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Debugger
Every gadget has a story. A new publication from Medium about consumer technology.

Smart Home

In Debugger. More on Medium.

DEAR OMAR

Ring doorbells see all, but know nothing

Do you remember, way back about six or seven years ago, when Ring just made video doorbells?

This was after the small startup company competed on Shark Tank but before it was swallowed up Amazon, which made the now-ubiquitous doorbells the center of a universe; last time I checked, that universe now includes stand-alone security cameras, driveway lighting, car alarms, home and business security systems, smoke alarms, and mailbox sensors.

I was an early fan of Ring: It felt like a piece of hardware whose time had come. Riding on a wave of increasingly useful smart-home gadgets, the Ring doorbell…


Tech Shortcuts for Life

How to start simple in your smart home

Tech Shortcuts for Life is a weekly column from Thomas Smith on Debugger exploring the apps, automations, gadgets, and other tech tricks that can make your life more efficient.

Late last year, I bought a house that was built in the 1980s. This was apparently a time when people enjoyed turning on and off room lamps one at a time. My living room is large, airy, and totally devoid of overhead lighting. It has six electrical outlets, but none of these are wired together or controlled by wall switches. I placed six lamps around the room, and as a result…


Smart lights need to be smarter

As smart home devices like speakers, switches, and thermostats become more common, the people who use them must reconcile with complex questions about how to live with them. For example: How do you divide up a smart home after a breakup? It’s not just a question of deciding who owns every lightbulb, but how, practically, to untangle a mess of accounts and services that weren’t designed to easily untangle.

Dividing up assets after a breakup — or even when a roommate moves out — is already a complicated affair. Most people who share a home don’t put their name on…


Everything does not need to be smart

The world of design has produced some life-changing inventions across a plethora of industries and sectors, with our lives being improved in previously unimaginable ways. At the same time, some companies continue to make pointless iterations and updates to existing products in the hope of designing the next big thing — whether it makes sense or not. For a while now, the current trend has been to make everything “smart.”

And I mean everything. If an object exists, you can bet your life someone is attempting to make it smarter. While some companies get this fusion of object and internet…


Lance Ulanoff published his review of Apple’s new HomePod mini today, praising its sound, ease of use, and on-device privacy. Some of these features already existed in the first HomePod, and Apple has greatly improved on them in this new smaller version.

But the HomePod mini is still no Amazon Echo or Google Home. It can’t, for example, let you play Spotify without connecting to your phone. And although Apple’s promised new Intercom features supposedly lets you use your HomePod mini to talk to the members of your family through their iPads and iPhones, Ulanoff calls this feature “clunkier than…


Make your own smart home that doesn’t send everything to the cloud

Artificial intelligence has been heralded as the next wave of computing for years, but learning or even tinkering with it has required access to expensive hardware with powerful GPUs capable of crunching massive data sets.

That’s starting to change with the debut of cheap all-in-one A.I. computers from companies like Nvidia, which introduced its latest Jetson Nano A.I. developer kit this week — for just $59. The Jetson is a full computer in a tiny package, similar to a Raspberry Pi, that allows hacking on projects or learning from home, while making A.I. accessible to a much broader audience.

The…

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