8 Most Popular Connected Home Devices

Based on my research on emerging technology trends, the 8 most popular Connected Home Devices are:

 

  • CURB Home Energy Monitoring System: This is the most powerful smart system for visualizing and controlling the real-time energy consumption in your home. It integrates with Samsung’s SmartThings platform to enable direct control of the system via smartphones on the go.

 

  • Ecobee 3 Smart Thermostat: This is a very smart thermostat that delivers the right temperature in the rooms that are occupied based on home's unique energy profile, the weather outside, and many other factors. It works seamlessly with Amazon Alexa on voice commands and even supports Apple HomeKit.

 

  • Amazon Echo: This is a smart hands-free speaker that you can control with your voice. It can connect with Amazon Alexa to play music, make calls, provide information, set alarms and reminders, send and receive messages, and more.

 

  • Amazon Cloud Cam: A smart indoor security camera that works with Alexa and provides 1080p Full HD view to watch the last 24 hours of motion alert video clips for free. Check out the complete specifications on the Amazon product page to understand how this smart device is contributing to home security.

 

  • Philips Hue Smart Light Bulbs: Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant, this wireless lighting system can automate your lighting experience such that you can control or schedule your light settings from your smart phone. Detailed product details are available on Amazon product page for your reference.

 

  • August Smart Lock: August Smart Lock is a smart keyless door lock that works with Amazon Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit. With this lock system, you can control and monitor your door from anywhere. It attaches easily to your existing deadbolt so you can use your existing keys anytime. This is yet another smart product that is available to enhance your home security.

 

  • SkyBell HD Bronze WiFi Video Doorbell: Compatible with Alexa, this WiFi video door bell will enable you to monitor your front door and see, hear, and speak with your visitor via your smart phone. You may refer to the full specifications on the Amazon product page for reference.

 

  • Belkin WeMo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug: With this Wi-Fi enabled smart plug, you can control your lights and appliances from your phone and your voice through Amazon Alexa or Google Home. This sleek plug also works with Nest.

 

Note: This is not an endorsement of these products. As more devices get popular, I will look to update this list of 8 most popular connected home devices. Do you know of other popular devices for connected homes? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Learn more on connected homes and other emerging technologies with my book, Emerging Technology Trends - Frequently Asked Questions.

 

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Bitcoins

This article explains the concept of a cryptocurrency and answers some frequently asked questions on Bitcoins. It also captures my thoughts on the future of Bitcoins and if one should invest into virtual currencies.

 

What is a cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a virtual digital currency that uses cryptography to secure peer to peer digital transactions, create additional units, and verify the transfer of units, without the control from a central bank or a third party. Each transaction is stored into a decentralized digital ledger, also known as a Blockchain.

With the help of cryptocurrency, you can trade virtually with anyone, without any interference or control from any third party. Another significant feature with cryptocurrencies is that you can transact anonymously. As of Jan 7, 2018, there are over 1384 cryptocurrencies available over the internet.  Out of all these cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency followed by Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, and Litecoin.

The main difference between real money and virtual currency is that virtual currency transactions don’t have any transaction fees. Moreover, they are not subject to bank regulations.

 

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency created in 2009 by an unknown person or group of people with alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It uses peer-to-peer technology which means that data can be exchanged between two parties without the involvement of a central authority. 

 

How can I purchase Bitcoins?

A user must install a virtual wallet onto a personal computer or a mobile device to purchase Bitcoins. The wallet keeps track of all Bitcoin transactions for the user. The user then deposits the real money to an account that allows the user to buy or sell Bitcoins. The transactions are like trading stocks through an exchange such as Bitstamp or MtGox. Bitcoins can also be purchased from third parties who deposit Bitcoins directly into the virtual wallet.

 

Where are my Bitcoins?

Bitcoins are stored in a virtual bank account or a digital wallet, which either exists in the cloud or on user’s computer. Unlike bank accounts, Bitcoin digital wallets are not insured by the FDIC.

 

What is the identity of a Bitcoin owner?

Bitcoin owners are identified by a string of characters such as a digital address. This digital address is also known as Bitcoin address.

 

Is your identity linked to your Bitcoin address?

Yes, your identity can be associated with your Bitcoin address. If you post your Bitcoin address and your name online, then your name gets associated with your Bitcoin address on the internet. If you create any content online, for example, post comment on an online forum, create a new blog etc. and provide your Bitcoin address, your personal details get tied to your Bitcoin address. Moreover, if you trade Bitcoins on an exchange or transact with Bitcoin, your personal details that you provide to the exchange or merchants will be associated with your Bitcoin address.

 

What are the risks from Bitcoin Transactions?

Since Bitcoin transactions don’t record buyer’s and seller’s name or physical location, these transactions can be used to buy or sell illegal products or services anonymously. Law enforcement agencies don’t like the anonymity with Bitcoins.

 

What is the future of Bitcoins?

<still working on this section, please check later>

 

 

Should I invest into virtual currencies?

<still working on this section, please check later>

 

 

To learn about Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Smart Homes, and other technology trends, read frequently asked questions with my book, Emerging Technology Trends - Frequently Asked Questions.

 

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What is the Fishbone Diagram?

Some of you might have heard about the Fishbone Diagram for effective problem-solving. So, what is the Fishbone Diagram? The Fishbone or Ishikawa diagrams were created in 1968 by Kaoru Ishikawa who was a Japanese Professor at the University of Tokyo and was famous for his inventions for quality management.

 

It is a pictorial representation and categorization of possible known causes to a problem, usually gathered during brainstorming. Since the shape of the diagram resembles a fish skeleton,  it is popularly known as the Fishbone Diagram. This diagram is being used across several software and manufacturing organizations as a simple visualization tool to depict various potential causes to a problem. It provides a structured way to organize and represent data in a meaningful manner.

 

This technique can be used whenever there are many possible causes to a problem or whenever there is a need to identify causes to a complex problem. One can apply the fishbone diagram method in solving day-to-day problems as well. Though this is mostly a group technique, this technique can also be used by an individual as a tool to structure thoughts and identify root causes.

 

Categories of a Fishbone Diagram

The most commonly used categories for identifying the potential causes to a problem are listed as below:

  • People
  • Methods
  • Materials
  • Machines
  • Measurements
  • Environment

 

The 'People' category helps us to identify all causes that are people related. Here's an example. One of the leading software organization was having major quality issues and one of the primary causes was the unavailability of skilled resources. When represented on a fishbone diagram, this cause, Unavailability of skilled resources, will appear under the ‘People’ category.

 

Any causes that deal with the process or method to perform an activity are listed under ‘Methods’ category. Primary causes such as Inefficient development processes, Unnecessary effort spent by the team, etc. are few examples of the causes that fit well under the ‘Methods’ category.

 

The ‘Materials’ category is specific to any material or parts required to produce a product. This category is more common in the manufacturing industry. However, within software organizations, this category can be used to group any causes related to external dependencies. For example, if you are making changes to a front-end application that calls a service to fetch some values and if you hit a roadblock, then a primary cause such as Unavailability of the dependent service will be represented under this category.

 

The ‘Machines’ category is used to group all the causes related to hardware, software, and tools. For example, one of the primary causes of poor system performance could be the Unavailability of additional servers. Then again, one of the primary causes of ineffective communication within an organization could be the Unavailability of collaboration tools. Such causes are usually grouped under the ‘Machines’ category on a fishbone diagram.

 

The ‘Measurements’ category is used to group the causes that relate to incorrect data to measure the quality or success of the product. Consider an example where your team has launched a new website but the product goal to reduce call volume to the service center is still not met. Now, if one of the primary causes to this problem is the Incorrect data gathered during user research of the product, then this primary cause will be represented under the ‘Measurements’ category on a fishbone diagram.

 

Causes that relate to an environment are usually grouped under the ‘Environments’ category. For the manufacturing industry, an example of an environment-related cause is Lack of appropriate weather conditions or location. For software organizations, an example of such a cause could be Instability of development, test or production environments.

 

Though the above categories are the most commonly used categories for a fishbone analysis, people often tend to brainstorm the categories that are relevant to the problem they are trying to solve.

 

Now that you better understand the Fishbone Diagram, learn the steps needed to conduct a Fishbone Diagramming session with your group. Also read about other problem-solving techniques such as Brainstorming, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), SWOT Analysis, 5Whys, etc. with my book, An Expert Guide to Problem Solving - With Practical Examples.

 

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