HomeToys Articles, Stories and Products http://www.hometoys.com AV and Automation Industry News and eMagazine - Recent Articles, Hot Stories and Products Korner home security is simple, affordable, versatile http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/korner-home-security-is-simple-affordable-versatile/1081 <p dir="ltr"> When someone mentions &ldquo;home security,&rdquo; it evokes images of cameras, wires, sensors, and a little warning sign posted in the yard. If you agree, you wouldn&rsquo;t be wrong. That&rsquo;s how the common security system is perceived. But things have been changing over the years. Advances in technology have transformed home security products, making them more accessible and easier to use.</p> <p dir="ltr"> If you&rsquo;re interested in easy &ndash; like, really easy &ndash; you couldn&rsquo;t do any better than Korner. Korner, which is&nbsp;currently funding on Indiegogo, is a simple yet genius home security product. There&rsquo;s only three parts to set up: wireless router fob, the tag, and the mobile app for Android or iOS. The single-piece tag is as easy to &ldquo;install&rdquo; as putting a sticker, well, anywhere.</p> <p dir="ltr"> Korner works by detecting motion of the object its attached to, such as a door or window. The sensors in the tags can determine when there has been an entry. The sensors are smart enough to know the difference between an entry and vibration, so false alarms are kept to a minimum. What happens when there is an actual entry? The tag communicates to fob, which in turn sends an alert to your mobile device. From there, you can notify authorities, friends, or neighbors.</p> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:42:46 -0700 This Trick To Improving Home Audio Involves Zero Electronics http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/this-trick-to-improving-home-audio-involves-zero-electronics/1080 <p> Our ongoing investigation into&nbsp;how home audio is changing in 2014&nbsp;has unearthed a surprising nugget of sonic wisdom, for those of us who are trying to take home audio just a little more seriously. Now that legitimate digital music services sound so good, fans no longer have to put up with dodgily-encoded MP3s from Napster and the like &mdash; and so it&rsquo;s worth it, for many of us, to give our music the sonic respect it deserves, whether we want to spring for&nbsp;new player hardware&nbsp;or not.</p> <p> The single most important thing you can do to improve your sound is to improve the physical mechanics of its reproduction &mdash; mainly,&nbsp;your headphones&nbsp;or speakers. It&rsquo;s always worth paying more for either of these than you think you really should, because nothing else can make your tunes sound better (i.e. stirring, soul-restoring, inspirational, mind-blowing, empathetic, mournful, joyful, and everything else it can make us feel) than making the conversion of ones and zeros into vibrating air as clean as possible.</p> <p> We asked renowned audiophile and author of&nbsp;<em>The Audio&nbsp;Expert</em>&nbsp;Ethan Winer for some advice to share with our readers on the best thing they can do to improve their audio quality in the home. According to him, the answer has nothing to do with electronics:</p> <p> &ldquo;The single best way to improve audio clarity is to add some acoustic treatment to the room,&rdquo; said Winer. &ldquo;Even one 2&times;4 foot acoustic absorber panel placed at the key place on each side wall will improve the clarity of music enormously. Most &lsquo;average&rsquo; people have no idea about this, and most probably wouldn&rsquo;t consider adding panels in their living room or bedroom anyway. But it&rsquo;s the correct answer. Serious audiophiles and home theater owners do understand the importance of room acoustics, and some have extensive treatment.&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="http://evolver.fm/2014/04/02/secret-trick-to-improving-home-audio-involves-zero-electronics/" target="_blank">Full Article:</a></p> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:09:23 -0700 Lightpad: The intelligent light switch that wants to control your home http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/lightpad-the-intelligent-light-switch-that-wants-to-control-your-home/1079 <p> There are lots of companies trying to crack intelligent lighting in the home. Philips has its Hue lighting system with intelligent bulbs, while others like Belkin&#39;s WeMo system let you control everything via smart plugs.</p> <p> Plum, a relatively new and unheard of company based in Austin, Texas, is tackling the problem from a different perspective.</p> <p> It has designed an intelligent light switch that will not only control the current lights in the house, but also have the potential to control internet-connected devices like Sonos in the future.</p> <p> &quot;The long term goal is an app that will control everything in your home, from your lights to your sonos,&quot; explains Utz Baldwin, CEO at Plum, to Pocket-lint over a coffee at Capital Factory, a startup hub in Austin, Texas.</p> <p> Called the Lightpad, the light switch promises to fit into a standard American light switch fitting (a UK version is due in 2015), and then allow you to control your lights either via the switch or an accompanying iPhone or Android app.</p> <p> Created by Baldwin, who in a previous life was the Chairman of CEDIA, a global home technology trade association that offers home automation, audio video, home network training and certification, Baldwin has used his numerous years in the field to invent something he believes will be the answer to controlling your home without always having to reach for your phone.</p> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:53:37 -0700 Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Retired Gadgetry into the Technology of the Future http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/top-10-ways-to-turn-your-retired-gadgetry-into-the-technology-of-the-future/1078 <p> With the rapid progression of technology each year, it&#39;s easy to accumulate a pile of obsolete gadgets that you just can&#39;t bear to get rid of. So don&#39;t! Here are our top 10 ways you can take the retired gadgets you&#39;ve already got and turn them into something that has a solid place in the future.</p> <p> <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5841196/top-10-ways-to-turn-your-retired-gadgetry-into-the-technology-of-the-future" target="_blank">Full Artice with Instructions and video on LifeHacker:</a></p> <div> <em>1. Turn an Old Computer Into an Internet PVR, Downloader, and NAS</em></div> <div> <em>2. Automate Your Home with an Old Router</em></div> <div> <em>3. Turn an Old Computer into an XBMC Home Theater PC</em></div> <div> <em>4. Build a Cellphone-Powered Robot</em></div> <div> <em>5. Make a Touchscreen Tablet Out of an Old Netbook</em></div> <div> <em>6. Turn an Old Projector into a Book Scanner</em></div> <div> <em>7. Use an Old PC Fan to Create a Battery-Charging Wind Turbine</em></div> <div> <em>8. Create a Home Security System with a Webcam</em></div> <div> <em>9. Create a Wireless Internet Radio from an Old Router</em></div> <div> <em>10. Turn an Old Mobile Device into a Dedicated VOIP Handset</em></div> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:32:59 -0700 Google Glass targeted as symbol by anti-tech crowd http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/google-glass-targeted-as-symbol-by-anti-tech-crowd/1077 <p> (CNN) - Glass, Google&#39;s high-profile entry into the world of wearable tech, may help launch a revolution if it&#39;s released later this year as expected. But test models already on the street have begun playing a more unlikely role -- as symbols in a simmering fight over Silicon Valley&#39;s impact on the city of San Francisco.</p> <p> It&#39;s a local story, but one with ramifications everywhere. While our smartphones drop easily into pockets and tablets get zipped up in cases or backpacks, wearables such as Glass are, quite literally, in your face all the time.</p> <p> The $1,500 device, which displays Web content on a tiny screen, signals its wearer as a likely member of an affluent tech elite. And Glass also can discreetly shoot photos or video, which some people view as invasive.</p> <p> That&#39;s caused unease for some folks and, in some cases has led to arguments, altercations and even attacks against people wearing the technology.<a href="http://www.wfmz.com/news/technology/google-glass-targeted-as-symbol-by-antitech-crowd/25481946" target="_blank"> (cont&#39;d)</a></p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:11:31 -0700 Graphene – The New Magical Material http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/graphene-%E2%80%93-the-new-magical-material/2250 Graphene may possibly be the future replacement for silicone. It’s a two-dimensional material that measures just one atom thick and has a breaking strength 300 times greater than steel. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:13:51 -0700 Power Of Choice: Breaking Content Barriers Can Be Good, Then Again… http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/power-of-choice-breaking-content-barriers-can-be-good-then-again%E2%80%A6/2253 The beginning of the end for cable’s linear, scheduled TV approach comes when the Internet players have too many subscribers for the content rights holders to ignore. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:12:43 -0700 Synching Mobile &amp; Desktop Devices http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/synching-mobile--desktop-devices/2252 Andy is an Android Operating System that runs on your computer - essentially making your Android device and all of your apps available on your PC or Mac! Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:12:27 -0700 Brands That Communicate Win http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/brands-that-communicate-win/2251 To combat this onslaught of mediocrity, we all need to remind our customers how much enjoyment quality AV gear can provide. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:12:14 -0700 Video Consistency: Entertainment Flexibility … Viewing Becomes Personal http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/video-consistency-entertainment-flexibility-%E2%80%A6-viewing-becomes-personal/2248 The good thing is, every network/station is getting their shows up to 4K as quickly as possible to capture even more eyeballs (ad dollars), so when you get your UHD TV set, you’ll have plenty of content. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:12:01 -0700 Installing Central Vacuum Systems http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/installing-central-vacuum-systems/2249 For both the consumer and builder, the central vacuum system adds value to the home, which means a builder has a high margin upgrade that he can build into the price of a home. The builder also has a competitive advantage over other builders who don’t install central vacs. Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:11:48 -0700 Piper packs security cam, home automation hub into one slick package http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/piper-packs-security-cam-home-automation-hub-into-one-slick-package/1076 <p> Webcams were one of the forerunners of the current Internet of Things boom, allowing smartphone-toting geeks to keep an eye on the office or homestead while out and about.&nbsp;Piper&nbsp;(starting at US$239), powered by iControl Networks, is targeted at the homeowner who wants a solution that provides both visually- and physically-based security by combining a security camera, Z-Wave home automation hub, and an iOS app into one nice-looking package. Let&#39;s take a look.</p> <p> <strong>Design Highlights</strong></p> <p> My first thought when I pulled the Piper out of the box was that it should come in yellow so it could look like one of the minions in&nbsp;<em>Despicable Me</em>. There&#39;s a big &quot;eye&quot; on the upper front of the unit, which has a curvaceous eye-shaped cross section as well. The unit is about 6.25 inches (15.88 cm) tall, about 2 inches (5.08 cm) thick and about 3.5 inches (8.89 cm) wide. It comes in either white or black, with a perforated gray plastic piece on top.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.tuaw.com/2014/04/10/piper-packs-security-cam-home-automation-hub-into-one-slick-pac/" target="_blank">Full Review:</a></p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:48:28 -0700 ISC West Largest Security Trade Show of the Year http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/isc-west-largest-security-trade-show-of-the-year/1075 <p> <span>SC West 2014, produced by ISC Events and sponsored by the Security Industry Association (SIA), attracted record attendance this year with more than 26,000 industry professionals attending the three-day exposition, which was held at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas April 2-4.&nbsp;</span><br style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" /> <br style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" /> <span>Attendees enjoyed direct access to tens of thousands of products from more than 1,000 exhibiting companies and brands while maintaining its intimate, friendly approach with small industry and association gatherings, receptions and a show floor designed to group products and technologies together. A strong sense of community prevailed within the 2014 edition of ISC West, which was the largest since 2007 and the second largest in the history of the show.&nbsp;</span><br style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" /> <br style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" /> <span>&quot;Exhibitors and attendees alike told us that ISC West 2014 was the best show they have seen in many years,&quot; said Ed Several, senior vice president at ISC Events. &quot;ISC Events witnessed record attendance, even more show floor area and, most importantly, a valuable view of all that the industry offers. Our exhibitors indicated their appreciation with higher renewals for next year. This year&#39;s event was a great balance between seeing all the latest technologies and products in one place while being able to network at all of the many industry and association events. As always, we thank the security industry for showing such confidence in ISC West, and we thank the Security Industry Association for their hard work and support.&quot;&nbsp;</span></p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:12:16 -0700 Prodea Systems Enters Home-Automation Fray http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/prodea-systems-enters-home-automation-fray/1074 <p> &nbsp;Family-owned Prodea Systems has developed a white-label mass-market home-automation system that, unlike competing systems, integrates control of home systems, networked A/V content, and third-party streaming and download services in one hub.</p> <p> The systems, content and services are controlled from a single app running on iOS and Android devices or from a computer.</p> <p> The company&rsquo;s Residential Operating System (ROS) &ldquo;protocol-agnostic&rdquo; platform also connects to home health-care devices and telemedicine services, and it offers low-cost home VoIP phone service.</p> <p> In the U.S., the Richardson, Texas-based company is targeting what it called &ldquo;emerging&rdquo; service providers and retailers, which could market their own private-label systems with recurring subscription revenues shared with Prodea. &ldquo;Recurring services are an extremely high-margin business,&rdquo; said Andrew Tauhert, marketing and business development executive VP.</p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:38:45 -0700 CEA Reports Continued Growth in Wireless, Multi-Room Audio System Sales http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/cea-reports-continued-growth-in-wireless-multi-room-audio-system-sales/1073 <p> Nearly one in five (16 percent) consumers owns a portable wireless speaker, according to research released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)&reg;. The study, Consumer Perspectives on Wireless Multi-Room and Portable Audio Solutions, explores the satisfaction levels among current owners of wireless multi-room audio (MRA) and portable audio solutions; which features are most important to consumers; and the future purchase intent for non-owners.&nbsp;</p> <div> Currently, one in ten consumers own a wireless MRA product, but nearly half of non-owners (44 percent) indicate interest in owning one. Portable wireless speakers, such as Bluetooth speakers, are also poised for growth, as 28 percent of consumers plan to purchase a related product in the next two years.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Overall, nearly all owners of both wireless MRA products and portable wireless speakers report that they are happy with their products. Additionally, 91 percent of wireless MRA product owners and 85 percent of portable wireless speaker owners would recommend their products to someone else.&nbsp;</div> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:52:58 -0700 ISC West 2014 Tradeshow Report http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/isc-west-2014-tradeshow-report/2245 ISC West is the security industry’s premier launching pad for new products, solutions and technologies. 26,000 security professionals attend the show to view the 10,000+ products featured on its show floor and attend business critical education sessions on the newest technologies in security. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:12:04 -0700 ISC West News Report http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/isc-west-news-report/2247 News and product announcements from ISC West 2014 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:11:48 -0700 ISC West 2014 Underway in Las Vegas, NV. http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/04/isc-west-2014-underway-in-las-vegas-nv/1072 <p> Taking place April 2nd - 4th in Las Vegas, Nevada ISC West is the largest physical security show in North America featuring over 1,000 exhibitors in one place over a 3 day period. &nbsp;ISC West is the security industry&rsquo;s premier launching pad for new products, solutions and technologies. &nbsp;26,000 security professionals attend the show to view the 10,000+ products featured on its show floor and attend business critical education sessions on the newest technologies in security.&nbsp;</p> <p> As a media partner for ISC West 2014 HomeToys.com will be bringing all the industry news and exciting new products to our eMagazine to help our readers make sense of the massive event.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.hometoys.com/news.php?show=ISCWEST14" target="_blank">Click here for our Special ISC West 2014 Newspage.</a></p> <p> <a href="http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/04/isc-west-2014-tradeshow-report/2245" target="_blank">Check out our ISC West tradeshow report here.</a></p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:14:41 -0700 Launched On Kickstarter, Musaic Promises Hi-Fi Music And Home Automation http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/launched-on-kickstarter-musaic-promises-hi-fi-music-and-home-automation/1071 <div> Compact wireless HiFi systems are pretty common these days, but what is less common is startups thinking more deeply about how the same systems could move into home automation and the Internet of Things. That&rsquo;s the implication behind a new system launched by device startup Musaic, recently launched on Kickstarter.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> It now plans to go up against much bigger audio-based companies, such as Bose. It&rsquo;s speakers system is, to some extend, a Trojan Horse for it&rsquo;s IoT platform.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Musaic is a new kind of HiFi system made up of wireless speakers, which also cleverly extends into home automation, and is able to deliver high quality 24 Bit content over not just Bluetooth but also Wifi.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <p> But it&rsquo;s the IoT realm that Musaic has its eyes on, with its system able to be associated with connect e lighting systems and other home automation devices.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s already joined the industry association called the AllSeen Alliance, run by the Linux Foundation, alongside others such as Qualcomm, HTC, AT&amp;T and many others. It can already control dimmers, bulbs and switches from the lighting brand LightwaveRF. And it&rsquo;s working closely with&nbsp;LIFX&nbsp;and&nbsp;WigWag&nbsp;(both Kickstarter successes) on integrating their products.</p> <p> The company was started in May 2013 by a team comprising of experienced audio industry people draw from the Cambridge UK high tech cluster.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 06:14:49 -0700 Why Nest’s valuation is higher than Opower’s: Hardware, consumers, the home http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/why-nest%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2s-valuation-is-higher-than-opower%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2s-hardware-consumers-the-home/1070 <p> Opower and Nest might not be direct competitors, but over the years they have quietly competed in key areas, namely building software for connected energy-efficient thermostats and focusing on energy data and algorithms. Opower even lists Nest as a &ldquo;key competitor&rdquo; in its latest filing. But now that Opower is going public and Nest has been bought by Google, it&rsquo;s interesting to see the two companies&rsquo; disparate valuations.</p> <p> <span>Nest was sold to Google for $3.2 billion. According to Opower&rsquo;s latest filing, at the midpoint of Opower&rsquo;s price range at $18 per share, the company has a market value of $854 million. Earlier in the month (before pricing their range) they had an enterprise valuation of $775.8 million. So, roughly speaking, Nest was valued at over three times (and almost four times) what Opower will be worth when it starts trading. &nbsp;<a href="http://gigaom.com/2014/03/26/why-nests-valuation-is-higher-than-opowers-hardware-consumers-the-home/" target="_blank">Full Article:</a></span></p> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 15:10:23 -0700 ExtremeUSB®: An overview of this patented USB extension technology. http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/extremeusb%C2%AE-an-overview-of-this-patented-usb-extension-technology/2244 As versatile as USB may be, it is restricted to an operational distance limitation of 5 meters for USB 1.1/2.0 and approximately 3 meters for USB 3.0. This persistent drawback to USB functionality was resolved by the introduction of ExtremeUSB®. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:06:54 -0700 Professional Installer’s Guide to IP Networking, Part 4 http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/professional-installer%E2%80%99s-guide-to-ip-networking-part-4/2243 While this is a far from comprehensive list, hopefully it provides a good overview of how to go about selecting which wireless technologies are best for your various client applications. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:06:39 -0700 Pairing Access Control and Video http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/pairing-access-control-and-video/2246 In a commercial setting, users need to keep track of who’s coming, who’s going, and where they go. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:06:22 -0700 JIT Data: It’s Not How Much Data You Have, It’s Data When You Need It http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/jit-data-it%E2%80%99s-not-how-much-data-you-have-it%E2%80%99s-data-when-you-need-it/2242 There are people who refer to the post-storage era; but frankly, I can’t figure out what in the heck they’re talking about. It can’t simply exist … somewhere. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:06:07 -0700 Samsung Delivers a Complete Home Entertainment Ecosystem with Its 2014 Product Lineup http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/samsung-delivers-a-complete-home-entertainment-ecosystem-with-its-2014-product-lineup/1069 <p> Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the leader in TV technology for 8 years, today announced the availability and pricing of its full 2014 Home Entertainment product lineup, including the immersive U9000 Series of Curved Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs and its expansive portfolio of home audio products.&nbsp;</p> <div> &quot;In 2014, we&#39;ve once again asserted our leadership in the home entertainment space by delivering the next big thing across our product categories,&quot; said Joe Stinziano, Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics America. &quot;From our full lineup of UHD and curved TVs to our Shape Wireless Audio-Multiroom Systems and content partnerships, we pride ourselves on offering consumers the ecosystem of choice, with beautifully designed premium home entertainment products that best suit their lifestyles.&quot;&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.hometoys.com/news/2014/03/25/samsung-delivers-a-complete-home-entertainment-ecosystem-with-its-2014-product-lineup/20004502" target="_blank">Full Press Release:</a></div> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 15:19:24 -0700 Smart Watches, Home Control Converge http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/smart-watches-home-control-converge/1068 <div> <p> Home-control capabilities are coming to smart watches.</p> <p> iControl Networks&nbsp;plans to offer an app for Samsung&rsquo;s Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smart watches to control thermostats, lighting systems, alarms and door locks connected to its connected-home solutions.</p> <p> iControl&rsquo;s products and services are offered by Comcast and Time Warner Cable.</p> <p> The app will be available for the watches when they become available in April.</p> <p> The Samsung Gear 2 Neo and Gear 2 become available April 11 at $199 and $299, respectively.</p> <p> For now, iControl continues to focus on sales through service providers and security companies, but &ldquo;iControl feels that retail will play a greater role in connected home solution distribution in the near future,&rdquo; a spokesperson said. The company&rsquo;s focus for now, however, &ldquo;is to continue to provide solutions through service providers and security companies that may choose to leverage this channel.&rdquo;</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> </div> </div> <div> &nbsp;</div> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 07:10:57 -0700 FCC Docs Detail New Verizon Home Automation Platform http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/fcc-docs-detail-new-verizon-home-automation-platform/1067 <p> Verizon hasn&rsquo;t been out of the home automation business for long, but it looks like the telco giant is already preparing to jump back in. According to FCC documents&nbsp;uncovered by Steve Donahue of&nbsp;<em>FierceCable</em>, Verizon appears to be preparing to launch a new FiOS gateway with an associated Zigbee home automation module. The FiOS Quantum Gateway goes by model number FiOS-G1100 and supports the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard along with the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. The module, meanwhile, is produced by GreenWave Reality, a California-based company that most recently made noise back at CES. GreenWave&rsquo;s platform includes applications for energy management, connected lighting, and home monitoring, but CMO Nate Williams&nbsp;told me in January&nbsp;that it can support far more.</p> <p> Williams has a history with Verizon, as he was previously CMO and head of business development for 4Home, the company that was acquired by Motorola, and that provided the technology basis for Verizon&rsquo;s now-defunct Verizon Home Monitoring and Control service.&nbsp;</p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 15:29:22 -0700 Safe and Sound – Lessons from the March 2014 InfoComm Economic Snapshot http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/safe-and-sound-%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%80%9C-lessons-from-the-march-2014-infocomm-economic-snapshot/1066 <p> The latest InfoComm International&nbsp;Economic Snapshot Survey&nbsp;indicates that the marketplace for both AV providers and end users is sound and stable. While the InfoComm Performance and Demand Indices are not showing significant expansion, no additional ground is being lost. More importantly, there are no significant drop-offs expected. While some segments are performing better than others, such as education, even the softest segments appear to be on generally solid ground.</p> <p> The InfoComm Performance Index is a measurement of how survey respondents feel about their business prospects, both now and in the future. The current six-month InfoComm Performance Index is at 70.5, solidly in the good range. The IPI is expected to hit 75.5 in the next six months. This reflects the highest IPI, both achieved and forecast, in the history of this survey. This continues the upward momentum reflected in the past two surveys.</p> <p> The March 2014 results reveal a continual up-tick in North America performance. But let&rsquo;s be clear &mdash; North American business has not reached the levels seen in burgeoning regions such as Latin America or the Middle East/Africa. In fact, North America&rsquo;s economic confidence level was rated as good, but is lower than every region, other than Europe. But given the size and importance of the North American market, we&rsquo;re hopeful this is an early sign of more positive things to come.. <a href="http://blog.infocommblog.org/allvoices/archives/3327" target="_blank">(Cont&#39;d)</a></p> <div> &nbsp;</div> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 05:44:56 -0700 Demand for smart home technology to skyrocket http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/demand-for-smart-home-technology-to-skyrocket/1065 <p> According to a new report from ABI Research, demand for smart home technology is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. In 2013, the research firm said that sales of wireless embedded smart home monitoring devices, such as contact and motion sensors, smart thermostats and smart plugs, grew to 17.23 million, almost double the amount of shipments in 2012. By 2018, it is expected that more than half-a-billion wireless smart home monitoring devices will be deployed in homes around the world.</p> <p> ABI said that growth will develop as new users move to use smart home systems and as users extend their existing systems. Additionally, companies like Honeywell, GE, Nest (recently acquired by Google), Kwikset, UTC, as well as many others are increasingly adding wireless connectivity to their home devices, bringing network connectivity and remote management to their offerings in order to appeal to growing numbers of smart home consumers.</p> <p> According to ABI, contact sensors for detecting whether windows and doors are closed were the most popular smart home monitoring device shipped last year while motion sensors were in second place. Both devices support smart home monitoring functionality but can also be used for additional applications such as energy management.</p> <p> &ldquo;Combined, over 84 million contact and motion sensors will ship annually by 2018; however, it is smart plugs, smart door locks and connected smoke and CO detectors that will see the greatest shipment growth,&rdquo; ABI Research Senior Analyst Adarsh Krishnan said in a statement.</p> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 05:56:49 -0700 ELK Products -M1 GOLD with Two-Way Wireless http://www.hometoys.com/products/ELK-Products--M1-GOLD-with-Two-Way-Wireless/5 The M1 Gold Cross-Platform Control combines security, energy management, lighting, and access control with the accessibility to over 50 integration partners offering a flexible and integration friendly approach to home and business management. With remote access capabilities and simple, user-friendly interfaces, M1 keeps homeowners informed and in control, anytime, anywhere! ELK’s Two-Way Wireless family of products for the M1 Cross Platform Control revolutionizes the reliability and functionality of wireless peripherals for homes and businesses. Designed with true, two-way signal acknowledgement, ELK’s two-way wireless technology assures installation confidence through signal quality and status LED indicators. RF power levels are constantly monitored and adjusted to deliver clear signal while maximizing battery life. ELK’s Two-Way Wireless products utilize 900 MHz frequency-hopping spread spectrum to increase signal diversity and agility to ensure signals get through. Easily add Two-Way Wireless to any home or business with this “Ready to Install” Value Package which includes • M1 Gold Control Board • Two-Way Wireless Transceiver (supports up to 144 wireless zones) • Two-Way Wireless 4 Button Keyfob • M1KP2 LCD Keypad • SWB14 Enclosure • 1280 8Ah Battery • TRG1640 AC Transformer • 73 Echo™ Paintable Interior Speaker • 952 In-line Telephone Surge Protector • RJSET Telco Jack & Cord Fri, 14 Mar 2014 14:51:18 -0700 Understanding MPEG-DASH http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/understanding-mpeg-dash/2239 MPEG-DASH works on any HTTP server and most mainstream media servers, which means that service providers are not required to invest in specialized MPEG-DASH-specific infrastructure. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:12:38 -0700 Professional Installer’s Guide to IP Networking, Part 3 http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/professional-installer%E2%80%99s-guide-to-ip-networking-part-3/2238 In this segment we will focus on Ethernet Switches—the backbone of your local network. When selecting a switch or a combination of switches for your network, there are several issues to consider. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:12:26 -0700 The Importance of Cabling for A/V Installations http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/03/the-importance-of-cabling-for-av-installations/2240 HDMI can be transmitted using senders and receivers over a single cat 5e/6 data cable. With the introduction of HDBaseT transmitters and senders power and control was incorporated into the single 5E/6 cable solution. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:12:06 -0700 HDMI vs. optical: Which digital-audio connection to use? http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/hdmi-vs-optical-which-digital-audio-connection-to-use/1064 <p> When it comes time to connect your shiny new sound bar or AV receiver, your two main choices are HDMI or optical digital audio.</p> <p> The simplest advice is to go with HDMI when you can. But if you can&#39;t it&#39;s not the end of the world.</p> <p> Here are the pros and cons of each.</p> <p> <strong>The basics</strong><br /> Both HDMI and optical pass digital audio from one device to another. Both are better than analog (the red and white cables). Both can pass multi-channel audio, like&nbsp;Dolby Digital. Both cables can be had pretty cheap.</p> <p> The biggest difference is that HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio, including the formats found on Blu-ray:&nbsp;Dolby TrueHD&nbsp;and&nbsp;DTS HD Master Audio. These formats can&#39;t get transmitted across optical.</p> <p> In terms of simplicity, HDMI also passes video signals. So if you want just a single cable between two devices, HDMI is your pick.</p> <p> <a href="http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57620266-221/hdmi-vs-optical-which-digital-audio-connection-to-use/" target="_blank">Cont&#39;d..</a></p> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 15:26:19 -0700 Sonos Says Sales Doubled in '13 as Home Sound-System Market Grew http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/sonos-says-sales-doubled-in-13-as-home-sound-system-market-grew/1063 <p> Sonos Inc., the maker of multiroom speaker systems, said revenue almost doubled to $535 million in 2013 as consumers increasingly used wireless technology with music services like Pandora in the home.</p> <p> The closely held maker of high-fidelity speakers and streaming software is disclosing its revenue for the first time. Sonos is attempting to expand from its base of music enthusiasts to grab a bigger share of the $10 billion home-audio market, said Tom Cullen, a company co-founder, in an interview. The Santa Barbara, California-based company, which raised $40 million in 2012, is operating at break-even, he said.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve set ourselves up as the best-kept secret in electronics, but the scale of everything we&rsquo;re trying to achieve really requires us to do things differently,&rdquo; Cullen said.</p> <p> Nine years after the company pioneered the whole-home wireless stereo market, it faces competition as bigger consumer electronics makers build products for the fastest-growing category in home audio.</p> <p> Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), based in Suwon, South Korea, in October introduced the Shape music system, while closely held Bose Corp. developed its SoundTouch speakers. Bang &amp; Olufsen A/S (BO) has released new wireless systems developed under an audio standard known as WiSA, in which Sharp Corp. (6753) and Pioneer Electronics Co. also are members.</p> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 06:14:55 -0700 Wilson Electronics - Boost your weak Cell signal at home http://www.hometoys.com/products/Wilson-Electronics---Boost-your-weak-Cell-signal-at-home/13 We deliver cell phone booster solutions for mobile, building, and machine-to-machine (M2M) data transfer situations. As provider of North America's top-selling line of cell phone signal boosters, Wilson designs and manufactures a wide variety of amplifiers, antennas and related components to improve communications for cell phones and cellular data devices. Tue, 11 Mar 2014 06:12:16 -0700 Best Buy Still Leads Retail Market Share; Apple Store Gaining http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/best-buy-still-leads-retail-market-share-apple-store-gaining/1062 <p> Best Buy&#39;s share of the U.S. specialty electronics market remains around one third, but Apple has gained into double digits for the first time. That&#39;s according to data from Euromonitor International,&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.marketwatch.com/behindthestorefront/2014/03/04/apple-takes-a-bite-out-of-radioshack-best-buys-market-share" target="_blank" title="as cited by MarketWatch. ">as cited by MarketWatch.&nbsp;</a><br /> <br /> The top five- Best Buy, Apple, RadioShack, hhgregg and Micro Electronics- remains intact from 2009 and 2011, but Best Buy&#39;s share has slipped from 33.5 percent to 31.3 percent, with Apple jumping from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 10.8 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2013. RadioShack&#39;s share has dropped from 5.5 in &#39;09 to 4.5 percent four years later.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 06:23:48 -0700 Home Energy Management Systems Will Reach $2.8 Billion in Annual Revenue by 2020, Forecasts Navigant Research http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/home-energy-management-systems-will-reach-28-billion-in-annual-revenue-by-2020-forecasts-navigant-research/1061 <p> Until 2012, home energy management (HEM) systems, which help residential customers monitor and adjust their energy use, struggled to gain market traction. More recently, however, non-utility stakeholders have moved into this segment, increasing awareness of new tools and helping to drive steady growth. Click to tweet: According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from home energy management systems will grow from $512 million in 2013 to $2.8 billion in 2020.&nbsp;</p> <div> The market is expected to decline significantly after that, to $1.8 billion in 2022, the report finds.&nbsp;</div> <div> <br /> &quot;Companies like Comcast, ADT, Verizon, and AT&amp;T in the United States have added energy management as an option that can be bundled with home security, automation, or internet access,&quot; says Neil Strother, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. &quot;The uptake of home energy management by consumers is still relatively low, but these service providers are seeding a market that has reasonable potential over the next several years.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The primary driver for HEM systems is consumers&#39; desire to reduce their electricity bills. At the same time, the advent of smart thermostats - which include two-way communications capabilities that can take advantage of demand response signals - is creating new appeal among consumers and utilities alike. The acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest Labs by Google, for a reported $3.2 billion, is seen by many industry observers as a potential watershed moment for the overall HEM market.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.hometoys.com/news/2014/03/06/home-energy-management-systems-will-reach-28-billion-in-annual-revenue-by-2020-forecasts-navigant-research/20004322" target="_blank">Cont&#39;d</a></div> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 05:43:38 -0800 HomeSeer Unveils World's First Android Tabletop Touchscreen for use with Home Automation http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/homeseer-unveils-worlds-first-android-tabletop-touchscreen-for-use-with-home-automation/1060 <p> HomeSeer announces the release of the world&#39;s first and only Android tabletop touchscreen for home automation! The new WFTT07 performs like a tablet but is free standing, has impressive sound quality and boots automatically to the company&#39;s HSTouch home automation app.&nbsp;</p> <div> The tabletop form factor is unique in the industry and makes the WFTT07 ideal for use on night stands, coffee tables, counter tops and work benches. Additional Android apps may also be installed onto the unit to transform it into a streaming music and video player, recipe manager or social media portal.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Setup is quick and easy. Simply connect the included power adapter, configure the WiFi and HSTouch server settings and you&#39;re done! A rechargeable lithium ion battery enables the unit for portable use, if desired.&nbsp;<br /> WFTT07 Touchscreens are in stock and ready for purchase now through HomeSeer and its worldwide network of dealers and distributors.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> HomeSeer automation systems are designed to work seamlessly with industry standards and products from leading Z-Wave manufactures such as Cooper, Schlage, Kwikset, Baldwin, Yale, GE, Honeywell, Leviton, Linear, Everspring, Evolve, Fibaro, FortrezZ, Aeon Labs, RCS, and many more.&nbsp;</div> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 06:00:12 -0800 SAVANT® SYSTEMS INTRODUCES ALL NEW SMART SERIES LINE http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/03/savant%C3%82%C2%AE-systems-introduces-all-new-smart-series-line/1059 <p> Savant Systems introduced the Smart Series control and automation product line. Smart Series products utilize the brand&#39;s award-winning technology to bring the Savant experience to a broader audience. Complete packages start at $1,599 MSRP and include the new Smart Host ($799 MSRP), remote and controller. Deployed over multiple rooms within the home, this brings the cost of a Savant solution as low as $1K per room. The new Smart Series product line will be offered through Savant&#39;s network of over 1,500 authorized integrators spanning 35 countries.&nbsp;</p> <div> Savant&#39;s technology is the center of the smart home, enabling management of home theater, music, security, thermostat, lights, energy management, automated shades and more, all from a single intuitive app. The company provides homeowners seamless, simple and reliable management of &quot;the internet of things,&quot; all easily controlled via leading portable devices including iOS and Android&trade;.&nbsp;</div> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 05:59:54 -0800 Middle Atlantic Products http://www.hometoys.com/products/Middle-Atlantic-Products/22 Middle Atlantic Products manufactures Exceptional Support & Protection Products for the Commercial AV, Security, Data/Structured Cabling, Residential Entertainment, Broadcast, Recording Studio and Music Performance markets. Our end-to-end solutions maximize the operation and lifespan of many critical systems. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:28:22 -0800 Three Reasons Ruggedness Matters http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/three-reasons-ruggedness-matters/1058 <p> You can no longer walk through a shopping mall, airport or museum without seeing video screens and digital signage technology on display. It is no surprise that industry analysts continue to predict double-digit growth in the digital signage market, and that industry events are attracting widespread attention.</p> <p> We require so much more of public displays than we do of our televisions. Commercial-grade digital signage displays must stand up to the demands of a 24&times;7 environment. They must have sophisticated mechanical designs and connectivity to allow for the management of signage networks. And they must also be rugged.<br /> Here are three reasons why ruggedness matters as well as how to evaluate digital signage solutions for this important characteristic: &nbsp;<a href="http://blog.infocommblog.org/allvoices/archives/3310" target="_blank">Cont&#39;d</a></p> Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:03:08 -0800 Professional Installer’s Guide to IP Networking, Part 2 http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/-professional-installer%E2%80%99s-guide-to-ip-networking-part-2/2237 In this article we will focus on Routers, a key element that can make or break your installation. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 01:14:50 -0800 36 million homes in Europe and North America will be smart by 2017 http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/36-million-homes-in-europe-and-north-america-will-be-smart-by-2017/2235 Berg Insight’s definition of a smart home system requires that it has a smartphone app or a web portal as a user interface. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 01:14:38 -0800 The Potential of Holographic Displays http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/the-potential-of-holographic-displays/2236 The future of holography is very promising with the next generation of holographic images that will be startling in their realism. Using these astonishing images, we will see holographic displays expanding into many different technologies. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 01:14:24 -0800 Largest Content Provider in Dubai Closes the Gap Between 4K Content Generation and Distribution http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/largest-content-provider-in-dubai-closes-the-gap-between-4k-content-generation-and-distribution/2234 The 4K trends we’re seeing are a clear significant push for 4K from the TV manufacturers; we need content for them and everyone else involved in the 4K industry. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 01:14:00 -0800 Amazon set to battle Apple TV, Roku with new box http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/amazon-set-to-battle-apple-tv-roku-with-new-box/1057 <div> Amazon&rsquo;s long-rumored plans to develop a &ldquo;TV box,&rdquo; to compete with Apple&rsquo;s Apple TV, Google&rsquo;s Chromecast and Roku&rsquo;s family of products, are set for fruition with a rollout as soon as next month, Recode reported Friday.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> According to the report by Peter Kafka, which cited &ldquo;industry sources,&rdquo; Amazon had originally planned to unveil the product for the holidays but will instead aim for March:</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> That won&rsquo;t be a huge shock, since Amazon has been working on a box for much of last year. The company had planned on launching one in time for the Christmas shopping season, then shelved those plans.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> A box is also a logical move for Amazon, which is investing heavily to build up a Web video catalog, and is starting to produce its own shows as well. An Amazon box will allow its customers to easily watch that stuff on their TVs; it should also give other content providers a chance to serve up their stuff via apps, in the way that Roku and Apple TV boxes do.</div> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 06:12:45 -0800 Game-Changing Bluetooth(R) Smart Solution Enables Whole Home Control from the Smartphone for the First Time http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/game-changing-bluetoothr-smart-solution-enables-whole-home-control-from-the-smartphone-for-the-first-time/1056 <div> Technology pioneer CSR plc today announces the launch of a technically disruptive new Bluetooth(R) Smart solution designed to place the smartphone at the center of the Internet of Things (IoT). CSR Mesh allows for an almost unlimited number of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices to be simply networked together and controlled directly from a single smartphone, tablet or PC for the first time.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The solution, which is optimized for smart home and IoT applications, combines a configuration and control protocol with CSR&#39;s proven Bluetooth Smart devices, including CSR101x(TM) and CSR8811(TM). It will allow consumers to control any Bluetooth Smart enabled device in the home from wherever they are, including lighting, heating, appliances and security systems. Crucially for the consumer experience, solutions based on the protocol don&#39;t require the complex setup, pairing, or use of an access device such as a router.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &quot;Unlike other home automation connectivity solutions, such as Zigbee or Z-Wave, CSR Mesh ensures direct control from mobile devices anywhere in the home, because it doesn&#39;t have a limited range or require a hub,&quot; says Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President, Business Group at CSR. &quot;CSR is committed to driving Internet of Things innovation. We believe this Bluetooth Smart solution will be a real game changer for developers because it means they don&#39;t have to turn to proprietary solutions or add anything else to create products that give consumers what they want -- complete home automation they can control from anywhere that &#39;just works&#39;.&quot;</div> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 06:18:40 -0800 Belkin Patches WeMo Home Automation Vulnerabilities http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/belkin-patches-wemo-home-automation-vulnerabilities/1055 <div> Belkin has an intriguing suite of WeMo-branded smart devices for home automation, including light switches, motion detectors, integration with appliances, and more, but security firm IOActive recently discovered multiple vulnerabilities in WeMo--vulnerabilities that Belkin says it has now patched.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Belkin&rsquo;s statement on the subject reads in part:</div> <div> <div> <em>Belkin has corrected the list of five potential vulnerabilities affecting the WeMo line of home automation solutions that was published in a CERT advisory on February 18. Belkin was in contact with the security researchers prior to the publication of the advisory, and, as of February 18, had already issued fixes for each of the noted potential vulnerabilities via in-app notifications and updates.&nbsp;</em></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The most recent firmware update resolves the issues, which included the ability for a hacker to snag cryptographic keys and passwords, the ability to hack one WeMo device from another, an XML injection vulnerability, and a lack of SSL integrity.</div> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Thu, 20 Feb 2014 13:29:53 -0800 Canary is simple, affordable home security http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/canary-is-simple-affordable-home-security/1054 <p> Crowdfunding has been a boon for connected home technology gadgets. Canary was quite the hit on&nbsp;IndieGoGo, exceeding its $100,000 goal by about 1,860,000 &nbsp;to fund its development. Now, the $199 box is almost ready to start protecting homes around the world.&nbsp; Canary is a sensor you can place anywhere in the room that combines&nbsp; video, heat, humidity, and motion-sensing capabilities into one box that&rsquo;s connected to your home network. An app on your smartphone or tablet alerts you to changes in your home.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> One of the big advantages of Canary is that the device learns &nbsp;habits, such as your comings and goings.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Automatically adjusting for times it knows you&rsquo;re not at home, it won&rsquo;t set off the alarm for that 2AM baby feeding like it would if it was 2PM and everyone is at school or work. In all cases, Canary sings only to you, no fire departments called or some guy from the alarm company calling when you leave the water boiling too long on the stove. The wide-angle lens in Canary also features IR night vision, and the video can be streamed to anywhere you are for total piece of mind. So if you get an alert and are worried your house is on fire, just check the security feed to see the true state of your home. At $199 per unit, Canary is great for people without a lot of area to cover, like an apartment. Those looking to cover a large house with dozens of rooms might want to build up a system slowly to spread the cost out over time.</div> Tue, 18 Feb 2014 15:22:32 -0800 Comcast deal a blow to Apple TV and Netflix http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/comcast-deal-a-blow-to-apple-tv-and-netflix/1053 <div> Apple investors and Netflix fans better start writing to their elected officials in Washington to oppose Comcast&#39;s $45 billion acquisition offer for rival Time Warner Cable.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The reason?</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> If the giant cable merger announced today is approved by regulators without any conditions to protect consumers, the deal will be a disaster both for users who want access to low-cost, Web-based entertainment and for the companies that want to deliver it.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The acquisition could put a major hurt on Apple CEO Tim Cook and the company&#39;s shareholders, who&#39;ve been hoping for more than a year that a digital entertainment device might help revive the company&#39;s fading revenue growth.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Comcast offer came amid reports this week that Apple was once again negotiating with Time Warner to license movies and TV programs for the long-rumored Apple TV platform.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Without that type of premium content, any future Apple device will likely be a poorly-selling box that consumers can&#39;t watch much with.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> But in the wake of the Comcast&#39;s announcement, any leverage Apple may have gained in those talks by playing America&#39;s two largest cable rivals against each other has evaporated.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> It&#39;s as if Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has told the Apple CEO, &quot;Here&#39;s what I think of your latest proposal to Time Warner, Mr. Cook!&quot;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Roberts is no fool. He and others in the cable industry have seen how Apple&#39;s iTunes store has eviscerated the profit margins of the music business.</div> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 06:18:56 -0800 Google comes to the digital signage side http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/google-comes-to-the-digital-signage-side/1052 <p> Intel dropped a Google-sized rock in the digital signage pond in the middle of today&#39;s opening keynote at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas.</p> <p> Intel&#39;s Jose Avalos, the company&#39;s director of digital signage, embedded and communications group, announced that, on the heels of the release of Google&#39;s Chromeboxes last week, the search engine and Internet services behemoth would be turning at least some of its focus to digital signage.</p> <p> The Chromeboxes could become very inexpensive digital signage media players, and the Chrome platform itself could make the back end cheaper as well, Google&#39;s Rajen Sheth, director of product management, Chrome for business and education, told Digital Signage Today in an interview following the keynote.</p> <p> &quot;So really what it is is the Chrome platform and a few things that we&#39;re doing with the Chrome platform,&quot; Sheth said. &quot;First is to make the hardware itself lower and lower cost and affordable &mdash; for example the new Chromebox we released with ASUS last week is only $179, and it&#39;s coming down and down and down in price &mdash; but then the bigger thing is, even if the hardware is low cost, it&#39;s very tough to maintain this kind of a distributed network of hardware, and that&#39;s what we really make possible with the Chrome platform.&quot;</p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 13:25:40 -0800 Professional Installer’s Guide to IP Networking, Part I http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/professional-installer%E2%80%99s-guide-to-ip-networking-part-i/2231 This is the first in a 4 part series. In this segment we will discuss the basic components of an IP network and the functions of those components in the first segment. In segments 2-4, we will take a closer look at Routers, Switches and Wireless Networking. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 10:01:32 -0800 An Uncertain Future for Quantum Computing? http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/an-uncertain-future-for-quantum-computing-/2233 Quantum computing is here to shake the existing mechanical, electrical and electronic systems. Modern electronics in particular will not be the same if quantum computing gains acceptance. There’re voices of support as well as dissent. In this post, we’ll analyze future trends in quantum computing. Keep reading! Thu, 13 Feb 2014 10:01:18 -0800 Content is Definitely King since Google Changed Search Algorithms http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/content-is-definitely-king-since-google-changed-search-algorithms/2232 The bottom line is that Google has reduced the importance of links to a site and has promoted the importance of the site’s content. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 10:01:04 -0800 Home Theater Furniture and Mounts by Sanus http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/02/home-theater-furniture-and-mounts-by-sanus/2230 As TVs continue to get bigger, and wall-mounting easier, the trend seems to be heading towards wall-mounting. However, with the combinations of AV furniture and mounts that we offer, a consumer could have their TV wall-mounted, but utilize a Cadenza or Trillium piece of furniture to store AV gear beneath. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 10:00:48 -0800 URC launches ccGen2 whole-house automation system http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/urc-launches-ccgen2-whole-house-automation-system/1051 <p> From the entry-level DIY smart home products that seem to be flooding the marketplace to the more sophisticated and comprehensive (not to mention expensive) automation systems, the home automation business is experiencing a boom right now. Somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum is URC, which offers a mid-level automation with it&rsquo;s Complete Control and Total Control systems.</p> <div> <p> Today URC announced it&rsquo;s ccGEN2, which means Complete Control Generation Two, a two-way, Internet-based automation system scheduled to roll out through select distributors starting early next month with distributor Volutone, located in California and Nevada.</p> <p> The ccGEN2 &nbsp;line will include 12 different products, including two wand-style remotes, two in-wall keypads (one is a touchscreen), mobile apps and network system controllers.&nbsp;Doug Cole, senior vice president and general manager of URC, says:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> &ldquo;&hellip; we&rsquo;re excited to offer ccGEN2 through our distribution partners as a newfound opportunity to make the most of the growing awareness and marketing for home automation in a simplified, yet powerful way. We expect this next generation line to take the Complete Control brand into the whole house and the future.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> ccGEN2 products, with few exceptions, are not compatible with URC&rsquo;s one-way, RF/IR Complete Control system or with Total Control products. The base system starts at about $ 1,000 with the main controller and the top of the line remote control with video capability.&nbsp;For the main controller and an app it is about $800. You can scale from there to add keypads and other things.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Wed, 12 Feb 2014 06:18:20 -0800 Verizon drops Home Monitoring and Control service http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/verizon-drops-home-monitoring-and-control-service/1050 <div> Verizon has stopped accepting orders for its Home Monitoring and Control product, and will only allow FiOS customers who already subscribe to the $9.99 monthly service to continue using it, a spokesman said Monday.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Verizon introduced Home Monitoring and Control, which lets FiOS subscribers control security cameras, lighting, door locks and thermostats with their FiOS TV remotes, and through a mobile application and website, in 2011. It stopped accepting new orders in October, spokesman John Columbus told FierceCable.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Rival AT&amp;T launched a wireless-based home automation service last year called AT&amp;T Digital Life, and Comcast and Time Warner Cable market their respective Xfinity Home and IntelligentHome products to broadband subscribers.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <div> Verizon officials suggested that the telco may introduce a new home automation product, but wouldn&#39;t say if the company is considering adopting a wireless-based approach similar to AT&amp;T Digital Life.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &quot;We are revisiting the service to more accurately reflect our vision for the connected home. As technology and consumer expectations evolve so must our offerings,&quot; &nbsp;Columbus said.&nbsp;</div> </div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 14:37:03 -0800 Ex-Google employees announce Beep, the Chromecast of audio http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/ex-google-employees-announce-beep-the-chromecast-of-audio-/1049 <p> Two former Google employees on Thursday announced Beep, an audio device designed to make it simple for users to stream music throughout their home speakers.</p> <div> <p> Beep is a small copper device that connects to users Wi-Fi networks to play music from streaming services such as&nbsp;Pandora. The device is designed to make it easy for users to listen to music from the Internet without having to leave their smartphones hooked up to their speakers.</p> <p> The device was created by a team of 10 led by Daniel Conrad and Shawn Lewis, both of whom trace their roots back to Google. The duo began working on Beep a year and a half ago.</p> <p> &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no good way today to play the Pandoras and Spotifys of the world on your home speakers,&rdquo; Conrad told The Times. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got it on your phone, you&rsquo;ve got it on your laptop, but you don&rsquo;t have it on your home speakers.&rdquo;</p> <p> Conrad and Lewis said setting up a Beep device takes only a matter of minutes. Users connect the gadget to their speakers using an auxiliary or optical cable. They then download a mobile app to set up the device and connect it to the Internet. Once that&rsquo;s done, users can begin playing music.</p> <p> The device connects directly to the Internet on its own, but users control it with an app on their&nbsp;Apple iOS&nbsp;and Android mobile devices.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 06:14:19 -0800 CONTROL4 CHOSEN BY TOLL BROTHERS FOR HOME AUTOMATION http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/control4-chosen-by-toll-brothers-for-home-automation/1048 <p> Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ: CTRL), a leading provider of automation and control solutions for the connected home, today announced that it has been selected by Toll Brothers, Inc. (NYSE:TOL) (www.tollbrothers.com), a leading national builder of luxury homes, to provide Toll Brothers&#39; home buyers the option to include the latest smart home automation technology in their new homes. Control4&reg; solutions will be offered to buyers of select new Toll Brothers&#39; homes throughout the U.S., and buyers will have access to professional and custom configuration by in-market certified Control4 specialists.&nbsp;</p> <div> Under the agreement with Toll Brothers, prospective home buyers will be able to choose from several pre-configured Control4&reg; automation packages. These packages feature high-performance automation controllers, intelligent lighting, thermostats, smart locks, touchscreens, multi-room audio/video solutions, and smart phone and tablet accessibility. New homeowners will also have access to additional automation capability and products via a network of independent automation specialists trained and certified by Control4 to customize the homeowner&#39;s smart home to their precise needs.&nbsp;</div> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 15:15:10 -0800 Integrated Systems Europe 2014 - HomeToys has all the news from this years show http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/02/integrated-systems-europe-2014--hometoys-has-all-the-news-from-this-years-show/1047 <div> Integrated Systems Europe is the world&rsquo;s largest tradeshow dedicated to professional AV and electronic systems integration.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> ISE 2013 attracted over 44,000 attendees to its Amsterdam location, where 894 exhibitors occupied more than 33,000 square metres of total net floor space.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <p> For well over a decade HomeToys.com has been covering ISE and sifting through all the news pages and product announcements to bring you a special ISE Newspage devoted to the key trends and most important announcements to the Home Technology and AV Systems industry.</p> <p> <span>Make sure to check out our special&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.hometoys.com/news.php?show=ISE14" target="_blank">ISE 2014 Newspage</a><span>&nbsp;for Exhibitor news and announcements.</span></p> Mon, 03 Feb 2014 15:40:16 -0800 Beyond The Cable: 4K Sets the Stage for Tomorrow’s Entertainment Opportunities http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/beyond-the-cable-4k-sets-the-stage-for-tomorrow%E2%80%99s-entertainment-opportunities/2224 With cable companies losing their grip on the TV set viewing public and the growing use of streaming media solutions for 4K UHD TV sets and content owners the blowback has all but disappeared. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:10:51 -0800 Google Bought Nest to Catch Up in the Contextual O/S Race http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/google-bought-nest-to-catch-up-in-the-contextual-os-race/2225 The fledgling home automation market is only a qualifying event for Google vs. Apple. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:10:28 -0800 Keep Those Components Cool! http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/keep-those-components-cool/2227 Here are a few short white papers to help you avoid problems with overheating components in your home theater installations. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:08:15 -0800 The iDock by iRoom http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/the-idock-by-iroom/2226 Whether it’s App driven or Big Control, the majority of our customers are controlling automation systems in homes, offices and retail spaces. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:07:41 -0800 The Importance of Field Based Cable Length Measurement for Cable Installers http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/the-importance-of-field-based-cable-length-measurement-for-cable-installers-/2229 Quick, accurate determination of cable length and line continuity testing using hand-held cable length instruments brings value to the cable installer, the contractor, and the customer during installation, trouble-shooting and routine maintenance cabling jobs. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:06:54 -0800 New Product Focus http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/new-product-focus/2228 We are often asked to publish more stories about new products so here are a few that came across my desk over the last few weeks. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:06:30 -0800 The Internet of Things might not be what you're hoping for http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/the-internet-of-things-might-not-be-what-youre-hoping-for/1046 <p> Take a look at this chart. It shows Google&#39;s search trends for the term &quot;internet of things&quot;, aka &quot;IoT&quot;. That blip at the end lines up with CES -- the tipping point where suddenly talking about &quot;IoT&quot; became immensely fashionable.</p> <div> CES may have started the flywheel spinning, but it was Google&#39;s acquisition of Nest that built up sufficient momentum such that the whole IoT thing may not stop for years.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> But there&#39;s a problem with IoT, and it&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/1949.html">ably summed up by internet satirists Joy of Tech</a>:</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <p> Joy of Tech&#39;s riff keys into some online chatter that happened after Google&#39;s announcement about trust and privacy. In essence, whilst people were generally cool with trusting Nest&#39;s founders with private data about their home, they were not generally cool with trusting Google.</p> <p> In this scenario, can you think of anyone who would be generally trusted? Microsoft? Apple? Facebook? They all have their own agenda when it comes to personal data. Really, they have the same agenda, namely that in order to realise their enormous investment in technology, they somehow have to turn you into some kind of&nbsp;<em>asset</em>. &nbsp;<a href="http://www.zdnet.com/the-internet-of-things-might-not-be-what-youre-hoping-for-7000025639/" target="_blank">Cont&#39;d.</a></p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 15:21:21 -0800 Former Barnes &amp; Noble CEO William J. Lynch Appointed CEO of Savant Systems http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/former-barnes--noble-ceo-william-j-lynch-appointed-ceo-of-savant-systems/1045 <p> Today, Savant Systems, LLC, a leader in smart home products and technology, announced William J. Lynch has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. Robert Madonna, the company&rsquo;s founder and CEO since 2005 will continue to help steer Savant&rsquo;s innovation in his ongoing role as the Chairman of the Board.</p> <div> <span>&ldquo;To take the innovative Smart Home platform the Savant team has built and refined over eight years, and be able to offer to a broader consumer audience for the first time is an incredible opportunity,&rdquo; said William J. Lynch, CEO of Savant Systems. &ldquo;Until now, the business has been concentrated in the luxury housing market. Starting this spring, we&rsquo;re delighted to be able to offer incredible home automation, built upon the rigorous engineering principles that Savant established and continues to uphold, to the mass market. We look forward to working with our valued dealers to bring Savant Smart homes to millions of consumers. It&rsquo;s an exciting time to be joining the company.&rdquo;</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <p> Lynch, the former CEO of Barnes &amp; Noble, transformed the bookseller into the leading retailer of content, digital media and reading devices. Lynch was responsible for leading the creation of the critically acclaimed NOOK devices and software and brought them to the consumer market. Under his leadership, Barnes &amp; Noble introduced many award-winning, popular devices, including the world&rsquo;s first Android color tablet and the first commercially successful touch eReader. During his tenure, more than 10 million devices were sold and the company achieved a strong share of the U.S. eBook and digital magazine market.&nbsp; Prior to Barnes &amp; Noble, Lynch held leadership and executive positions at HSNi, IAC, and Palm Computing.</p> Tue, 28 Jan 2014 15:25:16 -0800 All-Seeing Security System Allows Complete Home http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/all-seeing-security-system-allows-complete-home/1044 <p> Developed by Ontario-based smart monitor company&nbsp;Blacksumac, Piper received the necessary funding through&nbsp;Indiegogo in September 2013, earning over $300,000 in a single month. This recently-released product uses a Z-Wave to turn appliances off and on, video-monitor rooms, detect motion, record video, and provide home stats (temperature, humidity, etc.), all of which are accessible from a smartphone.</p> <div> <span>The system even allows you to add if/then commands from the phone in case of intruders. For example, it&rsquo;s easy to input a command for when a specific door is open, such as &ldquo;send me a text&rdquo; or &ldquo;sound the siren.&rdquo; Even if you have a furry friend at home, Piper&rsquo;s setting can be altered so that your pet won&rsquo;t set off alarms meant for a robber. The device is still a work in progress, with&nbsp;Blacksumac working to integrate voice command technology in the near future.</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <p> When you arrive home, there&rsquo;s no need to input a code to turn off the alarms you&rsquo;ve set. The system will use Blutooth to detect when you are in the area (assuming you have your phone) and shut off all security settings. By having the system completely accessible from your phone, there are some concerns about whether the system can be hacked, though no cases of such have arisen thus far.</p> </div> Mon, 27 Jan 2014 06:15:41 -0800 Securing the Smart Home, from Toasters to Toilets http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/securing-the-smart-home-from-toasters-to-toilets/1043 <div> Hackers have long wreaked havoc on PCs via the Internet, leading to data breaches and computer crashes. Now that the rush is on to add connectivity to everything from crockpots to light bulbs, the stakes get even higher&mdash;and more personal (see &ldquo;More Connected Homes, More Problems&rdquo;). Antivirus software helped PCs, but you can&rsquo;t simply install a software suite developed for your desktop on a smart toaster; as a result, connected home devices typically rely on the user going online and setting up a username and password for protection.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> A number of tech companies and industry groups say that &ldquo;smart&rdquo; devices are hitting store shelves with little in the way of security protection. Security experts blame a number of factors for the problem: startups may put security in the backseat in their haste to get products out the door, and established companies that have traditionally operated offline&mdash;like stereo or TV manufacturers&mdash;could simply fail to realize that they need to protect against threats when it comes to Internet-connected gadgets.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;They&rsquo;re not being stupid,&rdquo; says Marc Rogers, lead security researcher at mobile security company Lookout. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just not something they&rsquo;ve had to deal with.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> So while companies roll out everything from &ldquo;smart&rdquo; lights and door locks that you can control with a smartphone to connected toilets and blood-pressure monitors, a movement is also afoot to make these products as secure as possible.</div> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:17:29 -0800 Broadcom says wireless home audio will be wicked cool with WICED http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/broadcom-says-wireless-home-audio-will-be-wicked-cool-with-wiced/1042 <p> Broadcom says that it will get much easier to stream high-definition audio over WiFi networks around the home thanks to a new technology dubbed WICED.</p> <div> Broadcom will make chips that support the WICED Audio platform, and it is announcing a software development kit that will make it a lot easier for gadget makers to create advanced wireless audio gadgets for the home.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <div> WICED stands for Broadcom&rsquo;s Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices. It uses WiFi networking to stream HD audio over greater distances and without audio glitches. It features better synchronization of audio so that WiFi can deliver audio streams to multiple rooms in a home. It also supports Apple&rsquo;s AirPlay protocol for streaming media from iOS devices.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> That means you can stream from a WICED-compatible device and stream high-quality audio to wireless speakers in the home, using a WiFi network. You can do this without having to put your media player, such as an iPod, in a docking station or connect it with a cable. Home media devices can seamlessly connect to smart TVs, portable speakers, set-top boxes, and sound bars using the Digital Living Network Alliance standard or an advanced streaming application for Android.</div> </div> Wed, 22 Jan 2014 06:10:31 -0800 The HomeToys CES 2014 Tradeshow Report http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/the-hometoys-ces-2014-tradeshow-report/2212 For well over a decade HomeToys.com has been covering CES and sifting through all the news pages and product announcements to bring you a neatly compiled list of some of the new and interesting products we think are important to the Home Technology and AV Systems industry. Tue, 21 Jan 2014 11:37:37 -0800 The Digital Signage Industry and Expo 2014 http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/the-digital-signage-industry-and-expo-2014/2222 This year’s exhibit floor will have 40 new companies and 38 companies from outside the USA showcasing solutions (some of them for the first time). Tue, 21 Jan 2014 11:36:54 -0800 My N3rd is a unique take on home automation http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/my-n3rd-is-a-unique-take-on-home-automation/1041 <p> Home automation&nbsp;is one of those new things that&rsquo;s really an old thing, but we still can&rsquo;t get things to do their thing. Several OEMs have made passing attempts at getting us to buy into their home automation schemes, but that requires compromise. We don&rsquo;t want compromise. My N3rd just might be the answer, though.</p> <div> <span>The smallish device promises big things. By attaching itself to your devices &mdash; any device &mdash; My N3rd can pretty much make your stuff do what you want it to do. The&nbsp;</span><span><span>app</span></span><span>, which looks fairly simple (and will be available for Android at launch), is used to connect to your N3rds (pronounced &lsquo;nerds&rsquo;, in case you were a bit confused) via WiFi. Being connected to your WiFi means you can play with stuff rom anywhere in the world.</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <p> Being connected to your stuff means you have ultimate control, and no real interface to master. You also don&rsquo;t have to buy several of one kind of product, so outfitting your home with new&nbsp;LG&nbsp;or Samsung stuff simply isn&rsquo;t necessary. You like that $20 Mr Coffee&nbsp;<span><span>java</span></span>&nbsp;maker? Great, N3rd it up.</p> <p> My N3rd may not be the cleanest solution, as it will require a bit or wiring, but it&rsquo;s one that could end up the most ubiquitous. The ability to work with anything in your home, even to simply turn things off and on from anywhere, is attractive to some. If you&rsquo;re wondering how much it&rsquo;s going to cost,&nbsp;Kickstarter donations of $75 or more&nbsp;actually puts the N3rd in your hand when they&rsquo;re available. A simple electricians&nbsp;<span><span>courses</span></span>? Those vary in cost.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Mon, 20 Jan 2014 09:29:16 -0800 The CES of Everything: Weathering the Battle for Eyeballs, Mindshare, Heart http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/the-ces-of-everything-weathering-the-battle-for-eyeballs-mindshare-heart/2221 Buckets Full – Filling every nook and cranny to overflowing, companies large and small helped draw more than 150,000 people to Vegas for the annual “hope to gawd you like me” CES event. Fri, 17 Jan 2014 01:42:14 -0800 Enblink dongle now lets you control smart home devices with voice commands http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/enblink-dongle-now-lets-you-control-smart-home-devices-with-voice-commands/1040 <p> If you haven&rsquo;t heard of Enblink before, here&rsquo;s the lowdown: It&rsquo;s basically a little USB dongle that plugs into any&nbsp;Google&nbsp;TV device and transforms it into a home automation control hub. It works with any Z-Wave-compatible gadget in your house, which means you can use it to control just about everything &ndash; lamps, door locks, security sensors, thermostats, and more. The dongle itself is really just a Z-Wave radio. It plugs into your&nbsp;Google&nbsp;TV and leverages the CPU and Android operating system to handle all the control commands and provide a snazzy graphical user interface.</p> <div> <p> The company kicked off pre-orders for Enblink back in August of 2013, and now that development is chugging along smoothly, it&rsquo;s decided to add voice controls to the mix for no additional cost. With this new and improved dongle, you&rsquo;ll be able to remotely control connected Z-Wave devices with custom-made commands like &ldquo;lamp-off,&rdquo; &ldquo;TV on,&rdquo; or even ones as simple as &ldquo;dim.&rdquo;</p> <p> Instead of relying on an embedded microphone to pick up your voice, Enblink gets commands from your smartphone, which is clever, but also somewhat counterintuitive. On one hand, this scheme allows you to use voice commands from anywhere in your house. However, if you&rsquo;ve already got a smartphone app open, issuing a voice command seems like more work than just tapping a button. It&rsquo;s definitely got some kinks to work out, but regardless, the addition of voice control is definitely a step in the right direction for home automation, and we&rsquo;re excited to see it progress.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 06:32:59 -0800 The Xbox One Currently Does Not Support HDMI CEC http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/the-xbox-one-currently-does-not-support-hdmi-cec/2218 There was a lot of chatter on the industry blogs and podcasts right before Microsoft released the Xbox One regarding the support, or lack thereof, for HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (CEC). Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:51:39 -0800 It’s a Wrap! http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/it%E2%80%99s-a-wrap/2219 The 2014 CES show was attended by 155,000 visitors, who spent $195 million to get a glimpse of what consumers can expect to see on the market. Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:51:23 -0800 Rise, Fall: Designing, Picking the Next Winner is No Easy Task http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2014/01/rise-fall-designing-picking-the-next-winner-is-no-easy-task/2217 It’s true that with many of the companies and products, much of the problem can be laid at the feet of management. They become overconfident that whatever they offer, consumers will snap them up. Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:51:10 -0800 Google to acquire Nest for $3.2 billion http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/google-to-acquire-nest-for-32-billion/1039 <div> Google intends to make even more of a splash in Americans&#39; homes. On Monday, it reached a deal to buy Nest, the maker of highly-styled digital smoke alarms and thermostats, for $3.2 billion in cash.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Nest, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has generated lots of buzz and sterling reviews for its aesthetic design approach to common everyday home appliances often overlooked by consumers.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Since its launch in 2011, the Nest Learning Thermostat has been a consistent best seller. The recently unfurled Protect (Smoke + CO Alarm) has landed rave reviews.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The acquisition thrusts Google squarely into multiple markets: search, e-mail, smartphones, PCs, tablets and &mdash; now &mdash; the home. Nest, in essence, puts Google in a prime position to cash in on the fledgling &quot;The Internet of things&quot; &mdash; a concept in which all digital devices in one&#39;s home are interconnected in some manner for maximum sharing of data. Nest also sharpens Google&#39;s design cred in the tech industry.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> Tue, 14 Jan 2014 06:27:20 -0800 The magic of global innovation comes to life at the 2014 International CES http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/the-magic-of-global-innovation-comes-to-life-at-the-2014-international-ces/1038 <p> With amazing tech breakthroughs and thousands of new product introductions, innovation blossomed as new technologies came to life, redefining the future at the 2014 International CES&reg;.&nbsp; Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) &reg;, the International CES is the global gathering place for all who thrive on the business of innovation.</p> <p> CEA announced today that the 2014 CES wrapped as the largest in show history with a record two million net square feet of exhibit space housing more than 3,200 exhibitors. CES dazzled as the global gathering place for anyone involved in the business of consumer technologies with more than 150,000 industry professionals in attendance, including more than 35,000 from outside the United States.</p> <p> &ldquo;CES is amazing, magical, hands-on, incredible, innovative and inspiring!,&rdquo; said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. &ldquo;This year&rsquo;s show was an energizing display of where the future is headed, bringing to life cool new products from every industry that touches technology. One-third of the world&rsquo;s population interacted with CES in some way this week as we experienced the future. From curved and flexible Ultra HD TVs and next generation smart phones to drones, robots, sensors, the Internet of Everything, Hi-Res audio, connected cars and 3D printers, it seems like the only thing missing from the 2014 CES was a time-travel machine.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> Mon, 13 Jan 2014 05:55:23 -0800 Lowe's Unveils The Next Wave Of Products And Services For Its Irisâ„¢ Smart Home Solution http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/lowes-unveils-the-next-wave-of-products-and-services-for-its-iris%C3%A2%E2%80%9E%C2%A2-smart-home-solution/1037 <p> Since its debut in July 2012, Iris has delivered the vision of the smart home to consumers by making home automation simple, affordable and scalable. Consumers can customize systems with a wide breadth of connected home devices to monitor and control their homes from a single, easy-to-use interface.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;Our goal when creating Iris was to make home automation systems simple, affordable and able to grow with customers&#39; evolving needs,&quot; said Kevin Meagher, Lowe&#39;s vice president and general manager, Smart Home. &quot;Lowe&#39;s relationship with our vendors allows us to develop and deliver the broadest range of connected home solutions to make homes safer, more efficient and easier to manage.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iris&#39;s newest product features, along with its expansive vendor relationships with brands consumers know and trust such as First Alert, Honeywell, Schlage, and Whirlpool, aim to deliver on the promise of the smart home today. The new Iris features will help consumers make their homes safer, more energy efficient and more easily managed; they include water shut-off valves that cut supply when a leak is detected, smart sprinkler systems to manage water consumption, the ability to link to smart meters to make energy consumption visible, additional energy saving devices and more convenient ways to program the home including a voice control feature, iVee, and universal garage door openers.&nbsp;</p> Thu, 09 Jan 2014 14:43:41 -0800 Samsung enters home automation market with Smart Home at CES http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/samsung-enters-home-automation-market-with-smart-home-at-ces/1036 <p dir="ltr"> The Samsung Smart Home Service will enable smart TVs, home appliances, and smartphones to be connected and controlled via a single integrated platform. &nbsp;The Smart Home product and logo will debut at this year&rsquo;s CES, and will roll out to consumers in the first half of 2014.</p> <p dir="ltr"> Samsung aims to partner with third-party vendors by extending the service to its products and services in hope of dominating the connected world.</p> <p dir="ltr"> The service will initially provide three main features: Device Control, Home View and Smart Customer Service. &nbsp;These features will allow users to set up customized settings and use a dedicated app on their smartphone or smart TV to control and monitor their homes, even when they&rsquo;re out of the house or country.</p> <p dir="ltr"> It can also be programmed to perform multiple tasks with a single command. &nbsp;Simply say &ldquo;Going out.&rdquo; to your Galaxy Gear and selected connected devices such as your smart TV and lights will be turned off. &nbsp;You can also customize the system for various situations, such as when going to sleep. &nbsp;Thermostats will automatically be adjusted, lights dimmed or turned off, and surveillance cameras turned on.</p> Wed, 08 Jan 2014 06:09:34 -0800 CES 2014 - HomeToys has all the news from this years show http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/ces-2014--hometoys-has-all-the-news-from-this-years-show/1035 <p> The best and brightest of the Home Technology and Integration industry journey to Las Vegas each January to search through the mass of people and products displayed at CES.</p> <p> Attracting more than 3000 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees from nearly every country, CES is the top Electronics show in the world. This years show took place as usual from January 7th - 10th in Las Vegas, Nevada.</p> <p> For well over a decade HomeToys.com has been covering CES and sifting through all the news pages and product announcements to bring you a special CES Newspage devoted to the key trends and most important announcements to the Home Technology and AV Systems industry.</p> <p> Make sure to check out our special&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hometoys.com/news.php?show=CES14" target="_blank">CES 2014 Newspage</a>&nbsp;for Exhibitor news and announcements.</p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 14:07:10 -0800 Samsung Shape wireless audio platform expands with cheaper M5 speaker http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2014/01/samsung-shape-wireless-audio-platform-expands-with-cheaper-m5-speaker/1034 <p> From&nbsp;<a href="http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-audio-receivers-dars/samsung-m5/4505-6470_7-35833777.html" target="_blank">CNet</a> - The Samsung Shape wireless audio system was clearly designed to take on Sonos, but when it launched back in October, there was only a single-speaker option -- the&nbsp;Shape M7.</p> <div> <span>Now the company is expanding the Shape lineup, with the newly-announced M5 speaker. The M5 will cost less than the $400 M7 but offers similar functionality, using the same Wi-Fi based standard to stream music throughout your home. The M5 will also support the same set of streaming music services, which includes Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, Rhapsody, and TuneIn, in addition to music stored on your PC and smartphone. For multiroom setups, you&#39;ll need one&nbsp;Samsung</span><span> Hub</span><span>&nbsp;($50) on your home network, which connects to your router and coordinates your wireless audio signals.</span></div> <div> <p> The Samsung Shape lineup will also be adding the Connect Box: a small set-top box that allows you to integrate Samsung Shape streaming audio to an existing home audio system, much like the similarly named&nbsp;Sonos Connect.</p> <p> No other details about the M5 or Connect Box have been announced yet, but both products will be showcased at CES 2014, where I&#39;ll be able to get a hands-on look at the new devices.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> Fri, 03 Jan 2014 05:55:44 -0800 IntraSonic Technology - I600 In-Wall Digital Stereo Music System http://www.hometoys.com/products/IntraSonic-Technology---I600-In-Wall-Digital-Stereo-Music-System/9 You asked, we listened! Music lovers that want to enjoy their tunes everywhere – yes, everywhere! – now have a high-tech, easy-to-use option that upgrades the look and functionality of any home or office. The I600 In-Wall Digital Stereo Music System is a music distribution system that provides enhanced usability and delivers mind-blowing stereo quality sound. With touch screen controls, Bluetooth connectivity, and several music source options, the I600 turns your surroundings into an amazing music entertainment experience. Tue, 31 Dec 2013 07:07:41 -0800 8 Trends to Look for at CES 2014 http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2013/12/8-trends-to-look-for-at-ces-2014/1033 <p> Today the products are the star attraction at what&#39;s now the most important consumer electronics show in the world. Although a lot of us complain about having to go to Vegas to cover this event, the geek inside us wants the chance to play with the coolest tech gadgets on the market and be among the first to see products that will be out in the new year.</p> <p> I also follow this show carefully as I often get to see trends in the works or developing and this helps give insight to what type of technology we will see in the marketplace in the relatively near future. Keep in mind that CES is specifically timed to show retailers the products that vendors plan to have in the market by the end of the second quarter, in time for the next year holiday season. With this in mind, here are the eight trends I see emerging during CES for 2014.</p> <div> 1. The car becomes a node in the Internet of things.&nbsp;</div> <div> 2. 4K TVs and monitors will be cheaper.</div> <div> 3. Digital health moves to the forefront.</div> <div> 4. 2-in-1s take off.&nbsp;</div> <div> 5. Curved televisions pull people in.</div> <div> 6. 3D printers revolutionize manufacturing.</div> <div> 7. Smart home and smart light bulbs come home.</div> <div> 8. Wearables continue trending.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <p> <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2428755,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03069TX1K0001121" target="_blank">Full Article:</a></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:30:33 -0800 It’s that time of the year for CES http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/it%E2%80%99s-that-time-of-the-year-for-ces/2215 I can only touch on a few of the amazing products that will be featured at CES. There will be over 20,000 new products unveiled at the show. If you plan on attending, you had better have a pair of roller skates. Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:07:12 -0800 Connected Health: A Growing Market http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/connected-health-a-growing-market/2214 Connected Health Opportunities for Service Providers Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:06:58 -0800 Cut The Cord With WiHD video http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/cut-the-cord-with-wihd-video/2216 WirelessHD has a way to go before we see the ideal setup, but if history is any indication, the manufacturers will find a way around the systems’ limitations. Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:06:45 -0800 The Year Ahead – Beautiful Content Everywhere, Feeling the Love http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/the-year-ahead-%E2%80%93-beautiful-content-everywhere-feeling-the-love/2213 More than anything 2014 is going to be a year of beauty, acceptance, and becoming more comfortable with the fact that we’re not alone. even in our own thoughts. Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:06:26 -0800 Niles Audio - Cynema Soundfield http://www.hometoys.com/products/Niles-Audio---Cynema-Soundfield/4 The Cynema Soundfield is the first in-wall soundbar that installs below any flat panel TV without the need to cut studs. Its three self-contained loudspeakers can be adjusted along rails allowing for ideal placement, regardless of stud location. Available in lengths of 48, 55 and 65 inches to match today’s most popular display sizes. It’s a seamless and simple solution delivering both superior sound and ultimate ease of installation. Sun, 29 Dec 2013 08:19:56 -0800 BlueBOLT SP-1000 http://www.hometoys.com/products/BlueBOLT-SP-1000/10 The award-winning BlueBOLT SP-1000 SmartPlug allows integrators to cost-effectively distribute BlueBOLT® functionality throughout residential and commercial spaces to lower energy consumption and reduce service calls. The SP-1000 packs energy monitoring, load control and scheduled conservation in a compact form factor that plugs directly into any standard 120V, 15A outlet. The device’s two AC outlets can be controlled from any Internet-enabled device enabling automatic rebooting of network equipment. Sun, 29 Dec 2013 08:16:37 -0800 LG Smart Appliances head to CES 2014 with LINE chat capability http://www.hometoys.com/stories/2013/12/lg-smart-appliances-head-to-ces-2014-with-line-chat-capability/1032 <div> Over the last few years at CES in January, LG has been showing off its ever improving smart appliances. At CES 2013, LG showed off smart appliances that were able to interact with the user via WiFi networks. At CES 2014 next month LG will be rolling out new and improved smart appliances.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> These new appliance have Natural Language Processing capability to allow owners to communicate, control, and monitor the appliances via mobile messenger application LINE and the LG HomeChat service. LG says that LINE already has 310 million users around the world and using that messenger means that many people will have no learning curve.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> LINE is available for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Nokia Asha devices. It will also run on PC and Mac computers. The ability for the smart appliances to understand natural language means that the owner can message the appliances with &quot;I&#39;m going on vacation&quot; and have the smart appliances respond with their own message.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The appliances will ask the owner &quot;Should I convert to vacation mode?&quot; If the owner says yes, all LG smart appliances in the home will convert to power saving modes and run vacation schedules for usage. The tech will also allow the user to receive real time status updates from their refrigerator no matter where they are using LINE. Multiple LG smart appliances will be on display at CES 2014 next month.</div> Thu, 26 Dec 2013 08:16:52 -0800 Using PoE to Simplify Home Automation, AV and Security Installations http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/using-poe-to-simplify-home-automation-av-and-security-installations/2210 Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) supported devices are becoming more common in nearly every facet of home and business networking. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:12:02 -0800 What You Need to Consider Before Buying a Custom Motorised TV Lift http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/what-you-need-to-consider-before-buying-a-custom-motorised-tv-lift/2206 While it is possible to create and install everything on your own custom motorised TV lift, it can take some work. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:11:49 -0800 36 Million Homes In Europe And North America Will Be Smart By 2017 http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/36-million-homes-in-europe-and-north-america-will-be-smart-by-2017/2208 Traditional whole-home solution vendors such as Crestron, Control4, Gira and Jung are facing new competition as telecom operators, security service providers, energy companies and other vendors are entering the industry. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:11:35 -0800 Live-Wall Invisible Speakers http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/live-wall-invisible-speakers/2209 Not seeing grilles definitely works for interior designers and homeowners who are tired of sacrificing appearance for the sake of sound. It's easy to visualize the impact on minimalist, modern design themes with a premium on open space. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:09:58 -0800 iMCA Server™ Solutions http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/12/imca-server%E2%84%A2-solutions/2211 The architecture of this system allows for a virtually unlimited number of automation or sensing devices and controllers from different vendors to be natively integrated with each other. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:09:40 -0800