Philips Demonstrates Connected Lighting Systems at LIGHTFAIR International 2014

Royal Philips announced that at LIGHTFAIR International 2014 it will highlight state-of-the art Connected Lighting systems available for the home and outdoor applications, as well as preview the company's breakthrough Connected Lighting systems for offices and retail. In a Connected Lighting system, light points merge with a building's or city's IT network, allowing the lighting system to act as an information pathway. Comprehensive lighting management software can deliver targeted, intelligent illumination, reducing cost by providing the right light at the right place at the right time, as well as enabling users to tailor the lighting system to their preferences via mobile apps. Lighting points can also transmit their location information to smart devices so that downloaded apps can provide location-based services. 

Philips Connected Lighting systems allow actionable data collected from sensors in intelligent luminaires to be made available to facility or city managers, who can then use the data for informed business decisions and greater customer insight. For indoor systems, an integrated view of a building's occupancy patterns and energy usage optimizes the distribution of resources, resulting in unprecedented levels of energy and operational efficiency. Moreover, the Philips systems demonstrate the company's commitment to delivering hybrid, customer-centric solutions that encompass both Philips and non-Philips products, non-LED luminaires, a range of power and data options, including Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), wireless communications, standard and digital dimmers and lighting controls. 

Apple's new HomeKit home automation can control your appliances and more

Confirming rumors that began circulating last week, Apple unveiled the Homekit home automation project at today's Worldwide Developers Conference as a way to connect iPhones and iPads to smart home devices like light bulbs and appliances.
"We thought we could bring rationality into the home automation space," Craig Federighi said from the WWDC stage on Monday morning. He announced that Homekit will employ a "common network protocol that has secure pairing so only your iPhone can unlock your garage door."
Possibly built on the Reminders app's geofencing capabilities, Homekit will allow users to trigger any compatible device when their iPhone enters or leaves a specific location. Additionally, Siri integration will allow users to say things like "get ready for bed" to enable a suite of smarthome functions at the same time, like making sure a garage door is closed, thermostat is lowered, and lights are dimmed.
This usability was hinted at when Haier debuted the Tianzun air conditioner, the first MFi-approved home appliance, at this year's CES, but that presentation didn't mention any "made for iOS" requirements for devices. The WWDC presentation mentioned that Apple is working with "leaders in home automation to give HomeKit a consistent network protocol," and a giant screen listed names such as Haier, Honeywell, Texas Instruments, and more.

Apple's home-automation system may be pretty underwhelming

Rumors of Apple’s upcoming “Made for iHome” API in iOS 8 sent fanboys rocketing with excitement that Cupertino might be launching a makeover in the living room, but expectations are about to get dashed when Apple presents a much simpler system on Monday.
The move to home automation will be more about fighting fragmentation, reports GigaOm, than creating an entire home experience. Apple’s home efforts will just focus on easily connecting devices to Wifi and tossing in voice control over Bluetooth.
There will be no central control center. No asking Siri to turn off your Hues and lock the door. But the report does have some interesting details on what Apple will announce:
“What we’re likely to see next week is a roll out of participating partners, devices and chips that support the MFi standard, all set to assure people who purchase those devices that they will work with their iPhones and iPads, with the promise of a few special features.”
If GigaOm’s report is accurate it will be an underwhelming experience compared to the dream of Apple offering a clean, robust control center that can manage everything from your thermostat to your crockpot without switching to individual apps.
Apple could eventually overlay software controls directly into iOS 8 but it’s not looking to make its full home automation just yet. For now it looks like it’s simply laying the groundwork.

Core Brands Announces Next-Generation ELAN Control Platform with Two New System Controllers

Leading home automation, entertainment and control technology manufacturer, Core Brands, LLC, a Nortek company (NSDQ: NTK) today announced a major upgrade of its award-winning ELAN® Control Platform for residential and commercial markets. This new Linux-based platform delivers better performance, easier installation, broader device compatibility, and greater scalability. The ELAN Control Platform provides a foundation for Core Brands’ highly competitive connected home ecosystem and continues to build its single source solution for customers in its dealer network.

“This is the most significant engineering effort in ELAN’s 25 year history. Our team has invested heavily to re-architect the ELAN Control Platform and make it the preeminent platform for the next-generation connected home,” said Joe Roberts, Vice President of Products and Marketing, Core Brands. “The ELAN Control Platform is a cornerstone in our strategy to delight our dealers and their clients with innovative and integrated products backed by best-in-class service and support.”

This platform provides expansion of ELAN® products and applications in the market, from new entry-level consumer solutions to large customer and commercial installations. It also expands the range of opportunities for Core Brands’ portfolio of smart “Internet of Things” products that can be attached to the platform and be controlled, automated and monitored by ELAN. Attached categories include speakers, multi-room audio, power conditioners, smart-plugs, cameras, access products like gates and garage door openers and more, including from Core Brands’ own market leading brands such as SpeakerCraft®, Niles®, Sunfire®, Panamax®, Furman® and Xantech®, and others.


Report: Apple to Take on Home Automation with "Smart Home" Platform at WWDC

We are now hearing word from Financial Times that Apple is looking to enter the home automation space with a “Smart Home” initiative that will kick off next month at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The details of Apple’s system were first revealed in a patent filing last year, but the time is now for Apple to introduce the functionality according to Financial Times.

The earlier filing (Patent No. 8,577,392) described how an iPhone or iPad could be used to control “lighting systems, security systems, garage-door openers, music controllers, climate controllers, or kitchen appliances” – in fact it could be similar in scope to AirPlay and iBeacon, but geared towards home automation products and appliances.
Apple sees its Smart Home system as being superior to other “automatic operations” that are currently on the market:
Automatic operations are frequently sub-optimal due to variations in a person's daily routines. A person can leave work at different times each day, can encounter different traffic patterns, or can exhibit different hunger levels. Thus, unpredictable events and emotions can make it difficult to establish automatic operations that consistently produce desired results.
The Financial Times gives the example of how a homeowner’s lights could be turned simply by entering the home with an iPhone in his or her pocket. 


HARMAN to Acquire AMX - Technology Leader in Video Switching and Enterprise Control and Automation Solutions

Harman International Industries, Incorporated (NYSE:HAR), the premier infotainment and audio group, today announced it has signed an agreement with The Duchossois Group, Inc. and its affiliates to acquire AMX LLC for US$365 million. AMX is the leading provider of enterprise control and automation systems and audio and video switching and distributing solutions. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals.

"HARMAN is the leader in smart connectivity. Our vision is to extend our reach beyond the car into the enterprise, where we already have a substantial audio presence,” said Dinesh C. Paliwal, Chairman, President and CEO of HARMAN. “AMX is the global technology leader in enterprise control and automation as well as audio and video switching and distribution. With the addition of AMX, HARMAN will be uniquely positioned to provide complete audio, video, lighting and automation solutions to our customers globally.”

Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, AMX’s hardware and proprietary software solutions simplify the way people interact with technology and are implemented worldwide throughout a variety of enterprises and venues such as conference rooms, hotels, classrooms, network operation / command centers, entertainment venues and broadcast facilities. AMX employs more than 600 people across its operations in 19 locations worldwide.


Brick And Bullet Kickstarter Aims To Deliver Home Network Audio Streaming For Live Music

If you have AirPlay or any other kind of wireless home network audio setup, you’ll no doubt be aware there’s a delay. You click play, there’s a few seconds of silence, and then the music starts. This is ordinarily fine, because we don’t usually need things to be real-time, but that’s not the case when you’re trying to broadcast live music within a home or building, or when you’re trying to watch a movie and the audio isn’t syncing correctly.

New Kickstarter project Brick & Bullet wants to offer no-latency audio streaming to consumers, using the Ethernet AVB standard and its new hardware to provide instant playback. The project is the creation of John Gildred, founder of, and it’s making its debut at SF’s Maker Faire this weekend.

Brick & Bullet compares to a traditional AirPlay setup using an Airport Express router. It’s a much better system, and one that could solve a lot of the annoying issues that come up when you try to extend AirPlay beyond its intended purposes using aftermarket software like Airfoil. OS X has support for AVB out of the box, too, so it works instantly with Mac computers running Mavericks.

Microsoft gets into the home automation game with Insteon partnership

Microsoft announced a partnership with Insteon today, along with some big plans to fully incorporate the popular home automation network into its ecosystem. Starting June 1, an enhanced version of the Insteon app with exclusive features will be made available for Windows Phone 8 devices, along with any tablet, laptop, or desktop running Windows 8.1.

In addition, it won't be long after that before you start seeing Insteon products lining Microsoft Store shelves. These include individual products like the Insteon LED Bulb, as well as complete smart-home packages consisting of the Insteon Hub and select peripheral devices, similar to the Insteon Starter Kit we reviewed last year. Devices will range in price from $30 to $80, with kits starting at $199.
Windows-exclusive features in the new version of Insteon's app will include complete Live Tile integration capable of offering status updates for multiple devices at once on the start screen of devices running Windows 8.1.
Insteon is also promising enhanced camera support that will allow users to view full-screen feeds, view multiple feeds at once, or use a camera without needing to install an Insteon Hub.


Home automation named one of the most influential IoT techs in 2014

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) is a nonprofit trade group dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and sponsor to TiECON, the annual conference for entrepreneurs from technology companies, venture capital firms, and service providers, released an infographic that highlights industry insights and predictions on the Top 5 Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for 2014 (full infographic below).

According to the infographic, the Top 5 most influential IoT technologies this year are smartwatches, health and fitness tracking, connected retail, virtual and augmented reality, and the automated home.

The automated home market is expected to reach revenues of $35.6 million by 2016, reports TiE, as more consumers leverage technology to help them save on utility bills. A homeowner can expect to save up to 20 percent in their home costs per year, an average of about $1,154 annually.

One of the most widely adopted home automation systems available today is temperature control, with popular products including the Nest smart learning thermostat and Belkin’s WeMo line of home automation solutions.

CEA Study Finds Almost all Home Technology Installations Increased in 2013

Almost all installations of home technologies in new homes increased or held constant in 2013, indicating the built-in home technology market has a strong, stable foothold in the U.S. The 12th Annual State of the Builder Technology Market Study, was released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. 

Installations of almost every home technology increased or held constant from 2012 to 2013. Structured wiring was the most common technology installed in 2013 (78 percent, an eight percent increase from 2012), followed by monitored security (47 percent, up three percent) and home theaters (32 percent, up five percent). Multi-room audio (21 percent), energy management (13 percent) and home automation (12 percent) all saw increases. A new addition to this year's study are stand-alone video surveillance systems (including pre-wire),which were installed in eight percent of new homes in 2013. 

The U.S. housing market continued to recover in 2013 and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) predicts there will be 1.3 million new home starts in 2014. In parallel with the housing recovery, built-in home technologies are expected to reach $2.3 billion in revenue in 2014, according to CEA's U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecast report. 

Home Automation - TinkerForge brings home automation to the masses with its DIY kit

Do you have some old 433MHz home automation gear lying around and fancy making your home a little smarter? TinkerForge is releasing a new internet of things controller designed to let you run power sockets, light fittings and even electric blinds from the comfort of your smartphone. The platform markets itself as a coding-free alternative to Arduino and Raspberry Pi, so building the control scheme online promises to be entirely safe for novices. If you snag the hardware before May 24th, then it'll only set you back €50 ($70), after which the price will go up to €65 ($90), but that's a small price to pay to really freak out your housekeeper.

Home Automation - D-Link Introduces the Wi-Fi Smart Plug

D-Link today announced the Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W215), the company’s first product in a new line of Connected Home solutions designed to bring the convenience and flexibility of mydlink to everyday household electronic devices. The compact and easy-to-use Wi-Fi Smart Plug allows users to monitor and control their home’s electronic devices from anywhere. Using the free mydlink™ app for iOS® and Android™ smartphones or tablets, users can set power on/off schedules, turn devices on and off remotely and monitor energy usage at home or on-the-go.   
“The launch of the Wi-Fi Smart Plug represents a key moment for D-Link as we look to expand our offering of connected home solutions designed for consumers looking for a convenient way to automate their home and control their devices from their smartphones and tablets,” said Daniel Kelley, vice president of marketing, D-Link Systems, Inc. “The Wi-Fi Smart Plug offers that convenience at an affordable price so customers can automate any range of devices in their home.”
With advanced power scheduling features, the mydlink app can be used to create on/off schedules for home appliances and devices, a useful feature for increasing home security with automated lights. For even more peace-of-mind, the Wi-Fi Smart Plug comes with a built-in thermal sensor that will automatically shut off connected devices if they overheat. In addition, the mydlink Wi-Fi Smart Plug features a simple one-button installation – users press the WPS button on their existing router and on the Smart Plug, and then download the mydlink Smart Plug mobile app to start setup. 

Home Automation - Revolv Bundles Compatible Products With Its Home-Automation Hub

Home-automation start-up Revolv is trying to make it easier for consumers to select products compatible with its $299 hub, which incorporates multiple wireless technologies to control home-automation products made by other companies.

The products can be controlled through the hub via an iOS app.

On its website, Revolv created four product packages consisting of its hub and such products as a Yale Z-Wave deadbolt, Honeywell Z-Wave thermostat, Nest thermostat, Insteon wireless motion sensor, Belkin and Insteon plug-in appliance-control modules, Philips Hue and Insteon LED light bulbs, and the Sonos Play:1 networked wireless speaker.

The bundles are fulfilled by Amazon.

Revolv sells its hub on its web site and through Amazon, the Smarthome catalog,, and Revolv is also testing sales through 72 Home Depot stores and Home Depot’s web site.

Home Audio - Everything you need to know about High-Resolution Audio, the future of music

Although high-res audio has been around for a while now, the public really knows very little about it. Until recently, talk of high-res audio has been relegated mostly to audiophile mags and enthusiast forums. But with the recent success of Neil Young’s Pono projector on Kickstarter, Sony’s declaration of war against the MP3, and a surprising move toward high-end audio by Samsung, the topic has been making headlines and generating interest … and a lot of questions.
So we decided to answer them. Here is everything you need to get up to speed on high-res audio, in plain English, so that you can really wrap your head around what may be be the next big development in consumer audio.
What does the term “high-res audio” mean?
The consumer electronics industry and news media only recently embraced the term “high-res audio.” Before now, it was often called HD audio (which we would argue makes a lot more sense). But, now that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has gotten involved, standards are being formed and it looks like “high-resolution audio” is the way we’re going to go.
While high-res audio is really a very broad term that could apply to any kind of high-quality sound, it has become popular to use it to refer specifically to high-quality digital music files. For many, “high-res” means anything better than CD quality, but there are some measurements and formats we get into a little bit later that help us identify some of the most common kinds of high-res audio.  Full Article:

Home Audio - Gibson Brands Announces Agreement to Acquire Philips' Audio and Home Entertainment Business

As part of its continued growth and diversification in the music and audio lifestyle arena, Gibson Brands, Inc. ( ) today announced that it has signed an agreement with Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) to acquire WOOX Innovations, the audio, video, multimedia and accessories business of Philips. Under the terms of the agreement, Gibson Brands will pay $135 million and a brand license fee, relating to a license agreement for an initial period of 7 years. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2014, subject to customary conditions, including regulatory filings and works council procedures. 

Gibson Brands, based in Nashville, USA, has in recent years invested in audio brands including Onkyo and TEAC as part of its ambition to become a global leader in music and sound. This transaction will leverage Gibson Brands' strong market presence in the U.S. and Japan, and WOOX Innovations' market strength with Philips-branded audio and home entertainment products in Europe, China, Latin America and other growth geographies. 

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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!