Ring continues to fortify security offerings

Ring offers new security devices

Ring, the DIY product company owned by Amazon, continues to offer new security-related products. The new products include an outdoor smart plug, an outdoor siren, and an outdoor solar-powered light. The outdoor smart plug enables people to add lighting that can be controlled through their smart home app. The siren is mounted outdoors and, when triggered by the Ring security system, makes it easier for neighbors to see and hear an alarm. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Ring continues to build out its DIY offerings — filling gaps in its offerings. The solutions appear to continue to be friendly enough for self-installation – guarding against cross-over into the pro-installation realm. As more devices are included in the Ring arsenal, however, one ponders when Ring’s full kit will rival that of security systems providers. Ring continues to court the do-it-yourselfer and provide new ways to retain them even as their homes and needs increase.

New movie release plans will spur home theater growth

Disney, Universal and WarnerMedia have all announced shortened release windows for new movies — making them available to home streamers either on release date or after a shortened theatrical window (the time that movies are exclusively available in theaters). CEPro expects these changes to continue to spur the demand for home theater rooms in high-end homes.

dis-rup-shun: The permanent effects of COVID-19 appear to include the way we watch new releases — transferring spending from the theater into the home. The future of the movie theater is definitely in question, as that sector will have to go through its own transformation which will continue to include adding alcohol and premium food to its locations, and perhaps adding more content to entice viewers. Will the double feature make a return, or will theater owners join together to create exclusive content?

Chip shortage shuts down auto assembly lines

Supply chains for many products remain impacted by COVID-19, including semiconductors. When automakers realized demand recovered quickly from a brief COVID slump, they found that increased demand for devices including computers, mobile phones and game consoles created a shortage. The ripple effect includes the temporary halt of Chevy Colorados and GMC Canyon pickups, as well as Ford F150 pickups. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The global economy continues to be in flux while some industries face unprecedented demand as others continue to reel from shutdowns of restaurants, hotels, and drops in travel, to name a few. The shortages plaguing products that contain semiconductors could last until next year — causing consumers who may be flush with stimulus funds to reconsider new product purchases.

New Sportify interface unites mobile and desktop

Spotify released a new desktop interface designed to provide a similar experience on both desktop and mobile. The uncluttered experience makes it easier to arrange favorite tracks and podcasts. Engadget

dis-rup-shun: Unifying user interfaces is not a new concept, but is a strategy pursued by a surprisingly few companies. Spotify has been aggressive about reinventing audio entertainment — moving from music tracks to aggressively promoting podcasts. With the likes of Clubhouse redefining audio entertainment yet again, Spotify is on its toes — working to make listening a highly customized, personalized experience across mobile and desktop devices.

Apple pulls plug on original HomePod

Apple pulls the plug on original HomePod

Apple announced last week that it will discontinue the HomePod — the original version that was initially priced at $299. The company, instead, will focus future development on its HomePod Mini, the $99 version of its Siri-supported smart speaker. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Apple’s move is not surprising, but disappointing. Why has the company that is capable of doing just about anything not given us enticing home automation options? Does Apple not think the home automation/smart home market is big enough? Global enough? It is not the company’s nature to shy away from paths that are well trodden by competitors such as Google and Amazon. After all, the strong growth of the smart home market will be even stronger when consumers are more confident that their most trusted brand can make the experience seamless, elegant, and interoperable with other products. Apple, please bring us video cameras, doorbells, thermostats and the like that will seamless work with HomeKit on our iPhones, iPads and Macs.

New Nest Hub tracks sleep

Nest has released its 2nd generation hub and apparently wants it to live next to your bed. In addition to voice controls, control of smart home devices, and an ample screen, the device will track sleep patterns using Soli technology. The device is priced at $99 and is the smaller, camera-less version of the larger hub. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Despite being available for several years, this product is still looking for a home in our homes. Kitchens are logical control centers of homes, but Google wants to put this hub next to your bed and help you with your sleep. For those that want to measure sleep, doing so without a wearable or an under-mattress device is nice, but many will be reluctant to place a listening device in their bedrooms, especially from a company that does such a fabulous job of collecting detailed information about our every move, browsing action and purchase. Let’s see how this goes over with consumers.

Phone Wars: Samsung brings back accessories in mid-range Galaxy

Samsung has unveiled a new line of Galaxy phones — the A52, A72. As expected, they bring even more features at lower costs. The prices are not yet disclosed, but expected to be in the range of $500 to $650. The surprise of the announcement is that Samsung is bringing back features and accessories that were abandoned last year: an earphone jack, a memory card slot, and a charger in the box. Of course differentiating new phones with features is increasingly challenging. Samsung has improved display quality, sound quality, and camera quality — with a 32-megapixel front-facing camera and four rear-facing cameras. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Samsung is making some quick shifts in strategy as research indicates people are keeping phones longer — closer to 3 years, and many have felt a significant squeeze from the pandemic. By providing more for less in a mid-range product, Samsung is likely to pick up a few market share points. It would be fascinating to view the market research that says consumers want chargers, memory card slots and an earphone jack. Were these added back to gain more market share or to stem consumer backlash that was caused by the elimination of these features?

Smart home and aging-in-place

Interpret, the consumer insights firm that employs this author, is pleased to be partnering with two smart home leaders: Develco Products and People Power Company for a webinar on the state of the smart home and its application to aging-in-place. The complimentary webinar is on Tuesday, March 30th and features Develco Products’ head of sales and Gene Wang, CEO and co-founder of IoT software company People Power. Register here.

dis-rup-shun: The needs for automation to assist seniors and enable them to live in place are acute, and new technologies offer great possibilities for unobtrusively tracking movements of seniors to make sure they are safe, healthy and active. Changes in sleep behaviors, bathroom behaviors, and routines are early warning signs of illness and smart home technologies have the potential to raise red flags before seniors get ill, or worse, experience a fall. Key challenges are determining who will sell these technologies, and who will pay for them. Join us on the 30th to hear how these companies are advancing the cause of technology-assisted aging-in-place.

Zigbee Goes to Mars

Zigbee Smart Home technology goes to Mars

Zigbee, a long-time smart home standard, powering many smart home devices, is the communications standard enabling communications between Mars Rover Perseverance and its Ingenuity companion drone. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: If it’s good enough for NASA, it is good enough for my home. For many years, a silly debate existed in the smart technology space between standards bodies — each one professing why theirs should be the only. About five years ago, long after Wi-Fi became the de-facto standard for PC communications, the standards wars cooled down as proponents realized there is room for multiple protocols. Many smart home lighting and energy applications have been built on Zigbee’s standard, and the Alliance’s maturity and long presence in the market was certainly well-endorsed when NASA sent the standard to Mars.

Smart Home fitness company Tonal partners with Nordstrom

Tonal, a hot new at-home connected fitness device, like Peloton is hot and picking up popularity quickly. Tonal, unlike Peloton, is a wall-mounted monitor, camera, with variable tensioning cables. Owners can join classes from their homes, and can monitor their strength and conditioning progress. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: It used to be the tech needed retail and, for many years, struggled to find profitable outlets. Then BestBuy figured out the right balance, and the Apple Store defied the odds and made bricks and mortar locations red hot. With Amazon effect bleeding retail establishments, adding tech to the mix is breathing new life into retailers. Target has beefed-up its electronics with more Apple products, and now Nordstrom is getting a needed infusion by becoming the retail outlet for the hot home gym company, Tonal. Retailers are quick to jump on the one thing that Amazon cannot provide — hands on display of products.

Have you been invited to the Clubhouse?

The by-invitation only Internet chat experience, Clubhouse, is getting plenty of attention. Elon Musk’s recent appearance is still being discussed. Facebook, adept at copying competitors, is fast at work to create an alternative to Clubhouse. The trendy app is an online forum for by-invitation-only invitees to listen to, and converse with celebrities, big thinkers and innovators. New York Times

dis-rup-shun: Clubhouse has quickly defined a new online forum — a cross between a podcast, Messenger, talk radio and Zoom. Invitees come together at a designated time (unlike a podcast) and have the opportunity to just listen, or converse with a big thinker and a community of followers. It is unlikely a coincidence that the app has grown virally during a time when concerts, lectures and in-person classes are almost non-existent. The new media format will likely deal yet another cut to serial radio and TV programming, and will siphon a number of hours from podcasts, despite the strong growth of latter.

Apple to be a significant Mixed Reality player

Apple’s Tim Cook has indicated that virtual reality and its variants will be a big part of the company’s future products — from a VR helmet, to glasses, followed by contact lenses in 2030. Apple follower Ming Chi-Kuo expects a helmet to be released next year, with glasses following in 2025 — precursors to contact lenses. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Mixed reality versus virtual reality versus augmented reality — what’s the difference. Virtual reality is all about visiting a far-away land through the use of technology. Mixed reality blends virtual sounds, sights and feedback with reality — overlaying an actual location, person, or object that is near you with sounds and sights. One often cited application is being able to look up and down a street and have changing images of what is inside the buildings on the street — pictures of the sushi boat at a restaurant across the street. Apple’s aggressive push into services, such as Arcade and Apple +, lays the foundation onto which mixed reality experiences can be built.