One Foot in the Grave for Optical Discs?

I'm a movie fan. I love Blu-ray and my Home Theater, and I want 4K. But I'm worried: all the signs point to the death of the optical disc. 10% of Canadians now have Netflix accounts. These are all streamers, as Netflix has no disc by mail service in Canada. In separate news, Dolby's CEO Kevin Yeaman said Dolby generated 52% of its $790 million 2011 license digital audio revenue from non-optical media (movie and music discs), including digital TVs, set‐top boxes and mobile phones — up 27% from 2010. During the year the company licensed its Dolby Digital-Plus with streaming providers Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Netflix and Vudu. William Blair analyst Ralph Schackart commented "We decreased the optical business [outlook] by 25% in fiscal 2014, 15% in fiscal 2015, and 10% in fiscal 2016”  IHS's screendigest says "In 2012 Americans will pay to consume 3.4bn movies online. This equates to over 1bn movies per year than are consumed on DVD and Blu-ray combined - putting the final nail in the old idea that consumers won't accept premium content distributed online." 4K TV's will ship this year. There are already projectors and AV receivers in the market that support 4K, but I fear 4K for the consumer is just a pipedream. Are we really ready for another optical disc format war and is there a mass market for 4K? It pains me to say: "I don't think so". I really can't see Hollywood and the Consumer Electronics industry seeing a new optical format as a viable proposition.

Up Close & Personal Digital Signage

Microsoft Research Asia recently released a few videos on their SemanticMap. While they don’t have plans to productize it for signage, I’m sure there will be many enterprising vendors who will. The display detects both motion and gestures (no doubt utilizing Kinect technology). When a person is far away they see the most significant information in large, bold type. As they approach the display the type size dynamically decreases and the level of detail increases and further overlays are shown. This is similar to a GPS system’s auto-zoom function, where the detail increases as you approach a turn. The overlays are dynamic, and updating in real-time, so could potentially show not just where a conference room is, but the schedule of events. Microsoft says their overall goal of Semantic Map is to “help people find their way around both physical and information spaces, by exploiting natural information-seeking behaviors and body movements”. See the videos at: http://vimeopro.com/msradesignteam/portfolio/video/39564782 and http://vimeopro.com/msradesignteam/portfolio/video/39564783

Digital Signage - Getting Started

In our first article in our Digital Signage Series, we look at the basics of digital signage and how to get started.

Mitsubishi Digital Signage

Interview with Mitsubishi's James Chan about Digital Signage Displays

Glasses-Free 3D Digital Signage: Keeping It Simple

Exceptional 3D's Eric Angello explains the nuts and bolts of glasses-free 3D signage.

Obi-wan-Kenobi at a Store Near You!

Digital signage promises timelier and better targeted messaging, but getting the consumer in front of the display is still the number one challenge. Marketing Group LLC has a novel concept to solve this problem: the Holographic Greeter.

Kyocera acquires Optrex, forms Kyocera Display Corporation

The acquisition of Optrex will also enable Kyocera to complement its range of resistive and capacitive type touch screen panels with Optrex's touch screen bonding capabilities. The company's acquisition of Optrex America in Plymouth, MI, USA (now Kyocera Display America, Inc.), as well its acquisition of Optrex Europe in Babenhausen, Germany (now Kyocera Display Europe GmbH), will enable Kyocera to expand its presence in the automotive and industrial LCD markets in the Americas and Europe. "We are confident that there will be a strong synergy between the product offerings, manufacturing infrastructure, business strategy and market segments of Kyocera and Optrex," said Akihiko Ikeda, President of Kyocera Display Corporation. "It will benefit the customers of both companies and give us the capability for strong growth in the years ahead."   Full Press Release

Pacific Media's End User Survey Finds Consumers' Interest in Home Theater Projectors Up by Two-Thirds in Last Two Years

Pacific Media Associates (PMA), the worldwide market information experts on front projectors, has released their findings on the current use and future purchase intentions of consumer projector users. This is the final set of important results from PMA's sixth biennial large-scale (1000 responses) and statistically-representative survey of United States users and intenders of front projectors, both individual consumers and organizations. The survey focused on topics of timely interest, including requests for additional or modified questions from PMA's extensive client base of front projector manufacturers. This set of findings focused on end-user consumers who own, or plan to buy, a home theater projector. "Our 2011 survey showed an increased interest in front projector use in the home, compared to our previous survey, conducted in 2009," says Dr. William Coggshall, President of PMA. "In 2009, 11% of the survey respondents expected to buy a projector vs. another type of large screen display. Our recent 2011 survey showed that figure has increased to 18%."   Full Press Release:

The Era of Big Box Retail Dominance Is Coming to an End

When Best Buy Co. (BBY) said yesterday it was closing 50 big stores and opening 100 smaller ones, the world’s largest electronics retailer was adjusting to reality: The era of big-box retail dominance is coming to an end. The new mantra is small box. While Best Buy, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Target Corp. (TGT) are still opening large stores, all are putting increasing emphasis on smaller ones. Best Buy plans to double the number of its smaller Best Buy Mobile stores by 2016. Wal-Mart is building as many as 100 small-format stores this year, while Target is opening five CityTarget locations. After 50 years of putting mom and pops out of business, big-box retail is having a mid-life crisis. A slow economy has hurt same-store sales, narrowing margins at big stores. Meanwhile, consumers, armed with price-comparison technology, are visiting more stores seeking deals or exclusive merchandise rather than making one-stop, fill-the-cart excursions. Full Article:

This floating movie theater might just be the coolest place on Earth

For a new film festival in Thailand called Film on the Rocks Yao Noi, an outdoor cinema was constructed in the most unlikely of places: right on top of the water. And it just might be the most amazing place you could ever want to watch a movie. The amazing venue is called the Archipelago Cinema and is tucked away inside a bay surrounded by towering island rocks and lush jungle plants. It's a natural paradise, and it just happens to be the perfect spot for a floating movie theater. The lagoon itself is shallow enough that it turns into a watery beach during low tide. Once the tide shifts, the ocean once again fills the area. Full Article:

QDEF - A Stepping Stone or Alternative to OLED?

A new LCD backlighting technology from material science company, Nanosys Inc, delivers the promises of OLED displays at LCD prices.

Crestron and Kinect

After seeing Crestron's Kinect demonstration at CES, we asked Crestron's Director of Software Products and Enterprise Solutions, Kor Baydurcan, about the integration and future plans.

Mirage MMS-2 Media Server Review

We took the cloud-connected MMS-2 media server for a spin for a number of weeks. It turned out to be a well-preforming, well-connected device.

Cooling the (almost) impossible enclosure

Active Thermal Management's CEO, Frank Federman, explains how to deal with challenging cooling projects

Content Insider # 217 - Protect Your Own

While it's impossible to avoid the cloud with all the web services that are out there, it's not a place we want to store anything we feel is important or private. Our new home cloud is a 16TB RAID that we hope will be enough storage and backup for a year or so.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Smart Bulbs are out there and they can do far more then just provide light. Speakers, projectors, wi-fi extenders and more. The standard light socket that is wired up and ready to go in nearly every home in North America is now providing an easy and affordable option for home owners and renters alike to enter into the world of the "Smart Home". Here is a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options out there, and this list is just the beginning. In this ongoing article we hope to continue to add to and grow this list, so stay tuned!