Will you be getting a smart home spy for Christmas?

Facebook, Google and Amazon are eager to get their new devices under your tree. But will they give away your privacy?If you’ve so far withstood the temptation to install a smart speaker in your home, worried about the potential privacy pitfalls and a bit embarrassed about the notion of chatting aimlessly to an inanimate object, brace yourselves. This Christmas, the world’s biggest tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, are making another bid for your living room, announcing a range of new devices that resemble tablets you can talk to

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Google launches DIY smart Nest Thermostat E

Heating controller cheaper than previous model and consumers will not require a boiler engineer to install itGoogle’s latest smart-home product is a cheaper smart thermostat that anyone can install themselves without the need for a boiler engineer.The new £199 Nest E learning thermostat is a two-part system consisting of a battery-powered heating controller called the Heat Link E, which replaces an existing wired thermostat or heating controller, and a smart thermostat that can be placed somewhere else in your home.Nest Learning Thermostat third-gen: the simple, effective heating gadget Continue reading

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Nest Hello review: Google's smart facial-recognition video doorbell

Excellent smart device comes with optional 24/7 video recording with facial recognition – and works as a doorbell too Google’s new Nest Hello is a video doorbell that aims to be smarter than the rest with constant recording, face and object recognition.The Hello is a direct replacement for a wired doorbell, working with an existing chime and requiring constant power, making it one of the high-end options for smart doorbells.The Nest app runs you through full installation instructions that you can’t skip, even if you’ve had an electrician install the doorbell for you

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Our phones and gadgets are now endangering the planet | John Harris

The energy used in our digital consumption is set to have a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industryIt was just another moment in this long, increasingly strange summer. I was on a train home from Paddington station, and the carriage’s air-conditioning was just about fighting off the heat outside. Most people seemed to be staring at their phones – in many cases, they were trying to stream a World Cup match, as the 4G signal came and went, and Great Western Railway’s onboard wifi proved to be maddeningly erratic

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Workers not paid legally by Amazon contractor in China

US tech giant admits audit of Foxconn factory in Hengyang found irregularitiesAmazon has admitted that thousands of agency workers who make its Echo smart speakers and Kindles in China were hired and paid illegally.The US giant issued a statement regretting “issues of concern” following an investigation by the Observer and the US-based China Labor Watch into the “unethical and illegal” working conditions at its supplier factory in Hengyang. Related: Underpaid and exhausted: the human cost of your Kindle Continue reading

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UK homes vulnerable to 'staggering' level of corporate surveillance

Smart home appliances send data to manufacturers and third parties, Which? warnsBritish homes are vulnerable to “a staggering level of a corporate surveillance” through common internet-enabled devices, an investigation has found.Researchers found that a range of connected appliances – increasingly popular features of the so-called smart home – send data to their manufacturers and third-party companies, in some cases failing to keep the information secure. One Samsung smart TV connected to more than 700 distinct internet addresses in 15 minutes

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Amazon Echo helps push digital radio audience past FM

Smart speakers influence debate about switching off analogue signal in UKThe popularity of Amazon’s Echo smart speakers has helped push the audience for digital radio past that of FM and AM in the UK for the first time. The milestone, which was reached in the first quarter of this year, could prompt the government to launch a review to evaluate whether it should switch off the FM signal.Digital, which covers listening via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) sets in homes and cars, televisions and through services such as Echo, hit a record share of 50

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From solar-powered shirts to drunken droids: what the smarthome will look like

Can a robot fold towels? Could your toaster turn against you? And will Amazon know when you’re hungry and drone-deliver a Chinese takeaway directly to your mouth? Find out as we step into the home of the futureIf the invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck, as the French philosopher Paul Virilio suggested, then what does that make the invention of the Nest learning thermostat? As our homes fill up with more connected devices, funnelling every aspect of our lives into the great cloud of big data, the answer could be something much more alarming than just a few more faulty appliances cluttering up our cupboards.This is one of the unsettling questions at the heart of The Future Starts Here, an exhibition about to open at the V&A in London. It promises to be less of a showcase of Tomorrow’s World-type gadgetry than a thought-provoking probe into where exactly this new generation of smart technology is taking us

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