With 7 mini houses, the first Sonos store lets you hear as you would at home

Keith Nelson Jr. for DigitalTrends:  Home is where the heart is and the heart of Sonos’ new 4,200-square-foot retail store is a recreation of the home experience. Located in New York City’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, multiroom audio pioneer’s first ever retail store was built following one core acoustic principle: 50/50. “We wanted a 50/50 environment. 50 percent diffusion and absorption, 50 percent reflective,” said  Whitney Walker, general manager of Sonos Stores, during a tour of the store, referring to the different manners in which sound interacts with the store’s surrounding environment. The result is a retail store that never feels as if it is trying to sell you anything other than a good listening experience. The highlights of the store are the seven listening rooms, each designed to “recreate that experience of going to somebody’s home” and hearing new music, according to Siegel. Cont'd...

5 hot home theater trends

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY:  If you don’t know where to start, the following are five trends to consider before your summer Netflix binge session.  4K with HDR:  There’s two things you need to know about 4K TVs. For one, they look spectacular, due to the fact these televisions deliver four times the resolution of 1080p HD TV – instead of 2 million little dots (“pixels”) that make up the image, we’re talking more than 8 million. There’s so much detail in the picture it’s almost like being there. Secondly, thanks to falling prices and more 4K content than ever before, there’s never been a better time to invest in 4K TV (otherwise known as “UHD” or “Ultra High Definition”).   Cont'd...

Atari now makes smart home products

Jacob Kastrenakes  for The Verge:  Someday soon, you may be able to buy a network-connected dog collar made by Atari.  Atari announced today that it's partnering with Sigfox to get into the Internet of Things business. Together, they intend to create connected home, pet, lifestyle, and safety products. Work on the new products will begin sometime this year; there's no date yet for when they'll begin to roll out or exactly what products we might see. While it may sound strange to hear that Atari, the classic video game company, is now making smart home products, it's not quite as weird as it sounds. That's because Atari isn't necessarily going to be all that involved in the development of these new devices. Instead, Atari is going to be the brand name under which Sigfox will create and sell its own IoT products, offering it better name recognition with consumers.   Cont'd...

Smart Home Trial Aimed At Improving Elder Care

Eoin Blackwell for Huffington Post:  Elderly Australians may soon have access to 'home smart' technology that can alert healthcare providers or family if they have taken a fall or not taken medication. The release of the breakthrough technology follows a joint trial by technology provider Samsung and Deakin University. Over the next few weeks, five homes in Geelong, Victoria, will be used to test a technology ecosystem specifically designed to help address challenges associated with in-home aged care. Using small, battery-powered sensors developed by Samsung, the Australian developed Holly Smart Home Project will be able to monitor aged care homes and can alert healthcare providers when strange activity is detected in or around the home. The sensors are placed around the house -- motions sensors, sensors under the bed for sleep tracking, door sensors, in cupboards, fridges, etc -- and stream information to a program named Holly, whose artificial intelligence coordinates the information to make certain predictions about your behaviour, said Rajesh Vasa, Professor of Software and Technology Innovation at Deakin University.   Cont'd...

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:

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