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Smart home security cam comes with facial recognition

With home security becoming more and more important, the need for home monitoring devices is on the rise. Netatmo’s Welcome is a great home security camera complete with facial recognition abilities.



Home security is now smart

Home security has unfortunately become a necessity. Gone are the days where you could leave your front door unlocked and never worry about criminal activity. Now, we have fully monitored alarm systems, dead bolts, window locks, and outside motion sensors.

But what exists leaves much to be desired. What if you need something to monitor your family and make sure they arrive home safely and remain where they are supposed to be? What if you’re looking for your smartwatch to tell you which kid is home, or that a stranger has been detected by cam?

What is Netatmo Welcome? It’s awesome, that’s what

This is where the Netatmo Welcome comes in. Netatmo Welcome is a completely self-contained, home security camera featuring facial recognition and no cloud connectivity needed. Plus, there are no subscription fees.

It’s sleek design and small size makes it easy to hide in plain sight. It almost looks like a speaker, honestly.

One thing to keep in mind – while it is self-contained, it does need a few things to be fully functional: constant power from a micro USB cable, your smartphone (to sync coverage), and a MicroSD card to store footage. Definitely nothing major, but the need for constant power may change where and how you place the device.

Ease of setup

Welcome is best aimed at a front door, or other main entry point into your home. Monitoring apps are available for both Android and iOS phones.

Once you’re ready to set it up, you’ll turn the Welcome upside down and enter your Wi-Fi information into the app. Once you’ve done this, the app will start to create a timeline of events, triggered by movement, and whether or not it has “seen” a face it recognizes.

Any time a “recognition” happens, you’ll receive a notification on your phone. This notification will either contain captured footage, or direct you to a live feed of the Welcome. There is a small delay, most users say a few seconds, from the time the activity is recorded to the time you receive a notification on your phone.

Our favorite part: Facial recognition

The main selling point of the Netatmo Welcome is its ability to memorize and recognize up to 16 different faces.

How does it do this? The learning process is a secret, but Netatmo states that it can take the device five times of seeing someone’s face before it can consistently recognize and identify them as a member of your family and not a stranger.

This can be a bit annoying in the beginning as you receive an alert when an “unknown” person is in your home. During the learning process this “unknown” may be your child. Once Welcome has learned the faces of your family, however, you won’t be plagued by those notifications.

One caveat with recognition: if the Welcome is placed in a dimly lit (or overly bright) room, it will have a hard time distinguishing faces, or so I’ve heard.

As it learns, it gets smarter

Obviously you need a bit of patience in the beginning with Welcome, but I find this to be true with a great deal of electronic devices, especially those that fit a particular niche. For example, if you have a busy home, with children, babysitters, and lots of coming and going,

Netatmo Welcome will offer you peace of mind, knowing everything is okay and everyone is where they are supposed to be. This is also useful if you want to keep a watchful eye on parents or caregivers without robbing them of their sense of independence.

A few drawbacks to keep in mind

While I have not tested the Netatmo Welcome myself, several other users have said it does come with a few drawbacks. For example, the Wi-Fi range of the device seems to be limited. The can make it difficult to place the device where it would be most useful. Also, there is no battery back-up built in to Welcome, so if you lose power, or an unscrupulous thief cuts the power to your home, the device will be of no use. Perhaps in a future version.

As previously stated, the facial recognition component of Welcome is said by some to be spotty, or take a while to fully recognize a member of your family. This could lead to unnecessary notifications and alarm, but there is a learning curve with almost all new technological devices. Also, as all recorded video is stored on the MicroSD card, if someone happens to break in and steal the Welcome, all recorded and stored video will go with it.

Even though Welcome has a few potential drawbacks, it has several clear advantages as well: Its small size, facial recognition, and ability to hide in plain sight are excellent reasons to give Welcome a trial run.


Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

Snap a business card pic, Microsoft app finds ’em on LinkedIn

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft Pix is teaming with LinkedIn in a neat way that will benefit networking, especially if you have any lazy bones in your body.



microsoft pix

Have you ever been watching some sort of action-adventure movie where there’s a command center with all sorts of unbelievable technology that kind of blows your mind? Well, every day we come closer and closer to living within that command center.

You may think that I’m talkin’ crazy, but check this out – there is a new technology that can scan a business card, and find the business card’s owner on LinkedIn. (Can I get a “say what????!”)

This app is courtesy of Microsoft and goes by the name Pix (it’s not new, but this function is).

The way it works is simple: Bill Jones hands you his business card, you fire up the Pix app (currently only on the iPhone. Sorry, Droids), you snap a picture of the card and the app takes the details (phone number, company, etc.) and finds Bill on LinkedIn. Bingo.

It also will automatically take that information and will create a new profile for Bill Jones within your phone’s contacts. After you scan the business card through Pix, Microsoft will ask if you want to take action.

At this point, Pix will recognize and capture phone numbers, email addresses, and URLs. If your phone is logged into LinkedIn, the apps will work together to find Bill’s profile. Part of me wants to think that this is kind of creepy but a larger part of me thinks that it’s really cool.

According to Microsoft Research’s Principal Program Manager, Josh Weisberg, “Pix is powered by AI to streamline and enhance the experience of taking a picture with a series of intelligent actions: recognizing the subject of a photo, inferring users’ intent and capturing the best quality picture.”

“It’s the combination of both understanding and intelligently acting on a users’ intent that sets Pix apart. Today’s update works with LinkedIn to add yet another intelligent dimension to Pix’s capabilities.”

Pix itself originally launched in 2016 as a way to compete against AI’s ability to edit a photo by use of exposure, focus, and color. This new integration in working with LinkedIn is a time saver, and is beneficial for those who collect business cards like candy and forget to actually do something with them.

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Tech News

Walmart and the blockchain, sitting in a tree

(TECH NEWS) Say goodbye to #foodwaste with Walmart’s new smart package delivery proposal featuring everyone’s favorite pal, blockchain.




Following the trend of adding “smart” as a prefix to any word to make it futuristic, Walmart now proposes “smart packages.” The retail giant filed for a new patent to improve their shipping and package tracking process using blockchain.

Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the application, which was filed back in August 2017.

Officially, the application notes the smart package will have “a body portion having an inner volume” and “a door coupled to the body portion” that can be open or closed to restrict or allow access to the package contents.

In other words, they’ve patented a box with a door on it that also has lots of monitoring devices.

Various iterations lay claim to all versions of said box include smart packaging utilizing a combination of monitoring devices, modular adapters, autonomous delivery vehicles, and blockchain.

Monitoring devices would regulate location tracking, inner content removal, and environmental conditions of the package like temperature and humidity. This could help reduce loss of products sensitive to environmental changes, like fresh produce.

Modular adapters perform these actions as well, and also ensure the package has access to a power source and the delivery vehicle’s security system to prevent theft.

Blockchain comes into play with a delivery encryption system, monitoring, authenticating, and registering packages. As it moves through the supply chain, packages will be registered throughout the process.

The blockchain would be hashed with private key addresses of sellers, couriers, and buyers to track the chain of custody. Every step of the shipping process would be documented, providing greater accountability and easier record keeping.

This isn’t Walmart’s first foray into the world of blockchain. Last year they teamed up with Nestle, Kroger, and other food companies in a partnership with IBM to improve food traceability with blockchain.

Walmart also took part in a similar food tracking program in China with last year as well.

And let’s not forget Walmart’s May 2017 USPTO application to use blockchain tech for package delivery via unmanned drones. Their more recent application builds on the drone idea, which also proposed tracking packages with blockchain and monitoring product conditions during delivery.

In their latest application, Walmart notes, “online customers many times seek to purchase items that may require a controlled environment and further seek to have greater security in the shipping packaging that the items are shipped in.”

Implementing blockchain and smart package monitoring as part of the shipping process could greatly reduce product loss and improve shipment tracking.

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Tech News

Experts warn of actual AI risks – we’re about to live in a sci fi movie

(TECH NEWS) A new report on AI indicates that the sci fi dystopias we’ve been dreaming up are actually possible. Within a few short years. Welp.



AI robots

Long before artificial intelligence (AI) was even a real thing, science fiction novels and films have warned us about the potentially catastrophic dangers of giving machines too much power.

Now that AI actually exists, and in fact, is fairly widespread, it may be time to consider some of the potential drawbacks and dangers of the technology, before we find ourselves in a nightmarish dystopia the likes of which we’ve only begun to imagine.

Experts from the industry as well as academia have done exactly that, in a recently released 100-page report, “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, Mitigation.”

The report was written by 26 experts over the course of a two-day workshop held in the UK last month. The authors broke down the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence into three categories – physical, digital, or political.

In the digital category are listed all of the ways that hackers and other criminals can use these advancements to hack, phish, and steal information more quickly and easily. AI can be used to create fake emails and websites for stealing information, or to scan software for potential vulnerabilities much more quickly and efficiently than a human can. AI systems can even be developed specifically to fool other AI systems.

Physical uses included AI-enhanced weapons to automate military and/or terrorist attacks. Commercial drones can be fitted with artificial intelligence programs, and automated vehicles can be hacked for use as weapons. The report also warns of remote attacks, since AI weapons can be controlled from afar, and, most alarmingly, “robot swarms” – which are, horrifyingly, exactly what they sound like.

Read also: Is artificial intelligence going too far, moving too quickly?

Lastly, the report warned that artificial intelligence could be used by governments and other special interest entities to influence politics and generate propaganda.

AI systems are getting creepily good at generating faked images and videos – a skill that would make it all too easy to create propaganda from scratch. Furthermore, AI can be used to find the most important and vulnerable targets for such propaganda – a potential practice the report calls “personalized persuasion.” The technology can also be used to squash dissenting opinions by scanning the internet and removing them.

The overall message of the report is that developments in this technology are “dual use” — meaning that AI can be created that is either helpful to humans, or harmful, depending on the intentions of the people programming it.

That means that for every positive advancement in AI, there could be a villain developing a malicious use of the technology. Experts are already working on solutions, but they won’t know exactly what problems they’ll have to combat until those problems appear.

The report concludes that all of these evil-minded uses for these technologies could easily be achieved within the next five years. Buckle up.

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