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:

Control4 Acquires Pakedge Device & Software

Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ:CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announced the acquisition of Pakedge Device & Software, Inc., a leader in advanced networking products and cloud network-management services for both wireless and wired networking solutions for the connected home and business.
"The connected consumer, connected home, and connected business opportunity is expanding along with the complexities of supporting thousands of different devices and services in homes and business around the world," said Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. "By embracing networking as an expanded core-competency, integrating it tightly with our entertainment and automation capabilities, and delivering a single cloud-based reporting and management solution, Control4 will be able to harness the expanding opportunity, bring more simplicity to the complicated, and increase satisfaction for our end customers."   Full Press Release... 
 

AUDIOFluance Announces Fi70, First Wireless Speaker With Dual 8″ Woofers

ByJustin Jelinek for Techaeris:  Fluance continues to raise the bar on audiophile-quality wireless speakers. They started with theirbookshelf Fi30, and later upgraded that to the Fi50. They’ve recently announced their Signature Series floor speakers, a pair of powerhouse speakers. Today, Fluance has announced a new wireless Bluetooth speaker, the Fluance Fi70. The Fi70 is sure to start a conversation before silencing that conversation with powerful music.

Based on what we’ve seen from Fluance, I’m confident the Fi70 is going to sound fantastic, but even more so, anyone who sees it is sure to comment on its looks first. This is a uniquely shaped speaker, but it’s got more than enough power that people shouldn’t focus on its looks for too long.

The Fi70 is the first wireless speaker with dual 8″ woofers, meaning this thing is going to move some air for sure. Backing up those 8″ woofers are 5” woven glass fiber midrange drivers and 1” neodymium tweeters. Couple all of those speakers with a 280 watt amplifier, and you’ve got yourself a party waiting to happen. You can read more about the Fluance Fi70 in the full press release below, or you can head directly over to Fluance.com and order one of your very own for $499.  Cont'd...

Shrinking Space in RF Poses Challenges to AV Integrators

By Kelleigh Welch for AV Network:  Picture your desk—you have a computer, a phone, a few folders with information about your latest project, a photo of your dog, all carefully arranged in their own designated space. Now cut the size of your desk in half—you can still fit everything in the space, it’s just a lot more cramped.

Such is the case with the wireless spectrum as the FCC continues to auction off pieces designated for TV broadcast and wireless microphone systems. Currently, wireless systems have access to the 470 to 698 mHz frequencies, but on March 29, 2016, this range will get smaller as pieces are auctioned off to mobile broadband companies.

So what does this mean for integrators? To start, with fewer frequencies to work with, integrators need to future proof their systems by choosing reliable and efficient wireless systems.

“Right now, if you are designing or putting together a concept for an install, you need to choose systems that are spectrally efficient. You have to look for attributes that can serve your install, with a wide tuning coverage,” explained Nick Wood, category director for wireless systems, Shure.  Cont'd...

SmartThings And Samsung Team Up To Make Your TV A Smart Home Hub

Jordan Crook  for TechCrunch:  Samsung and SmartThings are buddying up to introduce Samsung’s latest line of Smart TVs, complete with SmartThings platform integration so folks can use their TVs as an interface to control the home.

There is no shortage of internet-connected devices out there, from standard security systems and smart lighting systems all the way to the connected kettle. But a connective language that unifies those devices is harder to come by. SmartThings is aiming to introduce that by teaming up with potential interfaces, including the Amazon Echo and this most recent foray into Smart TVs.

With this latest move, owners of the new 2016 Samsung SUHD TVs will be able to use their television as a controller for more than 200 SmartThings-compatible devices.  Cont'd...

Chromecast Audio Is Now An Inexpensive Hi-Res Wireless Home Audio System

By Leo Markus for ImmortalNews:  Google’s Chromecast Audio just became the inexpensive solution for wirelessly streaming music throughout a home or office with its latest update’s incorporation of multi-room streaming support, Google announced on Thursday. As if multi-room support wasn’t enough for one update, the small WiFi enabled device–which plugs directly into a speaker, allowing it to wirelessly stream music over the radio waves–now offers support for high-resolution audio up to 96KHz/24bit lossless audio playback. Google launched Chromecast Audio just a couple of months ago as an inexpensive way to connect speakers to streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora and obviously Google Play Music.
The device, which costs $35, now allows you to blast the same song throughout multiple rooms — effectively grouping speakers together to create an expansive listening environment. In order to do so, users employ the latest Chromecast app, which allows for groups to be setup.  Cont'd...
 

Apple Said to Suspend Effort to Develop Live TV Service

From Bloomberg Business:  Apple Inc. has suspended plans to offer a live Internet-based television service and is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

While Apple isn’t giving up entirely on releasing a live-TV service, its plan to sell a package of 14 or so channels for $30 to $40 a month has run into resistance from media companies that want more money for their programming, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing a prospective product.

CBS Corp. Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves said at a conference earlier Tuesday that Apple had put its live TV plans “on hold.”

The struggle highlights the difficulty new entrants face in trying to persuade media companies to overhaul the conventional pay-TV bundle, which costs about $85 a month. To break the logjam, Apple would either have to charge more, or the media companies would have to accept less.  Cont'd...

Study - Smart Home Technology Will Have Greater Impact Than Wearables

New GfK research shows that half of US consumers believe smart home technology will have a major impact on their lives – a higher level than wearables or cloud computing and equal to mobile payment systems.

The study, which covered seven countries, asked consumers to choose which of 11 leading-edge technologies – from 3D printing to augmented/virtual reality to Internet of Things -- would be important to their lives. (Respondents could choose as many technologies as they wished.)

In the US, 51 percent of consumers picked smart home, versus 50% for mobile payments – a statistical tie; these compare to global levels of 54% for mobile payments and 51% for smart home. (The global figures cited here represent five of the seven countries in the full survey – US, UK, Germany, Brazil, and South Korea; data for China and Japan will be released later.)

Four in ten (42%) US consumers cited wearables – significantly higher than the global score of 33% -- while cloud computing came in at 41%.

Full Press Release:

Slick New Wireless Speakers Reimagine Your Home Audio Setup

TIM MOYNIHAN for Wired:   Libratone is reimagining what a home-audio setup should be in the modern world. Portable wireless speakers aren’t just a handy vacation accoutrement; Libratone thinks they’re also the cornerstone of our future home systems. The company is clearing its entire slate of products and replacing them with their next-generation Zipp and Zipp Mini speakers, which support everything from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi to DLNA to AirPlay to Spotify Connect. They’re nice-looking wireless speakers with great sound blasting out of them in every direction, and they get up to 10 hours of battery life.

The Zipp and Zipp Mini aren’t just grab-and-go portable speakers—although the Zipp Mini’s small size, strong sound, carrying strap, and washable cover lend themselves to that scenario. With its new speakers, Libratone is intent on creating a wireless multi-room sound system for modern living, built for open floor plans and rooms with several purposes. It wants to make a system that’s just as modular as a loft without being overly complex.  Cont'd...

Apple TV review: Big steps forward, but not a revolution

Susie Ochs for MacWorld:  Apple finally updated its Apple TV set-top box, which had remained virtually unchanged for years, since going 1080p in 2012. The new version is faster, easier to use, and less frustrating, at least most of the time. What it isn’t is a revolution—everything Apple added already existed in its competitors.

An App Store and a microphone-equipped remote for voice search are both excellent features to have, and they bring the Apple TV closer to the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. But Apple still has a ways to go. The Remote app for iOS doesn’t work with this new model, for example, so we’re back to entering passwords one letter at a time by clicking with the remote—that’s actually a step backward from where we were. You still can’t enter your cable-provider credentials in one place and see a list of all the network apps you could log into. Without categories in the App Store, you can’t even find a list of all the games.  Cont'd...

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X explained

Theo Nicolakis for TechHive:  Have you ever seen a presentation explaining the difference between the second and third dimensions? If you were to step into a 2D world, it would be like living inside a piece of paper—an entire universe completely flat in its existence. Objects could exist only on a single plane, left, right, straight ahead, or behind. In mathematical terms, you would have only an X axis and a Y axis. In a 2D world, the concepts of “up” or “down” do not exist. There is no Z axis.

Jump back over to the third dimension and you’ll encounter an entire world of sights and sounds above and below in addition to all around. Step into a 3D world and you’ll immediately feel as though things are more realistic, more natural, more true-to-life. Imagine how difficult it would be to explain to a person living in a 2D world what the 3D world looks like, feels like, and sounds like.  Cont'd...

Sonos To Open Up API To Simplify Integration With Smart Home Systems

Wireless multiroom-audio pioneer Sonos will open up its API to make it easier for home-automation suppliers to integrate with Sonos speakers and soundbars without having to reverse-engineer Sonos software.  But Sonos isn’t saying when.

The “next big thing for us” will be “opening aspects of our platform so other companies [home-automation suppliers] can work with it,” Michael Papish, platform strategies director, told TWICE during the CEDIA Expo.

Sonos wants to provide home-automation users with “the right amount of control without compromising sound quality and ease of use,” he said, without saying when the API would be available.

For years, home-automation suppliers have reverse-engineered Sonos technology to create applications enabling their home-automation systems to control Sonos systems, and Sonos “won’t cut them off,” Papish said. But when Sonos makes software updates, the reverse-engineered solutions “might not work,” he said. Creating a “standardized protocol” will prevent that problem, he said.  Cont'd...

Records 16 to 30 of 49

First | Previous | Next | Last

Audio & Video - Featured Product

PureLink - HCE III TX/RX: 4K HDR over HDBaseT Extension System w/ Control and Bi-Directional PoE

PureLink - HCE III TX/RX: 4K HDR over HDBaseT Extension System w/ Control and Bi-Directional PoE

The HCE III Tx/Rx HDBaseT™ extension system offers full HDMI 2.0 compliance supporting HDR (High Dynamic Range) and 4K@60Hz with 4:4:4 chroma sampling. Featuring PureLink's proprietary Prcis codec, a light compression technology, the HCE III can transport Ultra HD/4K, multi-channel audio, and High Dynamic Range (10 bits support) content over a single CATx cable. The HCE III provides HDMI extension up to 130 feet (40 meters) at Ultra HD/4K and up to 230 ft. (70 meters) at 1080p over category cable with embedded multi-channel audio, CEC pass-through, bi-directional RS-232 and IR control, and PoE - all with zero loss and zero noise. The HCE III Tx/Rx also supports Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master Audio plus LCPM (up to 192 kHz). Additionally, the low profile "slim box" enclosure design make the HCE III ideal for limited space installation environments, such as behind flat panel displays and video walls.