Open Home Control: New home automation hardware project

Many open source home automation projects have relied on driving proprietary devices, but the newly created Open Home Control project aims to change that by creating a framework for hardware devices that can be integrated with open sourced home automation platforms such as the respected openHAB software. The home automation system will provide a framework for creating a large network of different devices that offer AES-256 data encryption and can resend data packets when transmission is disrupted. Devices in the network will use Atmel microcontrollers such as the ATMega168 in combination with HopeRF wireless transceivers on 868MHz. Firmware for the system is developed in C and compiled with the GCC compiler. WinAVR is the chosen development environment, although compiling under Linux also appears to be possible. Design guidelines on the site give further information about the hardware and firmware. The project is still young, but a handful devices are already available: a base station to act as a master control for the OHC network, a temperature and humidity sensor, a remotely switchable power socket, and a dimmer designed to work with specialised Osram fluorescent tube power supplies. The number of available devices is set to increase along with the growing community of contributors the project hopes to attract. The project's software is available from its GitHub repository and is licensed under the GPLv3 . Hardware and schematics are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0) licence.

Life Gets Easier With Zonoff's Cutting-Edge Home Automation Technology

With only 18 employees, Zonoff, a Malvern-based startup (Pennsylvania) managed to raise $3.8 million to continue the development of their comprehensive software that helps you, the consumer, control your home electronic systems, with a single app installed on your iPhone or iPad. Basically, Zonoff provides a simple solution in terms of home connectivity, suggesting that their service – a platform which includes a home, cloud and an app software is enough to control electronic devices wirelessly and make them communicate one with another. The home software:  This is the core of Zonoff’s advanced technology, being able to turn any “always-on” device into a home controller. That means that a simple electronic item, like your Blu-ray player for instance, becomes a smart one…and therefore, understands your commands. The cloud software:  We’re already used to cloud solutions, so this is not a new approach, but definitely an indispensable one. The cloud software “enables remote access and device management”. The idea was to give the costumers the possibility to interact with their homes, away from home. The app software:  It runs on smartphones and other mobile devices. With an user-friendly interface, the app allows you to set the clock alarm, turn on the lights and so on, changing once and forever the way we interact with our homes. The cutting-edge home automation technology was first introduced to the public in January, during CES 2013.

CEA's 11th Annual 'State of the Builder' Study Finds Strong, Stable Market for Installed Home Technologies

The overall growth of the home technology market remained consistent from 2011 to 2012, demonstrating home technology has a strong, stable foothold, according to new findings in the 11th Annual State of the Builder Technology Market Study released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ® . Technology installations in new homes reached or exceeded 2008 levels, providing more evidence that the market for built-in home technologies is well on the road to recovery. Structured wiring remains the most common installed technology (70 percent), followed by monitored security (44 percent) and home theater pre-wire systems (27 percent). “These installed technology trends signify that some home technologies have made the transition from luxuries to standard options,” said Chris Ely, senior manager of industry analysis, CEA. Home technologies have become valuable marketing tools for new homes. Builders say they continue to find that marketing these technologies is important; close to half of builders surveyed (49 percent) said they find it much more or somewhat more important to market these technologies today. 

Logitech unveils Harmony Ultimate and Smart Control universal remote

Coming soon are two fresh bundles bearing the Harmony name: the Ultimate and Smart Control. At the heart of both is the Smart Hub, a palm-sized box somewhat similar to the Harmony Link. It receives commands from remotes via RF, or from smartphone apps via WiFi, and in turn, broadcasts its own orders to your A/V setup using IR and Bluetooth. It's especially useful for those wanting to hide their kit away in cabinets, as it translates inputs into IR signals that'll bounce around those secluded spaces. Optional extender nodes will also pipe IR into other nearby recesses. To do that though, the Hub needs instructions, which is where remotes and apps come in. The new Ultimate remote (aka the Touch Plus) is last year's Touch remote with a few refinements, including the addition of a trigger-like nub on the underside to improve grip. It uses IR, Bluetooth or RF (to the Hub) to control up to 15 devices, and is programmed using Logitech's software for PCs that pulls settings from a database of 225,000 home entertainment products. The Ultimate's 2.4-inch touchscreen serves as a number pad, a favorite channel list for easy hopping, and is the home of one-touch "activities," which are basically macros for issuing multiple commands. Set up an activity for "Play Xbox," for example, and in one touch it'll turn on your console, switch your TV to the correct source, select the right channel on your amp, and so on. It'll even tell Philips' connected Hue lightbulbs to set a mood. Jump on past the break for more.

Alarm.com opens home automation platform to outside companies

Vienna-based Alarm.com, the purveyor of home automation technology, is trying to position itself as a kind of operating system for the home. It has begun allowing other companies to plug their technology into its system in the same way software developers create applications for Microsoft or Apple computers, tablets and phones. Alarm.com announced its initial partnerships last week at the International Security Conference in Las Vegas. Homeowners that use LiftMaster electric garage door openers and Lutron lights and window shades will be able to control them using the Alarm.com Web site and app. Jay Kenny, vice president of marketing, said Alarm.com’s Platform Connect allows the company to quickly expand the number of products a homeowner can automate and control using the company’s system. “The more applications that they can draw to that platform the greater the value, in the same way the Apple app store draws applications from all sorts of developers and that brings greater value to that platform,” said Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research.  

Noventri SF-200 Digital Signage Player

Last year, I reviewed the Noventri Digital Signage Suite and Player, which included the SF-100e player. I was pretty impressed and have since deployed this in several scenarios. I recently got my hands a pre-release version of their latest player: the SF-200 and took it for a spin.

Pure Theatre Projector Lift

The joists are 200mm or 8" x 2" in old money, no other lifts would fit into the void without building a massive bulkhead which sort of defeated the purpose of what I wanted to achieve.

Our Content is Overwhelming Us, Needs to Be Controlled

f we can't get one simple point of entry to the content to find what we want quickly/easily (either ad-supported or paid), we're going to agree with Lieutenant Dave, "I think you should send us the biggest transport plane you have, and take this thing to the Arctic or somewhere and drop it where it will never thaw."

Speakerfy: A Free App for Whole-Home Audio

Playing music in multiple rooms around the house can be an expensive endeavor, with products like Sonos costing upwards of $300 per speaker. If you’ve already got a handful of phones, tablets and laptops connected to existing speakers around the house, why not sync them together so they’re all playing the same songs at the same time? Speakerfy, an app that officially launches on iPhone and iPad this week, and on Windows and Android next week, is a quick and dirty way to make it happen. It allows you to synchronize audio playback on multiple phones, tablets and laptops, so you can listen to the same music while wandering from room to room. (Whole-home audio isn’t Speakerfy’s primary intended function. It’s actually billed as a “social sound” app, allowing people to listen to music together across devices. Yes, it’s an app for silent discos. No, I’m not hip enough to partake in said discos. Whole-home audio it is.) Speakerfy streams audio over your local Wi-Fi network, or over a shared mobile hotspot, to any device that’s also running the app. Just send an invite to the devices you want to connect, then choose a song, album or playlist from your music collection. The other devices will start playing music in time with the host device.

Linear Expands Home Automation Offerings with Z-Wave Lighting Products

Linear LLC has added Z-Wave lighting products to its line of wireless residential and commercial offerings. The new products represent a benchmark for Linear as the company seeks to unify wireless lighting control products with existing security and access control systems, and other Z-Wave products.   This powerful smart chip and compact protocol enable two-way RF communications among Z-Wave enabled devices. Linear is now manufacturing, selling and distributing Z-Wave lighting control products that include: wall dimmers, wall switches, wall outlets, lamp modules, appliance modules, 3-way switches/dimmers, fixture modules, as well as international versions of the same products. Linear will also utilize its extensive OEM resources to manufacture Z-Wave products for partner companies seeking their own intelligent lighting solutions. The products also fit in nicely with Linear's recent acquisition of 2GIG Technologies since 2GIG's GO! Control platform is Z-Wave certified and provides an elegant and user-friendly control panel for the management of lighting, security, access control and more. Z-Wave enabled products represent the world's largest ecosystem of interoperable smart products giving Linear dealers more options and opportunities in a variety of segments. "The addition of Z-Wave lighting products gives Linear customers access to a widely adopted wireless control protocol that is easy-to-install, modular, affordable and intelligent," said Duane Paulson, senior vice president of product and market development. "The extensive product offerings and adoption of the Z-Wave protocol across many industries will create opportunities for Linear dealers in new and existing markets."  

How to save the AV receiver

There are a lot of reasons why sound bars are taking over home audio, but one of them is increasingly obvious: AV receivers are terrible. While receivers are fine for enthusiasts who know what they're doing, they're a frustrating experience for everyone else. Most technology gets better over time, but AV receivers seem frozen in amber, with giant chassis, thick inscrutable manuals, and onscreen interfaces that could only generously be called "standard-definition." They're embarrassingly backward compared with the rest of your home theater gear, yet they remain a begrudging necessity for those who want something better than a sound bar. AV receivers don't have to be this bad, but they need to completely reinvent themselves to stay relevant. Here's where they should start.  Click for Full article by Matthew Moskovciak of CNET.  

Linear Closes on Acquisition of 2GIG

Linear, LLC a subsidiary of Nortek, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTK), has closed on its acquisition of 2GIG Technologies, which will become part of the security and control group within Linear. The acquisition of 2GIG was announced by Nortek in February 2013. With the acquisition, Linear's dealers and OEM partners gain access to 2GIG's Go!Control platform, the first widely adopted integrated security and automation system that includes a system CPU, touchscreen interface, Z-Wave radio for automation, cellular radio for communications with a central station, and narrow-band RF for communicating with security sensors. 2GIG also provides a wide range of wireless peripherals including thermostats, panic buttons, keyfobs, glass break detectors and wireless carbon monoxide detectors, all of which can be integrated into a home automation system that can be remotely monitored, managed and controlled via the Internet. "Acquiring 2GIG positions Linear as one of the world's top-tier hardware developers and manufacturers in the rapidly growing residential security and home automation markets," said Michael O'Neal, president of Linear. "We're especially excited about the synergy between the brands since 2GIG offers products that can be leveraged by Linear and its dealers to grow their businesses. At the same time, Linear offers products that can expand and enhance the 2GIG home automation platform, potentially opening doors to new market opportunities."  

Devices To Keep You Healthy And Fit

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." - Jim Rohan

It's "Touch and Go" With Digital Signage as Interactivity Goes Mainstream

The increased demand for touch-screen capability has led to a demand for something else: a way to bring interactivity to large digital canvases.

Conference Room Solutions

Arthur Holme Drop Monitors Installed by Serbian Technology Specialist Studio Berar Projekt at the Company NIS - Gazprom Neft

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Advanced UPB Lighting Packages from Simply Automated

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