Comcast just gave 15 million Xfinity customers a smart-home surprise

Smart home tech is hot right now, and cable giant Comcast has taken some baby steps into the market over the past few years. Wednesday’s announcement at CES is somewhat of a surprise, however: Some 15 million customers that lease an Xfinity gateway will soon have a smart hub via a firmware update at no additional cost.

Comcast sees the step as an important one for the company, especially in light of how pervasive connected home technology has become. Daniel Herscovici, Xfinity Home and Comcast general manager and senior vice president, told Digital Trends that the company is “looking to drive smart home adoption to the masses” with the company’s latest announcement.

The new gateway functionality comes as a result of Comcast’s recent acquisitions, including smart-home control platform Stringify, and it seems like the announcement could be an inflection point for the smart home industry. Between 80 and 90 percent of Xfinity subscribers lease their gateways directly from Comcast. Many of these customers might not otherwise have purchased a smart home platform like Wink or SmartThings, or voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.

“There’s lots of opportunities now that this hub exists to introduce IoT (internet of things) in new and unique ways to the mass market,” Herscovici told us.

For example, Comcast might now pair subscribing to its service with promotions where smart devices such as cameras, locks, or smart light bulbs are part of the package. Herscovici says hundreds of devices will be supported, including “almost all” the most popular ones.

The IoT functionality is set to be introduced across Comcast’s entire Xfinity lineup, including the X1 video platform, its XFi wireless internet offering, Xfinity Home, and Xfinity Mobile. You can also control your smart devices through the Xfinity voice remotes, of which Herscovici says some 18 million have been shipped or provided to customers so far.

Voice control has proven to be a popular feature for Comcast, with the company serving some 500 million voice requests per month, he added.

At this time, there is no solid date for the release of the new functionality, although it should appear later this year. When it becomes available, Herscovici says the company will start to introduce customers to the functionality and how to use it in ways similar to how it introduced voice control.

Either way, thanks in part to Comcast, it looks like smart home tech is only going to become even more mainstream in 2018.

Product Review

Lenovo’s Smart Clock with Google Assistant may be the perfect bedside companion

Move over Amazon Echo Spot: Lenovo’s Smart Clock With Google Assistant is coming for you. At just $79, the Smart Clock turns off the camera and turns up the cuteness factor for an enhanced alarm clock experience.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Smart Home

IKEA’s new blinds for the smart home arrive April 1 in the U.S.

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is adding a new product called FYRTUR, which turns out to be a new set of blackout blinds for the smart home that can be controlled by remote or programmed through the company's app.
Smart Home

Here’s everything Amazon and its partners announced for Alexa at CES

Amazon Alexa is rocking CES 2019. After selling millions of Echo and Dot smart speakers during the 2018 holiday season, extending its reach everywhere, Amazon has announced a ton of new partnerships with device manufacturers.
Smart Home

This Silicon Valley studio rents for $1,500 per month — to 2 cats

A man in San Jose, California, rents a studio apartment for $1,500 per month for a very important reason: So his daughter's two cats have a place to call their own. It may be the swankiest cat pad on the West Coast.

Amazon drops prices on Roomba robot vacuums by up to $150

Amazon is offering discounts on iRobot Roombas and other robot vacuums to help you get a leg-up on those chores. We've rounded up the best deals available now and put them all in one place.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Smart Home

Speed up cooking with one of the best pressure cookers on the market

Not all pressure cookers are created equally. You have to choose between stovetop cookers, multicookers, canners, and even microwave cookers. Our pressure cooking buyer's guide includes our picks for the best in each category.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Smart Home

This just in: Alexa can now deliver the news like a professional newscaster

The Amazon Alexa team has given Alexa a newscaster voice that improves the way she delivers the news and reads Wikipedia articles, making the smart assistant easier to understand.
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Smart Home

Ring security camera catches man licking the doorbell for hours

A family in Salinas, California had their Ring camera capture something pretty unexpected: a man licking the doorbell outside of their home for more than three hours. The incident took place around 5:00 a.m.
Smart Home

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept kitchen

One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel for your kitchen is accessible no matter where you are.
Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

Tired of carrying around keys? Make keyless entry so easy that all you have to do is have your phone nearby to open the door. It’s a little pricey, but sleek lines and simple features make the Kwikset Kevo Contemporary a great choice for…