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      Airbnb bans creepy surveillance cameras inside rentals starting April 30

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 11 March - 20:43

    camera hidden in flower pot indoors

    Enlarge (credit: Liudmila Chernetska/Getty )

    Airbnb, like hotels and rival vacation rental site Vrbo , will no longer allow hosts to record guests while they're inside the property. Airbnb previously allowed hosts to have disclosed cameras outside the property and in "common areas" inside, but Airbnb's enforcement of the policy and the rules' lack of specificity made camera use troubling for renters.

    Airbnb announced today that as of April 30, it's "banning the use of indoor security cameras in listings globally as part of efforts to simplify our policy on security cameras and other devices" and to prioritize privacy.

    Cameras that are turned off but inside the property will also be banned, as are indoor recording devices. Airbnb's updated policy defines cameras and recording devices as "any device that records or transmits video, images, or audio, such as a baby monitor, doorbell camera, or other camera."

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      “So violated”: Wyze cameras leak footage to strangers for 2nd time in 5 months

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 19 February - 21:03

    Wyze's Cam V3 Pro indoor/outdoor smart camera mounted outside

    Enlarge / Wyze's Cam V3 Pro indoor/outdoor smart camera. (credit: Wyze )

    Wyze cameras experienced a glitch on Friday that gave 13,000 customers access to images and, in some cases, video, from Wyze cameras that didn't belong to them. The company claims 99.75 percent of accounts weren't affected, but for some, that revelation doesn't eradicate feelings of "disgust" and concern.

    Wyze claims that an outage on Friday left customers unable to view camera footage for hours. Wyze has blamed the outage on a problem with an undisclosed Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner but hasn't provided details.

    Monday morning, Wyze sent emails to customers, including those Wyze says weren't affected, informing them that the outage led to 13,000 people being able to access data from strangers' cameras, as reported by The Verge .

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      Wyze outage leaves customers without camera coverage overnight

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 16 February - 19:03

    Wyze v3 camera pointed at viewer

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

    Wyze cameras have been unreliable for many users for more than nine hours today, with cameras disappearing from the Wyze app or simply reporting errors when owners try to view them.

    Users started reporting issues on Down Detector just before 4 am Eastern time, and the company issued a service advisory at 9:30 am. As of 1 pm, the company stated that its "metrics show that devices are starting to recover," and later that there was "continued improvement," but it was still investigating history viewing issues. At 1:15 pm, an Ars writer was able to view his Wyze v3 camera feed and update its firmware.

    Wyze attributed the issue to an "AWS partner" in an earlier update. Amazon Web Services' dashboard showed no issues or outages as of 1:30 pm Eastern. Ars reached out to Wyze for comment and will update this post with new information.

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      Can you manage your house with a local, no-cloud voice assistant? Mostly, yes.

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 14 February - 11:30 · 1 minute

    Home Assistant's voice assistant running on an ESP32-S3-Box3

    Enlarge / The most impressive part is what Home Assistant's voice control does not do: share your voice input with a large entity aiming to sell you things. (credit: Kevin Purdy)

    Last year, the leaders of Home Assistant declared 2023 the “ Year of the Voice. ” The goal was to let users of the DIY home automation platform “control Home Assistant in their own language.” It was a bold shot to call, given people’s expectations from using Alexa and the like. Further, the Home Assistant team wasn’t even sure where to start.

    Did they succeed, looking in from early 2024? In a very strict sense, yes. Right now, with some off-the-shelf gear and the patience to flash and fiddle, you can ask “Nabu” or “Jarvis” or any name you want to turn off some lights, set the thermostat, or run automations. And you can ask about the weather. Narrowly defined mission: Accomplished.

    In a broader, more accurate sense, Home Assistant voice control has a ways to go. Your verb set is limited to toggling, setting, and other smart home interactions. The easiest devices to use for this don’t have the best noise cancellation or pick-up range. Errors aren’t handled gracefully, and you get the best results by fine-tuning the names you call everything you control.

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      I was wrong to ignore Zigbee and Z-Wave. They’re the best part of my smart home.

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 12 February - 12:30 · 1 minute

    Hue hub in stark relief against wood desk

    Enlarge / Where it all started for the author, even if he didn't know it at the time. (credit: Getty Images)

    I've set up dozens of smart home gadgets across two homes and two apartments over the last five years. I have a mental list of brands I revere and brands from which nothing shall ever be purchased again. In my current abode, you can stand in one place and be subject to six different signal types bouncing around, keeping up the chatter between devices.

    What can I say? I'm a sucker for a certain kind of preparedness and creativity. The kind that's completely irrelevant if the power goes out.

    When I started at Ars in the summer of 2022, the next generation of smart home standards was on the way . Matter, an interoperable device setup and management system, and Thread, a radio network that would provide secure, far-reaching connectivity optimized for tiny batteries. Together, they would offer a home that, while well-connected, could also work entirely inside a home network and switch between controlling ecosystems with ease. I knew this tech wouldn't show up immediately, but I thought it was a good time to start looking to the future, to leave behind the old standards and coalesce into something new.

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      Matter was more of a nice smart home concept than useful reality in 2023

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 23 December - 12:35 · 1 minute

    Illustration of Matter protocol simplifying a home network

    Enlarge / The Matter standard's illustration of how the standard should align a home and all its smart devices. (credit: CSA)

    Matter, as a smart home standard , would make everything about owning a smart home better. Devices could be set up with any phone, for either remote or local control, put onto any major platform (like Alexa, Google, or HomeKit) or combinations of them, and avoid being orphaned if their device maker goes out of business. Less fragmentation, more security, fewer junked devices: win, win, win.

    Matter, as it exists in late 2023, more than a year after its 1.0 specification was published and just under a year after the first devices came online, is more like the xkcd scenario that lots of people might have expected. It's another home automation standard at the moment, and one that isn't particularly better than the others, at least how it works today. I wish it was not so.

    Setting up a Matter device isn't easy, nor is making it work across home systems. Lots of devices with Matter support still require you to download their maker's specific app to get full functionality. Even if you were an early adopting, Matter-T-shirt-wearing enthusiast, you're still buying devices that don't work quite as well, and still generally require a major tech company's gear to act as your bridge or router.

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      Homey Pro review: A very particular set of home automation skills

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 11 December - 12:30 · 1 minute

    Homey Pro hub sitting on a desk, with a blue-ish rainbow glow on bottom

    Enlarge / The Homey Pro, settling in for some quiet network check-ins at dusk. (credit: Kevin Purdy)

    I know there are people who will want to buy the Homey Pro . I’ve seen them on social media and in various home automation forums, and I’ve even noticed them in the comments on this website. For this type of person, the Homey Pro might serve as a specialized, locally focused smart home hub, one that's well worth the cost. But you should be really, truly certain that you’re that person before you take a $400 leap with it.

    Homey Pro is a smart home hub pitched primarily at someone who wants to keep things local as much as possible, forgoing phone apps, speakers, and cloud connections. That means using the Homey Pro to boost a primarily Zigbee or Z-Wave network, while also looping in local Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even infrared remotes. It’s for someone willing to pay $400 for a device that offers robust local or cloud backups, professional design, advanced automation, and even a custom scripting language, along with access to some “experiments” and still-in-progress tech like Matter and Thread. It’s for someone who might want to add a select cloud service or two to their home, but not because they have no other option.

    But this somebody has also, somehow, not already invested in Home Assistant , Hubitat , or HomeBridge , which are more open to both add-on hardware (like new capabilities added on by USB stick or GPIO pins) and deep tinkering. It's someone who is willing to check that every device they want to control will work with Homey. While the device offers a pretty sizable range of apps and integrations , it’s far from the near-universal nature of major open-source projects or even the big smart home platforms. And you have to do a little checking further, still, to ensure that individual products are supported, not just the brand.

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      Mazda’s DMCA takedown kills a hobbyist’s smart car API tool

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 17 October, 2023 - 19:47

    Mazda MX-30

    Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

    Before last week, owners of certain Mazda vehicles who also had a Home Assistant setup could set up some handy connections for their car.

    One CX60 driver had a charger that would only power on when it confirmed his car was plugged in and would alert him if he left the trunk open. Another used Home Assistant to control their charger based on the dynamic prices of an Agile Octopus energy plan . Yet another had really thought it through, using Home Assistant to check the gas before their morning commute, alert them if their windows were down before rain was forecast, and remotely unlock and start the car in cold conditions. The possibilities were vast , and purportedly beyond what Mazda's official app offered.

    Mazda, however, had issues with the project, which was largely the free-time work of one software developer, Brandon Rothweiler . In a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice sent to GitHub , Mazda (or an authorized agent) alleges that Rothweiler's integration:

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      Amazon’s generative-AI-powered Alexa is as big a privacy red flag as old Alexa

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 21 September, 2023 - 14:54 · 1 minute

    Amazon Alexa using generative AI on an Echo Show

    Enlarge / Alexa using generative AI to create a taco poem. (credit: Amazon News/YouTube )

    Amazon is trying to make Alexa simpler and more intuitive for users through the use of a new large language model (LLM). During its annual hardware event Wednesday, Amazon demoed the generative-AI-powered Alexa that users can soon preview on Echo devices. But in all its talk of new features and a generative-AI-fueled future, Amazon barely acknowledged the longstanding elephant in the room: privacy.

    Amazon's devices event featured a new Echo Show 8, updated Ring devices, and new Fire TV sticks. But most interesting was a look at how the company is trying to navigate generative AI hype and the uncertainty around the future of voice assistants. Amazon said users will be able to start previewing Alexa's new features via any Echo device, including the original, in a few weeks .

    Alexa's added features are enabled by a new LLM that Amazon says was fine-tuned for voice conversations and that uses algorithms for body language and intonation recognition. The company was clear that Alexa will focus on generative AI going forward. But the new features are in their early stages, Amazon noted, so bumps, bugs, and errors are expected at first.

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