ZigBee Home Automation Standard Version 1.2 Ratified

The ZigBee® Alliance, a global ecosystem of organizations creating wireless solutions for use in energy management, commercial and consumer applications, today announced that an update to ZigBee Home Automation has been ratified and is now available for product development. The new version is fully interoperable with the earlier versions of the standard.  ZigBee Home Automation is the industry leading standard helping to create smarter homes that enhance the comfort, convenience, security and energy management for the consumer.  ZigBee Home Automation 1.2 adds several important new features that improve the battery life for security sensors to over seven years, standardize pairing of devices and simplify installation and maintenance for consumers and custom installers alike. These features have a significant impact on operational and device costs to service providers and quality of service to consumers.  ZigBee Home Automation 1.2 includes enhancements to functions in devices such as door locks and support for additional devices including smart appliances and electrical measurement devices. The standard incorporates new features resulting from a collaboration with the Energy@home initiative, an Italian collaborative and ZigBee Alliance partner, which will benefit consumers by integrating new devices and raising consumer awareness of energy usage without necessarily connecting to an electric utility. 

LG Begins Selling First OLED HDTV In The U.S.

LG Electronics announced the first U.S. availability of the revolutionary new OLED HDTV, combining the pinnacles of picture quality and design to deliver the ultimate in display technology for home entertainment.  At a VIP launch event today at Best Buy's flagship Magnolia Design Center store in Richfield, Minn., senior executives from LG Electronics USA and Best Buy officially introduced the new LG CURVED OLED TV for the U.S. market, allowing American consumers to enjoy the unparalleled visual experience in person.  As LG's exclusive OLED TV launch partner, Best Buy today began selling the 55-inch class (54.6-inch diagonal) LG CURVED OLED TV (Model 55EA9800) at the Richfield store. In the coming weeks, Magnolia stores inside Best Buy in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and San Antonio will display and begin selling the thin new premium TV at a suggested price of $14,999. Over the summer, the new TV is expected to roll out to select Magnolia inside Best Buy locations nationwide.  The U.S. launch solidifies LG's early lead in the OLED TV race. Global demand for OLED TV is expected to grow to more than 7 million units by 2016, according to DisplaySearch. LG is the first company to commercialize both the flat screen OLED TV, which has been sold to consumers in Korea since January, and the innovative new CURVED OLED TV, which began sales in Korea in April. 

Microsoft Has an Operating System for Your House

Researchers at Microsoft have released software aimed at making it easier for homes to be monitored, automated, and controlled using computers and the Internet. It also paves the way for developers to create apps that can be “installed” into homes with numerous different devices to make use of them in new ways. Although Internet-connected products for the home—including security cameras, thermostats, and motion sensors—are readily available, it can be challenging to install them, and they typically work independently. The new software from Microsoft, called Lab of Things, provides a centralized virtual dashboard for monitoring and controlling different “smart home” devices. It also provides standards for building “apps” for homes with the Lab of Things software installed. Microsoft researcher Arjmand Samuel announced the Lab of Things software this week at Microsoft’s annual Faculty Summit, held for researchers from inside and outside the company. He said it was needed because the challenges of installing and running collections of home automation devices are holding back research into new possible uses for the technology. The Lab of Things software “lowers the barrier to deploying field studies in connected homes,” he said, explaining that trials of home automation systems that combine multiple types of sensors and other devices are typically small-scale and short-lived due to the inconveniences for both researchers and the volunteers who welcome them into their homes. Providing a common platform will help ready technology for consumers who want to automate or augment their home, said Samuel, by making it easier for researchers to try out new ideas and create home automation apps.

Building Automation & Controls Market to Grow $49.5 Billion - 2018

The report, based on the extensive research study of the global building automation and controls market, is aimed at identifying the entire market of the building automation and controls specifically lighting, security & access, HVAC, entertainment, outdoor controls, elevator controls and BMS. The report covers the overall market and sub-segment markets through extensively detailed classifications. The total building automation and controls market is expected to reach $49.5 billion by 2018 growing at a double digit CAGR from 2013 till 2018. & The stringent regulations being imposed by the governments augmented by the increasing need to save operational costs by building owners has enhanced the demand for building automation and controls. Although the concept of building automation has been in existence for a long time and has witnessed profound growth in the last five years there is huge demand for HVAC, security and access controls. Growing awareness of wireless technologies and the developments towards the integration of wired and wireless will propel the market in the future. & Demand for energy efficient buildings, more convenient devices and enhanced security via building automation and controls remains the major drivers for the building automation controls market. Growth in government incentives, assistance of powerline communication and global sporting events such as World Cup Soccer in 2014, Olympics in 2016 offer excellent opportunities to the market growth. & In addition to this, wireless technology has revolutionized the market; further boosting the market for already existing buildings.

Is 4K For You?

There has been a lot of recent industry buzz about Ultra High Definition (UHD) or “4K” displays hitting the market. The 3840 x 2160 pixels offer an amazing 4x full-HD resolution, and the demonstrations at trade events like Digital Signage Expo (DSE), Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have been impressive. And this week, at InfoComm 2013, it’s been great to see what display manufacturers have brought to the show. This has left AV integrators and their clients wondering if the time is right to switch to this new standard. Many industries have made the transition to full HD, only to watch 4K emerge on the horizon.  They are asking, “Is 4K for me?” Here are three common reasons we’re seeing for the switch to UHD or 4K displays, especially in the 84-inch size:

REVOLV + GOOGLE GLASS - Revolv Team

By now chances are you’ve heard of Google Glass. Perhaps you’ve even seen someone walking around sporting the futuristic, Geordi-like device. With only 2,000 of these bad boys currently in the wild, our team (REVOLV) considers ourselves pretty lucky to have not one, but  two  pairs in our office to play with. And of course, if you put some amazing, brand new technology in a room with a bunch of hardware geeks, magical sparks will fly. Today we’re excited to show you what one of our engineers has come up with: Utilizing the Google Glass API and our very own Revolv smart home automation technology, he’ll show you what very well could be the future of the connected home.   

CEDIA Expo 2014 - Boost Your Profits in 3 Days

CEDIA EXPO 2013 is 3 days full of training, new products, and events with the single focus of helping you adapt your business to the evolving residential electronics industry. Are you ready to discover 108 training courses that will take your skill set to the next level? CEDIA EXPO offers 11 networking classes, 13 learning lab courses, 5 certification and credential opportunities, and manufacturer product training…all designed to give you full circle training. With more and more devices living on the network, isn’t it time you own the network and the home? Register today for CEDIA EXPO and receive 40% off your registration fee (until August 2). Register at http://cedia.net/expo .

AVAD's New VendoCOMM Events to Showcase the Best of Commercial Integration

AVAD, provider of innovative solutions to the residential and commercial custom installation markets, will debut VendoCOMM, a new series of one-day trade events offering custom installers premium access to leading commercial manufacturers, service providers, and industry influencers on July 10 in the Washington, DC metro area.  “AVAD is well positioned to lead the industry's dialog on commercial install solutions thanks to our manufacturer relationships and infrastructure," said Jim Annes, vice president and general manager of AVAD. “VendoCOMM is about connecting integrators to the most recent advancements in the commercial industry and giving them an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with their preferred brands, collaborate, and learn the latest concepts."    Following the premiere launch of VendoCOMM in Gaithersburg, MD, three additional North American cities will play host to this extraordinary commercial trade show tour: Bellevue, WA on September 10, Smyrna, GA on November 5, and Dallas, TX on December 5.

Connected home startup Control4 files for an IPO for up to $60M

Decade-old smart home startup Control4 filed for an IPO on Monday, which could see it raise up to $60 million if it goes public. Control4 makes software that connects home devices and appliances including lights, door locks, video cameras, and security systems. The company said in its filing that it’s connected 120,000 homes with its smart software, and generated $109.5 million in revenue in 2012, with a net loss of $3.7 million for 2012. The market for connected home devices has been growing steadily for a variety of reasons. More service providers like cable companies and telcos have been offering smart home services. The prevalence of home Wi-Fi networks has enabled home owners to begin to connect a variety of wireless devices in homes. And bandwidth to homes is now high enough to enable many home owners to do things like remotely check video camera streams from a mobile phone.

AT&T DIGITAL LIFE, NEW HOME SECURITY AND AUTOMATION SERVICE LAUNCHES IN FIVE ADDITIONAL U.S. MARKETS

AT&T today announced it will launch Digital Life in more markets:  Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Portland and San Antonio.  AT&T Digital Life SM makes customers’ lives easier by simplifying the management of their home. Digital Life offers security, convenience and peace of mind, in a customizable and easy-to-use experience from smartphones, tablets or PCs. Beginning Friday, customers in these five new markets can receive a live demo and purchase AT&T Digital Life in company owned retail stores.  Including the new markets launching on Friday, AT&T’s Digital Life will be available in 27 markets, with plans to introduce the service in up to 50 markets by the end of 2013. With Digital Life, customers can use their existing home broadband provider, and any wireless phone service, and enjoy the security and convenience of a home management system with the flexibility to meet their unique needs. Actively Protected & In Control: The foundation of Digital Life is complete home security with 24/7 professional monitoring that allows you to know what is happening at home, or where an event has occurred. Through AT&T-owned and operated, U.S.-based monitoring centers, professionals will respond to emergencies and alert police and fire authorities. Seamlessly Connected: Digital Life is an all-digital, fully integrated, wireless home management system, giving customers flexibility to manage their home from their smartphone, tablet or PC. Our takeover module lets you easily extend your existing security system and investment. The Digital Life application is available on most web browsers. Apps are available for iOS, Android smartphones and Windows Phones. To ensure customers’ privacy is protected, Digital Life has a secure log in system each time the app is opened from any Internet-connected device. Amazingly Simple & Intuitive: A user-friendly application was designed to be as simple as possible, making it easier than ever to manage your home. The Digital Life application gives customers control over cameras, door locks, lights, thermostats, small appliances and more by setting alerts or programs to manage your home. It’s all integrated into one simple system. Personalized & Flexible: Digital Life provides total flexibility so you can personalize your home to adapt to everyday life – with custom notifications and scheduled tasks. Add devices and solutions anytime, as your needs grow, or your lifestyle changes. “Digital Life is committed to offering our customers an easy and convenient way to secure their homes, protect their families and simplify their lives from virtually anywhere,” said Kevin Petersen, president, Digital Life, Inc. “With the launch of these five new markets, we’re looking forward to making Digital Life available to more customers throughout the country.”

Logitech Decides To Retain Its Harmony Remote Division

Logitech took to the wires today to announce the Harmony Ultimate Hub, a device that turns an iPhone or Android device into a universal remote, is available for purchase. It’s $100. But more importantly, Logitech also announced that it decided to keep the Harmony division within the company rather than spinning it out into its own company, turning the division, once again, into a startup fighting for attention in the wild electronic forest. Once upon a time, May 5, 2004 to be exact, Logitech acquired the privately held Intrigue Technologies of Canada, maker of the famed Harmony remote controls, for $29 million in cash. Fast forward nine years. Logitech did the company right, pushing out countless quality products under the Harmony name, cementing it as a leader in the market. However, with growth slowing, Logitech was pondering spinning the division back out into the wild. As today’s press release states, the company has determined that retaining ownership is in the best interest of its shareholders. Apparently the success of the Harmony Ultimate, a universal remote that merges the touch capability found in a smartphone with the traditional remote controls, changed Logitech’s mind. The new remote “exceeded the company’s expectations for customer connections.”

Thermostat Maker Ecobee Launches Home Automation API

You may never need rise from the couch or get out of bed again. Home automation is becoming increasingly popular with apps that control ceiling fans, sprinkler systems, garage doors, kitchen appliances, you name it. Along that line of thinking, temperature control company Ecobee has just released a public API that lets third-party apps read, update and poll information about its home thermostats. The Toronto-based company develops a range of wifi-enabled thermostats for residential and commercial markets. Its API focuses on the company’s line of Smart thermostats, intended for home use. By releasing an open API, Ecobee is betting developers will use it to create a range of home solutions that bring homeowners more choice, comfort, energy savings and peace of mind. The company already offers a suite of mobile apps that control its Smart thermostats from anywhere, but Ecobee believes the RESTful API, which returns JSON, will feed a new level of innovation. “Ecobee’s API platform enables an active community of forward thinkers to build the next generation of connected home applications. Our customers will benefit from a wide range of convenient solutions that will simplify their lives,” said Stuart Lombard, the company’s president and CEO. Partners currently working on apps for the Ecobee platform include Mi Casa Verde, Smart Things, The UBI, Earth Networks, Integral Analytics, Auto Grid, Energy Sherlock, MMB Research Solutions.

iControl Networks Launches New Self-Installable Smart Home and Lifestyle Solution

 iControl Networks  announced iControl Touchstone™, a new self-installable, self-managed smart home solution for broadband service providers focused on lifestyle services. iControl Touchstone is powered by iControl's award-winning OpenHome™ software platform, and offers a connected home experience that consumers can install and manage themselves. iControl Touchstone will be initially deployed across the U.S. by Comcast as Xfinity Home Control. iControl Touchstone enables service providers to offer consumers a full range of innovative home management and monitoring services. As a self-installable solution, it opens the door for new distribution opportunities, including online and retail, which are desirable alternatives for broadband service providers seeking an initial go-to-market offering. iControl Touchstone provides innovative home monitoring, comfort, control, automation and energy management, and can be assembled and installed by the end-user, eliminating the need for a professionally trained technician. iControl Touchstone allows customers to: Stay connected to their homes  with live video feed and event-driven video capture via in-home cameras, enabling them to see what’s happening while they’re away. Remotely control and manage their homes  with the power to turn on/off lights and appliances and adjust thermostat temperature via the web or mobile applications. Customize their systems  by scheduling personalized, automated alerts, for example, to confirm when the kids arrive home from school, which generate email and text alerts with optional photo/video clip. Go green  with energy-saving thermostat, lighting and small appliance control and automation.

Microsoft working on home automation for the Xbox 720

It is being reported that Microsoft has acquired home entertainment and automation startup R2 Studios, by the Wall Street Journal. Started in 2011, this Silicon Valley company recently launched applications that allow for users to control multiple aspects of their home from smartphones. Could this mean that Microsoft is getting closer to the Xbox being the central piece in the living room that controls all facets of the home? It sure looks like it with this news. The acquisition sees the small team joining Microsoft’s Xbox division, and Microsoft will retain rights to some of the patents that R2 Studios owns, which relate to controlling electronic devices. With home automation becoming a growing trend in the U.S. today, the next Xbox could very well have the ability to control multiple facets of the homes that they are used in, and take an even further step away from being a video game console. The Xbox 360 saw a huge swing in its userbase utilzing the console for digital downloads and streaming video options found on the Xbox Live dashboard. The only commercial application that R2 Studios has released to this point is a $99 application that lets users control lighting, thermostats, security systems, and other products via Android devices.

News from InfoComm 2013

With InfoComm 2013 wrapping up, we saw hundreds of press releases and product announcements coming out of this years show. Check out our InfoComm 2013 Newspage for some of the interesting news from this years show. Stay tuned for our InfoComm 2013 reports to see the key new products introduced at this years event.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

Advanced UPB Lighting Packages from Simply Automated

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