Plugging Home Electrical Systems into the Future: Bellatrix System's New bRight Switch

Bellatrix Systems today announced the launch of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for its sleek, new modular electrical control system for homes and businesses. The bRight Switch™ system includes smart switches that can be customized to perform multiple functions as well as multi-port outlets that combine high voltage and low voltage, eliminating the need for most wall chargers. bRight Switch integrates safely with the infrastructure of both new and existing construction and its design allows flexibility for future inventions and technological advancements. The Indiegogo campaign will launch on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 with a funding goal of $400,000.  bRight Switch represents several firsts. It is the first and only system to offer an Android-based, full-color LCD touch screen controller system for homes or businesses. It is also the first self-learning light switch control system to learn users' behaviors.

D-Tools Unveiling Workflow-Enhancing Native iPAD® Mobile Quoting App at CEDIA EXPO 2013

D-Tools, Inc., the worldwide leader in system integration software, today announced that the Company will unveil a new IOS-based iPad® companion app for its flagship product, SIX 2013. Available in Q4 for partners worldwide, this new release adds mobile quoting capabilities that enable Commercial and Residential AV integrators to generate quotes natively on an iPad then bring them into SIX 2013 for further project design and management. Delivering on D-Tools' commitment to streamline product updates and enhancements by consolidating them into an annual release, this new companion app will immediately extend the highly functional D-Tools workflow to mobile sales and specification teams.  A native IOS application, the D-Tools iPad® app leverages D-Tools' extensive manufacturer product library by enabling integrators to access and integrate product category and package data from their SIX 2013 catalog while working with customers in the field. Integrators can enter client and contact information into the iPad app, then walk prospective customers through available installation scenarios in order to create a quote for approval. Once complete, the resulting quote can then be imported into SIX 2013 for additional design work and synchronization. The iPad app utilizes many of D-Tools' workflow concepts, including the specification of locations and systems, which allows integrators to provide packages or pre-configured systems for inclusion in the quote. Labor and general pricing will be calculated to give the customer an accurate proposal, which can then be signed off for approval on the spot.

Flowton Technologies Looks To Revolutionize Home Automation With Motion Gestures, Needs Cash

The likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become the land where dreams are born (or are crushed), and yet another intrepid group of techies-come-entrepreneurs is looking to raise money via crowdfunding. Flowton Technologies is a group that makes a “natural interface” controller for the home that allows users to control things with voice and gesture, and they need $150,000 to get from prototype to production. With the Flowton Controller, you’ll be able to walk into your house, say “I’m home”, and turn the lights on; control your TV with gestures in the air; adjust the thermostat without leaving the couch or using any other device; and more. It’s akin to the Leap Motion controller but for home automation. There are three parts to the system: the Flowton Controller, the Flowton IR blaster, and the Flowton Smart Plug.  The controller includes a 1.7GHz ARM processor, 2GB of RAM, an RGB camera, two microphones, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a depth camera port (for something like a Kinect). This device lets you control a device by waving your hand in a plane, but also moving it back and forth in 3D.   Full Article:

Flowton Technologies Looks To Revolutionize Home Automation With Motion Gestures, Needs Cash

he likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become the land where dreams are born (or are crushed), and yet another intrepid group of techies-come-entrepreneurs is looking to raise money via crowdfunding. Flowton Technologies is a group that makes a “natural interface” controller for the home that allows users to control things with voice and gesture, and they need $150,000 to get from prototype to production. With the Flowton Controller, you’ll be able to walk into your house, say “I’m home”, and turn the lights on; control your TV with gestures in the air; adjust the thermostat without leaving the couch or using any other device; and more. It’s akin to the Leap Motion controller but for home automation.   There are three parts to the system: the Flowton Controller, the Flowton IR blaster, and the Flowton Smart Plug.  The controller includes a 1.7GHz ARM processor, 2GB of RAM, an RGB camera, two microphones, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a depth camera port (for something like a Kinect). This device lets you control a device by waving your hand in a plane, but also moving it back and forth in 3D.   Full Article:

NPD DisplaySearch Reports Growing Global LCD Digital Signage Market

Global revenues for LCD public displays (i.e., digital signage) shipments rose 22 percent, from $733.6 million in Q1'12 to $896.9 million in Q1'13, according to the latest NPD DisplaySearch"Quarterly FPD Public Display Shipment and Forecast Report." Unit shipments grew 5 percent in the same period, from 514,800 to 539,000. The majority of the revenue increase can be traced to the shift in shipments of larger-sized, higher-priced displays and increased shipments of displays with super narrow bezels, which are mainly used as a component in the build-out of video walls and other digital signage applications. "We are starting to see the improved financial results of the planned shift in production to larger-sized panels," said Todd Fender, senior analyst of professional and commercial displays with Santa Clara, Calif.-based NPD DisplaySearch. "Premium models increasingly will be shipped with smaller bezels, higher brightness and higher resolutions — which all lead to higher average selling prices."

Amazon Launches A Home Automation Store Featuring Smart Locks, Sensors, Thermostats & More

Amid a bevy of Amazon-related announcements surrounding Kindle – some intentional (the arrival of Kindle MatchBook), some not (news of an updated Kindle Paperwhite leaked a bit early) – Amazon has also quietly launched a new storefront focused on Home Automation products, including things like programmable thermostats, smart locks, sensors, video monitors, and more. The new website aims to centralize the now numerous options involving smart home hardware and services under one roof, organizing products into broad, high-level categories, like “Energy Management,” “Entertainment,” and “Monitoring,” which you can then further drill down into via sub-categories like “Lightbulbs” or “security cameras,” “televisions” or “alarms,” and so on. Additionally, Amazon’s Home Automation store is set up to be newbie-friendly with introductory guides to a variety of product categories like door locks, thermostats, and controllers, for example. There’s even a special section of the storefront that breaks out the “new and innovative” products from companies like Kwikset, Wimoto, SmartThings, and others.

Smart Home Services To Reach $10.9 Billion in 2017

Nowadays, home automation systems have become much better, less nerdy and more widely used, in large part due to the embrace of “smart home” services from the likes of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. In fact, it’s these new smart home service offerings from the big telco and cable providers that will help drive the smart home services market from under $2 billion worldwide in 2012 to $10.9 billion by 2017 according to a new report from NextMarket Insights. So why is your local cable, Internet and phone provider getting into the home automation game? In large part because those same triple-play offerings they provide you are under attack from the likes of Internet video and voice over IP and smart home services provide a new and attractive new revenue stream. Of course, companies like Comcast have been experimenting with offerings like home security for at least six or seven years, but only in the last couple years have cable and telcos embraced smart home services in a bigger way. This new love for the smart home has been helped along by the emergence of new software-powered services from companies such as iControl Networksand AlertMe, who provide a underlying “white-label” service to which your phone or cable company then can affix their own their brand name. Other smart home platform providers such as Alarm.com have gone outside of the telco and cable provider channels and partnered with a network of home security dealers, riding their 2,500 security partners to over 1 million customers in North America.

Enblink turns any Google TV device into a home automation control center

Meet Enblink: a dongle that plugs into any Google TV device and turns it into a home automation control hub. Enblink works with any Z-Wave enabled gadget, from door locks and lamps to security sensors and video cameras. The dongle itself will serve as a Z-Wave radio (once it's passed through the Z-Wave certification process) when plugged into your GTV device of choice. From there, its software runs atop GTV's Android underpinnings and leverages the device's CPU to control the locks and lights in your abode. A companion app for Android turns your phone into a remote control and monitor for appliances hooked into the Enblink system, plus there's an iOS app currently in development. Input from mobile devices goes through Amazon Web Services, which relays commands to the dongle to execute your bidding from afar. It's up for pre-order right now for $85, with the price rising to $99 when it officially goes on sale sometime in the next month or two. Of course, if you're streaming video to your mobile device, there's an ongoing fee (of undetermined cost) for the privilege once you've used up your free allotment of 30 seconds of streaming per day. Regardless, by leveraging existing GTV hardware and AWS to do the lifting on the backend, Enblink is a fraction of the cost of many purpose-built home automation base stations. So if you're a home automation geek that counts yourself among those  very  few with a Google TV and a slew of Z-Wave toasters, locks and light bulbs, your ship has, at long last, come in.

6 home automation companies merge into 1 super company for the super rich

Six home technology companies are merging to form one super-company that caters to the super-rich. Dubbed VIA International, it will provide a premium home automation experience to people with a lot of money to spend on their homes. Cyber Sound, DSI Entertainment, Engineered Environments, Paragon Technology, S3 Aurant, and Studio AV are joining forces to become a full-service home technology provider with distribution across the country, or at least where “ultra-high net worth clients” live. Before the merger, the companies were based in regions across the Western United States, in Colorado, Utah, Northern and Southern California, Arizona, and Montana. They build and install systems for home movie theaters, speaker systems, lighting control, security, and energy management. “The merger of leading home technology integrators to form VIA International will transform the entire residential systems industry,” Randy Stearns, CEO and founding partner of VIA International said in a statement. “Together, we are elevating a fragmented, project-based business model into a consolidated and streamlined service provider that emphasizes providing a concierge-level experience over multiple years in multiple homes, not simply a one-time, product-centric solution.”

SAVANT® Introduces SmartLighting Wi-Fi Lighting Control System

Savant Systems, LLC has announced the introduction of their SmartLighting Wi-Fi 802.11-based lighting control products, delivering a versatile solution that can be used as both a standalone lighting control platform or as part of a complete Savant automation system. Featuring a dimmer inside each Wi-Fi-connected keypad, Savant has created the ultimate customizable solution ideal for both new construction and retrofit lighting control that can be integrated without rewiring the home or commercial facility. Savant's SmartLighting technology expands the brand's presence in the growing connected home marketplace with a versatile Wi-Fi-based lighting control system.    Once the Wi-Fi lighting control keypads have been connected to existing line voltage and lighting load wiring in the wall, they become a powerful and secure networked device that can be controlled using Savant's new standalone lighting control iOS app or as part of a larger Savant ecosystem. 

Best Buy surges 13% on earnings

Best Buy's stock rallied Tuesday after the electronics retailer reported a substantial gain in quarterly earnings, helped by aggressive cost cutting. Best Buy said earnings jumped to $266 million in the quarter ended Aug. 3, compared with $12 million in the year-ago quarter. The company's stock jumped as much as 12.8% to $34.65. That helped it unseat Netflix as the S&P 500's top performer this year. Chief Executive Hubert Joly said Best Buy cut $65 million in annualized costs. He said the company has managed to slash $390 million in nine months, as part of an effort to cut $725 million. Looking ahead, Joly was a little cautious, noting that Best Buy has incurred some additional costs and an interruption in same store sales growth as it rolls out its new Samsung Experience Shops and Microsoft Windows Stores. Same-store sales slipped 0.4% for the quarter, but Joly said they would have been flat to slightly higher if not for the Samsung roll-out.  

Samsung To Sell Under-$9K 55-inch Curved OLED TV

Samsung will begin selling on its web site and through select specialty dealers its first Curved OLED TV: the 55-inch Model KN55S9C. At $8,999.99, it enters the market at $6,000 less than competitor LG’s 55-inch Curved OLED, introduced three weeks ago at the Magnolia Design Center in Best Buy’s flagship Richfield, Minn. store. Samsung vice president of Home Entertainment Dave Das said the price was achieved due to “better than anticipated yields,” which led to the company’s being able to deliver product at such a low price point. He said the metallic-frame curved aspect of the set, which Samsung is referencing in marketing materials a “Timeless Arena’ that evokes the curved shape of an arena, would serve to distinguish it on a typical sales floor, where consumers are generally faced with a wall of “me-too” flat-panel TVs. The decision to market strategically through the same specialty channel through which Samsung has been marketing its  $40,000 85-inch Ultra HD, however, means that that dealer group will likely be better able to make the case for purchase through its caliber of sales personnel, Das said.

Home Automation Market Forecast to Grow at 78% CAGR to Exceed 351 Million by 2018

By 2018, ABI Research expects annual home automation device shipments to exceed 351 million, growing at a CAGR of 78%. ZigBee dominated IEEE 802.15.4 and claimed the top share of node shipments at 4.5 million, narrowly beating out proprietary protocol offerings. Senior analyst Adarsh Krishnan, comments, "ZigBee is enjoying success in the home automation market because, as an open standard technology, multiple IC vendors are creating ZigBee chipsets. Quite simply, open standard technologies are considered less risky and highly scalable when compared to the closed ecosystems of proprietary RF technologies."  Another wireless communication protocol that has gained traction in the home automation market is Z-Wave. Recent managed service initiatives that offer home automation as a service are using the Z-Wave protocol to connect low-power home automation devices. Z-Wave enjoys support from consumers, especially in the DIY segment, because the interoperability of the wide portfolio of vendor products. As a result, consumers have choice regardless of the distribution channel or supplier.  Smart devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol part of Bluetooth v4.0 single-mode specification will experience the highest growth in the category, reaching over 133 million units by 2018. Practice director Dan Shey explains, "Consumer electronics (CE), including smartphones, tablets, and laptops equipped with Bluetooth are a major contributor to Bluetooth growth in home automation. Not only do these devices drive production economy of scale advantages but CE's are also growing role as a tool for managing and interacting with home automation systems."   

No batteries! Wireless tech recycles airborne radio waves

A world full of Internet-connected devices is a giant step closer to reality thanks to a new communications system that works without batteries or wires for power. Just as we use mirrors to reflect light, or turbines to catch the wind, this technique — known as "ambient backscatter"— co-opts transmissions from TV and cellular towers and reflects them to exchange information between wireless devices. These waves serve as both a source of power and carriers of information. "We just use existing signals all around us," Shyam Gollakota, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, explained to NBC News. He and colleagues built a proof-of-concept system consisting of credit-card-size electronic devices that use antennas to detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which is then picked up by similar devices. Since TV signals are reflected off buildings, cars, trees and everything else in a city as it travels from a transmission tower to a TV set, the extra reflection doesn't degrade the signal. "Our reflection is yet just another reflection," Gollakota said. The prototype devices communicate with each other over a distance of several feet. They flash little LED lights when they receive a signal from another device. The applications of the technology are limitless: a keychain that sends out a text message to its owner's mobile phone when it falls out of a pocket, for instance; or an array of pad-like sensors embedded in a roof that relay a message to a homeowner when a water leak is detected.

Revolv home automation hub hits preorder: Controls Sonos, Hue, more

Multi-platform home automation hub  Rev olv  has gone up for preorder, offering a $299 way to harness your Sonos, Hue lighting, Yale automatic locks, and more, all from a single app. The smart home base-station – previously known as Mobiplug – packs a total of seven radios so as to  communicate  with a broad variety of popular remote-control kit, with support for automated macro routines based on your location, the current time, and more. Currently, while streaming music systems like Sonos and wireless multi-color LED lighting systems like Philips Hue offer a more cost-effective way to get smart home functionality that might once have cost many thousands of dollars, there’s no unified way to control them all. Instead, users generally end up with multiple individual apps, each suited to one platform but not any others. Revolv aims to address that, by bridging the connectivity of multiple platforms into a single base station. According to the company, setup is effectively automatic once you’ve plugged it into a power supply: the hub scans first for the home WiFi  network , then for any compatible devices, associating itself with them instantly if possible or, if not, with a simple “push button discovery” system.

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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!