Category Archives: Home Automation

Is Google About to Release its Voice-Activated Home Product?

Google I/O 2016

Is Google going to unveil the new “Google Home” voice-controlled answer to Amazon Echo?

(WATCH GOOGLE I/O LIVE HERE) Insiders speaking on the condition of anonymity have apparently informed The New York Times that Google is about to release their own Amazon Echo competitor, nicknamed “Google Chirp”. Capital Mac Service reported on the possibility of Google building their own Google Now-based home product in an article here. The device has been tipped to be introduced at the Google I/O conference on May 18th, with a keynoted to be delivered by Sundar Pichai, the current CEO of Google. Google has declined to comment on this story.

The Google voice-activated product will most likely be called “Google Home,” as mentioned by industry insiders. The product will be released sometime in the Fall of 2016 and will most likely be built from the current technology that runs Google Now, which is Google’s competitor to Apple’s Siri digital assistant. Both Apple and Google have been absent in this emerging home-automation category as of late, with Amazon releasing the Amazon Echo (to sales of about 3 million units), a smart-home voice activated product, that allows users to issue voice commands from across the room. Some of the tasks the Amazon Echo can perform is ordering pizza and dimming smart-connected lights in the home.

Google’s entry into this new market is a bit late, however, they have exhibited success with their Google Now and Google Now on Tap products, which appear on most current Android phones. Some analysts have speculated that the device from Google will offer a look and feel to another current Google product, which is their OnHub router product. That particular product comes in a sleek tube-shaped shell, similar to the Amazon Echo product.

Google also has had great success with their HDMI streaming stick, called “Chromecast,” and their home-automation products such as the intelligent Nest thermostat and smoke detector. With these products already embedded in millions of homes, it is easy to see how Google’s poised to entrench itself deeper into the smart home of the future with the new “Google Home” product.

Google I/O will be 360-degree livestreamed live at 10:00am PDT on YouTube.



Is Google planning an Amazon Echo Competitor Called Google Chirp?

Is Google planning a competitor to Amazon's echo?

Is Google planning a competitor to Amazon’s echo?

(Update: “Google Home” may be released at Google I/O on May 18th. Read more here.) Sources around the web are claiming that Google is close to developing a product that will compete against the massively successful Amazon Echo product and seems to be codenamed “Google Chirp”.

The Amazon echo product is a neat device that sits in the middle of your house and listens to voice commands which are then translated into different types of actions. For example you can have the Amazon echo play music, answer questions, or even control your lights. Strangely enough, this is basically what Google’s own Google Now product already does on Android phones.

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What will the Google Chirp look like?

Supposedly, google’s device will look like their own OnHub router, which is also similar in look and style to Amazon’s Echo product. Sources have also said that Google’s own Nest division has been working on such a product to integrate with Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarm system. If these sources are correct, this should be a smash hit for Google. Amazon’s own Echo product line is a sleeper hit that has generated millions of dollars in sales. Most analysts also think that Apple is working on a similar product to integrator Siri voice recognition software into. These voice assistant software and hardware products seem to be an emerging market for many big tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon.

Is Your Nest Thermostat Showing “Offline”?

Nest Low BatteryIs your Nest thermostat all of sudden showing itself to be “offline” and not connected to your internal Wi-Fi network? You may not be alone.

A recent update to the Nest operating system (version 5.1.3 or later) has rendered a batch of Nest thermostats to become unresponsive, or, completely not seen by the Nest app or seen on your Wi-Fi network–at worst, the battery inside the Nest can get so weak that the Nest completely won’t even power on. This issue has actually hit the Capital Mac Service Nest thermostat, so, it seems to be a pretty widespread issue. Here’s some simple steps below the fold that seem to have fixed our own Nest.

Some of the symptoms of this new Nest software bug can include one or all of the following:

  • Your Nest no longer can be seen on your Wi-Fi network
  • The Nest displays “offline” on the Nest app or website
  • The Nest displays a message that asks you to “remove the Nest from the base and then reattach it”
  • The Nest’s screen is dark or unresponsive
  • You may see a blinking green or red light at the top of the Nest
  • The thermostat animations are very slow and unresponsive
  • The Nest complains about a low battery and wants to shut down

If you have any of these symptoms, please try these simple steps to return your Nest thermostat to a working status.

A manual reset of the Nest thermostat seems to be working for most people with these annoying issues. To perform a reset, simply press down the Nest and hold it in for about 10 seconds, in which you will see the Nest go black, as if it’s powering off. Wait a few moments and note if the Nest turns itself back on or not. If not (ours did not), simply press the Nest again for a few seconds and it should turn back on. You should now see the Nest startup animation and hear a few click sounds–leave the Nest alone until it gets to the main operating screen. You may lose some unsaved energy data by performing this step.

If your Nest is completely off and seems dead or unresponsive, the previous steps will not work for you. Instead, perform these steps if your Nest is completely turned off and will not turn back on.

In this case, the Nest’s internal battery (yes, it has one!) has gone dead due to the bug in this new Nest update. What you will need to do in this case is to remove the Nest from the wall and grab yourself either a Micro USB or Mini USB cable. Which cable will depend on which Nest version you have. If you have the generation 1 Nest, you will need a Mini USB cable (purchase one here). If you have a generation 2 or 3 Nest, you can use a Micro USB cable (purchase one here).

When you have removed the Nest from the wall and secured the proper cable, you can plug in the cable to the back of the Nest and the other end into a working computer. This step could take about 15-30 minutes to charge the Nest back to working status. Never try to restart the Nest while it’s connected to a computer or power source while charging.

Disconnect the Nest from the USB cable and hold down the Nest ring for about 10 seconds, or, until the display goes black. Press the Nest ring again to turn back on the device and release. You should now see the Nest animation as it starts back up. After it starts up, plug the USB cable back in to finish charging the Nest. This step will take about 1 hour to fully charge the Nest.

After an hour of charging, return the Nest to the wall and it should resume working. At this time, the battery may still not be strong enough to get the Nest connected to your network–this is normal and eventually the Nest will charge itself up enough to return itself to the network. You can monitor the battery charge status by heading to SETTINGS -> TECHNICAL INFO and scrolling the Nest to to POWER. The charge level is listed in the battery area and should be 3.6 volts or higher. If the Nest falls below this number, it will shut back off.

If the Nest battery continues to drain itself, you will have to contact the Nest technical support department for further assistance. You can contact them here.