Sam is thinking of getting an Alexa or Google Assistant to control his door locks and is worried about security and privacy. Leo says that all assistants are roughly the same. They listen for a keyword. And there's no evidence that either Amazon or Google are spying on you. Schlage makes one that is dedicated and doesn't need the assistant, so it has a directly line which can be more secure. But any iOT device can get hacked. Bottom line is, that no door lock is perfect. It's a deterrent, a suggestion. But if the bad guy wants to get in, he can.
internet of things
Olga wants to know if the Amazon Echo Look is a good option for the blind. Leo says that while the Echo is great for the blind in general, the Look model has a camera that is really only good for taking pictures of an outfit to make a fashion choice. Then it uses the pictures to compare wardrobe choices from the last week and to recommend outfits. Leo found it to be a bit silly, and it might not be her taste.
Thursday, Amazon held a surprise Alexa event, announcing 14 new Alexa centered products, with nearly 75 new features. Rich doesn't think it's trivial that Amazon chose the day before the iPhone shipped to grab all the headlines. But Rich also thinks that companies want their customers to be exclusive, and you can end up becoming deeper into their ecosystem, making it harder to use other products outside of it.
Mimi recently bought a Ring Video Doorbell 2, but she doesn't have internet at home. Leo says she would have to have internet access at home to get it to work. It has to have Wi-Fi to connect. She could use a cellphone in hotspot mode, but that would be as expensive, or more than just having a home internet connection. She could talk to her neighbors to see if she can use their Wi-Fi to connect her doorbell. Another option is to use a MiFi card. That would enable her to connect up to five devices, including the doorbell.
Noah has bought a sound bar, but it won't turn on with his Google Assistant. Leo says if the sound bar isn't supported by Google, or vice versa, it won't be able to use voice activated control from the Google Assistant. He could just leave it on, but if it shuts down automatically, then that's going to be a problem. He should look to see if he can disable the eco, or power down mode.
Bob wants to control his whole home through a single device. Leo says the SmartThings Hub from Samsung will work, since it uses both protocols Zigby and Z-Wave. There's also the Wink Hub. He'll get some combined functionality, but he'll need apps for each of his smart devices that have expanded capabilities.
Michael wants to know if he needs the Echo app to use his Alexa. Leo says yes, he does, but he could also just use a computer. He'll just need the Alexa app to set up the Echo. So if he has a computer, that will work. A smartphone is easier, however. He can also set it up with the Amazon Alexa website. Once it's all setup, he won't need it.
Kevin is having trouble with his two Alexa devices. They are intermittently going in and out. Leo says that if it comes back where it left off, that's just buffering of the internet and is a sign that his bandwidth isn't keeping up. If it's dropping out and coming back at a different time, then he's losing packets. Either way, it's an internet issue. It could also be iHeartRadio. It could also be congestion with wireless traffic. Kevin could use a Wi-Fi analyzer to see if someone's Wi-Fi hotspot is getting in the way.
Peter bought a Sonos One speaker with Alexa built in. Alexa doesn't work, though. Leo says that's probably due to Amazon Canada. The Sonos One also has a limited version of Alexa, so Leo has a hunch it's an issue with Sonos. It may also be a region code issue. Peter should try using an American credit card, which could solve the issue. But Leo says it's only a matter of time before that clears up because Echo is going everywhere.
Judy wants to know if her mother, who is in a nursing home, can be wired in to call the nurse outdoors. She can't pull the string to call the nurse. The chatroom says that Amazon has the "Add a motor drapery motor" that could maybe do it. But Leo says that the easiest thing to do would probably be to buy an Echo Dot for the nurse's station. That way her mother can do a "drop-in" with the Echo to call them.