Samsung and LG tipped to unveil flexible OLED TVs at CES 2014

With CES 2014 just around the corner, latest reports have suggested both Samsung and LG will unveil flexible OLED TVs at the Las Vegas-based show.

With both manufacturers having showcased curved OLED televisions during the 2013 rendition of CES, January’s showpiece convention will reportedly see the Korean rivals take things one step further.

It has been suggested that the rumoured flexible screen OLED TVs will feature sizeable curved panels which can have the angle of curvature altered using the unit’s accompanying remote control.

While there are sure to be many who question the necessity of this sort of feature on a television, it has been suggested that the ‘flexible’ and adjustable curve will allow users to angle their TVs to better suit the seating positions of multiple viewers.

Although confirmed details on these futuristic, flexible OLED TVs are still few and far between, it is not believed that the angle of flex will extend beyond just a few degrees.
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Wi-Fi to Hold Over 40% Share of 8 Million Unit Smart Thermostat Market by 2018

The global smart thermostats market is expected to grow from 1.3 million in 2013 to 8 million unit shipments in 2018; a CAGR of 43%. Disruptive innovation in thermostats from new entrants such as Nest Labs, ecobee, and EcoFator has significantly raised the bar for product design and innovation in a device category that had seen little change over several decades. 

Smart thermostat global revenues are expected to see fivefold growth to reach $600 million by 2018. Currently, North America is the most lucrative market for smart thermostats, contributing more than half the worldwide total. Driving this region's dominant market share is a tech-savvy population adopting smart mobile devices packed with low-cost wireless sensors, an expanding install base of buildings connected with smart meters, home automation initiatives from Telco's and Cable companies, and a slowly recovering housing market. 

Plugaway Is An App-Controlled Plug & LED System Aiming To Undercut The Smart Home Competition

Another contender for smart(en)ing up your home has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds. The Beijing-based startup behind Plugaway has put together Wi-Fi connected plugs and LED lightbulbs which, used in conjunction with its Android or iOS app, can remotely switch your appliances on or off, or dim or kill your lights.

The system can also be used to monitor electricity consumption, schedule and time appliances, and set up device alerts and notifications. Or it will, assuming it hits its Kickstarter goal and transitions from the current prototype stage to commercial product (Plugaway is aiming to ship kit to backers next April). It's very close to making its funding goal at least, with more than $47,500AUD raised of a $50,000AUD target and still 34 days left on their crowdfunding campaign.

Plugaway's aim is to reduce the costs of hooking your old school household appliances into the tap-happy convenience of apps. They're doing this by offering two pieces of kit: smart plugs, so you can plug any appliance in and remotely switch it on or off; and smart LEDs, so you can remotely control lights.

Their Wi-Fi-enabled smart plugs cost $30 a pop - which means Plugaway is undercutting Belkin's WeMo plugs. And their LED lightbulbs are also priced cheaper than LIFX's similar kit (which starts at just under $90 a pop – or will when it goes on general sale in retail stores in January).

Revolv Raises $4M for 'Universal Remote' to Control Smart Homes

Smart-home technologies that control lights, thermostats, the locks on doors and more were sold as futuristic luxuries just a few years ago. Now, they are proliferating and entering the mainstream market at more affordable prices.

A Boulder, Colo., startup called Revolv raised $4 million in seed financing to become the “universal remote,” or gateway, that homeowners can use to control them all.

Foundry Group led the round, joined by American Family Insurance and other angel investors.

The company is the third smart-home device maker to score institutional capital within the past two weeks: August Home Inc. raised $8 million led by Maveron for Bluetooth-controlled locks, and Quirky Inc. raised $79 million from investors including General Electric to make more “connected-home” gadgets.

A spate of other smart home tech ventures–such as Ambient Devices, Doorbot, Dropcam, Nest Labs, Sonos and SmartThings– raised seed and venture capital earlier. Other smart home tech businesses have turned to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, IndieGogo and Dragon Innovation for nondilutive capital.

Build a Cheap Home Automation System in 10 Minutes with Ninja Blocks

Home security and automation are rarely mentioned in the same sentence as the word cheap, but it's totally possible if you're willing to do a few things yourself. We checked out a $200 DIY kit called Ninja Blocks, and were able to get a home automation and security system up and running in about 10 minutes.P

What You'll Get

Ninja Blocks are an open-source home automation system that allow you to connect a variety of sensors to the internet. Ninja Blocks are essentially the brain behind that home automation system, and you can connect sensors and peripherals to it easily. Basically, Ninja Blocks are kind of an If This Then That for the physical world. In a way, they're similar to the Belkin WeMo, but Ninja Blocks have a lot more options for triggers, and support the WeMo if you already have one.

Once everything is set up, all your gadgets and home monitors will be connected to the internet and visible from your smartphone or PC. You'll be able to monitor the temperature in your home, turn on lights, check out web cams, toggle motion sensors, and pretty much anything else you can think of in regards to home security or automation. If you have anything with a sensor, actuator, or gadget that uses RF signals or Wi-Fi, chances are that you can connect it to a Ninja Block. You can even add to it with your own Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or BeagleBone projects.P

Home Automation Startup August Raises $8 Million From Maveron To Make Smart Locks Mainstream

Home automation startup August is getting ready to start shipping its first product to consumers early next year. But first, it’s raised a bit more cash to add personnel and ramp up production of its mobile-operated smart lock.

August raised $8 million in a funding round led by Maveron, with participation from Cowboy Ventures, Industry Ventures, Rho Ventures, and SoftTech VC. The new round brings total funding raised to $10 million, and previous investors include Matt Mullenweg, Mark Pincus, David Dolby, and Scott Belsky, among others. Along with the funding, Maveron partner David Wu will be joining August’s board of directors.

Bringing Maveron on board makes sense, as the VC firm focuses exclusively on consumer-facing companies, with other investments such as eBay, Zulily, Groupon, and Shutterfly. Wu, who joined Maveron in 2012, had personally invested in companies like Practice Fusion, Sociable Labs, Postmates, Beautylish, and Taulia, and sites on the board of Line2 and SeatMe.

With the new funding, August is getting ready to start shipping its first product, the August Smart Lock. The lock, which was designed by Yves Behar, enables homeowners and renters to access their homes or send virtual keys to others via mobile app. The August smart lock uses Bluetooth technology to enable users to automatically unlock a door when they are nearby, and it also has a feature called Everlock that can automatically lock a door behind you.

Black Friday deals vs. Cyber Monday deals: What to buy, when

Sometimes shopping during Black Friday can feel like betting on a prize fight. You plunk down all your money on a great pair of shoes on Black Friday, only to see their price get knocked down during a Cyber Monday blowout. But how can a shopper know what kinds of unadvertised, winning sales are just around the corner? On everyone's mind this season is the question of whetherThanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday — or the span of time in between these holidays — will be the best time to shop for the specific items they want.

If you're tired of feeling like you've got long odds for finding the best Black Friday deals, then look no further. We studied the DealNews archives for the past two Black Friday seasons and found the best items to buy on each day throughout the shopping weekend. And while trends can always change, and "off" deals can still pop up at any given time, it's still wise for a shopper to be aware of these general rules of thumb while crafting the perfect personalized Black Friday shopping game plan.

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Apple has been granted a patent for a home automation system to connect the many devices found in the average household. Although this patent is aimed at the home market initially, much like the iPad, which was launched as a consumer device, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see this technology make its way into the pro AV world.  

With the adoption of the iPad into many pro-AV installations around the world, the consumer electronics giant has already made a significant move into the sphere of where traditional control systems products from the likes of AMX and Crestron already sit.  

This move would only increase Apple’s presence in the pro AV sector further.

The patent uses data from an iPhone/iPad to determine the user's location and perform the actions of a normal control system i.e. turn on lights, turn off air conditioning. 

The technology works in a similar fashion to the Reminders iOS app, but will extend its usage to control the home or office environment, rather than provide location-based memos, as it does at present.

Revolv Begins Shipping Smart Home Solution Just in Time for the Holidays

Revolv Inc. today announced it has begun shipping its highly anticipated Smart Home Solution to its pre-order customers. The Revolv Smart Home Solution unifies premium, off-the-shelf smart home automation devices such as the Sonos HiFi wireless speakers, Philips Hue wireless lighting, Yale automated locks, Insteon home control devices, Belkin WeMo and popular automated thermostats. Today, consumers can order the Revolv Hub for $299.

With the Revolv Smart Home Solution, consumers have the freedom to mix and match wireless devices and appliances in their home to achieve a new level of lifestyle automation right from their smartphone. Revolv automates daily life routines around time, GPS proximity, sensor triggers such as motion in the home, and on-demand commands set by the user. Its proprietary GeoSense technology automatically activates connected devices when the user reaches a certain geo-radius to and from their home. 

The Revolv hub includes an unprecedented 7 wireless radios speaking 10 different languages, supporting many of the most popular connected home devices available today. Hundreds more devices will be compatible with the Revolv Solution in the coming months, eventually covering 95% of commercially available devices, making it the most universal solution on the market.

Analysts Project Bluetooth® Smart Technology to Lead Home Automation Market

The Bluetooth SIG, along with several key analysts, predicts the Home Automation market will be the next to turn to Bluetooth Smart. ABI Research forecasts Bluetooth Smart technology will experience the highest growth in the smart home market, reaching over 133 million units shipped by 2018. 

Bluetooth Smart technology already has a significant foothold in the smart home, making it possible for locks, lights, thermostats and many more home products to connect to the Bluetooth ecosystem. Apple, Microsoft and Android offer native support for Bluetooth Smart at the operating system level, making tens of millions of phones, tablets and PCs ready to connect with these new home appcessory devices. Doors with locks from August, Goji, Lockitron and UniKey Kwikset Kevo can be locked and unlocked using a smartphone as the key. The dimming and color hues on light bulbs (Bluetooth Bulb and zSmart), temperature (Emerson Blue Wireless Easy Install from White-Rodgers) and even outlet plugs that estimate electricity cost (Stick-N-Find's MeterPlug) can be monitored and controlled via Bluetooth Smart. 

"The Smart Home has been the next big thing for years, but to take it from niche to mainstream you need a standardized wireless technology to connect locks, lights and thermostats to the phones, tablets and PCs that consumers already have - that technology is Bluetooth Smart," said Suke Jawanda, Bluetooth SIG CMO. "Not only does Bluetooth allow for integrated solutions from service providers like cable and mobile companies, but it also gives consumers the options to bring their device of choice into the Smart Home. We are still in the early stages of a truly connected living room, but Bluetooth Smart puts us all, OEMs, service providers and consumers, on the right path to Smart Home reality." 

Apple Patents Home Automation Technology That Adjusts Settings Based On Device Location

Apple has just been granted a new patent (via AppleInsider) which describes a very comprehensive system for controlling connected home devices. The elaborate setup would make it possible for Apple to use location data fed from things like your iPhone and iPad, as well as use of credit cards or RFID badges to inform automated systems of a user’s whereabouts, and do things like turn on or off power, climate control, lights and more.

The system described works very much like geo-fencing does currently with Apple’s own native Reminders app on iOS: Once a user exits or enters a pre-determined location, other actions are triggered. Instead of simply alerting someone of something they wanted to remember, however, the system described can essentially turn an entire household or office off and on, and prepare it for comfortable human occupancy.

It’s a little more complex than simple geo-fencing, however. The patent describes an information-gathering system that would be able to incorporate not only where a user is and where they’re going, but also what activities they’re engaging in along the way. This would make their location predictions more accurate, since they could include estimates about when exactly someone will arrive. The location data is either polled at regular intervals from devices like iPhones, gathered from fixed remote devices like keycard receivers, or when trigger events communicate with software on iOS or Mac devices, such as when they connect to a specific cell tower.


38% of U.S. broadband households willing to purchase connected home energy management products

Parks Associates today announced smarthome research showing 38% of U.S. broadband households are willing to purchase at least one smart home energy management (HEM) product. Over 25% are willing to purchase two or more, including lighting controls, appliance switches, and thermostats that can be controlled remotely, but only 1% are interested exclusively in HEM products. Safety offerings such as detectors and call buttons are the most popular smarthome products. 

Parks Associates' fifth-annual Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer will be held February 15-17, 2014, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. The event features early sponsorship support from Speed Wire,, ecobee, Lowe's, People Power, Percepscion, PlanetEcosystems, Qualcomm, Schneider Electric, and Technicolor and a keynote from Stuart Lombard, President and CEO, ecobee. 

"Nearly 40% of U.S. broadband households are interested in purchasing energy management products for the home, but in most cases, they want these products within a broader offering of smarthome products," said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. "At 2014 Smart Energy Summit, we will analyze strategies from utilities and telco/cable provider strategies, consumer engagement, partnership opportunities, and the impact of connectivity and big data on demand response (DR) and energy efficiency programs." 

Panasonic officially quits plasma TVs

We (engadget) may compare Panasonic to the character of Michael Myers way too often, but this Halloween the analogy is particularly relevant given news the company is officially killing plasma TV production. Manufacturing of plasma panels will end in December this year, earlier than the most recent rumor suggested, with the last remaining factories going dark in March 2014 at the same time sales efforts will cease. It's a strategic decision to free up resources, the firm claims, citing low demand for plasma and the impact of LCD development as reasons for its exit. "Severe price competition" as a result of the Lehman Brothers collapse way back in 2008 is also blamed, so when you're left wanting the warm glow of new Panasonic plasma next year, you know who to shake an angry fist at.

Imax Takes Stake in Home Theater Tech Startup Prima Cinema

Imax has taken a major step towards rolling out a mass market home theater option for consumers by acquiring an unspecified stake in startup Prima Cinema.

Prima has a proprietary system that can encrypt and transmit theatrical releases from Hollywood studios for secure home viewing.

The move comes as Imax continues to develop a home theater system for consumers that features its imaging technology.

Prima Cinema's technology can also potentially allow first-run Imax films to reach customers on a day-and-date basis.

Imax plans to merge the Prima Cinema technology into its private theater system, and other possible platforms.

As part of the agreement, Imax will receive a five-year window of exclusivity to distribute and resell Prima systems in China. 

Imax will also take a seat on Prima Cinema's board of directors, and retains a "significant option position" in the company.

"Today's agreement with Prima Cinema enhances our ability to deliver a premium, end-to-end in-home entertainment experience, combining the best of Imax's immersive image and sound technology with the delivery of current theatrical titles," said Imax CEO Richard Gelfond in a statement Monday.


Designed to help consumers identify products that take advantage of the recently introduced 'Next Gen' Z-Wave platform (500 Series) from Sigma Designs, Z-Wave Plus is a selected set of extended features and capabilities that enhance the end user experience and make easy Z-Wave installations even simpler to perform. 

Z-Wave has led the market in interoperable devices for the home since the first product was certified in 2004. With the introduction of Sigma's Next-Gen Z-Wave 500 series earlier this year, Z-Wave saw its ecosystem bolstered with new capabilities including increased range, extended battery life, Over The Air upgrading (OTA), additional RF channels and more, all of which are backwards compatible with existing Z-Wave products. 

For service providers, these enhancements also have tremendous benefits in terms of shorter and easier installations, less consumer support calls and faster time-to-market for deploying the home monitoring and control services using the Sigma Next Gen turn-key middleware suite. With this new certification program, Sigma and the Z-Wave Alliance are introducing a new Z-Wave Plus series of packaging logos that will be located on every product powered by Next Gen Z-Wave, informing the consumer this product incorporates the enhanced capabilities of the Z-Wave 500 series. 

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