Smart Speakers

The smart speaker industry is expected to grow 63% in 2019 (Deloitte). I have not been an early adopter of smart speakers because I wanted to scope out the market, gauge user adoption and weigh pros/cons for each option. The most popular options being: Alexa (Amazon), Google Assistant (Google) and Siri (Apple). Apple is my go-to for hardware (phone, laptop, watch) and I tend to prefer Google for services (i.e. calendar, mail). Given my perception, I’m curious to know if it will hold up in the smart speaker arena.

Before we get started I have a few biases / perceptions about smart speakers to disclose:

  1. I’m ~75% paranoid that someone on the other end will be “listening” to what’s going on in my home (see also Enemy of the State).
  2. Amazon scares me – they are getting too big and too involved…. in everything. (VICE News). So much so that I recently cancelled by Prime subscription. (see also RWA Series – Subscriptions).
  3. Apple seems “safe”. Washington Post
  4. I’m not interested in having a smart speaker that makes it easier / encourages me to buy anything or hear ads…. ever.
  5. I feel pretty confident that when Apple launches something new that it’s fully vetted, well thought out, tested and ready to go. Others sometimes just want to be first to the market and will launch anything to get a dollar, whether it truly “works” correctly/ideally or not.
  6. Having a lot of choices on which options to “connect to/use” is not my cup of tea. As an IT professional, I prefer to keep my personal technology choices/life simple!

Now, back to business – the business of choosing a smart speaker (Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri). One tech reporter summarizes the decision this way, “You are choosing your tribe… This decision will shape how you get information, what appliances you purchase, where you shop and how you protect your privacy.” Washington Post  To be honest, this article itself wasn’t very helpful; but the comments (781) were: “Here are my top 3:

  1. Why would I “invite” any of these devices into the privacy of my home?  Really, the speaker delivered a family’s conversation to one of their “contacts”?  It is unfortunate that a technology with the potential to be true assistants to those with disabilities, is just being marketed to the general public as a way to build databases to sell more stuff.
  2. Just remember, with all of these products YOU’RE the product. If you think you’re inundated by ads now, just wait. With these devices, your every move is being tracked inside your home and is put up for sale.
  3. Interesting how Apple has solved the privacy/security question. Basically it generates a pseudo random ID when you ask it a question, and that is what goes back to the cloud. So there is no way to associate your account with the action/query. 

I find it pretty interesting that not once have I even mentioned (or thought about) the actual features/benefits of smart speakers. What can they actually do? To be honest, I have no idea other than the general things I’ve heard/read about: turn on/off lights, set the thermostat, play music/movies, lock the doors, etc. Do I really need any of that? Nope. Do I actually want any of that? Nope. I don’t even use Siri on my iPhone. At this point, I cannot think of a single reason/way these items would enhance my life. That is what technology is supposed to do, right?

As this point I just need to point out one (obvious) thing – sometimes we get so caught up in making a decision about which technology to embrace, we forget why we want/need it in the first place. If I HAD TO CHOOSE, it would be Apple Home (privacy/security trumps EVERYTHING); but, to be honest I’m not at all even remotely moved to add a smart speaker my collection. Maybe that will change in the next 6-12 months; but, for now… I’m good! In case you are curious / intrigued, see also Best Smart Speakers 2019

In summary, be sure to let your LIFESTYLE & NEEDS help dictate what technology you embrace (bring into your home) and fully weigh the pros/cons of all options! Bri’s Recommendation on Smart Speakers? Just say no!


ED by Ellen DeGeneres

Promobannerfirst-of-threelettered-hatOh how I love Ellen DeGeneres!!! According to EOnline, The ever-so-funny-fashionable mogul is launching a new lifestyle complete with clothing, accessories and home goods! (Is Ellen the new Martha?) Check out her new line, ED, here.

Cancer Screening at Home

Health assessments conducted at home are becoming more and more popular. At-home pregnancy tests hit the market 45 years ago, now we have cholesterolHIV and many more tests that can be performed from the comfort of your home. A sign that the at-home-health trend is not letting up, executives at Twitter and EventBrite invested in a new Silicon Valley start-up playing in this very space called Color Genomics. The company is making cancer screenings available to the masses and for a much cheaper price than we see in the marketplace today. Their product? A $249-mail in saliva test kit that checks for variants in 19 genes known to be correlated with a higher risk of breast or ovarian cancer. The test is available now and you can view your results online.

Check out the video below.


Wireless-Enabled Deadbolt Lock

Kevo | Smart Phone Mobile App Lock - Keyless EntryKevo DeadboltYour Smartphone is now your key with the Kwikset Kevo Wireless-Enabled Deadbolt Lock! With this device, you can now keep your phone in your pocket or purse. For $219.95 per lock, no more fumbling for your keys… just touch the lock to open for the ultimate in convenience. People who own homes and typically enter their through the garage may not find this useful. But, if you’re a runner and would rather not drag your keys with you, it could be helpful! I also can’t see how landlords would allow renters to install this sort of device so I’m really questioning the market at this point. You may think this would be perfect for kids, but they lose cell phones (and even loan them to friends) all the time. Then a bigger security question comes into play. But I suppose that’s true with almost everything these days (see Apple Pay).

This technology has not yet become mainstream, as indicated by the price, but if you are an early adopter and can find a valid use, go for it!  (I’d wait until Black Friday, though, to see if there are any deals).


Smart Home

Nobody does it quite like HGTV! A techie’s dream, take a virtual tour of the 2014 Smart Home in Nashville, TN! Here are a few of the home’s features:

  • Tablets: All of the technology in this house can be operated from the tablet or smart phone

  • Utilities: Lighting is on dimmers with wireless connectivity, the thermostats can be adjusted remotely

  • Security System: Burglary, fire and carbon monoxide can all be operated remotely, as can the front-door lock, the hardwired outdoor cameras aimed at each entrance, and mobile wireless interior cameras

  • Entertainment: 120-inch high-definition projection screen with 7.1 surround sound (7 channels, plus 1 woofer for deep base sounds) in the media room.

  • Robotics: One of the house’s TVs, designed for teleconferencing, retracts behind a cabinet in the dining room/office, and rises on command

  • High Tech SleepersThe comfort foam mattresses are adjustable, and can be positioned for sitting up to watch TV

  • Smart Tech Design: Hardware is organized on easy to access wall racks in a second-floor closet