Smart Home Technology Is Revolutionizing The Music Industry

Beth Kotz for Hypebot:  The steady march of progress through technology has radically altered the way many industries operate, and perhaps nowhere is that effect more evident than in the music industry. The movement toward digital media has changed everything from the way music is produced to the way it is discovered, purchased and consumed by listeners.

Now, the Internet of Things, and in particular the rise of interconnected “smart” home technology, promises to once again revolutionize the way the music industry operates and engages with consumers. Rather than being tethered to a PC or laptop, listeners equipped with smart tech can now discover and stream music seamlessly throughout their homes.

The Streaming Revolution

In the not-too-distant past, listeners needed to venture out to the store and purchase a CD in order to enjoy their favorite music. Word-of-mouth recommendations, television and radio were the most common ways to discover new music. With the explosion of streaming, however, a vast universe of music is now placed at users' fingertips for instant, affordable listening.  Cont'd...

Here's Why You're Paying $200 to Rent a Clunky TV Set-Top Box

Todd Shields for Bloomberg:  Imagine watching TV without paying the cable company for the blinking set-top box, using a gadget of your choice that makes it easy to switch between cable channels, streaming programs and online shows.

The idea, simple in concept, is proving difficult in execution.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing a plan to force cable companies to give up their control over set-top boxes, "unlocking" the marketplace as he puts it.

But he’s drawn opposition from lawmakers in both parties, not to mention some of the most active corporate lobbyists in Washington. Comcast Corp. and the cable industry -- which stands to lose $20 billion a year in box rentals -- say it’s unnecessary and are fighting it. So are Hollywood studios, DirecTV owner AT&T Inc., and CBS Corp. Even a fellow commission Democrat said Wheeler’s plan set for a Sept. 29 vote is flawed.  Cont'd...

The new Echo Dot gives Amazon the top spot in the smart home market

BI Intelligence:  Amazon announced the upcoming release of the second-generation Echo Dot, the smaller version of its popular Echo voice controlled speaker.

The new device will be available starting on October 20and can currently be pre-ordered. The company also announced it would be lowering the price, selling Dots in packages of six or 12, expanding into new markets, and will be offering a white version.

These four announcements will help Amazon drastically increase its total addressable market for the Echo line of products:  Click here for more...

Sonos Is Adding Third-Party App Support

Janko Roettgers for Variety:  Sonos is finally going beyond its own app: Spotify users will soon be able to control their Sonos speakers straight from the Spotify app, the company announced at an event in New York Tuesday. Support for Spotify Connect will be added “in the coming weeks,” said Sonos head of Software development Antoine LeBlond.

Previously, Sonos owners had to access Spotify’s service through the Sonos app, which essentially meant that they had to switch between two apps for listening to music at home and on the go. With the new third-party app integration, Spotify’s app is also getting the ability to manage zones, meaning that consumers will be able to decide which speakers the music will play on.  Cont'd...

Read Sonos Press Release here:

Best Buy Finally Figures Out the Internet

Shelly Banjo & Shira Ovide for BloombergGadfly:  Best Buy's quarterly financial results on Tuesday were downright Amazon-like: Consecutive quarters of double-digit online sales growth. Hot new products including virtual-reality headsets and techy watches. Words like "exploration" and "experimentation."

Gone were the store-closing announcements of quarters past, along with talk of bad weather or other tired excuses for why consumers aren't shopping (many of which we've heard from Target, Macy's and other retailers in recent weeks). Shares surged 19 percent on the news, marking Best Buy's biggest one-day stock gain since 2001.  Cont'd...

IoT alliances collaborate to advance the connected home

Smart Cities World:  Two alliances dedicated to progressing the Internet of Things (IoT) are joining forces to advance the adoption of connected home products.

The Thread Group and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) share many member companies who will benefit from this liaison agreement, and both groups are committed to driving improved cross-application interoperability and device connectivity in the connected home. 
A lack of interoperability across common technology areas is consistently highlighted as one of biggest factors preventing the IoT from realising its full potential across the product development spectrum, including silicon, software, platform, and finished-goods. The two organisations will work together to ensure that OCF’s application layer will be fully compatible with Thread’s low-power, secure and scalable IPv6-based wireless mesh network layer.  Cont'd...

Nortek Security & Control Joins ZigBee Alliance, Targets MSO Smart Home, Other Emerging IoT Sectors

Nortek Security & Control LLC, a Nortek Company and leader in the security, smart home and wellness technology markets, today announces a number of strategic expansion plans in the wake of the company joining the ZigBee Alliance. The company is announcing plans to develop products that utilize the ZigBee protocol driven by projected growth and key customer demand. This strategic growth plan serves to create a larger ecosystem of compatible devices within Nortek Security & Control's smart home product lines. Full Press Release:

With 7 mini houses, the first Sonos store lets you hear as you would at home

Keith Nelson Jr. for DigitalTrends:  Home is where the heart is and the heart of Sonos’ new 4,200-square-foot retail store is a recreation of the home experience. Located in New York City’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, multiroom audio pioneer’s first ever retail store was built following one core acoustic principle: 50/50. “We wanted a 50/50 environment. 50 percent diffusion and absorption, 50 percent reflective,” said  Whitney Walker, general manager of Sonos Stores, during a tour of the store, referring to the different manners in which sound interacts with the store’s surrounding environment.

The result is a retail store that never feels as if it is trying to sell you anything other than a good listening experience. The highlights of the store are the seven listening rooms, each designed to “recreate that experience of going to somebody’s home” and hearing new music, according to Siegel. Cont'd...

5 hot home theater trends

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY:  If you don’t know where to start, the following are five trends to consider before your summer Netflix binge session.  4K with HDR:  There’s two things you need to know about 4K TVs.

For one, they look spectacular, due to the fact these televisions deliver four times the resolution of 1080p HD TV – instead of 2 million little dots (“pixels”) that make up the image, we’re talking more than 8 million. There’s so much detail in the picture it’s almost like being there.

Secondly, thanks to falling prices and more 4K content than ever before, there’s never been a better time to invest in 4K TV (otherwise known as “UHD” or “Ultra High Definition”).  Cont'd...

Atari now makes smart home products

Jacob Kastrenakes  for The Verge:  Someday soon, you may be able to buy a network-connected dog collar made by Atari.  Atari announced today that it's partnering with Sigfox to get into the Internet of Things business. Together, they intend to create connected home, pet, lifestyle, and safety products. Work on the new products will begin sometime this year; there's no date yet for when they'll begin to roll out or exactly what products we might see.

While it may sound strange to hear that Atari, the classic video game company, is now making smart home products, it's not quite as weird as it sounds. That's because Atari isn't necessarily going to be all that involved in the development of these new devices. Instead, Atari is going to be the brand name under which Sigfox will create and sell its own IoT products, offering it better name recognition with consumers.  Cont'd...

Smart Home Trial Aimed At Improving Elder Care


Eoin Blackwell for Huffington Post:  Elderly Australians may soon have access to 'home smart' technology that can alert healthcare providers or family if they have taken a fall or not taken medication.

The release of the breakthrough technology follows a joint trial by technology provider Samsung and Deakin University.

Over the next few weeks, five homes in Geelong, Victoria, will be used to test a technology ecosystem specifically designed to help address challenges associated with in-home aged care.

Using small, battery-powered sensors developed by Samsung, the Australian developed Holly Smart Home Project will be able to monitor aged care homes and can alert healthcare providers when strange activity is detected in or around the home.

The sensors are placed around the house -- motions sensors, sensors under the bed for sleep tracking, door sensors, in cupboards, fridges, etc -- and stream information to a program named Holly, whose artificial intelligence coordinates the information to make certain predictions about your behaviour, said Rajesh Vasa, Professor of Software and Technology Innovation at Deakin University.  Cont'd...

Mozilla's New Projects May Lead to Smart Home Virtual Assistant

ANDREW E. FREEDMAN for Tom's Guide:  Move over, Siri and Alexa. Mozilla is working on its own virtual assistant, but not just for your phone. A series of projects by the developers of the Firefox browser is laying the groundwork for a helper that will control your home through the Internet of Things.

The first is Project Link, the brains, which Mozilla describes as a "personal user agent" that will learn how you like to interact with all of your smart home devices , and then help automate their functions.

Project SensorWeb will create sensors, as well as an open platform to share the data from those sensors. Not only will the sensors help Project Link learn about each user's environment, but the data can be crowdsourced to provide developers with detailed information for more advanced  programs. The first of these projects will be a PM2.5 air pollution sensor network, so that individuals and governments can better get a sense of the air quality in different parts of the world.  Cont'd...

Webcast - Terminating Larger Size Cables with Platinum Tools Connectors

With the recent increase in popularity of Category 6A cables, cabling-system installers are now working more and more frequently with dramatically increased cable sizes. Terminating these larger-size cables to standard connectors, which are optimally designed for smaller cables, can be a challenge. New connectors and solutions have been developed to solve the termination and workmanship issues that arise when installers terminate larger-size cables.

This webcast seminar will cover the following termination practices and principles:

  • Terminating Category 6A cable to Category 6A shielded connectors
  • Terminating Category 5e and Category 6 cable to Category 6 shielded connectors

Sponsored by Honeywell and Platinum Tools, the seminar will use Honeywell’s Category 5e, 6 and 6A cable as well as Platinum Tools’ Category 6 and 6A shielded connectors to demonstrate cable preparation and termination techniques. The demonstrations will provide step-by-step instructions on completing the termination of these larger-size cables.  View Webcast:

Touchless gesture control upgrades at #MWC2016

By Mellisa Tolentino for SiliconAngle:  At Mobile World Congress, Elliptic Labs AS introduced a new way for consumers to interact with smart home devices. Forget about voice control, think Jedi powers. The company’s new EASY IoT (Internet of Things) software introduces touchless gesture control to your connected home devices such as smart thermostats, kitchen appliances, lighting controls, and security systems to name a few. It uses ultrasound technology to control gadgets with conductor-like ease.
At MWC, Elliptic Labs will demonstrate how EASY IoT works on a connected lamp, smoke detector, and wireless speaker. EASY IoT will be offered to mobile manufacturers in hopes of building in the technology for as many core devices as possible. The more ubiquitous EASY IoT, the broader its market reach. This tactic relies heavily on willing business partners and will require transparent methods for sharing data sets and open source technology. This would ideally result in consumer adoption through necessity instead of heavy marketing and backward integration.  Cont'd...
 

Best home theater in a box: Take the guesswork out of pairing a surround-sound system with your TV

Theo Nicolakis for TechHive:  An HTIB contains everything you need for the audio element of a true home theater system. They typically include five speakers (right, left, and center speakers for the front of the room, left and right surround channels for the rear sides of the room, and a subwoofer for deep bass and low-frequency effects), precut cables, and an A/V receiver that ties the entire system together, much like the conductor in a symphony.

We evaluated three HTIB systems, on its own merits. The one that’s exactly right for you will require you to balance your wants, needs, and must-haves. Since our primary consideration was performance in a home-theater setting, Onkyo’s $899 HT-S7700 is our top pick, because it’s the only one of the three systems to support the immersive audio technology Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos supports height as well as surround channels. Onkyo also did the best job of balancing features and performance, and it was the easiest system to set up.  Full Review:

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IntraSonic Technology - I600 In-Wall Digital Stereo Music System

IntraSonic Technology - I600 In-Wall Digital Stereo Music System

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.