The doors to ISE 2011 in Amsterdam are now open. Over 700 exhibitors will be showing their wares at the Amsterdam RAI this week from a broad range of industries including building automation, unified communications, event production, digital signage, visualisation and lighting control. With those numbers you bet the news and information from the show will be flowing in. As usual HomeToys.com will be a great place to post your company news and keep up to date. Visit our Special ISE 2011 Newspage to view and post news. Also stay tuned for our special show report, which will go live Wednesday.
Interested in learning more about CEA standards? CEA just launched a public discussion forum for CEA standards called TechCE.org. The new website allows users of CEA standards, and other interested parties, to share information, ask questions and get community help. Interpretation and news on standards will be posted regularly.
So why will 3D content never take off? It's not the silly glasses or the lack of content. It's not even that we all kinda hate it. According to Academy Award-winning editor Walter Murch: it's evolution, baby. Murch, writing to renowned film critic (and prominent 3D antagonist) Roger Ebert, says that 3D's primary failure is our own eyeballs. Specifically, how millions of years of human development have taught them to focus: The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue. A couple of the other issues - darkness and "smallness" - are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen - say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what. But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.
TiVo, the pioneering digital video recorder, is beloved by couch potatoes for offering a simple way to record television shows for watching later. But the company's hot-and-cold relationships with cable providers is complicating the fate of TiVo's digital recording and video-on-demand services. TiVo's subscriber base peaked in 2006 and has been declining since, according to TV by the Numbers, an industry news blog. TiVo's response to this slump has been two-pronged. For one, the company has scrambled to sign deals with TV service providers. TiVo announced one such milestone agreement with UK cable giant Virgin Media, in which TiVo will be the platform developer.
THE universal remote control is one of the modern world's great ideas, right up there with the automatic dishwasher, Wi-Fi and flush toilets. The theory behind this gadget is simple and sublime: In an increasingly automated and connected world, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could manage all our blinking machines from a single super controller? I wish I could tell you that there is a better way. But after testing many different universal remotes - cheap remotes, expensive remotes, smartphone remotes, and a few about which the less said, the better - I don't have much good news to report. Sure, some universal remotes are more useful than others, and one of them is almost pretty good, but in general these devices remain more appealing in theory than in practice. That's because they all suffer from an inherent, usually fatal flaw: universal remotes cannot possibly offer enough buttons to mimic all functions of all devices, so they usually have to make compromises, cutting out buttons here and there. The trouble is, some of those buttons are important.
Samsung is seeing significant growth in app downloads on its line of HDTVs. The company announced this week that 2 million apps have been downloaded from its sets since its marketplace launched last year. The news comes less than two months after Samsung announced that 1 million apps had been downloaded from its service. The feat is all the more impressive when one considers it took 268 days to hit the 1 million mark. YouTube and Hulu Plus are among the most commonly downloaded apps, according to Samsung. They are joined by ESPN's Next Level, AccuWeather, and Google Maps. The company's marketplace also offers Blockbuster, Twitter, Pandora, and several other applications. When it announced 1 million downloads late last year, Samsung said that more than half of its 2010 line of HDTVs featured the ability to access apps. Samsung said at the time that it believed retailers would sell 6.5 million sets featuring apps by the end of 2010. And it expected that figure to jump to 20 million by 2012.
Home automation systems are becoming increasingly simpler for both end users and installers, driving the market forward and acquiring a wider audience. Technology advances also help create innovative and affordable systems that reach a more extensive customer base. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, European Home Automation Markets, finds that the market earned revenues of €164.3 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach €228.7 million in 2015, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.1 per cent. 'Home automation has witnessed major changes over the recent years; the most significant has been the introduction of tablet computers which are having a major impact on the home automation market, particularly the luxury segment,' states Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Hammam Ahmed. 'So far the market has satisfactorily addressed the new developments and is set to benefit from these advances in a manner that will promote home automation and make it available to a wider customer base.'
A Taipei university team has developed a tiny chip that allows remote control over home appliances with no more than a wave of the hand and features that make it faster, cheaper and more resistant to interference than rival inventions, the professor in charge said on Tuesday. Users of the chip developed by the National Taipei University of Technology's graduate automation institute can switch on televisions, home stereos and air conditioners by hand from two meters away, Professor Chen Wen-hui said. They can adjust volumes or change settings the same way, he said. The graduate institute is applying for a patent to sell what it believes to be a "significantly faster" device-less remote control system that what other research institutions have developed, Chen said. It will also cost less, though Chen said prices had not been set. Signals should be top of the line, he said, given that "what people fear the most is interference."
Boxee may turn to subsidies to help get the price down and better compete in the market, company founder Avner Ronen said in an episode of the This Week in Startups show recorded on Friday. He mentioned that the $200 street price for a Boxee Box was "way too expensive" to get mass market adoption and floated the idea as one option for future models. Nothing was definite in the talk and might not necessarily come about with a future deal. Ronen also provided some brief hints at the possible future of Boxee. Gaming was a possibility as he noted that games had often driven technology adoption, but it would most likely occur through the browser in HTML rather than through proprietary apps. A TV tuner had been ruled out in at least the short term as it was a matter of "focus and resources."
Distributor Capitol said this week that it is now carrying KEF's T series of flat-panel loudspeakers. "It takes a truly advanced R&D team to design a slim speaker that is on a par with free-standing floor monitors," Jeff Kussard , Capitol's Director of Strategic Development, said in a statement. "As a longtime audio enthusiast, it comes as no surprise to me to see the KEF name behind such a groundbreaking speaker line. The T Series takes up remarkably little space, and the sound quality will satisfy the most demanding audiophiles in the room." The lineup includes three system components.
International research firm Parks Associates anticipates 2011 will mark the resurgence of the Smart Home concept
International research firm Parks Associates anticipates 2011 will mark the resurgence of the Smart Home concept following a series of CES announcements as well as research showing U.S. consumers value energy management as a lifestyle choice as well as a cost-saving measure. Parks Associates hosted the fifth annual CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES on January 6, featuring record-breaking attendance on the first day of CES, where the firms' leading analysts commented on the expansion of connected home systems and services. "CES 2011 featured several significant announcements for connected home systems and services, smart appliances, and broadband-enabled home monitoring services, including Verizon's Home Monitoring Control offering, which featured applications for a web camera, lighting control, outlet modules, and a communicating thermostat," said Bill Ablondi, Director, Home Systems, Parks Associates. "Consumers are starting to see energy-efficient products and services as a means to improve their home and personal comfort as well as for cost savings, which opens the market for a variety of solutions from utilities, service providers, and manufacturers."
Somfy Systems, Inc. announces the launch of TaHomA®, a home automation solution that enables consumers to easily and efficiently control their homes' "energy triangle." TaHomA begins with an innovative, affordable and easy-to-use Z-Wave home automation solution that allows consumers to control, schedule and supervise their Z-wave enabled window coverings, lighting, and thermostats. Accessible from a computer, iPad or iPhone within or outside the home, TaHomA's user-friendly Web-based interface guides consumers with intuitive graphics and step-by-step prompts as they personalize their home energy functions. TaHomA is a robust yet low-maintenance system that allows users to easily choose their level of involvement—as needed, when needed. TaHomA will grow with the needs of the home environment and provide a Total Home Automation solution for a broad range of lifestyles.
Hammered by ever-slimming profit margins, TV makers are turning online to videogames as another way to incorporate Web-delivered entertainment. At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many television manufacturers touted videogames as an important entertainment category for Internet-connected televisions. Many are forming partnerships to play videogames on the TV without the need for a dedicated game console, and many are courting developers to create apps for the TV. LG Electronics Inc. unveiled a range of smart, or Internet-connected, televisions while showing off a new motion-sensing remote control. The new remote only has six buttons and is similar to Nintendo Co.'s Wii game controller. "Videogames are one of the categories that we hope app developers will take to with the new Motion remote," said Tim Alessi, director of new product development at LG's home electronics division. Samsung Electronics Co., the world's biggest TV maker, held a contest for developers to create the best app for its television. It awarded the top $200,000 prize to a developer who created a game called WeDraw. By keeping the television central to the lives of consumers, manufacturers are hoping to lift the overall value of the TV and keep the industry's relentless price declines at bay.
More than 2,700 technology companies across global industries dazzled attendees at the 2011 International CES®, with the ground-breaking event energizing the technology world. The 2011 CES set several new records, including 30,000 international attendees and 22 top CEOs participating in keynotes. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the 2011 CES, the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, concluded today in Las Vegas. "The 2011 International CES was a phenomenal worldwide event that spanned global industries including technology, automotive and entertainment markets," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "This global technology gathering featured more innovation, more news, more social media buzz and more international attendance than any other show in CES history." Preliminary attendance figures indicate more than 140,000 industry professionals attended the 2011 International CES. More than 30,000 attendees came from outside the United States, with the show attracting more than 80 international delegations. CEA conducts an independent audit of attendance at the International CES and final verified figures will be available in the spring. Major technology trends emerged from the CES show floor including the launch of more than 80 tablets, wireless 4G LTE, connected TV technologies, smart appliances - featured for the first time in show history - and electric vehicles. Ford's Alan Mulally unveiled the company's first electric car at the 2011 International CES with its Ford Focus Electric.
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