Compact wireless HiFi systems are pretty common these days, but what is less common is startups thinking more deeply about how the same systems could move into home automation and the Internet of Things. That’s the implication behind a new system launched by device startup Musaic, recently launched on Kickstarter. It now plans to go up against much bigger audio-based companies, such as Bose. It’s speakers system is, to some extend, a Trojan Horse for it’s IoT platform. Musaic is a new kind of HiFi system made up of wireless speakers, which also cleverly extends into home automation, and is able to deliver high quality 24 Bit content over not just Bluetooth but also Wifi. But it’s the IoT realm that Musaic has its eyes on, with its system able to be associated with connect e lighting systems and other home automation devices. It’s already joined the industry association called the AllSeen Alliance, run by the Linux Foundation, alongside others such as Qualcomm, HTC, AT&T and many others. It can already control dimmers, bulbs and switches from the lighting brand LightwaveRF. And it’s working closely with LIFX and WigWag (both Kickstarter successes) on integrating their products. The company was started in May 2013 by a team comprising of experienced audio industry people draw from the Cambridge UK high tech cluster.
Opower and Nest might not be direct competitors, but over the years they have quietly competed in key areas, namely building software for connected energy-efficient thermostats and focusing on energy data and algorithms. Opower even lists Nest as a “key competitor” in its latest filing. But now that Opower is going public and Nest has been bought by Google, it’s interesting to see the two companies’ disparate valuations. Nest was sold to Google for $3.2 billion. According to Opower’s latest filing, at the midpoint of Opower’s price range at $18 per share, the company has a market value of $854 million. Earlier in the month (before pricing their range) they had an enterprise valuation of $775.8 million. So, roughly speaking, Nest was valued at over three times (and almost four times) what Opower will be worth when it starts trading. Full Article:
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the leader in TV technology for 8 years, today announced the availability and pricing of its full 2014 Home Entertainment product lineup, including the immersive U9000 Series of Curved Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs and its expansive portfolio of home audio products. "In 2014, we've once again asserted our leadership in the home entertainment space by delivering the next big thing across our product categories," said Joe Stinziano, Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics America. "From our full lineup of UHD and curved TVs to our Shape Wireless Audio-Multiroom Systems and content partnerships, we pride ourselves on offering consumers the ecosystem of choice, with beautifully designed premium home entertainment products that best suit their lifestyles." Full Press Release:
Home-control capabilities are coming to smart watches. iControl Networks plans to offer an app for Samsung’s Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smart watches to control thermostats, lighting systems, alarms and door locks connected to its connected-home solutions. iControl’s products and services are offered by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The app will be available for the watches when they become available in April. The Samsung Gear 2 Neo and Gear 2 become available April 11 at $199 and $299, respectively. For now, iControl continues to focus on sales through service providers and security companies, but “iControl feels that retail will play a greater role in connected home solution distribution in the near future,” a spokesperson said. The company’s focus for now, however, “is to continue to provide solutions through service providers and security companies that may choose to leverage this channel.”
Verizon hasn’t been out of the home automation business for long, but it looks like the telco giant is already preparing to jump back in. According to FCC documents uncovered by Steve Donahue of FierceCable , Verizon appears to be preparing to launch a new FiOS gateway with an associated Zigbee home automation module. The FiOS Quantum Gateway goes by model number FiOS-G1100 and supports the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard along with the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. The module, meanwhile, is produced by GreenWave Reality, a California-based company that most recently made noise back at CES. GreenWave’s platform includes applications for energy management, connected lighting, and home monitoring, but CMO Nate Williams told me in January that it can support far more. Williams has a history with Verizon, as he was previously CMO and head of business development for 4Home, the company that was acquired by Motorola, and that provided the technology basis for Verizon’s now-defunct Verizon Home Monitoring and Control service.
The latest InfoComm International Economic Snapshot Survey indicates that the marketplace for both AV providers and end users is sound and stable. While the InfoComm Performance and Demand Indices are not showing significant expansion, no additional ground is being lost. More importantly, there are no significant drop-offs expected. While some segments are performing better than others, such as education, even the softest segments appear to be on generally solid ground. The InfoComm Performance Index is a measurement of how survey respondents feel about their business prospects, both now and in the future. The current six-month InfoComm Performance Index is at 70.5, solidly in the good range. The IPI is expected to hit 75.5 in the next six months. This reflects the highest IPI, both achieved and forecast, in the history of this survey. This continues the upward momentum reflected in the past two surveys. The March 2014 results reveal a continual up-tick in North America performance. But let’s be clear — North American business has not reached the levels seen in burgeoning regions such as Latin America or the Middle East/Africa. In fact, North America’s economic confidence level was rated as good, but is lower than every region, other than Europe. But given the size and importance of the North American market, we’re hopeful this is an early sign of more positive things to come.. (Cont'd)
According to a new report from ABI Research, demand for smart home technology is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. In 2013, the research firm said that sales of wireless embedded smart home monitoring devices, such as contact and motion sensors, smart thermostats and smart plugs, grew to 17.23 million, almost double the amount of shipments in 2012. By 2018, it is expected that more than half-a-billion wireless smart home monitoring devices will be deployed in homes around the world. ABI said that growth will develop as new users move to use smart home systems and as users extend their existing systems. Additionally, companies like Honeywell, GE, Nest (recently acquired by Google), Kwikset, UTC, as well as many others are increasingly adding wireless connectivity to their home devices, bringing network connectivity and remote management to their offerings in order to appeal to growing numbers of smart home consumers. According to ABI, contact sensors for detecting whether windows and doors are closed were the most popular smart home monitoring device shipped last year while motion sensors were in second place. Both devices support smart home monitoring functionality but can also be used for additional applications such as energy management. “Combined, over 84 million contact and motion sensors will ship annually by 2018; however, it is smart plugs, smart door locks and connected smoke and CO detectors that will see the greatest shipment growth,” ABI Research Senior Analyst Adarsh Krishnan said in a statement.
When it comes time to connect your shiny new sound bar or AV receiver, your two main choices are HDMI or optical digital audio. The simplest advice is to go with HDMI when you can. But if you can't it's not the end of the world. Here are the pros and cons of each. The basics Both HDMI and optical pass digital audio from one device to another. Both are better than analog (the red and white cables). Both can pass multi-channel audio, like Dolby Digital. Both cables can be had pretty cheap. The biggest difference is that HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio, including the formats found on Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. These formats can't get transmitted across optical. In terms of simplicity, HDMI also passes video signals. So if you want just a single cable between two devices, HDMI is your pick. Cont'd..
Sonos Inc., the maker of multiroom speaker systems, said revenue almost doubled to $535 million in 2013 as consumers increasingly used wireless technology with music services like Pandora in the home. The closely held maker of high-fidelity speakers and streaming software is disclosing its revenue for the first time. Sonos is attempting to expand from its base of music enthusiasts to grab a bigger share of the $10 billion home-audio market, said Tom Cullen, a company co-founder, in an interview. The Santa Barbara, California-based company, which raised $40 million in 2012, is operating at break-even, he said. “We’ve set ourselves up as the best-kept secret in electronics, but the scale of everything we’re trying to achieve really requires us to do things differently,” Cullen said. Nine years after the company pioneered the whole-home wireless stereo market, it faces competition as bigger consumer electronics makers build products for the fastest-growing category in home audio. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), based in Suwon, South Korea, in October introduced the Shape music system, while closely held Bose Corp. developed its SoundTouch speakers. Bang & Olufsen A/S (BO) has released new wireless systems developed under an audio standard known as WiSA, in which Sharp Corp. (6753) and Pioneer Electronics Co. also are members.
Best Buy's share of the U.S. specialty electronics market remains around one third, but Apple has gained into double digits for the first time. That's according to data from Euromonitor International, as cited by MarketWatch. The top five- Best Buy, Apple, RadioShack, hhgregg and Micro Electronics- remains intact from 2009 and 2011, but Best Buy's share has slipped from 33.5 percent to 31.3 percent, with Apple jumping from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 10.8 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2013. RadioShack's share has dropped from 5.5 in '09 to 4.5 percent four years later.
Home Energy Management Systems Will Reach $2.8 Billion in Annual Revenue by 2020, Forecasts Navigant Research
Until 2012, home energy management (HEM) systems, which help residential customers monitor and adjust their energy use, struggled to gain market traction. More recently, however, non-utility stakeholders have moved into this segment, increasing awareness of new tools and helping to drive steady growth. Click to tweet: According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from home energy management systems will grow from $512 million in 2013 to $2.8 billion in 2020. The market is expected to decline significantly after that, to $1.8 billion in 2022, the report finds. "Companies like Comcast, ADT, Verizon, and AT&T in the United States have added energy management as an option that can be bundled with home security, automation, or internet access," says Neil Strother, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. "The uptake of home energy management by consumers is still relatively low, but these service providers are seeding a market that has reasonable potential over the next several years." The primary driver for HEM systems is consumers' desire to reduce their electricity bills. At the same time, the advent of smart thermostats - which include two-way communications capabilities that can take advantage of demand response signals - is creating new appeal among consumers and utilities alike. The acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest Labs by Google, for a reported $3.2 billion, is seen by many industry observers as a potential watershed moment for the overall HEM market. Cont'd
HomeSeer announces the release of the world's first and only Android tabletop touchscreen for home automation! The new WFTT07 performs like a tablet but is free standing, has impressive sound quality and boots automatically to the company's HSTouch home automation app. The tabletop form factor is unique in the industry and makes the WFTT07 ideal for use on night stands, coffee tables, counter tops and work benches. Additional Android apps may also be installed onto the unit to transform it into a streaming music and video player, recipe manager or social media portal. Setup is quick and easy. Simply connect the included power adapter, configure the WiFi and HSTouch server settings and you're done! A rechargeable lithium ion battery enables the unit for portable use, if desired. WFTT07 Touchscreens are in stock and ready for purchase now through HomeSeer and its worldwide network of dealers and distributors. HomeSeer automation systems are designed to work seamlessly with industry standards and products from leading Z-Wave manufactures such as Cooper, Schlage, Kwikset, Baldwin, Yale, GE, Honeywell, Leviton, Linear, Everspring, Evolve, Fibaro, FortrezZ, Aeon Labs, RCS, and many more.
Savant Systems introduced the Smart Series control and automation product line. Smart Series products utilize the brand's award-winning technology to bring the Savant experience to a broader audience. Complete packages start at $1,599 MSRP and include the new Smart Host ($799 MSRP), remote and controller. Deployed over multiple rooms within the home, this brings the cost of a Savant solution as low as $1K per room. The new Smart Series product line will be offered through Savant's network of over 1,500 authorized integrators spanning 35 countries. Savant's technology is the center of the smart home, enabling management of home theater, music, security, thermostat, lights, energy management, automated shades and more, all from a single intuitive app. The company provides homeowners seamless, simple and reliable management of "the internet of things," all easily controlled via leading portable devices including iOS and Android™.
You can no longer walk through a shopping mall, airport or museum without seeing video screens and digital signage technology on display. It is no surprise that industry analysts continue to predict double-digit growth in the digital signage market, and that industry events are attracting widespread attention. We require so much more of public displays than we do of our televisions. Commercial-grade digital signage displays must stand up to the demands of a 24×7 environment. They must have sophisticated mechanical designs and connectivity to allow for the management of signage networks. And they must also be rugged. Here are three reasons why ruggedness matters as well as how to evaluate digital signage solutions for this important characteristic: Cont'd
Amazon’s long-rumored plans to develop a “TV box,” to compete with Apple’s Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku’s family of products, are set for fruition with a rollout as soon as next month, Recode reported Friday. According to the report by Peter Kafka, which cited “industry sources,” Amazon had originally planned to unveil the product for the holidays but will instead aim for March: That won’t be a huge shock, since Amazon has been working on a box for much of last year. The company had planned on launching one in time for the Christmas shopping season, then shelved those plans. A box is also a logical move for Amazon, which is investing heavily to build up a Web video catalog, and is starting to produce its own shows as well. An Amazon box will allow its customers to easily watch that stuff on their TVs; it should also give other content providers a chance to serve up their stuff via apps, in the way that Roku and Apple TV boxes do.
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Automation & Control - Featured Product
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!