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!


Samsung Smart Fridge

Everything is ‘smart’ these days except for maybe, people… How about ordering groceries right from your refrigerator? Samsung has a solution for that! The tech company is partnering with MasterCard and Fresh Direct (an online grocery delivery service) to offer touch screen ordering right on your ice box. A MasterCard not required (you can use Visa, AMEX, etc.). The new refrigerator will hit the market this Spring!


We’ve developed the entire app—the ordering, the cart process, the integration with the merchants. And yes, the payments,” DeVita says. (USAToday)

BTW: #IoT stands for Internet of Things. You can learn more about that here but suffice it to say that it’s a term used for everyday objects that have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. (Techopedia) Another IoT example I recently told you about is a Oral B’s Smart Toothbrush. Click HERE if you missed that! See… everything is becoming SMART!

Check out this video to see the new smart fridge in action!

Smart Toothbrush

It can be hard finding the perfect gift for your loved ones year, after year, after year…. One way to accomplish this is to get gifts associated with “themes” you know they like. For example, if you know someone who is a techie and you want to give them a “Wife of the Year Award“, stay in the tech category and find a way to turn everyday, mundane tasks into something fun! Take a stroll through Best Buy or even do a few internet searches – one of Bri’s Commandments – to get  ideas.

813SZXGLOBL._SX522_Everybody brushes their teeth (I hope…) SO why not give your wife, best friend, lover and supporter, that you undoubtedly love so much the gift of tech in the form of a mart toothbrush! Introducing Oral B Smart Series Toothbrush with Wireless Technology. And guess what? There’s even a FREE app for that! (iOS, Android) This smart toothbrush will not only show you stats about how often and how long you brush but it will also give you feedback on and detect “trouble areas” AND help to ensure you  spend the recommended 2 minutes brushing your teeth evenly. (SIDE NOTE: I recently tweeted about a tip I read from a MyFitnessPal user that said she does 50 leg lifts on each side every time she brushes her teeth as a way to get in a little morning fitness.)  The app can also communicate the NEWS and WEATHER while you brush (serves as a distraction to pass the time) and it will also tell you when you’re BRUSHING TOO HARD.

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If you think this is silly, consider this: The CDC published dental trends and concludes the following from 2013:

  • 83% of children ages 2-17 visited the dentist in the past year
  • 61% of adults ages 18-64 visited the dentist in the past year
  • 66% of adults ages 65 and over visited the dentist in the past year

Shocked? I am! If a smart toothbrush can help make brushing cool again I’m all for it! Oral B  also has a Disney Timer app to distract kids while they brush in a fun an entertaining way (unless of course your kid is a genius that already cares about the news… side eye). You can purchase the smart toothbrush   at  Amazon for $174.99 (currently $20 off). For a sneak peek of what the toothbrush and app can do, watch the video below and also check out the gallery. #HappySmartBrushing

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


Smart Watch: Top Tech Gift 2013

imwatchChristmas is next month and I’m declaring Smart Watches as THE best Gift for Techies in 2013. People who are ready to embark on this journey, are what Marketers like to call Early Adopters. Because the product is so new, you should expect some glitches. You should also know that these watches will be expensive but let’s face it, (just like the first flat screen TV’s that hit the market) many of us have easily spent $250+ for a fancy new watch, like this popular one by Michael Kors.

Other than being a trendsetter or being addicted to gadgets, this list from Lifehacker shares some common reasons why someone may want to get one of these watches: 1) You want notifications but you don’t want to spend tons of time on your phone, 2) You want a timepiece that actually does something without paying much more for it and 3) You want a watch you can upgrade and customize.

Surprisingly, I was not able to find a comparison of features on a site such as Mashable, so I created my own using reviews from sites such as ReadWrite, and CNET as a cross-reference to see which watches were common. The top 5 were, in no particular order: Samsung, Pebble,  Sony, Meta and I’m Watch.


To make a long story short: color display, USB charging and compatibility are my CTQs. Why? (Despite the face that it’s 2013 and nothing should be in B&W) I travel a lot and can not imagine bringing along another cable or battery, no matter how small. And technology is all about connectivity – having a smart watch that does not work with my #1 gadget, Samsung Galaxy S3, is just not an option. That knocks out all the competition except I’m Watch. To be honest, at first glance, this is the watch I would have chosen because of it’s “cool factor”.  But now, after comparing the specs and aligning them with my needs, I can, with a little more confidence, say this the one for more to try. Plus, the watch is made in Italy and I just left Rome 2 weeks ago! (That’s a reason, right?!) So just in time for my birthday and the holidays, I’m Watch is the #1 tech gadget I’m excite about this year. (somebody cue my husband). This watch is very stylish and I’m already pondering color choices!