Outrage over Djokovic’s medical exemption to play Aus Open

Outrage over Djokovic’s medical exemption to play Aus Open


‘Djokovic is an all-time great, but not essential’

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic was cleared to play in the year’s first major on Tuesday by Tennis Australia. Photograph: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic did not receive any special treatment in getting an exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements to play at the Australian Open later this month, Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government said on Wednesday.

The world No. 1 announced on Tuesday he received an exemption to play in the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne. Officials said he was one of a “handful” of successful applicants among 26 people who sought exemptions.

 

“I think lots of people in the Victorian community will find this to be a disappointing outcome,” acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford told a media conference.

“But the process is the process; nobody has had special treatment. The process is incredibly robust. It’s de-identified and we are where we are, and so the tennis can begin.”

The decision to grant Djokovic an exemption sparked sharp criticism in Australia, where more than 90% of people over 16 have had two vaccine doses against COVID-19.

Melbourne had the world’s longest cumulative lockdown to contain COVID, and an outbreak of the Omicron variant has sent case numbers to record levels.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said the two-stage application process was confidential and run by independent experts. All applications were assessed to ensure any exemptions met conditions set out by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Tiley said those reasons included previous adverse response to vaccines, recent major surgery or myocarditis or certified evidence of a COVID infection in the previous six months.

The Serbian, who had declined to reveal his vaccination status, said previously that he was unsure whether he would compete at the Jan. 17-30 tournament in Melbourne due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules. “

“We completely understand and empathise with … people being upset about the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements over the past couple of years around vaccination,” Tiley told reporters.

“However it is ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition, if he chooses to do that, and the reasons why he received an exemption.

Earlier, seven-time Grand Slam doubles champion Jamie Murray was among those to question the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption from getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to compete at the Australian Open.

Murray said it would have been difficult for him to get a similar exemption if he were in the Serbian’s place.

“I mean, I don’t know what to say about that really… I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption,” the Briton said during the ATP Cup in Sydney.

“But well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete.”

Paul Annacone, a former coach to Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, said it was his understanding that applications for medical exemptions were done anonymously.

“The two panels it goes through do not know who the person is, they just look at the symptoms,” Annacone said on the Tennis Channel.

“If that integrity is upheld, then what’s done is done. But there’s going to be a lot of questions asked.”

Annacone said Djokovic should still expect some tension from tennis fans in Australia, who have had to endure multiple lockdowns due to COVID-19 over the past two years.

“But Novak Djokovic is pretty good when there’s a little bit of antagonism going on,” he said.

American player Taylor Townsend said the crowds would come around once they saw Djokovic in action.

“When he steps out on the court and he starts to display what he does well, which is play amazing tennis and entertain, I think that they are going to be very happy,” she said.

Britain’s captain at the ATP Cup Liam Broady said that there was no option but to trust that Djokovic had a valid reason to seek an exemption.

The decision, however, was condemned by journalists and former athletes in Australia.

Melbourne-based broadcaster Andy Maher said: “Djokovic is an all-time great, but not essential.”

Former Australian Rules player Corey McKernan tweeted: “People with loved ones who are dying/some needing urgent treatment cannot get into their own states. You tell people they can’t go to Coles or a cafe without being vaxxed but if you’re world number one you get a pass?”

Victory at the Australian Open, which gets underway on Jan. 17, will give Djokovic his 21st major title, one more than the joint-record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.



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Karnataka imposes weekend curfew, shuts schools, colleges

Karnataka imposes weekend curfew, shuts schools, colleges


The Karnataka government on Tuesday decided to impose weekend curfew and extend the night curfew for two weeks in the state in view of the alarming rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.

IMAGE: A BBMP marshal asks people to wear face masks and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour at City Market, in Bengaluru. Photograph: Shashidhar Byrappa/ANI Photo

The government also decided to shut schools and pre-university colleges except for 10th and 12th standard students for two weeks.

It announced the weekend curfew and also the decision to extend the night curfew for two weeks in the state.

 

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in which senior ministers including Revenue Minister Ashoka, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar and Higher Education Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, medical experts and senior officials participated.

The meeting was held in view of the sudden jump in number of COVID cases in the state.

Karnataka logged 2,479 cases on Tuesday and four fatalities. Since January 1, the city has been logging over 1,000 cases daily.

“We have decided that barring 10th and 12th classes, schools will be shut for rest of the classes in Bengaluru. These COVID rules will come into effect from Wednesday night,” Ashoka told reporters.

He said there will be a weekend curfew for two weeks from 10 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday. All essential services will continue, he added.

Further, the government decided to extend the night curfew, which ends on January 7, for two weeks.

The minister also said that there should not be a congregation of more than 200 people in marriages in open places and 100 in marriage halls.

There should also be 50 per cent occupancy in pubs, bars, cinema halls and malls and those working in and visiting these places should have taken both doses of the COVID vaccine.

Also, the government decided to make a negative RT-PCR test report mandatory for those coming to the state from Maharashtra, Kerala and Goa, the minister said.

Government offices will have to follow the Government of India guidelines, he explained.

Ashoka told reporters that no rallies or political events with large congregation will be allowed in Bengaluru.

His statement came as the Congress plans to organise a march from Mekedatu in Ramanagara district to Bengaluru on January 9 to urge the government to start work on the Mekedatu balancing reservoir across the Cauvery river to supply drinking water in Bengaluru and neighbouring districts.

Speaking to reporters, Sudhakar said those coming from high-risk nations will be sent for institutional quarantine if they test positive for COVID.

The travellers can choose hotels of their choice to stay in quarantine which can be a budget or a star hotel.

“We cannot send the foreigners home who test positive,” Sudhakar said.

Sudhakar said there were discussions about the availability of medicines, hospitals, ICU beds and other necessary arrangements.

He also said that the government decided to treat Bengaluru as a ‘state’ while dealing with COVID-19 cases.

“We are treating Bengaluru as a state because it has become an epicentre of COVID just like any other metropolitan city. Almost 80 to 90 per cent cases are coming from Bengaluru only in Karnataka,” the health minister explained.

Further, Sudhakar said that teams led by Indian Administrative Service officers have been assigned different roles in COVID management to handle the pandemic at a micro level.



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Karnataka imposes weekend curfew, shuts schools, colleges

Karnataka imposes weekend curfew, shuts schools, colleges


The Karnataka government on Tuesday decided to impose weekend curfew and extend the night curfew for two weeks in the state in view of the alarming rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.

IMAGE: A BBMP marshal asks people to wear face masks and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour at City Market, in Bengaluru. Photograph: Shashidhar Byrappa/ANI Photo

The government also decided to shut schools and pre-university colleges except for 10th and 12th standard students for two weeks.

It announced the weekend curfew and also the decision to extend the night curfew for two weeks in the state.

 

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in which senior ministers including Revenue Minister Ashoka, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar and Higher Education Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, medical experts and senior officials participated.

The meeting was held in view of the sudden jump in number of COVID cases in the state.

Karnataka logged 2,479 cases on Tuesday and four fatalities. Since January 1, the city has been logging over 1,000 cases daily.

“We have decided that barring 10th and 12th classes, schools will be shut for rest of the classes in Bengaluru. These COVID rules will come into effect from Wednesday night,” Ashoka told reporters.

He said there will be a weekend curfew for two weeks from 10 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday. All essential services will continue, he added.

Further, the government decided to extend the night curfew, which ends on January 7, for two weeks.

The minister also said that there should not be a congregation of more than 200 people in marriages in open places and 100 in marriage halls.

There should also be 50 per cent occupancy in pubs, bars, cinema halls and malls and those working in and visiting these places should have taken both doses of the COVID vaccine.

Also, the government decided to make a negative RT-PCR test report mandatory for those coming to the state from Maharashtra, Kerala and Goa, the minister said.

Government offices will have to follow the Government of India guidelines, he explained.

Ashoka told reporters that no rallies or political events with large congregation will be allowed in Bengaluru.

His statement came as the Congress plans to organise a march from Mekedatu in Ramanagara district to Bengaluru on January 9 to urge the government to start work on the Mekedatu balancing reservoir across the Cauvery river to supply drinking water in Bengaluru and neighbouring districts.

Speaking to reporters, Sudhakar said those coming from high-risk nations will be sent for institutional quarantine if they test positive for COVID.

The travellers can choose hotels of their choice to stay in quarantine which can be a budget or a star hotel.

“We cannot send the foreigners home who test positive,” Sudhakar said.

Sudhakar said there were discussions about the availability of medicines, hospitals, ICU beds and other necessary arrangements.

He also said that the government decided to treat Bengaluru as a ‘state’ while dealing with COVID-19 cases.

“We are treating Bengaluru as a state because it has become an epicentre of COVID just like any other metropolitan city. Almost 80 to 90 per cent cases are coming from Bengaluru only in Karnataka,” the health minister explained.

Further, Sudhakar said that teams led by Indian Administrative Service officers have been assigned different roles in COVID management to handle the pandemic at a micro level.



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New COVID …

New COVID …


Experts are keeping a wary eye on yet another COVID-19 variant, this one with 46 mutations.

It was detected in France and showed up in a traveler who recently arrived from a three-day stay in Cameroon, French researchers said in a pre-print study published on medRxiv, which means it has not yet been peer-reviewed.

While researchers were monitoring the strain to ascertain how infectious it is or whether it poses a danger, experts emphasized that its discovery alone was not cause for alarm. Moreover, it was noted even before omicron took over the world stage and “has been on our radar,” WHO incident manager on COVID Abdi Mahamud said at a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. “That virus had a lot of chances to pick up.”

So far, indications are that it hasn’t. But it did manage to infect 12 people in Marseille, in southeastern France.

The 46 mutations had not been detected in other countries, The Independent noted.

The person infected with the B.1.640.2 variant, dubbed IHU after being discovered by scientists at the IHU Mediterranee Infection, was fully vaccinated and had just returned from a three-day trip to Cameroon when they tested positive, the researchers said.

Any speculation or alarm would be premature, the researchers said.

______



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Wemo new HomeKit Smart Video Doorbell works with HomeKit Secure Video

Wemo new HomeKit Smart Video Doorbell works with HomeKit Secure Video


And then there were three… At CES 2022 this week, Wemo announced the immediate availability of the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell, a HomeKit video doorbell that works with HomeKit Secure Video. It joins the Logitech Circle View and Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell camera as the only currently available residential HomeKit video doorbells.

The $250 wired doorbell from the Belkin smart home brand is a short, chunky black device measuring 4.9 inches high. It has a 178-degree vertical field of view, 4MP high-resolution camera with “enhanced night vision and optimal zoom clarity,” according to the press release. It also features IP55 weatherproofing and works on 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi.

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell is a chunky little fellow.
Image: Wemo

The buzzer is HomeKit only, working with the Home app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, rather than through the Wemo app, the same as the Logitech doorbell. Only the Netatmo doorbell works with its own app, too. HomeKit Secure Video requires an Apple Home hub such as a HomePod Mini, which processes video recordings locally and uses on-device intelligence to spot people, pets, or vehicles.

Any recordings are stored in iCloud, so an iCloud plus plan is required for viewing recorded footage. HKSV also offers a facial recognition feature, which users train with photos from their Photos app.

The Wemo Smart Video Doorbell joins the Wemo Stage and Wemo Smart Plug as Wemo products that don’t require Wemo’s own app. It’s available to buy now at Belkin.com.

The Wemo video doorbell is hardwired only and requires a wired doorbell system (16-24V AC).
Image: Wemo

Wemo also announced it is working on Thread versions of the Wemo Smart Plug, Wemo Smart Light Switch, and Wemo Smart Dimmer to be released later this year. This will enable support for Matter over Thread. Matter is the new smart home standard launching later this year that will allow smart home devices to communicate with any Matter-enabled accessory regardless of manufacturer.

Matter over Thread should make Wemo’s devices more reliable and easier to set up — two things I have found to be a major pain point with this brand. Thread offers faster response times than other protocols, and since it’s a mesh network, the more Thread devices in your home, the better range and connectivity you’ll have.



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Belkin’s Soundform Immerse noise-canceling earbuds are designed with music lovers in mind

Belkin’s Soundform Immerse noise-canceling earbuds are designed with music lovers in mind


Belkin is adding the Immerse earbuds to its existing Soundform true wireless lineup. The earbuds come with hybrid active noise cancellation (ANC) technology, which should deliver audio free of background noise.

Image by Belkin

In case you haven’t heard of the “hybrid” form of ANC, SoundGuys describes it as two microphones located on the inside and outside of each earbud, which detect and cancel out sound coming from your environment. The other forms of ANC put the mic on the inside or outside of the earbud, which isn’t always as efficient for filtering out noise.

The Immerse earbuds have a pretty long battery life as well. Each earbud is supposed to get eight hours of play time on a single charge, and when combined with the charging case, that rises to up to 36 hours. They also support aptX HD — a Bluetooth codec that transmits hi-resolution audio — along with Multipoint technology, which should let you pair the earbuds to two different devices at once. In addition, the earbuds come with 12mm drivers and are compatible with the Apple Find My app to track their location if you misplace them.

The last time Belkin added to its True Wireless collection was in June of last year, when it released its budget-friendly Move buds. Belkin also launched its first Find My-compatible Soundform Freedom earbuds last January. The Soundform Immerse noise-canceling earbuds will launch in the second quarter of 2022, but no pricing information has been made available yet.



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Activision has filed a lawsuit against cheat site EngineOwning

Activision has filed a lawsuit against cheat site EngineOwning



On January 4, Activision filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California against EngineOwning, one of the more popular sites currently selling cheats for Call of Duty: Warzone and other online shooters. The suit describes EngineOwning as “a German business entity and numerous individuals”, accusing them of “trafficking in circumvention devices”, “intentional interference with contractual relations”, and “unfair competition”.

EngineOwning offers subscriptions that bundle together cheats including aimbots, wallhacks, radar, triggerbots (which shoot automatically when aiming at a player, or optionally whenever one is within a set range), recoil and bullet-spread removal, rapid fire, and various workarounds for anti-cheat detection. 



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Previous governments didn’t look East, we got Delhi to you, Prime Minister says in NorthEast

Previous governments didn’t look East, we got Delhi to you, Prime Minister says in NorthEast


Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that while the previous government had ignored the Northeast, he has got entire Delhi to the doorsteps of the people of the region.

Modi visited Manipur and Tripura where he inaugurated or laid the foundation stones of 22 projects worth more than ‘4,800 crore.

Manipur will go to assembly polls in the coming months, while in Tripura, elections are scheduled for early next year.

“The previous government had a fixed policy about the Northeast – it was, ‘don’t look East‘. They used to look here only during elections, but we are acting East,” Modi said, addressing a public meeting in Imphal. “I had been in Manipur several times … even when I was not PM. I knew the pain that people of Manipur have. Therefore, after 2014, I got entire Delhi to the doorsteps of the people of Northeast, to the doorsteps of people of Manipur,” he added.

Now in Manipur and the rest of Northeast peace is returning, youths are returning to mainstream and many key peace deals have been done, the PM said. “We have to maintain peace and take Manipur toward development.”

Speaking on the developmental projects undertaken by the BJP governments at the Centre and the state, he said only 6% of the people in Manipur had piped water a few years ago, but now 60% of the houses have that and soon it would become 100%.

While noting that his Cabinet has five “prominent ministers” from the Northeast, Modi said his government was giving importance to connectivity in the region.

In Tripura, the Prime Minister said earlier there were “brakes” in the state’s development as the previous government didn’t have the vision, mission and mindset for development, and there was rampant corruption.Stressing on the benefits of having the same party ruling at the Centre and in the state, he told a public gathering in Agartala: “After the BJP government came to Tripura (in 2018), the double-engine governments are developing the state through the ‘HIRA’ (highways, Internet, railways and airways) model.”



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Samsung’s new curved gaming monitor has some tricks up its screen

Samsung’s new curved gaming monitor has some tricks up its screen


Samsung, ahead of CES 2022, has announced it will be taking curved monitors into some super ergonomic territory, in the form of the Odyssey Ark. With active backlighting, a tight 1000R curvature, and heaps of adjustability, it’s looking to be a highly versatile addition to the gaming monitor morass. And it comes with a few nifty tricks, too.

At 55-inches, this is a vast ‘vertical cockpit-style rotating display’ and should make the most of its 4K resolution. Interestingly, Samsung has added the option to adapt the screen size within the panel. Essentially, when you reduce the resolution or veer from the screen’s standard 16:9 ratio, you’ll have the option to leave the unused pixels off, rather than scaling up to fit the entire screen.

The Samsung Odyssey Ark side on in portrait view

(Image credit: Samsung)

The feature works like when you watch a movie in letterbox format, except the spare pixels are not only black, but inactive—great for saving energy, I’m sure. The Odyssey Ark will even offer ‘multiview’ options in this mode, similar to Windows 11’s window layout feature, so you can decide exactly which pixels you need, and which can be left off.



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Samsung’s tiny Freestyle projector is fun so get over it

Samsung’s tiny Freestyle projector is fun so get over it


Samsung’s new barrel-shaped Freestyle projector was just announced at CES. The 1080p projector goes up for preorder today for $899. What matters more than its spec sheet, according to Samsung, is that this highly portable and swiveling visual lightshow with integrated speaker and voice control is coming to support your carefree “lifestyle” and nomadic “experiences.”

Olds, in other words, need not apply.

How can I be certain of this? Because when I, a curmudgeonly old, showed the Freestyle to my 13-year-old daughter under strict embargo, her first reaction was, and I quote: “I want that. A fake window on my wall would be so pretty.” A sampling of one teen is surely correct.

Samsung Freestyle (front).
Image: Samsung

Samsung Freestyle (back).
Image: Samsung

The 1.83 pound (0.83kg) projector is capable of producing an auto-focused, auto-leveled, and auto-keystoned image (of unknown brightness) at sizes from 30 to 100 inches. The translucent lens cap can be used to create “mood lighting” that can be synced with whatever audio is playing. It also features a 360-degree firing speaker, and a far-field mic array (for “Hi Bixby” voice controls) that looks like it can be toggled on and off via a switch. If you look closely at the images you’ll also see one HDMI and one USB-C jack, and what looks like touch controls for power, volume, and something else encircling the lens. The Freestyle also runs the same software experience as Samsung’s smart TVs, so you’ll be pretty well set on app selection.

Optional accessories include a waterproof case, USB-C battery pack, and a base that allows the projector to be screwed into a standard E26 lightbulb socket for power.

Freestyle seems like an ideal companion to TikTok videos, and not so much your Blu-ray collection. If you care about banalities such as lumens, supported streaming protocols, and other such minutia then this projector clearly isn’t meant for you. But for its $900 price, there’s definitely some expectation of good picture quality.

Samsung says preorders for the projector will open in the US as of January 4th, with the Freestyle making its way to other markets “in the following months.”

Update January 4th, 10:05PM ET: The article has been updated to reflect that The Freestyle offers the same software experience as Samsung’s TVs.



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Samsung’s new Home Hub is the smart home dashboard we’ve been asking for

Samsung’s new Home Hub is the smart home dashboard we’ve been asking for


Samsung introduced its first standalone SmartThings smart home controller at CES 2022. The Samsung Home Hub is designed to be a central place for a household to control and monitor their smart home without having to buy a $4,000 smart fridge.

While there are precious few details about this new device, other than it’s not coming to the US yet and will launch in Korea in the first half of 2022, from the one picture we’ve got, it looks good. Honestly, it looks like the smart home controller we wish Apple, Amazon, or Google would make.

The transition from smartphone control of the smart home to voice control has not been a seamless one. There are many times when it’s easier to tap on a screen to turn on the lights or lock the back door than it is to raise your voice, and a simple, easily accessible interface to do this is something the smart home still needs.

Smart displays from Google and Amazon have largely failed to provide a usable dashboard for this type of control, instead requiring multiple swipes and taps to get to what you need. These displays also try to be multitaskers in the home, part calendar, part radio, part TV, part smart home device, partly failing to do well most of what they attempt.

Case in point, Amazon’s new Echo Show 15, which I thought would be the solution I’d been looking for to control my smart home, since I took down the aging iPad Mini I had installed in my wall. (Its screen finally gave up the ghost — turns out being permanently plugged in and sitting vertically on my wall for four years was not good for it.)

Sadly, the software on the Show 15 doesn’t live up to the promise of the hardware and while it looks fantastic, its limited smart home controller interface means it just won’t work for my home.

What I, and many like me, want is a dedicated smart home dashboard, something that has shortcuts to control devices, trigger scenes, and view live camera feeds. That’s not to say there isn’t room for Echo Shows and Google Nest Hubs that do part of what they’re supposed to do really well. But a dedicated smart home interface mounted on a wall or set up on a counter is what is needed.

There are a few attempts at solving this problem out there — the touchscreen Brilliant Control Panel that replaces your existing light switches is an innovative solution that takes advantage of a house’s existing wiring. But installing that system in every room will set you back a pretty penny and the screen is much smaller than a tablet, making it less intuitive for all users.

The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator features a built-in tablet that acts as a smart home controller.

What I like about Samsung’s Home Hub so far is its size, its orientation, and its potential portability. A vertical screen is actually more useful for smart home control than a horizontal one, as you can fit more icons on the screen that way and ideally have quick access to more controls. The stand for the Samsung Home Hub looks like it could also hold the screen horizontally if you preferred that, and it all looks easy enough to pick up and move into a different room when required.

I’ve used the Samsung Family Hub smart fridge, and the Home Hub interface looks similar. It also largely resembles a blown-up version of Samsung’s SmartThings smartphone app. There’s a Favorites home screen with your favorite devices on it and shortcuts to screens to access services such as SmartThings Cooking, a Devices page, a Life page where you’ll find Samsung’s connected services — such as Cooking, Clothing Care, Energy, Pet, and Air, and an Automations page, plus and intriguing More tab.

It’s not the smart home dashboard of my dreams, but it is a step in the right direction: a dedicated device for controlling the many aspects of your smart home that doesn’t attempt to do unnecessary party tricks but gives you and your household an easy way to turn the home on and off.

Speaking of Samsung’s connected services, the SmartThings Energy Service, which monitors the power usage of all compatible connected devices and recommends ways for you to save energy based on usage patterns, is being expanded to include more products and services. Samsung also announced partnerships earlier this year that enable real-time monitoring of whole-home energy consumption in the SmartThings App. This type of integration should allow homeowners to set up automations based on energy costs or demand response events.

During its CES keynote, Samsung also announced that it’s a founding member of the newly minted Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA). Founded in September 2021, the HCA’s main goal is creating “Cloud to cloud interoperability across brands,” according to its website. Samsung’s press release stated the Alliance will help “ensure that having devices across multiple brands doesn’t require you to compromise your smart home experience.”

Samsung is also part of Matter, a new smart home standard with similar goals. How this initiative will fit in with Matter is unclear at this stage. Matter is a local protocol, with devices communicating primarily over a local network while still allowing IP access to connect to the internet. This new Alliance appears to be focused on expanding connectivity between cloud-based services. This is something Samsung has been pursing more aggressively since it started to transition its SmartThings platform from a hardware-based smart home hub to a software-based service.



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