A "Cedia" Low-Voltage Initiative Proposal

Somewhere in the mid 1980's, the NAHB Research Center in Washington was run by a guy I knew (whose name I can't seem to dig up) who had a wacky vision. His idea was to reinvent the way electrical power was distributed throughout the home. They called it Smart Home (not to be confused with the Disney movie of the same name or other stuff that uses that name now). I think it was the first use of the name.

Adoption of Wireless and Powerline Controls

One must consider all of these factors in determining whether electronic controls will replace electromechanical toggle switches. Wireless and powerline controls effectively address two factors in a positive way: absolute price and infrastructure. First, the cost of products based on these technologies is significantly less than traditional control systems installed by home systems integrators. Second, the infrastructure is already in place, so no new wires are needed.

Audio, Distortion and Feedback

Feedback is very large subject, and I am going to limit myself to some simple tutorial comments and a discussion of phenomena associated with complexity in distortion created by nonlinear gain stages, negative feedback, and the audio signal. Taken singly, these phenomena seem simple enough, but when they interact, they create distortions out of proportion to what you expect from the specifications found in product brochures. There are linear and non-linear forms of distortion. Linear distortions affect the amplitude and phase of audio signals, but don't show up on harmonic distortion analyzers as added frequency components that weren't there in the first place. Tone controls are a good example of circuits with linear distortion. Nonlinear distortions are those which add new frequency components to the original signal, either as harmonic multiples of the original frequencies or as sidebands resulting from their non-linear interaction between the original frequencies. Nonlinearities are often deliberately created in musical instruments themselves, but they are unwanted in music reproduction. We will be talking about nonlinear distortions.

CES 2009 - Special News Report

Hundreds of New Product announcements from CES 2009

CES 2009 - What is Hot

Every year for the last 20 years, I have been making the trek up to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Over the years, the show has evolved from a giant bazaar selling toys, watches and other household gizmos to the most important United States show for electronics, cameras, computers, gaming, audio accessories, etc. This year is no different. So far I have not seen any revolutionary announcements but several trends are definitely emerging.

CES Wrap-Up

We don't agree that this year's CES attendance was an indicator of an industry decline. The lower numbers were good for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately when the economic tide turns the hordes will probably be back. 3D movies/TV, mininotebooks and the constant din that we need our entertainment everywhere were the major news points for the show. Beyond that there were incremental enhancements/improvements. Paradigm shifts were not to be seen. But as CEA's Shapiro said it may be tough for a few quarters but the industry is going to innovate itself out of the global economic downturn. Flying to the seat of national government for handouts is not in the companies' DNA. Surviving and thriving in the PC/CE/content industry isn't always easy, sometimes not much fun but it is always interesting. This is one of those really, really interesting periods.

ISE 2009 - Special News Report

Hundreds of New Product announcements from Integrated Systems Europe 2009

Next Generation Remote Controls

With a single, universal RF remote device, consumers will be able to control every aspect of their connected home. RF is engineered to control more than a TV and DVD, it can also control lighting, heating and air conditioning, blinds and shutters. Two-way communication can also be used to help you locate your lost remote control hidden in the couch pillows or under the table. This new generation of RF communication is opening up a market for low cost, reliable high speed RF remote controls and is expected to have a huge impact on the user experience, as IEEE 802.15.4 remote controls will allow a completely new way to use a remote control. In short, the development of radio frequency remote controls will replace IR remote controls and deliver richer communications, increase reliability and improve flexibility

Visions for 2009

Despite what a lot of "financial experts" say (weren't they the ones who got us into this position?) things aren't real bad -- yeah they're not real great either. But people in the business/consumer computer/entertainment/communications industry have never been short on optomism or ideas. Looking up from what is near the bottom of the valley it is fairly obvious that it will be a long, hard trek back up to the top of the hill. Some firms won't survive by this time next year. Those that focus on developing a strong consumer centric strategy and lead/listen to the marketplace will be light years ahead of the competition when we enter 2010. What's it going to take? What will the the leaders do? We've got a pretty good idea...hope you agree. We know most have what it takes to survive and prosper!

What Happened To The Smart Home?

Ten years ago, the "smart home" was all the rage. Almost every company in our market had a concept center or display house that showed the functionality of the digital home.

Help Design The Boxee Hardware

Boxee is a social software platform allowing users to watch online video content and listen to music from the internet on their television or computer. Currently users have to install the software on a computer or Apple TV and hook it up to their television for the full experience but they are in talks with device makers to work out the details of a separate Boxee device. Take part in this survey to help them decide what direction to take the project.

Streaming Video Cannibalizing DVD Rentals

Netflix seems to be one of the few technology companies booming in this recession with profit up 45% in Q4 from last year, and nearly 10 million total subscribers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted that there were millions of subscribers using the Watch Instantly feature, and that Netflix had seen a "substitution effect" among subscribers who do so. "We are seeing early signs of less DVD usage with some subscribers who are also watching instantly as compared to subscribers who only receive DVDs," said Hastings. This could be more bad news for physical media companies like Sony because it shows that people are willing to compromise quality for the convenience of streaming video .

Animated Tokyo Diorama Speaker

Japanese toy company Bandai has released a limited edition speaker with a diorama of Tokyo's Ginza district in all its modernist, 1950s glory. For a little over $2000 (198,000 yen) you get a cabinet with two 1 Watt speakers with the detailed diorama on top. The diorama uses LEDs to mimic what the famous street looked liked with all its signs and storefronts lit up at night.

MSI WindBOX

MSI's WindBOX could be the future form factor for desktop PCs. The small fanless design mounts onto the back of any VESA compatible monitor and contains a 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, Intel's GMA 950 graphics set, 802.11b/g WiFi, audio in / out, three USB 2.0 sockets, a VGA port and a 3-in-1 multicard. With the upcoming Nvidia ION platform's small size and 1080p capability we could be seeing HTPCs in similar invisible mounting form factors.

Real-time Power Usage Monitor

The how-to site Instructables has a tutorial on how to build a real-time home power usage monitoring system. The end result is a live chart in a web page that updates every 10 seconds with the instantaneous power usage from their entire house. The electrical current is measured on the main lines entering their home with AC clamps. The signal is then conditioned with a simple circuit and monitored by an ioBridge module and then charted in Google Charts as a kilowatt-hour calculation.

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