Google Smart Speakers Take the Number One Spot in the Smart Speaker Market
The smart speaker market landscape is changing – Google has overtaken Amazon, the once dominate force in the smart speaker market, with its Google Home.
According to the market analyst firm Canalys, in the first quarter of 2018, 9 million smart speakers were shipped to different parts of the world. Google took the top spot for the first time shipping 3.2 million units of the Google Home and Home Mini devices, while Amazon only shipped 2.5 million Echo devices.
By 2020, the leading research company Gartnerprojected that a total of $2.1 billion smart speakers will be sold worldwide, up from $360 million in 2015. Gartner also projected that 25% of households worldwide will have 2 or more smart speakers by 2020.
“The value of the device is derived from the ease of use and the natural, intuitive interaction model,” Gartner said. “If this value is recognized by all household members, it will drive the desire to have terminal access throughout the entire house, not just in one room.”
Google Home comes in 3 sizes: Google Home (original and regular size), Google Home Mini (smallest version) and Google Home Max (the biggest version).
Here are the top 4 reasons why people see more value in the Google Home compared to other smart speakers:
1. Smart Assistant
At the heart of every Google smart speaker is Google Assistant – an intelligent assistant developed by Google. In total, Google Assistant is capable of helping you with more than 1 million actions.
With Google Home, you can ask Google Assistant to help you with any of these actions hands-free. There’s no need to stop what you’re doing and type your query into Google Assistant; you only have to say this introductory phrase: “Hey Google” or “Ok, Google” to activate Google Assistant.
Just like you would Google anything that you want to know, you can also ask Google Assistant anything – weather, calculations, translations and much more. All you need to say is “Hey Google, how many cups are in a liter?” or “Hey Google, how do you say ‘awesome’ in French?” and Google Assistant will provide a response.
You can set up Google Assistant to give you a daily brief to start off your day, letting you know about the weather, news, traffic, daily reminders, appointments for the day and even your flight status.
With your permission, Google Assistant can help you manage your tasks such as adding items to your shopping list, setting alarms and making hands-free calls.
Most importantly, Google Assistant allows you to turn your home into a smart home. To date, Google Assistant works with more than 5,000 connected home devices.
If your TV has a built-in Chromecast or you’ve purchased a Chromecast – a device that allows for screen casting – you can connect it with Google Home and turn your room into a smart entertainment center.
With your Chromecast enabled TV, Google Assistant and Google Home, you can watch your favorite shows. For instance, you say “Hey Google, play Stranger Things from Netflix on my TV.”
Aside from turning your home into a smart entertainment center, you can also say, “Hey Google:
Turn on the lights
Set the temperature to X degrees
Dim the lights
Stream security camera (using Google Home and Chromecast or a TV with Chromecast built-in)
Google Assistant has also dramatically improved its language understanding, so you can speak to it naturally and it will know what you mean. For instance, Google Assistant understands more complex questions like “Hey Google, what’s the weather like in Montreal and Calgary?”
According to Google, it will soon roll out an update to Google Home that eliminates the need to utter the words “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” for each follow-up questions or orders.
“Soon you’ll be able to have a natural back-and-forth conversation without repeating ‘Hey Google’ for each follow-up request,” Googlesaid in a blog post. “The Assistant will be able to understand when you’re talking to it versus someone else and will respond accordingly. This feature has been one of our top requests and you’ll be able to turn on Continued Conversation in the coming weeks.”
2. Far-field Voice Recognition
People are choosing Google Home over other smart speakers due to its far-field voice recognition feature. To enable accurate far-field voice recognition, Google Home was designed with 2 microphones.
Google Home can recognize voices and minimize error rates even from across the room as its microphone system uses “neural beam forming”. Neural beam forming is a system that simulated hundreds of thousands of noisy environments and applied machine learning to recognize patterns, allowing the microphone system to filter and separate human voice from noise.
3. Multi-Room Capability
People are turning to Google Home due to its multi-room capability. If you put one Google Home in every room of your house, you can set-up your Google Home devices to synchronize music throughout the home or broadcast your voice across devices. For instance, you can say, “Hey Google, broadcast its dinner time!” and your message will be broadcasted to all Google Home devices in your home.
4. Hi-Fi Speaker
People are choosing Google Home over other smart speakers in the market today due to its hi-fi speaker. It has an integrated high-excursion speaker that delivers crystal-clear highs and rich bass.
So, if you’re looking for a smart speaker that’s intelligent enough, is capable of far-field voice recognition, has multi-room capability and has hi-fi speaker, then Google Home is the right smart speaker for your home. Connect with ustoday and learn how to make you your home more smart and comfortable.
5 Reasons to Choose a Lennox Air Conditioner over Other Air Conditioners
If comfort and cost are of the utmost priority when buying or renting an Air Conditioner, then the Lennox Air Conditioner is the right match for you.
Everyone loves summer, but with the bright sunshine comes high relative humidity and elevated air temperatures, producing an uncomfortable indoor environment.
Here are the top 5 reasons why the Lennox Air Conditioner gives you the best indoor comfort and why it’s worth the investment in comparison to conventional Air Conditioners:
1. Precise Temperature
The Precise Comfort™ technology of the Lennox Air Conditioner gives you the temperature that you want, every time. You simply set your preferred temperature and your Lennox Air Conditioner changes the temperature to match your preference without delay.
With the Precise Comfort™ technology of the Lennox Air Conditioner, your chosen temperature is maintained with an accuracy of 0.5 degrees or less.
To maintain your desired temperature, the variable-capacity and inverter-controlled compressors in the Lennox Air Conditioners continuously make tiny adjustments in fan speed and cooling output.
Conventional Air Conditioners only offer single capacity and single speed mean airflow, which results in temperature swings between cycles.
2. Humidity Removal
The air in your home will still feel light and cool in the hot summer months as the Lennox Air Conditioner removes approximately 30% more humidity compared to conventional Air Conditioners.
3. Silent Comfort
Conventional Air Conditioners are non-discreet appliances; they have a distinct noise while running.
The SilentComfort™ technology of the Lennox Air Conditioner – technology that combines a specially shaped fan blade, vibration resistance and thick insulation – greatly reduces sound levels.
The Lennox Air Conditioner with its SilentComfort™ technology is 50% quieter than a conventional Air Conditioner.
4. Save the Environment
Sunlight can be converted in to usable energy to power your Lennox Air Conditioner.
A Lennox Air Conditioner is compatible with the solar roof modules in a SunSource® Home Energy System. Here’s how the SunSource® Home Energy System works:
First, the solar roof modules capture the energy from the sun and send the harnessed energy to your Lennox solar-ready Air Conditioner.
Second, the energy harnessed by the solar roof modules is used to cool your home through your Lennox Air Conditioner.
Third, the energy that’s left over is used to power other electronic devices and other small appliances in your home.
The solar roof modules can be installed on your home without major modifications. You can also add more solar roof modules whenever you want to increase the volume of energy captured from the sun.
5. Save Money
If there’s energy left after you’ve powered your electronic devices and appliances in your home, the excess energy can potentially be sold to your utility company and possibly earn you a credit.
Using SunSource® Home Energy System™ can cut your Air Conditioner bill, as well as your heating bill, by up to 50%. This also qualifies you for possible rebates and tax credits.
The Lennox Air Conditioner, in particular model XC25, is an ENERGY STAR qualified product. This means that the product is recognized by ENERGY STAR as one of the most efficient products in 2018.
In Canada, the ENERGY STAR name and symbol are administered by Natural Resources Canada and registered in Canada by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Looking for the ENERGY STAR label is a simple way to save you money and protect the environment,” EPA said. “Now EPA introduces ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2018, a new distinction that recognizes products that deliver cutting edge energy efficiency along with the latest in technological innovation. It is an award that truly represents the best of ENERGY STAR.”
“Room Air Conditioners contribute more to the summer peak demand for electricity from the electricity grid than any other household appliance,” Natural Resources Canadasaid. “On hot days, when the demand for electricity for air conditioning increases, the generation of coal-fired electricity can soar, with a corresponding increase in nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions that lead to smog, acid rain and climate change. By choosing an ENERGY STAR qualified room Air Conditioner, you can help the environment and realize significant electrical savings.”
You can save hundreds of dollars in your utility bill every year with the Lennox Air Conditioner model XC25 because this product has the industry-leading energy efficiency of up to 26 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio).
Air Conditioners are rated according to their SEER, which refers to the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Conventional or older air conditioning systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less. Higher SEER means greater savings.
The Lennox Air Conditioner model XC25 also saves you money as the unit’s PermaGuard™ cabinet offers extra protection against corrosion and rust, extending the lifespan of this unit. It also has a 10-year limited warranty on the unit’s compressor and 10-year limited warranty on covered components.
The Lennox Air Conditioner model XC25 works with Lennox’s iComfort® S30 thermostat. This thermostat uses the GPS in your family members’ smartphones. You only have to set the automatic schedule once on the iComfort and it’ll automatically adjust your Lennox Air Conditioner to match.
Lennox iComfort detects when your house is empty and automatically changes the temperature of your Lennox Air Conditioner to a more energy-efficient setting. This thermostat also detects when a family member is on the way home and automatically changes the temperature to its regular setting. This makes your household energy savings consistent as this thermostat adapts to the schedules of your family members.
9 Things to Look for in an Outdoor Security Camera
If the security of your home is important to you, then an outdoor security camera is for you.
What is an Outdoor Security Camera?
An outdoor security camera is a camera that’s installed outside of your home in order to protect it from unauthorized persons.
Not all outdoor security cameras are created equal. If you’re planning on buying an outdoor security camera, look for the following features in order to provide optimum security for your home and your family:
1. HD Image Quality
When choosing an outdoor security camera, select one with high definition. A security camera is judged mainly by the quality of the footage that it produces. Watch out for security cameras that claim they have high definition quality, when in fact their lenses and sensors produce lower image quality.
A true high definition camera gives you 1080p HD image quality. Image quality is especially important in worst case scenarios, for instance, when a burglar tries to enter your home. If you want to report this incident to the police, they’ll ask for a copy of your security camera footage. Nest outdoor cameras have taken footage of package thieves and break-in culprits. Criminals have been identified and arrested via the Nest outdoor camera footage.
Footage that is not of HD quality and is too grainy is useless for authorities as perpetrators can’t be identified.
The Nest outdoor camera provides true HD image quality with its all-glass lens. You can zoom in up to 8 times in order to see every detail.
2. Night Vision
When choosing an outdoor security camera, select one with night vision. Many criminals operate during nighttime thinking that darkness will conceal their identity.
The Nest outdoor camera has night vision. This security camera, with its high definition and all-glass lens, produces clear footage regardless of whether it’s day or night.
3. Wide Angle
When choosing an outdoor security camera, choose one with a wide angle view.
The Nest outdoor camera has a wide angle, providing you with a 130° view of your home.
4. Weather Resistant
When choosing an outdoor security camera, choose one that’s weather resistant. A non-weather resistant camera is useless outside as it has to battle nature’s elements: rain and snow.
The Nest outdoor camera watches your home rain or shine.
5. 24/7 Recording
When choosing an outdoor security camera, select one that records everything, 24/7.
When you subscribe to Nest Aware, your Nest outdoor camera records everything 24/7 and you can easily review everything that the camera has recorded.
This camera has continuous power as it can be plugged into an outdoor or indoor outlet. Compared to battery-operated cameras, those that derive power from outlets are better, as battery-operated cameras are often in the sleep mode and only turn on when there’s motion.
6. Differentiates Between a Person from a Thing
In selecting an outdoor security camera, choose one that can differentiate between people and objects.
When you subscribe to Nest Aware, your Nest outdoor camera will give you a notification alert when it senses a person. On Android smartphones, this notification includes a cropped close-up of the person.
Using the Nest app, you can review the footage of what the person was doing in your home.
7. Activity Zone Alerts
In selecting an outdoor security camera, choose one that has activity zone alert capability.
Many criminals surprisingly choose the front door as their entry point. If a camera has an activity zone alert capability, it can send notifications whenever someone moves into your selected activity zone. The Nest outdoor camera gives you alerts whenever it senses someone in your identified activity zone.
In selecting an outdoor security camera, choose one that allows you to interact with the person who has entered your home.
The Nest outdoor camera allows you to interact with whoever has entered the vicinity of your home by being able to see, hear and talk to the person.
For instance, if an unauthorized person attempts to open your front door, using the Nest app on your smartphone or tablet, you can yell at the intruder as the Nest outdoor camera is equipped with a microphone and speaker.
You can also interact with friendly visitors like the delivery person. Using the Nest app on your smartphone or tablet, you can give instructions to the delivery person on where to put the package. The delivery person can also interact with you using the camera’s speaker if he or she has any questions.
9. Easy Installation
In selecting an outdoor security camera, look for a camera that is easy to install. With the Nest outdoor camera simply plug in the camera in the cable and adapter, mount the camera and it’s good to go.
Nest Hello: Intelligent Doorbell that Welcomes Friendly Guests and Drives Away Intruders
If you want your front door to be welcoming without compromising your family’s security, then the intelligent video doorbell, Nest Hello, is for you.
How Nest Hello Welcomes Friendly Guests
When guests visit your home, the first thing that they look for is your doorbell.
Every time your Nest Hello detects a person, the ring around the doorbell button lights up, showing your visitor where to ring the bell.
The Nest Hello video doorbell works with traditional chimes. Once your visitor presses the doorbell’s button, it rings the chime inside your home – similar to your traditional doorbell. If your existing chime wires aren’t compatible with Nest Hello, you might need to have an electrician install this device for you.
As soon as the Nest Hello detects a person, you’ll receive a notification – even if the visitor hasn’t rung the bell yet. You’ll receive the notification through the Nest app on your smartphone or tablet.
If you subscribe to Nest Aware, you’ll be able to see a live video feed via the Nest app. If you don’t subscribe to Nest Aware, you’ll be shown a snapshot of the person through the Nest app.
Once you receive a person notification via the Nest app, you have 3 options (even if you are away from the home):
- Use HD Talk & Listen
Nest Hello is equipped with a microphone and speaker. Your guest can communicate with you through the doorbell and you are able to respond using your smartphone or tablet via the Nest app.
This doorbell’s microphone and speaker are designed to make the interaction natural, not like talking to a machine or robot. The Nest Hello has noise and echo cancellation capabilities which will allow both you and your guest to hear each other loud and clear.
- Select Quick Response
Quick response is a message that you record prior to your guest’s arrival at your front door. For instance, you can pre-record a message for deliveries: “Thanks, you can just leave it at the front door.” This option is ideal if you’re busy and cannot engage in an interaction with your visitor.
If you need time to answer the door, you can also record a message that says “Just a moment, I’ll be right there.”
- Ignore Option
You also have the option to ignore the notification alert if you’re not interested in interacting with your guest. If you choose this option, your Nest Hello won’t give any sign whether you’re at home or not.
Even as you opt not to interact with your guest, you can still watch the live video feed using your smartphone or tablet via the Nest app if you wish to know what the guest does while he or she is at your door.
How Nest Hello Guards Your Front Door From Intruders
The front door is the preferred entry point for intruders to access your home. This is also the place where packages are stolen since they are often left at the front door.
Aside from welcoming your friendly visitors, Nest Hello also functions as an outdoor camera, watching over your front door and your home.
Nest Hello’s camera differentiates a person from a thing and sends you a notification to your smartphone or tablet even if the unwelcome visitor doesn’t touch the Nest Hello doorbell.
The image quality of the footage taken by the doorbell’s camera is in high definition (HD). The camera’s night vision enables you to see sharp details even in dark areas. The camera also has a 160° wide angle and 4:3 aspect ratio which allows you to see the area around your front door.
If you subscribe to Nest Aware, Nest Hello’s camera will continuously record everything 24/7 for up to 30 days. For instance, if the package that was delivered to your front door earlier goes missing, you can scan through the video – not just clips – history for the day to see what happened to your package.
If you want to see what happened in the last 30 days, you can opt to watch the whole 30 day video footage. You’ll also be provided with a 3 hour snapshot history to see what happened.
Nest Aware can also provide a notification that distinguishes a familiar person from a stranger.
With Nest Hello’s built-in microphone and speaker, you can deter package thieves and intruders by saying, via the Nest app, “Can I help you?” or “Go away!”
The Nest Hello doorbell is designed in such a way that an intruder would have difficulty detaching the device out of its mounting bracket by force. This device can only be separated from its mounting bracket with the help of Nest Hello’s custom-made removal tool.
In addition, intruders can’t steal the video footage taken by Nest Hello as the video footage is stored securely in the cloud. If you subscribe to Nest Aware, you can review the video footage and share a video clip – if a crime were to be committed in front of your door, you would be able to share the clip with the police.
Would you like to learn more about other smart home solutions, check out this article.
How to Detect Water Leaks
Detecting water leaks in your home is important. Water leaks cost money, put more stress on aquatic ecosystems, contribute to pipe failures, reduce water quality and pose a threat to your family’s health.
Here are 6 ways to detect water leaks in your home:
1. Conduct a Meter Dial Test
One way to detect if there are water leaks in your home is by monitoring the meter dial. First, turn all faucets and water-using appliances off, then locate the water meter dial; it’s usually found in the basement where the water pipe enters your home. Observe the red triangle on your meter dial. If the red triangle moves even though you’ve turned off all faucets and all water-using appliances, then there is a water leak somewhere in your home.
You can also conduct a slow leak test. You can do this by recording your meter’s reading before you sleep, after you’re done using water for the day. Check the meter’s reading again in the morning before using any water. An increase in the meter’s reading will indicate that there is a water leak somewhere in your home.
2. Conduct a Toilet Tank Test
To find out if your toilet tank has a leak, drop a small amount of food coloring into the toilet tank. After 10 minutes, observe the toilet bowl. If there’s any discoloration in the toilet bowl, then your toilet tank is leaking. Make sure that after this test, you flush the discolored water as this can cause staining.
One of the most common causes for toilet tank leaks are old or worn-out toilet flappers, also known as the valve seal. A flapper is made from rubber. Over time, minerals and decay build up on the flapper. However, it can easily be replaced to fix the toilet tank leak; just bring the old flapper to the nearest hardware store to make sure that it perfectly fits your toilet model.
Other possible causes for a toilet tank leak are flappers that are not properly seated in the valve, misaligned or bent flapper wires and corroded valve seats.
In the event that the leak is around the base of the toilet tank or where the toilet sits on the floor, it’s time to call a professional.
According to the Natural Resources Canada, a toilet that continues to run after flushing can waste up to 200,000 liters of water per year.
3. Conduct a Faucet Leak Inspection
Finding a faucet leak is probably the easiest as this requires only a visual inspection. A leaking faucet will drip even when you turn the dial off. The problem with finding a faucet leak is when you have a number of faucets in your home; checking every one of them can be tedious.
The most common cause of faucet leaks are old and worn faucet washers and gaskets. The Do-It-Yourself Network has a tutorial for faucet repairs.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second will waste 3,000 gallons of water per year. This wasted water is equivalent to the amount of water needed for over 180 showers.
4. Conduct a Showerhead Leak Inspection
Similar to faucets, finding out whether a showerhead is leaking can be determined by a simple visual inspection – if there’s a drip when you turn the dial off, you have a leak.
According to EPA, 500 gallons of water is wasted each year as a result of a showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute. This is equivalent to the amount of water you need to wash 60 loads in your dishwasher.
A showerhead leak can be fixed by tightening the connection between the pipe stem and the showerhead with pipe tape. Pipe tape, also known as Teflon tape, is available at your nearest hardware store.
5. Conduct an Outdoor Leak Inspection
If you’re using an in-ground irrigation system, conduct a visual inspection of each spring for leaks as irrigation systems are susceptible to damage from frost or freezing.
According to EPA, an in-ground irrigation system that has a leak that is 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (similar to the thickness of a dime) will waste 6,300 gallons of water per month.
6. Use Flowie and Floodie Sensors
The best way to detect water leaks is by using the Flowie and Floodie sensors.
The Floodie sensor is a flood sensor that can be placed in flood-prone areas like under the toilet tank, dishwasher, water heater or in the basement. Once the Floodie sensor comes in contact with water, it sends text, email and in-app alerts.
The Flowie sensor is a water sensor that’s strapped onto the municipal water meter. This sensor comes with the following features:
- Detects leaks and abnormal usage
- Measures and reports water usage
- Reports trends and analytics on water use, costs and changes
- Reports power outages
- Reports basement temperature and humidity
- Sends text, email and in-app alerts for emergencies
The Flowie sensor is particularly useful in detecting water leaks that aren’t visible – for instance, pipe leaks. If undetected, leaks in water pipes may cause future pipe failures. Pipe leaks could also result in water contamination in your home, in turn threatening your health. Water leaks also result in mold growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people have different reactions to molds.
“Some people are sensitive to molds,” the CDC said. “For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions.”
Detecting water leaks in your home is crucial to saving money, saving the environment and for providing a healthy environment for you and your family.
Call us today to learn about the water detection option for your home and prevent a disaster.