In offices of the future, sensors may track your every move – even in the bathroom

Objects will soon be able to ‘talk’ to each other, locate staff and monitor workplace temperature, but what will this mean for privacy?At a digital innovation consultancy in central Helsinki, the men’s toilets were causing something of an inconvenience. The Finnish company, Futurice, employs many male employees and the bathrooms were often occupied.However, now they can find out if one is free without leaving their desk

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Amazon launches Echo voice-controlled speaker and Alexa assistant in the UK

Amazon’s challenger to Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now makes the leap from the US in the form of a smart home-controlling speakerAmazon is releasing its wireless, voice-controlled speaker, the Echo, in the UK and Germany, along with its Alexa personal assistant.The Echo is a Wi-Fi speaker that users speak questions, commands and playback requests to, with Alexa – Amazon’s challenger to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft’s Cortana – replying in kind, only now in a British accent. Continue reading

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Amazon Dash: does the world really need more little pieces of plastic?

The online giant has launched Dash buttons in the UK allowing customers to order product refills but campaigners criticise the tech as wastefulAmazon launched its Dash buttons in the UK and parts of Europe this week. For the price of £4.99 – redeemable from a first order – Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to summon refills of products from Play-Doh to Wilkinson Sword razor blades with a button press

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Amazon launches Dash instant-order Internet of Things buttons in the UK

Online retailer’s challenge for the likes of Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s extends its Prime lock-in for taking the work out of buying toilet roll and detergentAmazon has finally launched its Dash physical instant purchase buttons in the UK, bringing one-push buying of nappies, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets and washing powder to a washing machine near you.The branded wireless buttons, which are essentially free to the consumer and purchase a set item when pushed, are another step in Amazon’s attempt to lock customers into its Prime subscription service, and edge out traditional supermarkets from the household goods market. Continue reading

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Turning old smartphones into anti-burglary devices and baby monitors

With 1bn smartphones lying idle in the US, meet the companies repurposing old smartphones into sensors and security cameras in a bid to tackle e-waste If Jim Poss hadn’t dropped his phone in the bath while bathing his son, he might never have hit upon the idea for his business. While researching a cheap replacement for his waterlogged iPhone, he had an epiphany: the used phones sold online for $60 (£45) or less could be repurposed as Internet of Things sensors and used to form flexible, low-cost security and vehicle telematics systems. Related: Apple announces new recycling program as interest in green gadgets grows Related: We’re all losers to a gadget industry built on planned obsolescence Continue reading

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America's broken digital copyright law is about to be challenged in court

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the US government over ‘unconstitutional’ use of the Digital Millennium Copyright ActThe Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit on Thursday that American copyright wonks, technologists and security researchers have been hotly awaiting for nearly 20 years.If they succeed, one of America’s most controversial technology laws will be struck down, and countries all over the world who have been pressured by the US trade representative to adopt this American rule will have to figure out whether they’ll still enforce it, even after the US has given up on it. Related: Why the future of web browsers belongs to the biggest tech firms Related: Why Google’s fair use victory over Oracle matters Related: Firefox’s adoption of closed-source DRM breaks my heart Continue reading

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What is the Internet of Things and how does ARM fit in?

Britain’s best unknown technology company ARM Holdings has been bought by Japan’s SoftBank. But what exactly is the Internet of Things?Britain’s best unknown tech business ARM Holdings is being bought by Japan’s SoftBank on the back of the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT). But what is IoT, and what has a chip designer like ARM got to do with it? Continue reading

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The internet of things needs better-made things | John Naughton

Networked devices for your smart home are the modern way to manage your life, but the rush to sell shoddy smart products risks compromising securityYou know the problem. You’re going abroad for a couple of weeks, during which time your house will be empty. You haven’t yet got round to installing a burglar alarm

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Withings Body Cardio review: stylish scales for health obsessives

This easy-to-use device measures weight, fat, muscle, bone and water, as well as heart rate and artery health The Body Cardio is the latest smart scale from French health and internet of things manufacturer Withings, which aims to analyse your weight, fat, muscle, water and heart health and take the pain out of tracking your bodily fluctuations.It replaces the Withings Smart Body Analyzer, which could calculate fat mass as well as measure weight, and adds a new reading to the scale – Pulse wave velocity. PWV measures the speed that vibrations from your heartbeat travel along your arteries and provides an indicator of the stiffness of arteries and of cardiac health

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Nest Learning Thermostat third-gen: the simple, effective heating gadget

Smart home heating aid learns your schedule, turns off when you leave the house and increases energy efficiency with upgraded screen and workingsThe new Nest learning thermostat is the third-generation heating control system from Google owner Alphabet’s subsidiary. It is the second version to be released in the UK, and now comes with a bigger, clearer screen and more advanced components that not only work better, but also protect your boiler.Pros: simple to use, automatic when set up, attractive, auto-away, thermostatic, nice screen, attractive on wall or on stand, wired or wirelessCons: lack of widespread IoT integration in the UK, no room-by-room temperature control Continue reading

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