasingly important AI fields like computer vision and natural language processing. Giannandrea will report directly to CEO Tim Cook as the leader of “machine learning and AI strategy,” according to the Times.

Both Facebook and Google, and to…

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How to Improve Your Continuous Testing While Balancing Velocity, Coverage, and UX Risk

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A stage-based methodology

Continuous testing is one of the keys to the DevOps kingdom.  Your pipeline needs to move fast to keep up with ever-shrinking release schedules but you can’t afford to sacrifice quality or UX in the name of speed. The solution? During each stage of development, Development teams need to balance testing every scenario against the amount of time needed to generate meaningful test results.  However, it’s understood that a “test everything” approach isn’t practical;  therefore, you’re left with a balancing act for teams to negotiate. This blog focuses on a continuous testing methodology to determine which devices to test at each stage of development.  The highest-performing teams are the ones whose game plans match target platforms with each development stage; this stage-specific testing strategy is fundamental to meeting your fast feedback needs while ensuring a great UX.

Breaking Down the DevOps Team Processes by Stage:

  • Unit Testing
    • Developers execute unit tests to get fast feedback – “does the code I just wrote behave as expected? Is it ready for integration and more rigorous testing?”  Maximizing platform coverage in this stage is inefficient and unnecessary. In this early stage of development, unit tests executed before or after a commit often use emulators and simulators to provide a quick thumbs up or down on whether the code works. In later test phases, most top teams agree that moving to real devices is required to assure user experience.
  • Acceptance Testing
    • Teams typically focus on verifying that new functionality- as well as old-  works according to the user story, and tests are executed over a large set of platforms that mirrors realistic customer patterns.
  • Test in Production
    • Many teams adopt DevOps; testing in production becomes part of the continuous testing scope. Once code ships, the objective changes from “does it work” to “is it still working as expected?” Teams recognize the value of leveraging hourly testing of key flows to create an early warning mechanism. Early awareness of production issues jump starts resolution efforts while (hopefully) few users are negatively impacted.

Factors: Your Coverage Crib Sheet for Continuous Testing

We’ve established that it’s important to know which platforms to test against, in which environments, and when to execute, in order to streamline the continuous testing process.  Everyone involved in the product release should understand both the testing trigger points that must be defined in each stage and how their tests fit into the overall pipeline in order to meet project schedules and reduce UX risk.  Perfecto’s Factors reference guide gives you a head start with guidelines for determining which platforms you need to cover and how to fit them into your DevOps process.  The table below summarizes the Perfecto’s research.

Our methodology:

  • Unit testing should be executed by devs on a small subset of platforms that may include emulators and simulators, and should be triggered pre- and post-commit locally against the developer workstation.
  • Build acceptance tests should be executed on a larger number of platforms (real devices and web platforms) daily and as part of the continuous integration (CI) process.
  • Acceptance tests should be executed on the full set of platforms in the lab to get maximum coverage and quality visibility. These cycles should run on a nightly basis, orchestrated by the CI process.
  • Production testing should run hourly and continuously to detect regression defects, outages, or performance degradations in the service. Such tests should not focus on maximum coverage of platforms;  select the top 2-3 platforms from the web and mobile and execute against these.

Up Your Application Testing Game Plan

In this blog, we’ve taken a look at DevOps team quality objectives and highlighted the differences in coverage levels required at each stage. In addition, we provide a methodology for tailoring platform coverage for mobile and web for each development stage in order to enhance continuous testing and minimize UX risk.  Perfecto’s Factors reference guide provides invaluable insight into developing your testing methodology as well as the current data you need to make critical coverage decisions.  Whether you’re a dev tester, a developer, or an R&D manager, it’s a tool that you need in your toolbox.  Grab your copy today!

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Apple goes on hiring spree to improve Siri’s smarts

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It won't shock you to hear that Siri is lagging behind rivals like Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant — the HomePod struggles to handle non-music tasks as well as competing smart speakers, for instance. And Apple appears to be aware of this shortfal…
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Alphabet’s X lab explores using AI to improve food production

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Add Alphabet to the growing number of companies hoping that AI will solve food production problems. The Google parent brand's X lab has revealed that it's exploring ways machine learning could improve farming. While X hasn't focused on any specific…
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InMobi, GeoEdge to Regulate Ad Quality Standards and Improve User Experience

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InMobi, a global independent mobile advertising platform, recently confirmed a partnership with GeoEdge, a leading provider of ad security and verification solutions for the mobile advertising ecosystem.

Together, the partners will work “to ensure high ad quality and a clean marketplace that offers a safe and engaging user experience.”

The mobile advertising industry is battling several challenges around ad quality with a rise in auto-redirect, auto pop-up and other malicious ads appearing over the past year. InMobi and GeoEdge have independently worked tirelessly to ensure the mobile apps are safe and free of malicious ads that may otherwise damage the user experience, or negatively impact the trust between publishers and their audiences.

This partnership emphasizes InMobi’s continued investment in its machine learning based real-time solutions with partners such as GeoEdge, with its rapid independent review, to bolster all defenses against ad quality issues.

GeoEdge’s technology is integrated with InMobi to ensure that every single creative meets the ad quality guidelines established by the publishers, removing any that don’t, and to guarantee a positive end user experience.

“InMobi has a reputation of creating award-winning ads that users want to see, and we have invested heavily in this area to create a seamless user experience that will also benefit our publisher partners,” said Abhay Singhal, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at InMobi. “While every player in the industry is eager to ensure buyers are shielded from the sell side fraud, we don’t want to forget our trusted partners on the sell side. By deploying GeoEdge, we are fully committed to solving this trust-eroding issue that affects the whole ecosystem.”

The post InMobi, GeoEdge to Regulate Ad Quality Standards and Improve User Experience appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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Instagram will improve its terrible feed by showing newer posts at the top

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Instagram made the switch to a non-chronological feed a while back, and many users are still unhappy with it. Today, Instagram says it’s rolling out some changes to make the feed less terrible. Well, Instagram didn’t call the feed “terrible,” but that seems to be the consensus outside the company. Soon, you’ll see newer posts near the top and have more control over refreshing.

According to the new blog post, Instagram is testing a “New Posts” button in the feed.

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Instagram will improve its terrible feed by showing newer posts at the top was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Spotify wants to improve in-car streaming, starting with Cadillacs

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More than 70 million people subscribe to Spotify's streaming music, and a significant chunk of those subscribers use the service in their cars. The problem is, the experience of using Spotify in a car can vary pretty wildly from the experience the co…
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A Revolutionary New Way to Improve Your Diet and Health

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In recent years, the role of the bacteria and other organisms in the gut have become a major focus of those looking to improve health and wellness. Probiotic companies that promise everything from improved digestion to a better mood have made billions selling their products. However, every gut is entirely unique. What may work for you may do little for someone else, so it’s important to know exactly what your gut needs. A new company called Viome is looking to provide a high-tech way of making that happen.


Viome is the only company that uses RNA sequencing to analyze your gut microbiome. This technology allows them to provide accurate personalized diet and nutrition recommendation for improved health and wellness. A customer sends a small stool sample to Viome using a simple home test kit that is delivered to their door. A proprietary artificial intelligence engine that was created by scientists, physicians and nutritionists will analyze it. Customers also do a metabolic test and complete a questionnaire about their habits to help further hone in on their needs.

Naveen Jain, founder and CEO of Viome, told Futurism that many companies use DNA sequencing to analyze your gut, but looking at DNA creates false information about what’s ailing you. He said by analyzing RNA, they can tell customers exactly which foods are good for them and which ones are not.

“RNA only gets created when something is alive and replicating,” Jain said. “Since RNA only lasts for a short time, every time you take the sample, you only see microorganisms that are alive.”


Jain said Viome was able to offer RNA analysis, which is usually very expensive, because it teamed up with Los Alamos National Lab. That lab does research related to national security, and they were studying biodefense before Viome launched. They were researching the best way to quickly find out what’s making people sick if there’s a biological attack, and they developed technology that was much cheaper to use so it can be used on a large scale. Viome now brings that technology to the populace.

Once a customer has done their tests and completed the questionnaire, Viome delivers nutrition recommendations and other advice specifically tailored to improve their overall health. People who are looking to lose weight, eat better, feel better or improve other aspects of their health can benefit from such an analysis.

Dr. Helen Messier, Chief Medical Officer at Viome, said that “by looking at the microbiome using RNA technology we now have an unprecedented understanding of how these microbes affect one’s health.  We can precisely see whether an individual will benefit or be harmed by specific foods such as spinach. walnuts, protein shakes, broccoli, or beets which were previously thought to be healthy for everyone.  It is not about the food being healthy, but about whether it is healthy for you. This is all determined by your microbiome.”


Studies have shown what happens in your gut also affects how you feel mentally, and vice versa. Have you ever had stomach issues and felt upset or gotten queasy before a job interview? We all have, and that’s because the gut and the mind are closely connected. There is actually a nerve called the vagus nerve that connects the gut to the brain to relay messages between them. If your gut is happy, it’s much easier for you to feel happy.

“This gut-brain axis is the connection between our gut and our emotions and behavior,” Jain said. “Microbes in humans are really controlling everything we do.

There is an ongoing debate over what specific diet and foods are good for the average person. In the era of new fad diets coming out almost daily, eating right can be very confusing. Viome makes conflicting food advice obsolete. You are now able to harness the power of cutting edge technology to know exactly what you need to eat to feel better, lose weight, end cravings and have more energy. What you eat can affect the gut significantly, so learning what foods you should eat is critical for your good health. Viome makes this easy, and you can use code FUTURISM20 for $ 20 off your order.

Disclosure: This is an affiliate post for Viome, and Futurism may receive a percentage of sales. Futurism editorial staff was not involved in the production of this post.

The post A Revolutionary New Way to Improve Your Diet and Health appeared first on Futurism.


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