The new second-gen Amazon Echo Show has a person detection feature that can control other smart home gadgets like lights and outlets.
New Amazon Echo Show smart displays have started shipping nationwide with a host of new features and tricks — one of which I’ve been eagerly anticipating: person detection. Although Alexa can’t distinguish between individual people the way Google’s Face Match or Apple’s FaceID do, the new Echo Show 8, Echo Show 5 and Echo Show Kids can at least figure out whether or not someone — anyone — is in the room with them. Although that’s a pretty nifty feat in its own right, what piqued my interest most was what Alexa can now do with that information.
The new Echo Show 8 adds just enough to be a worthwhile…
Namely, you can now use person detection to fire off a set of commands as part of an Alexa routine. Think about lights that turn on and off depending on whether anyone is in the room. An air conditioner or space heater that kicks on or off, depending on occupancy. Your front door could lock if no one’s in the foyer, your bedtime routine could start when you open your bedroom door, your garage door could close, your kitchen could fill with song — all based on whether or not anyone’s there.Of course, there’s usually a bit of a gap between the way a new feature is hawked versus how it works in the real world, and Alexa’s person detection is no exception. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a fantastic new trick, but it comes with some limitations, which I’ll explain in a bit, after I show you how to set it up.
First, however, there are a couple of things you need to know about: a hidden setting you can’t change (but still need to account for), plus one other slight (but significant) limitation to consider.It’s important to note that Alexa on your Echo Show must go 7 whole minutes without detecting a person before the person detection trigger will fire again.
Alexa’s person detection has a cool-down periodWhen I first started testing Alexa’s new person detection feature, I was convinced it didn’t work. I had set up a brand-new Echo Show 8 on my desk and aimed it at myself while I worked. Beside it, I positioned a desk lamp, which I then plugged into a smart outlet. I created a simple routine that told Alexa to turn on that smart outlet whenever the Echo Show 8 detected a person, and yet — no matter how much typing, suspicious leering or frantic thrashing of limbs I did — that daggone light never came on.I was almost ready to write off the new feature as DOA when an Amazon rep informed me that Alexa abides by a 7-minute cool-down period in between person detection events. To test this, I moved the Echo Show 8 into another room, turned off the smart plug and set a 7-minute timer. When the alarm went off, I moseyed into the other room. Lo and behold, my presence triggered the routine, the desk light lit up — and my dilemma was solved.The takeaway here is this — if you set up a routine with the new person detection trigger, then — for whatever reason — turn off the devices used in that routine (either manually or with an app), Alexa won’t turn them back on again until you’ve disappeared for at least seven minutes.A bona fide motion sensor, like this one from Philips Hue, uses ultrasonic sound to detect movement, allowing it to still function in the dark.
Alexa isn’t actually a motion detectorMost motion sensors work using ultrasonic sound waves, meaning they don’t depend on lighting conditions to detect movement. Alexa, however, uses a camera and a computer processor to figure out whether someone’s in the room or not, and that means the Echo Show has to see you before Alexa knows you’re there. In my testing, Alexa almost never noticed when I entered a room unless it was bright enough to at least read a print magazine. For me, that made person detection triggers essentially useless for turning on nightlights, which is a huge drawback. If that’s your goal, you may need to consider dedicated motion sensors.With all that out of the way, here’s how to set up person detection and how to use it with Alexa routines:As long as there’s at least a moderate amount of light in the room, the new Echo Show 8 can detect a person.
To enable Alexa’s person detection, check this setting firstI recently discovered a new Alexa setting called Home Monitoring that turns your Echo Show’s webcam into a security camera (or something quite like it). Basically, Home Monitoring lets you check your Alexa camera feed in real time without also sharing a selfie video like during a video call. Whether you want to use a feature like that or not, Home Monitoring also needs to be turned on before person detection will work. You can get the full rundown on Home Monitoring here, but here’s what you need to do to enable person detection:1. Starting on the Echo Show device itself, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings, then scroll down and tap Camera.2. Make sure the toggle for Home Monitoring is switched on and, if not, tap to do so.Once you’ve turned on Home Monitoring, in addition to appearing in the places you’d expect, like under Echo & Alexa, your Alexa device will now appear in the Devices submenu of the Alexa app under Cameras (that’s also where you’ll find the live video feed, FYI).Start with a super-simple Alexa routine like thisHere’s a very basic Alexa routine in which person detection triggers a light to come on.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Before attempting to craft any long, complicated automations based on person detection, I wanted to get a sense of how the feature worked using a dead-simple routine. To that end, I plugged a small desk lamp into a smart plug and set it to turn on whenever the Echo Show 8 detected a person. Here’s how to do it exactly as I did:1. Open the Alexa app and tap the More menu in the lower right corner, then tap Routines.2. Tap the + (plus) sign in the upper right corner, then tap Enter routine name (I called mine “Show 8 Motion On”) and tap Next when you’re finished.3. Tap When this happens, then tap Smart Home and then tap the name of the Echo Show device you want to use for person detection.4. The next screen will present two options: People are detected and People aren’t detected. For this routine, choose the first one, then tap Next. (We’ll use the People aren’t detected option in the next example. 5. Tap Add action then scroll all the way down and tap Smart Home. Tap All devices and scroll until you find the device you want to control with this routine (mine was “Desk Lamp”) and tap it.6. The next screen sets what that device does when this routine runs — in this case, the box next to Power should be checked and the toggle should be turned on, then tap Next.7. Your routine should look something like the adjacent screenshot. Tap Save. The Alexa app will now double check that you’ve followed all of the steps in the previous section to turn on Home Monitoring — tap Next and Done.Once you’ve mastered those steps, building a more complex routine with even more commands is literally just a matter of repeating steps 5 and 6 as many times as necessary. What this doesn’t, however, do is turn the light (or whatever device you turned on) back off again. For that, you’ll need another routine (that’s just as easy as this one, quite frankly).What turns on must turn off: An Alexa routine in reverseHere’s the opposite of the previous routine — this one turns the light off when people are no longer detected.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Setting up a routine to turn off a device when people aren’t detected is almost identical to the previous example turning one on. Rather than copypasta all the previous steps, I’ll save us both the trouble and just point out the three steps that are slightly different: Step 2: To keep things nice and tidy I named this routine “Show 8 Motion Off.”Step 4: Instead of People are detected, you’ll want to choose People aren’t detected.Step 6: Leave the Power check box checked, but tap the toggle to turn it to Off.If this isn’t your first Alexa Routines rodeo, you might be curious why I didn’t combine these two routines into one. After all, Alexa has a Wait function, right? While it may very well be possible to create one long routine to handle both on and off functions, considering the trip-up I had with the unpublished 7-minute cool-down period and the discovery that Alexa is effectively blind in the dark, I kept them separate for simplicity’s sake. Plus, it’s not uncommon to discover that a routine has unintended consequences, and it’s a lot easier to isolate and correct for them when you keep things separate like this. In other words, I’m still testing this feature and will continue to do so for a while. I’ll come back and update this story when I really cinch using person detection as a routine trigger and have something new to share.
OnePlus Nord 2: A great 5G phone for an affordable £399 starting price – CNET
The OnePlus Nord 2, also called the “flagship killer,” has some impressive specs and performs well all round. Andrew Hoyle/CNET OnePlus calls its brand-new Nord 2 the “flagship killer,” and I get why. This phone has impressive specs, performs well and when paired with a reasonable starting price (only £399 here in the UK), it’s…
The OnePlus Nord 2, also called the “flagship killer,” has some impressive specs and performs well all round.
OnePlus calls its brand-new Nord 2 the “flagship killer,” and I get why. This phone has impressive specs, performs well and when paired with a reasonable starting price (only £399 here in the UK), it’s designed to offer everything you’d need from a phone without emptying your bank account. A powerful processor, a solid dual rear camera setup, 5G connectivity, super fast charging — and it’s not bad to look at either. The phone became available for purchase yesterday for those living in continental Europe, the UK and India.Read more: OnePlus Nord 2 vs. Nord vs. Nord CE vs. OnePlus 9: Comparing OnePlus’ latest phonesLike the previous Nord — and the cheaper Nord CE, launched just a few weeks back — the Nord 2 will not be on sale in the US. It’s destined for the UK and wider Europe, where it’ll cost £399 for the version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or £469 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For reference, £399 converts to about $540 or AU$740. But no, it doesn’t really “kill” any flagships. It’s not as powerful as a “true” flagship like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or S21 Ultra, nor will its camera skills attract the world’s most demanding photographers. The flagship that I feel is most at risk is OnePlus’s own 9 series, which shares many features with the Nord 2, yet has a much higher starting price of £629 ($729).
I’ve spent a short amount of time with the Nord 2 ahead of its unveiling, and here are the five things I like most about it. A powerful MediaTek processor OnePlus has typically used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of processors for its phones but it went with MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200-AI chip for the Nord 2. You’ll notice absolutely no difference in use — it’s the same as any other Android phone — but you will notice that it’s surprisingly powerful for the price. While it’s not up there with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in terms of benchmarks, it did beat the Pixel 5 and wasn’t far below the more expensive OnePlus 9. It’s certainly powerful enough for gaming, photo editing and video streaming and navigating around the Android 11 interface is smooth and stutter free. The OnePlus Nord 2 houses a powerful processor, a dual rear camera setup, 5G connectivity and super fast charging.
Android 11 software The Nord 2 runs Android 11 at its core, over which OnePlus has slapped its usual Oxygen software. I really like OnePlus’s software as it’s neat, easy to use and doesn’t try and load the phone up with too many bundled services and bloatware. As a result, the phone remains nippy and trouble-free for longer. It’s particularly important on lower and midrange phones that might not cope as well with being bogged down by services. The result here is a phone with smooth performance that I expect to remain for some time to come. OnePlus says it’s guaranteed to get at least two years of Android upgrades — so an update to Android 12 this fall and Android 13 next year is a given — with an additional year of security updates after that. The OnePlus Nord 2 runs Android 11 software.
Incredible fast charging The Nord 2 has the same 65-watt fast charging seen on the OnePlus 9 series and it’s amazing. It’ll take the phone from empty to full in only about 30 minutes, which makes it amazing for giving it a quick boost before you head out from home. The 4,500-mAh battery should still give you a day of use from a charge, but when you can recharge so quickly, battery life becomes somewhat less of an issue. Even better is that a 65-watt fast charger comes in the box, so you don’t need to scour Amazon for one. What the phone doesn’t have is wireless charging, but I don’t see that as a particular problem. The OnePlus Nord 2 has speedy charging with 65-watt support.
Vibrant, sharp display The Nord 2’s display measures 6.43 inches and boasts a resolution of 2,400×1,080 pixels, which is sufficient to make tiny text look nice and sharp. It’s an AMOLED panel, making it extremely vibrant too: great for videos, photos or playing whatever colorful game is currently making the rounds on the Google Play Store. It has a 90Hz refresh rate which is a touch lower than the 120Hz of the OnePlus 9 series, but I doubt you’d be able to tell any real difference in day-to-day use. It’s silky smooth when scrolling around the interface, but you can also turn it down to a more regular 60Hz, which will apparently help save battery life. The main cameras on the OnePlus Nord 2 are a 50-megapixel lens combined with a 8-megapixel super-wide lens.
Decent rear cameras We haven’t done our full suite of camera tests yet, but what we’ve seen from the cameras so far looks good. The main sensor is a 50-megapixel affair — the same one seen in the OnePlus 9’s ultrawide camera. Outdoor images look well-exposed, with plenty of detail and natural-looking colors. OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, standard lens.
OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, standard lens.
OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, super-wide lens.
OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, standard lens with 2x digital zoom.
The 8-megapixel super-wide lens is noticeably less detailed, but it too seems capable of capturing good-looking outdoor images. There’s an on-screen option for 2x zoom but there isn’t a zoom lens, so that 2x is based on digitally cropping the shot. Results still look good, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you won’t get maximum quality doing this. There’s also technically a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, which is totally pointless in my opinion as a photographer. If you want good-looking black and white images, use the regular camera and apps like Adobe Lightroom or Snapseed to have full control over converting to mono. Frankly, I feel OnePlus could have pulled this out and lopped another 20 quid or so off the price. OnePlus Nord 2 specs
Display size, resolution, refresh rate
6.43-inch AMOLED, FHD+ (2,400×1,080 pixels), 90Hz
6.66 oz; 189g
50MP (main), 8MP (wide-angle), 2MP (mono)
MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor
5G-enabled, 65W fast charging, 90Hz, dual stereo speaker, face unlock
Approximately $540 (converted from UK price)
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Huawei P50 series unveiled: Not one, but two camera bumps on these superphones – CNET
Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET Huawei has taken the wraps off its latest superphone series. It unveiled the P50 and P50 Pro in an online event Thursday, each of which are getting a China-only release for now. The main superpower of Huawei’s phones has long been their cameras — and the P50 lineup is no exception. In fact,…
Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET
Huawei has taken the wraps off its latest superphone series. It unveiled the P50 and P50 Pro in an online event Thursday, each of which are getting a China-only release for now. The main superpower of Huawei’s phones has long been their cameras — and the P50 lineup is no exception. In fact, you can see the emphasis Huawei put on the cameras as soon as you look at the phones: Both the P50 and P50 Pro have not one but two camera bumps, which together take up more than a third of the phone’s rear width. This wasn’t entirely a surprise, since Huawei had teased images and videos of the lineup ahead of the event, but it does make for an eye-catching new design, which does away with the dual hole-punch design of the P40 series.The P50 Pro has four cameras on its rear: a 50-megapixel main, a 64-megapixel telephoto, a 40-megapixel monochrome and a 13-megapixel ultrawide lens. The P50 has a similar camera bump, but it has one less lens. There’s a 50-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto and a 13-megapixel ultrawide. Surprisingly, the base version has better optical zoom than the Pro version (5x versus 3.5x optical zoom). Each has 13-megapixel selfie cameras.Huawei’s P50 lineup was launched in China on Thursday.
Beyond the camera, the P50 series stacks a range of enviable features, as expected (see the specs list below for more details). A crisp and smooth OLED display, a large battery, fast charging (66 watts) and powerful processors. The P50 series comes in two variants — one powered by the company’s own Kirin 9000 chipset and the other by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 4G CPU. Qualcomm was granted permission to sell chips to Huawei last year. These chipsets are backed up by 8GB of RAM and 256 or 512GB of flash storage. You may recall Huawei phones no longer feature Google apps — a consequence of crippling US sanctions. But the P50 series is one of Huawei’s first new lineups to debut the company’s own operating system, Harmony OS, which the Chinese telecom had developed in-house to replace Google Mobile Services in its smartphones. When the P50 launches internationally, it should provide Huawei with the opportunity to gauge consumer response to the company’s in-house software and whether it’ll gain wider adoption among international shoppers amid the backdrop of Huawei’s eroding smartphone market share. Huawei’s Richard Yu unveiled the company’s P50 series in a virtual launch event.
Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram
Huawei is starting out with a China release before the series gets an international rollout (if it ever does), though specs may vary slightly based on your country. The P50 Pro starts at 5,988 yuan (roughly $930, £665 or AU$1,256), while the P50 starts at 4,488 yuan (roughly $695, £500 or AU$940).Key specsHuawei P50 Pro 4GDisplay: 6.6-inch OLED, 120Hz, 2,700×1,228 pixels, 450ppiDimensions: 158.8×72.8×8.5mmCamera: 50-megapixel main, 64-megapixel telephoto, 40-megapixel monochrome, 13-megapixel ultrawideProcessor: Snapdragon 888 4GBattery and charging: 4,360 mAH, 66-watt charging, 50-watt wirelessWater and dust resistance: IP68 ratingHuawei P50 4GDisplay: 6.5-inch OLED, 90Hz, 2,700×1,224 pixelsDimensions: 156.5×73.8×7.9mm Camera: 50-megapixel main, 13-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel telephotoProcessor: Snapdragon 888 4GBattery and charging: 4,100 mAh, 66-watt chargingWater and dust resistance: IP68 rating
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Huawei unveils P50 series phone
Wisdom Panel’s new dog breed detection system uses AI to ID your pup – CNET
Getty Images Wisdom Panel on Wednesday announced a new breed detection system for its BCSYS dog DNA test kits. BCSYS, which stands for Breed Classification System, offers “the most accurate and comprehensive genetic testing for dogs currently available,” the pet genetics company claims. The Wisdom Panel Essential ($100, £90) and Wisdom Panel Premium kits ($160,…
Wisdom Panel on Wednesday announced a new breed detection system for its BCSYS dog DNA test kits. BCSYS, which stands for Breed Classification System, offers “the most accurate and comprehensive genetic testing for dogs currently available,” the pet genetics company claims. The Wisdom Panel Essential ($100, £90) and Wisdom Panel Premium kits ($160, £140) now use the BCSYS system to test your dog’s DNA makeup. (The kits aren’t available in Australia, but the essential kit price converts to about AU$170.)BCSYS relies on “AI methods” and a database of “over 2.5 million dogs tested across more than 50 countries and six continents” to arrive at a reference panel of 21,000 samples and 351 dog breeds, according to Wisdom Panel’s official press release. Essentially, the tech draws from a massive database of dog breeds. Once a test is received, it’s run through the system to match the reference samples to your dog. I asked Wisdom Panel for more details on those “AI methods,” as well as what the company does with the DNA information after each test, but haven’t heard back yet.
Both the Wisdom Panel Essential and the Wisdom Panel Premium kits test for breed mix and potential health risks associated with those breeds. The Premium kit conducts more health screenings and provides information on weight, mobility, possible sensitivities to certain medications and more. You’ll also get a consultation with a vet if the DNA results reveal any major health concerns. Read more: Pet disaster prep: How to keep animals safe during a wildfire evacuationHere’s how the kits are supposed to work: Swab the inside of your pet’s cheek and gums for 15 seconds with both of the provided swabs. Let them dry for at least five minutes and return them to the packaging. Mail the swabs back and create an account online. In two to three weeks, you should get an email letting you know your pet’s results are ready. Wisdom Panel says its tests are over 98% accurate. Get more info about the Wisdom Panel test procedure here. We haven’t tested out Wisdom Panel’s new kits, but check back soon for updates on how the company’s claims match up to our experience.
MyQ’s smart doggy door can open at your pup’s command
The Wisdom Panel Essential kit is currently $80 ($20 off) and the Wisdom Panel Premium kit is $128 ($32 off). Wisdom Panel also makes a $130 Complete for Cats kit, as well as specialized testing for dog ($130) and cat breeders ($100). None of these kits use the BCSYS system. The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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