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Alphabet’s Nest launches update to home security camera

Alphabet s smart home unit Nest is launching a high-definition update to its internet-connected home security camera, powered by Google s artificial intelligence technology, a year after the departure of its co-founder Tony Fadell1. This week s unveiling of the $299 ( ‘ 349/ 299) Nest Cam IQ, which will ship in late June, marks the beginning of the end for a relative dearth of new device introductions at the smart-home pioneer . Other new products are anticipated later this year. Nest Cam IQ draws on computer-vision technology from its Alphabet sister company Google to introduce new features such as face recognition, to improve the relevance of security alerts pushed out through its companion smartphone app. Last July, Nest launched a new version of its existing home camera that was designed for outdoor use . At that point, it had been more than a year since the company first released the Nest Cam, a home security camera based on technology it acquired with start-up Dropcam in 2014. The launch of the Nest Cam Outdoor came just weeks after Mr Fadell had been replaced by Motorola veteran Marwan Fawaz as the company s chief executive, amid criticism about the pace of new product innovations after the company was acquired by Google for $3.2bn in early 2014.

Nest’s Protect device Bloomberg

The learning thermostat for which it is best known was first introduced in 2011, followed by its Protect smoke alarm in 2013 . Greg Duffy, founder of Dropcam, criticised Mr Fadell s leadership of the company, saying that dozens of the start-up s employees had left soon after its acquisition by Nest, amid a continued lack of output . Mr Fadell pointed to several upgrades to both its hardware and software in the year leading up to his exit, telling the Financial Times in an interview last year: It takes a long time to innovate . You can t just redo one thing, you have to rebuild from the ground up. That is what Nest now says it has done with the Cam IQ, which includes an overhaul of its hardware design, as well as a new 4K sensor that allows images to be enlarged 12-fold, for a clearer look at potential intruders. Nest s new camera promises to be able to tell the difference between a person moving in a room and a pet or another shadow, reducing the frequent false alarms that can occur using simpler motion-sensing technology . Subscribers to Nest Aware, a premium service costing $100 a year, will also be able to receive familiar face alerts when family members return home. Our philosophy is that a security camera should be an intelligent camera a guard watching for you but thinking before they pick up the phone to call you, said Maxime Veron, Nest s director of product marketing. Over the past year, Nest s camera has seen growing competition from both lower-priced Chinese devices, such as Yi Technology, and newer entrants touting advanced AI technology behind the lens, including Amazon s new Echo Look2 and start-up Lighthouse.

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The camera market is definitely our most competitive market, Mr Veron said. Lighthouse, which has raised $17m from Android founder Andy Rubin s3 hardware investment fund Playground Global, uses 3D depth-sensing technology originally developed for self-driving cars to offer what Alex Teichman, chief executive, calls an interactive assistant for your home , allowing users to search a visual history of when family members or pets come and go, using their voice. We do see this fundamentally different to a home security camera, in the same way Amazon s virtual assistant Alexa was fundamentally different to a Bose speaker, Mr Teichman said in a recent interview with the FT . There has been some disappointment in the smart home generally . Somebody just needs to deliver on it. Ben Bajarin, tech analyst at Creative Strategies, said that consumer adoption of internet-connected cameras for the home was starting to pick up , largely driven by security . He pointed to the recent success of Ring, a smart doorbell that incorporates a video camera to let people see who is trying to get in. He added: You re seeing consumers adopt these cameras purely for security and for other things that might qualify as peace of mind, such as baby monitoring. Despite the proliferation of new start-ups in the sector, Mr Bajarin said that Nest, backed by the Google brand, could have an advantage because consumers were more likely to trust a brand they know: They are letting a camera or a smart lock into their house .

If Nest can keep that trust, they can make the most of that opportunity better than a no-name brand.

References

  1. ^ departure of its co-founder Tony Fadell (www.ft.com)
  2. ^ Amazon s new Echo Look (www.ft.com)
  3. ^ Android founder Andy Rubin s (www.ft.com)

Turkey puts 200 suspected military coup plotters on trial amid heavy security

ANKARA Turkey put on trial 200 suspects on Monday including senior military officers accused of plotting and orchestrating last year’s failed coup, in a court case where prosecutors are calling for life sentences.

The defendants, among them President Tayyip Erdogan’s aide-de-camp, the former head of Turkey’s air force, and dozens of generals, colonels and majors, were paraded on their way to court past dozens of protesters who demanded the death penalty and threw nooses towards them.

Around 1,500 security personnel were deployed for security at the trial, state-run Anadolu news agency reported, which was held in a purpose-built courthouse in Sincan on the outskirts of the Turkish capital.

More than 240 people, many of them civilians, were killed in the failed coup on July 15, 2016, when a group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, bombing the parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.

Those on trial in Sincan included core suspects behind the coup who raided the state broadcaster and forced the presenter to read out an announcement saying the army had taken over and Turkey was being run by a committee they called “Peace at Home”.

Erdogan blames Fetullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric and a former ally, and his global network for orchestrating the coup, a charge Gulen denies . Turkish authorities have arrested nearly 50,000 people over alleged links with the preacher.

At the start of the hearing, families of the victims attending the trial screamed at the defendants, and one woman in the courtroom, whose son was killed during the coup, broke down.

“Kill these traitors, the murderers of my son,” she screamed before fainting . The judge called for a medical team to be brought into the courtroom.

From a total of 221 defendants, more than 200 are from the military and more than half of those were officers who held ranks from captains up to generals . All but 12 of the suspects, who are still at large, appeared in court . Gulen, who is among the defendants, is among those being tried in absentia.

Following confirmation of the suspects’ identity and the reading of a summary of the roughly 2,000-page indictment, suspects will be able to put forward their defence.

Hearings at the trial, one of the largest of several coup-related trials taking place across Turkey, are expected to last until June 16.

Citing the coup attempt as a grave threat to the state, Turkish authorities have also sacked or suspended around 150,000 civil servants, teachers, judges, prosecutors, police and soldiers and have shut down around 150 media outlets.

While the detentions may have been supported by some Turks in the immediate aftermath of the abortive putsch, criticism mounted as arrests widened to include groups of which many deny any connection to Gulen.

Many relatives of those detained or sacked since July say they have nothing to do with the armed attempt to overthrow the government, and are victims of a purge designed to consolidate Erdogan’s control.

(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Dominic Evans and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Member of security watchdog OSCE killed in Ukraine

One member of European security watchdog OSCE’s monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine was killed and two others were injured after their vehicle drove over a mine near Luhansk.

An American man was killed and a German woman was injured on Sunday morning, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry said . Austria holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Germany’s foreign ministry said two were injured, but gave no immediate details . The OSCE confirmed on Twitter that a patrol with six members and two armoured vehicles had been in a “serious incident” but gave no further information.

Three years after Moscow annexed the Crimean region, tensions between Ukraine and separatists in the Russian-held eastern part of the country remain high and a 2015 ceasefire agreement is violated regularly.

The Ukrainian military said the incident took place at 10:17 local time (0717 GMT) near the small village of Pryshyb, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

The unarmed, civilian OSCE mission with more than 700 international observers was deployed in 2014 . The role of the monitors includes verifying the withdrawal of heavy weapons as agreed under the 2015 ceasefire agreement.

“It is a terrible tragedy,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement, calling for “an immediate end to the violence and unjustified accusations, especially on the part of separatists in eastern Ukraine.”

“It is in the interest of everyone involved, especially the conflict parties on the line of engagement, that OSCE observers are able to carry out their important, indispensable, and at once difficult and dangerous work,” Gabriel said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on Twitter both called for an investigation of the incident . Kurz said he had spoken to the mission’s ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan.

“Need thorough investigation; those responsible will be held accountable,” Kurz said on Twitter.

A spokesman for the OSCE said further information would be released as it became available.

The 57 member states of the OSCE, which include Ukraine, Russia and the United States, in March extended its monitoring in Ukraine by a year.

Gabriel said the OSCE patrols had clearly prevented a more serious military escalation in recent years.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Francois Murphy in Vienna, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev and Andrea Shalal in Berlin; editing by Jason Neely)