Image of people beneath an array of security cameras
After a lengthy summer and fall break, Things Thursday returns! Today, we’ll look at the battle of the smart speakers, and what smart home devices can mean for older homeowners plus much more!

  1.  Amazon Echo v Google Home: Battle of the smart speakers (via Wareable)
    Wareable looks at the pros and cons of the two best voice enabled smart speakers on the market. If you’re not sure which speaker to get, this is a good piece for you. Also, please note that Amazon makes the Echo Dot as well, and that goes for $50. I think it makes a great closing gift. As far as the article goes, personally, I think Amazon has the lead, but Google is gaining fast here. Today they released their developer API for Actions, which are like Alexa’s Skills. This allows for custom apps for voice interaction. By way of example, here’s an Alexa Skill for Tech Valley Homes Real Estate by Voiceter Pro. In my opinion, this is going to be the dominant way for controlling and interacting with our homes. It happens we wrote about this very subject and you can check out Adrienne’s post on the future of IoT and the role voice plays.
  2. What Bruce Schneier teaches us about IoT and cybersecurity (via IoT Central)
    Bruce Schneier is a highly respected security expert and boy does he have opinions about IoT and security. They are solid ones at that. Recently he testified to the Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce on the topic of the DDoS attacks. What he does well in his testimony is simply define how we should think about smart home technology and the internet of things in general. Currently, we tend to trivialize the security concerns related to these replacements of everyday devices (smart lights = lights, smart thermostats = thermostats, etc.). In fact, what Schneier recommends is that we don’t do this and instead we see each item as an individual computer. Treat these devices as needing the same hardening as we provide for laptops and other computers. I recommend both the article and testimony above.
  3. Top 10 Smart Home Technologies for Older Homeowners (via Claims Journal)
    SRES Designees take note. Claims Journal just published a list of devices that older homeowners will find useful. MIT’s AgeLab and The Hartford insurance company conducted the survey. Here’s something I found truly fascinating from the study:

    According to the survey, just over half (51 percent) of homeowners over the age of 50 either have smart home technology or are interested in buying it. Of those who do not currently have smart home technology but plan to purchase it or are interested in getting it, about half (49 percent) are willing to spend between $101 and $500 on it in a year.

    Pretty cool to see these numbers. This seems to align with previous reports and it also shows a great opportunity to provide these devices as closing gifts, as, according to our Smart Home Survey, only 2% of members are giving these devices as closing gifts.

  4. BONUS: If you haven’t already, check out our Smart Home Survey (via CRT Labs Blog)
    Great segue to talking about our Smart Home Survey…We are really excited by our new survey as it’s helping us set direction and see where we can provide coverage. We’d love to get your feedback on it. Let us know how you’re using it too!!

That’s all for Things Thursday this week. Have questions? Want us to cover something? Let us know. You can follow us on Twitter @crtlabs or Facebook.