The singing lamp, from Sonos and Ikea

The singing lamp is the next must-have smart home product

Sonos and Ikea have teamed up to create Symfonix, a Sonos speaker with a lamp shade on top of it. Leveraging the high volume retail home furnishing channel, Sonos continues to diversify its form factors, and for $179, consumers get a high fidelity speaker and a decorative lamp. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The crossovers and blurring lines of the smart home continue. While determining if the Samsung fridge is a big TV with a cooler built in, or a fridge with a TV bolted on, and if the Amazon Echo Show is a monitor with a speaker or an Echo with a screen, we now have the singing lamp. With everything from doors and windows to toothbrushes being connected, expect channel confusion while Best Buy, Home Depot and Walmart struggle to draw the lines between furnishings, appliances and consumer products.

The ethics of AI are proving more complex than its creators expected

Google has disbanded its council on AI ethics, called ATEAC for Advanced Technology External Advisory Council, allegedly given employee objection to two of the eight council members. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Our society has always been built on representations of different viewopoints. If Google employees are against diverse opinions on their council, aren’t they collectively foregoing checks and balances against herd mentality or group think, or is “the wisdom of crowds” akin to democracry? The ethics of AI are already fuzzy and already at odds with economic and military advantage. See Shelly Palmer on how the West has already lost the AI race to China because of ethical hesitations.

Microsoft’s Healthvault to close on November 20th

Healthvault, the free, consumer friendly service started 10 years ago as a play to put Microsoft at the heart of connected health technologies. The company is reported to be moving its focus to non-consumer facing health applications.  ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Free still isn’t a good business model and Microsoft never found a way to monetize the highly confidential data stored in the vault. Having terabytes of consumer data is not very monetizable if you can’t use it, and Microsoft, not being a strong device maker, hasn’t found the Kindle-to-eBook relationship for Healtvault. Will Google or Amazon be the first to offer a compelling device/data combination that provides free health record storage for consumers?  

Apple drops the price of its HomePod speakers

Apple’s pricey HomePod speaker dropped from $349 to $299, as it fails to cut into the share of Amazon’s Echo family and Google Home. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: Apple has been late to a number of categories, like computers, digital music players, set top boxes and wearables, but has built a strong or dominant busines in each one. Its lack of success with HomePod is more a testament to how well Amazon has learned from Apple how to build truly compelling products at aggressive prices and with good design. Amazon’s Fire Phone, in retrospect, could have been one of its most valuable exercises. Amazon and Google are closing the gap on superior design and Apple will have to continue to elevate its game.

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