Cyber Security For Toys Isn’t Something To Play Around With

R2D2 Smart Enabled WiFi RobotElectronic devices are no new thing. And receiving the latest gadgets for Christmas is a joy since it’s always fun to see what new things they can do to improve your life. However, today there’s a snag. Many connected devices are ‘always on’ and listening for the wake word which lets them know you want them to do something. While what they detect while they await instructions is deleted every few seconds, there is always a chance that your smart devices are vulnerable if you leave the settings as you found them out of the box.

The new electronics you received will likely have cameras as well as mics, and you’ll likely be putting them in every room in the house. Meaning that both your security and privacy can be compromised. While you’re not doing anything wrong in your own home when you think nobody is watching, there’s no reason why you would want any of that data falling into the wrong hands. Read more

Smart Cooking Appliances Are Hotting Up! What’s In The Connected Kitchen For You?

smart kitchen wifi connectedWe know that Smart tech is going to find a really practical home in the kitchen. Find all your recipes, preheat the oven, re-order and do the shopping, turn the lights on so you can see what you’re doing. You can even recalculate measurements automatically if you’re low on one thing or want to make enough to feed an army when the recipe gives you the method for a tiny batch.

The only problem is mess.

With cake mix flying all over the place when you turn the mixer on, gravy dripping from your fingers and water getting everywhere when you try to clean up your tablet or Smart interface could easily get damaged, gummed up or dropped in the sink just when you’re trying to knock up a souffle.

No matter how hard you try not to touch, and you swear you’ll be careful, Murphy’s Law dictates that you’ll drop it, splash it, try to use the touchscreen controls with a spoon or otherwise do something that will in no way help to prolong the life of your devices. Read more

Need To Know Who’s Calling Before You Go To The Door? Talk To Us About Access Control

security door control access monitorHome security is a high priority for many of us today. Crime figures for burglary and vandalism are falling across the UK and many think that’s because of the security measures householders take to ward off intruders before they’re tempted to break in or damage our property. Naturally physical barriers are the bluntest tool to use in protecting our homes but a steel shutter over the front door doesn’t look very appealing. The next best thing to deter would-be thieves is a comprehensive security lighting and camera system which would rather more discreetly tell people to keep moving. However, some people still don’t find these to be subtle enough.

Nobody wants to live in a prison, and locking your home up like Fort Knox is no way to live. So what is the best way to keep an eye on your front door without making your visitors feel like they’re entering the Big Brother House when they drop by to call?

The access control that Briant Communications sell would appear to be the perfect solution. We supply and fit intercoms which look exactly like any other bell push, only ours come with a few extras as standard. So let’s compare and contrast. Read more

Making Your Alexa Family Friendly

If you have kids living with you you’ll no doubt want to set up your Alexa or Google Assistant to make it fun, exciting and most of all safe for children to use. From avoiding playing adult song lyrics and inappropriate content to preventing shopping for goods and services, there are a number of different security measures you can take to make your Smart home system child friendly. (We’ll be talking about Alexa, but all other Smart Home Hubs operate in a similar fashion.) 

First of all, make sure you have all your devices operating on the same account. Most of us have any number of different accounts with a variety of different service providers and it might seem like a good idea to segment your suppliers and accounts but with home automation this just makes things incredibly complicated, unnecessarily confusing and difficult to apply consistent security across all accounts. If you’re using Echo, create a dedicated Amazon account which you can use to manage and control all your apps, actions, recipes and skills. Having them all in one place will also mean that if any of your apps stop working you’ll know where to go to look for the updates and fixes. Having them all together on one Amazon account also means that all your connected devices should work together seamlessly without any need for special recipes or instructions. Read more

Out With The Old And In With The New

new flat screen television setDid Santa bring you everything you asked for?

If you were on the Good list you’ll have lots of sparkling new gadgets and durables ready to set up and start enjoying straight away. But there’s one drawback. All that new kit needs to find itself a new home, and if it’s replacing superannuated old stuff you’ll be wanting to get rid to make room.

Sending it straight to landfill would be a disgrace. If it still works there’s no need to burden the planet with it and it would be a shame to scrap something which could still bring happiness to others so what’s the best way of disposing of all your old items without environmental impact, and possibly making back a few pounds on the deal as well? Read more

Smart Ways Of Getting Fit For The New Year

Fitness image courtesy of www.maxpixel.net

Smart Home Technology is all about making your home more efficient, saving your time and effort. As a direct consequence of that you may find that it’s even easier to become that couch potato you’ve always felt was looming in your future. The solution becomes the problem, so how about using Smart tech to get you up and active, improving your fitness for the New Year?

The automated home is all about letting you find ways of controlling everything that happens around the home either remotely or by simply speaking and electronic devices obeying your commands. Unfortunately one thing the latest technology can’t do for you is get fit. For that you really do need to get up and active. But how can smart tech help you achieve that? Well, for a start they can make the experiment fun and interesting. The things that put people off of regular exercise are that it is that it is dull, unpleasant and doesn’t show immediate results. Some people are a natural fit for the gym because they love the endorphins which are released by working out, the rest of us are simply glad that it is over. But tech can help with that. Read more

How Will Home Automation Help You As You Enter Your Golden Years?

Touch sensitive digital heating control panel mounted on a light coloured wall.Home automation technology at first glance appears to be targeted towards young people with disposable income and the need to have all things electronic controlled with a simple voice command. However, with any labour saving devices, their applications might be handy bits of frivolous tech for the young and able bodied, but they quickly become an invaluable part of life for those with mobility and cognitive impairments.

The appeal of the mass market means that the price of technology falls very rapidly, people become accustomed to the items and their usefulness is proven. Once this has happened the applications for people who can get much more out of them are revealed. (A good example of this is SMS. Originally only conceived as a means of testing signal delivery in the mobile telecoms industry, it was going to be scrapped when full coverage had been established. However, it became popular among phone users and is now universal and a vital service for the deaf community who need to stay in touch with family and friends.) Read more

Home Security In The Digital Age

Google and Amazon have been pushing us to buy smart connected devices for the past year or so, and as their offering of controllable devices, apps, media subscription services increases, the viability and usefulness also increases. And, just as Moore’s Law predicts, as the processing power increases exponentially, the price of entry decreases. Indeed, in order to secure their device’s place in your home, you can find offers on Minis, Dots, hubs bundled with lights etc. for at least half of the usual retail price. Their theory is, once you adopt one device or another you’ll have no need to buy the other since they effectively do the same job. Once you’re tied in they’ve got you for life. As we see every day in tech purchasing, brand loyalty can become deeply entrenched.

Smart Home Devices are being pushed by the major high street retailers. Home entertainment, TV subscriptions, lights, sound systems are all on high rotation during the ads, online marketing is placing the ads in front of us when we’re scrolling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, making the Smart Home Option almost inevitable. We see the advertised advantages, but what are the down sides? Read more

What’s It Like To Live With Google Home Or Alexa?

Boy sitting in lounge using tv via a tablet computerDuring the run up to Christmas, you can’t have helped seeing all the ads for Alexa, Google Home Assistant, Smart Speakers and all other things ‘smart’. It’s almost as if there’s a technological revolution taking place and nobody’s told us what it’s all about!

When we thought about automated homes a few years ago it was the domain of sci-fi and horror. Movies such as the seminal Demon Seed and 2001 A Space Odyssey depicted the way an all seeing, omnipresent robot in our home would try to take over and make us mere mortals it’s slave. Or we’d perish trying to resist. It turns out Big Brother didn’t have to force us to put Telescreens into our homes, we bought them willingly from Google and Amazon! Read more

Something As Simple As Poor WiFi Could Knock A Fortune Off The Price Of Your Property

BT’s Modern Families ReportWiFi enabled tablet, coverage, improved service has found that 52% of families in the UK would be put off of living in a home with poor wifi. Unreliable reception, blackspots, and weak signal could therefore knock thousands of pounds off the value of your home when you come to sell it.

As anthropologist Amber Case said, “we’re all cyborgs now” and you can see the evidence of that in your own home every day. We’re all connected to our electronic devices and they become increasingly integral to our lives the longer we spend with them. Our dependent relationship becomes immediately and painfully evident if you ever have a wifi outage. It’s a viscerally unpleasant feeling to know you can’t just check on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Twitter. And if you’re heavily reliant on IoT connected devices, Smart TV and Netflix, that unpleasant feeling is multiplied. Read more