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...

CEDIA Announces 2015 Best New Product Award Winners

CEDIA has announced the winners of the 2015 Best New Product awards. The winning products were selected by a panel of home technology professional judges and were selected for the innovation they represent and the value they provide to both the integrator's business and the end user.  This year's honorees are:

Digital Projection - INSIGHT 4K Dual-LED

D-Tools, Inc. - System Integrator 2015 (SI 2015) featuring Mobile Install

DynaQuip Controls - WaterCopPRO Integrated

Future Automation - HSE - Large Motorised Wall Mount

IC Realtime - C720 360-degree x 360-degree 4K Virtual PTZ Camera

ihiji, Inc. - ServiceManager

Kaleidescape, Inc. - Strato Movie Player

Savant - Savant App

Séura - Storm Outdoor TV

Sonance - DSP Amplifiers with SonARC

CHROMECAST AUDIO COULD ARRIVE SEPT. 29, WILL WI-FI ENABLE YOUR HOME SPEAKERS

By Chris Leo Palermino for Digital Trends:   While we reported about the Chromecast 2 earlier today, it sounds like that’s not the only Chromecast that Google will be debuting on Sept. 29. The tech giant is also working on Chromecast Audio, a separate device focused on “Wi-Fi-enabling the speakers in your home,” according to 9to5Google. Allegedly called “Hendrix” internally, the music-focused Chromecast will attach to speakers via a standard 3.5mm headphone cable.

The new device will allow users to listen to music and other audio like podcasts (and maybe even online radio?) via wi-fi from Android devices or the Chrome browser. Chromecast currently supports Google Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and — as of recently — Spotify. It will have ‘multi-room support,’ which means that it may have the ability to play the same audio through multiple speakers.  Cont'd...

Wireless Multiroom Audio: Room For More?

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Sales growth is slowing in wireless multiroom audio even as more companies enter a market whose top brand – Sonos — enjoys almost a 90 percent dollar share of the market at the retail level.

So you’d think the market would be in the midst of a shakeout, shrinking margins, and a downward spiral in average selling prices. But you’d be wrong, at least for now.

Some audio suppliers see ASPs and retail-level margins holding steady or rising as high-performance audio brands begin to play in a market established by Sonos 10 years ago. And they aren’t too worried yet about slowing growth because the household penetration rate is still very low. Only 2 percent, or 3 million, of the country’s 116 million households have wireless multiroom-audio speakers, according to estimates from Yamaha, which entered the market in August.  Cont'd...

Apple Said to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 as Negotiations Stall

By  Peter Burrows, Lucas Shaw and Gerry Smith for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. customers waiting for the company to revolutionize live television as it did for music and phone service will have to keep waiting, at least until next year.

The company wanted to introduce this year a live TV service delivered via the Internet, but is now aiming for 2016, said people familiar with Apple’s plans. Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. are progressing slowly, some of the people said. Apple also doesn’t have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Without enough content deals in place, Apple has scrapped plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, which would have coincided with the beginning of the new network TV season, the people said. The Cupertino, California-based company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, said the people, but customers -- for now, at least -- will need a cable or satellite TV subscription or an antenna to watch live network television.  Cont'd...

Universal Electronics makes smart home bid with Ecolink acquisition

By Ben Munson for CEDMagazine:  Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) is strengthening its position in the smart home market by acquiring Ecolink Intelligent Technology, a wireless home security and automation specialist.

UEI is spending about $12.4 million in cash and incentive-based considerations over the next five years to acquire Ecolink’s assets.

Those assets include over 25 issued and pending patents, related intellectual property and Ecolink’s smart home, wireless security and home automation business.

Ecolink will become a wholly owned subsidiary of UEI and continue being operated and marketed under the Ecolink name.

For Ecolink, the acquisition likely means a significant boost in market penetration.

For UEI, the purchase means a stronger foothold in the smart home/home automation market that’s becoming part of many cable companies’ and telco’ businesses.  Cont'd...

Sony launches crowdfunding site, features e-paper home control

Tim Hornyak, IDG News Service:  Struggling electronics maker Sony has moved further into the crowdfunding scene by starting its own platform to raise funds for internally generated business ideas, including a new universal remote control with an electronic paper interface.

Launched Wednesday, First Flight is a crowdfunding and e-commerce platform designed to take product proposals from the ideas to sales. It’s only available in Japanese and is limited to Sony’s in-house projects.

First Flight has three stages, a teaser stage, in which new ideas can be previewed and discussed, followed by crowdfunding and e-commerce.

“One of the strengths and aims of First Flight is to facilitate ongoing dialogue with customers from initial development through to market introduction, by seamlessly connecting each phase from previewing and crowd funding to e-commerce,” a Sony spokeswoman said.  Cont'd...

Bluetooth speakers drive growth in home audio, says firm

The home audio market (wireless speakers, soundbars, Hi-Fi systems, A/V receivers and speaker docks) grew by 22% to ship 71 million units. Trade value also grew by 22%, generating just under US$10 billion worth of revenues in 2014, according to Futuresource Consulting.

Wireless speakers and soundbar shipments exceeded market expectations and accounted for the lion's share, far outweighing the decline in demand for traditional audio devices i.e. A/V receivers and Hi-Fi systems. The wireless speaker market was fuelled by strong growth in Bluetooth speakers in the lower end of the price spectrum and multi-room audio at the premium end.

Home audio devices increasingly offer wireless functionality and shipments with this feature grew by 93% from 27 million units in 2013 to 53 million units in 2014. Futuresource said it predicts that virtually all home audio devices will be wireless by 2019.

Hitachi Introduces High-Performance Wireless Whole-Home Audio Speakers

Hitachi America, Ltd. today announced the debut of three stylish new Wi-Fi enabled speakers powered by the AllPlay™ smart media platform, a wireless whole-home audio solution developed by Qualcomm®. AllPlay is a complete hardware and software whole home audio platform that offers manufacturers and consumers a unified solution for local media and cloud based Wi-Fi streaming across iOS and Android platforms.
 
Hitachi’s smart speakers offer seamless streaming of high-quality local and cloud-based audio content – with the high performance and versatility of Wi-Fi – at three affordable price points. Industry-leading audio streaming music services such as Spotify®, Rhapsody® and others have committed to supporting speaker products powered by AllPlay this year.

CEDIA Launches Video Guide to Smart Home Wiring

CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) has produced a new video Guide to Smart Home Wiring which introduces consumers, builders and design professionals to the benefits that a properly designed and installed cabling infrastructure can provide in homes today. 

"We all dream of living in a comfortable, secure and energy efficient home," says Matt Nimmons, CEDIA EMEA's Operations Director. "The reality is that technology can now be seamlessly integrated and controlled to deliver these benefits to us all. By following the Best Practice advice within CEDIA's Smart Home Recommended Wiring Guidelines, this video shows how the right cabling infrastructure is an essential requirement for the internet-connected smart home." 

CEDIA's Guide to Smart Home Wiring looks at how technology is an integral part of a typical family's lifestyle in today's home. It then explains how the right wiring infrastructure can manage and distribute audio-visual, lighting, heating, security and other data hungry services effectively within a property whilst, at the same time, helping to minimise electronic box and cable clutter in the home. 

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