Belden buys privately held PPC for $515.7 million

Cable maker Belden Inc said it bought privately held PPC, which makes connectors used in broadband and wireless services, for $515.7 million to strengthen its position in the broadcast industry.

Belden, which makes networking products for the broadcast and consumer electronics industries, has been buying connector companies that complement its cable offerings in these markets as it moves away from selling stand-alone cables.

The company bought Canadian Miranda Technologies Inc, a maker of cable-TV and networking products, for about $362 million in July.

Belden's shares have gained more than a quarter since it offered to buy smaller rival RuggedCom Inc in December 2011 to beef up its networking business. They closed at $39.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

Redbox Instant Is Official, For $8 a Month

Redbox, the Coinstar-owned operator of movie rental kiosks, has already disrupted the home video model one way. Now, it’s gunning for Netflix.

Confirming months of rumors, Redbox Wednesday announced the arrival of Redbox Instant, along with partner Verizon. The $8-per-month service- $9 for Blu-ray discs- also includes four one-night credits per month for rentals from Redbox kiosks. The service will also offer a la carte rentals for non-subscribers.

Warner Bros. is on board for streaming, as is cable channel Epix, while many other studios will offer sales and rentals.

The service will be offered through the web, as well as on mobile devices and through smart TVs and Blu-ray players from such partners as LG and Samsung.

Redbox Instant is available in public beta later this month.

Security Top of Mind for Consumers Interested in Home Automation, New CEA Study Finds

More than 62 percent of online consumers interested in learning more about home automation cited security as their primary purchase motivation, according to new research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. Consumer Perspective on Home Automation, released today, found that almost half (49 percent) of consumers are familiar with home automation systems that allow them to remotely monitor and control one or more technology system in their homes.

"There is room for industry growth, with just 1.7 million households indicating they currently have a home automation system installed in their residence," said Rhonda Daniel, CEA's manger, market research, "The more consumers know about home automation, the more likely they are to adopt the technology in their homes. Our industry must work together to develop clear product descriptions and educate consumers about what these technologies can do in order to increase adoption of these systems."

Research indicates that features focused on safety and security should be the building blocks of home automation packages offered by the industry. Consumers expressed interest in capabilities that would allow them to remotely monitor and control one or more systems in their homes. More than half of consumers said they are interested in the following features: receiving alerts if smoke detectors go off (59 percent); receiving alerts if someone enters or exits the home (55 percent); remotely seeing someone at the front door (58 percent); and being able to adjust the lights while away (52 percent).

Deja vu: OLED and 4K will dominate CES 2013 TV news

The Consumer Electronics Show gives us a glimpse of the TV trends we'll see in the year to follow. Much like last year, the talk of the 2013 show in TVs will revolve around OLED and 4K.

The television industry has been in flux during the last few years. Marquee Japanese names such as Panasonic, Sharp, and Sony are struggling, new technologies like voice and gesture control and 3D aren't compelling enough to warrant upgrades, and demand is expected to stay flat for 2013. Amid this atmosphere of regrouping and consolidation, there are likely to be very few surprises at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

What we're going to see at the show are several technologies that debuted at previous shows, such as OLED and 4K. We doubt any new display technologies, like the prototype Crystal LED shown last year by Sony, will hit the market in 2013. But chances are some technology will debut that we didn't expect, perhaps from a surprising quarter: think China.

Nest Is Just the Beginning of Smart Home Tech

These days, it seems like everyone is innovating for the future. From eco-friendly prefab housing to high-tech city bridges, companies and cities are putting unique and interesting spins on what they believe will change our future. But, think about this for a second: Have you ever thought long and hard about what your thermostat will look like in 10 or 15 years?

Probably not. Turns out that the thermostat, for better or for worse, hasn't really changed its form or function in the last few decades, aside from a digital interface and more sophisticated temperature-sensing technology. It seems as though there wasn't much to say about the device until the introduction of the Nest: A high-tech smart thermostat that broke the mold for its minimalist design and mobile, sustainable programming options.

"Before Nest, people didn't care about their thermostat," says Matt Rogers, co-founder and VP of engineering at Nest. "We've really awoken that frustration by bringing great design, great technology and a great experience to the space."

Mashable spoke with Rogers about how the Nest broke the mold of digital climate control, and what he thinks is going to be the real thermostat of the future.

BenQ Unveils $999 FullHD 3D Projector

BenQ America introduced Tuesday what it is calling the first FullHD 3D DLP video projector priced less than $1,000 for the home market.

BenQ’s model W1070 (available this month at a $999 suggested retail) offers a host of premium capabilities, including 3D for movie watching and gaming. The projector supports various formats and connection standards, such as Nvidia 3DTV Play, DLP Link and dual HDMI.

It includes an auto-detect system for 3D source material for a plug-and-play experience.

The 1080p picture is said to have a 10,000:1 contrast ratio,

The projector includes built-in audio speakers for temporary setups outdoors or away from home.

“With the W1070, BenQ has created the world’s first 3D Full 1080p high-definition projector at the sub-$1,000 price range,” stated Lars Yoder, BenQ America president. “Just in time for the holidays, users gain access to cinema-like picture quality and the captivating immersion of 3D video, right in their homes. This has never been done before at such an affordable price — it’s an industry first and a tremendous value for home viewers. It further establishes BenQ as a premier home projection innovator.”

Crestron Studio Available For Download

Crestron announced this week that its Crestron Studio software is now available for download. The software sports Crestron's SmartObject technology.

“Custom programming projects that used to require multiple tools can now be done in one unified environment that lets the programmer move quickly from one task to the next,” Fred Bargetzi, Crestron's VP of Technology, said as part of the announcement.

“Once-complex programming and GUI design tasks are now much easier and faster, enabling integrators and CAIPs to deliver a beautiful interactive Crestron user experience.”

See this link for more information about downloading the product.

Atlona(R) to Host AtlonaAcademy Webinar "HDMI Troubleshooting: Exploring Critical Elements of Digital Connectivity

Atlona(R) today announced that the company will be hosting the AtlonaAcademy webinar "HDMI Troubleshooting: Exploring Critical Elements of Digital Connectivity" on Dec. 4 at 6 a.m. PST and 10 a.m. PST. The one-hour sessions will explore the root causes of HDMI(R) connectivity problems, and the latest technologies and tools being used to combat these issues.

"HDMI Troubleshooting: Exploring Critical Elements of Digital Connectivity" will focus on the fundamentals of diagnosing basic A/V system installations, time-saving solutions for everyday tasks, and much more. In addition, attendees will receive problem-solving solutions for modern digital applications.  Register Here.

Microsoft Research bets on a 'no-touch' future of wearable devices

Microsoft's Research team in Cambridge opened its doors last week to offer a sneak peek at the future. Microsoft has spent nearly $30 billion on research and development over the past three years, and this particular lab — consisting of over 100 researchers mainly from Europe — has contributed to Bing, Xbox Kinect, and the functional programming language F#.

Microsoft is now looking well ahead into the future of computing and how user interfaces and the way we interact with machines will change. During an open house, the software maker demonstrated a variety of ways that the company is looking to improve its Kinect sensor and use it for an augmented reality future. From Kinect Fusion, that creates an interactive real-time 3D model of the environment, to Kinect-infused augmented projectors, where projection-based devices are "aware" of their environment — Microsoft is focused on a world of sensors and cameras.

"In the future we will see more and more, we believe, of no-touch computing," says Andrew Blake, a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and the Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. "There is something rather compelling about such a free style of interaction, breaking free from the desktop and being much more expressive." This type of interaction was originally applied to Microsoft's Kinect camera for gaming, a popular accessory that took the idea of controller-free gaming to the masses. It's now crossing over to additional devices that might serve to assist Kinect in mapping out the real world for a computer. 

BOSE Goes for Digital Signage Audience Measurement

BOSE, world renowned for selling premium home entertainment and sound systems, are the new owners of a Signbox digital signage system. BOSE Singapore dealer, Atlas, have also purchased the signEye digital signage package that captures key audience measurement data and provides new analytical capabilities to better understand and communicate with their valued customers.

The signEye digital signage audience measurement system uses a digital camera in conjunction with the latest in facial recognition technology, to identify audience metrics that occur in the field of vision. The digital camera is embedded in the screen frame and will normally be located above or below a digital signage screen, so the recorded metrics are directly related to the content being shown on the digital signage screen in real time

1.5 Million Home Automation Systems Installed in the US This Year, Says ABI Research

The global market for home automation services saw strong growth during 2012, driven by a wave of new entrants and offerings in the North American market. The US in particular leads in deployments and new shipments - acting as a bellwether for markets around the world.

Even with the low growth US economy and the stuttering housing market, home automation systems installed in the US this year almost doubled over 2011 shipments, according to the latest market study from ABI Research. In 2017, more than 8 million systems will ship, showing a CAGR rate of 45.2% between 2011 and 2017.

In the US over the past 12 months, Verizon has rolled out its service offering, cable companies including Comcast and Time Warner have expanded their footprints and security vendors including ADT and Vivint continued to see strong demand for their solutions.

"Home automation adoption is moving into the mainstream as a combination of home connectivity, standardization, and a range of new sensors and devices bring an ever expanding number of players into the market," says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst, ABI Research. "Meanwhile existing players are adapting their offerings and a host of technologies and connectivity options are battling to become de facto standards."

Best Buy Black Friday Shoppers In Line One Week Before Thanksgiving

It seems these Best Buy loyalists have not been deterred by the recent wave of bad news for the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer. Best Buy has been struggling to keep up with steep competition from rivals, such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. This summer, the chain announced a 90 percent loss in net income and cut thousands of jobs.

And we're not quite sure the hot deals shoppers are anticipating will be worth the time spend in line. A recent study found that Black Friday sale prices at Walmart, Target and Best Buy increased from 2011 to 2012. At Best Buy, the average Black Friday sale item costs $35.00 this year, up from $29.99 in 2011.

Unlike many other brick-and-mortar retailers like Target and Walmart, Best Buy won't be kicking off its Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day. Doors will open at midnight on Friday.


Legrand, North America today announced that it has acquired NuVo Technologies, LLC (NuVo), a company based in Hebron, Kentucky and a recognized leader in whole home audio solutions. NuVo will continue to operate as an independent business within Legrand's Home Systems division and focus on home audio markets under the NuVo brand name.

The acquisition is consistent with Legrand's proactive strategy and business objective to acquire market leading companies that complement its product line portfolio. The addition of NuVo's high quality multi-room audio systems strengthens Legrand's significant audio offering across all of its professional channels.

"The acquisition of NuVo is of strategic importance as it provides us with a leading position in the whole home audio market. We are now able to overtake other industry players and rapidly bring affordable, easy-to-integrate audio solutions to market," said John Selldorff, president and CEO of Legrand North America. "These include systems that are intuitive, plug 'n play and user friendly. NuVo also strengthens our product lineup with its wireless audio distribution technology. This means we can provide consumers with better integrated home audio systems and wider choices of both wired and wireless products. NuVo Technologies places Legrand's home systems offering in a different league. We now bring together the best in all core subsystems."

CEA Announces Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Honorees

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® announced today the International CES® Best of Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award honorees. The CES Innovations Awards honor outstanding design and engineering advancements across 29 consumer electronics product categories, including two new trend-focused categories: Accessible & Universal Design Technologies and Tech for a Better World.

Accessible and Universal Design Technologies focuses on technologies that have innovative features that make them easier to use, especially for seniors and people with disabilities. Tech for a Better World recognizes technologies that share a common goal and the ability to impact the world in a positive way, either domestically, or around the globe.

Visit the HomeToys Newspage for news and announcements from many of this years honorees.

Why The Digital Signage Industry Will Grow In 2013

As I peek at 2013 coming just around the corner, I cannot help but notice how downward price pressures are intersecting with demand and driving digital signage market growth. As many benefits continue to be realized, I believe some are more important than others and point to what we can expect in the coming year.

As in any tech-fueled market, reducing cost while increasing efficiency are major factors that come into play when talking about market growth. This fact is highlighted by realizing that digital signage fits well into the corporate mantra of "doing more with less."

With digital signage, doing more with less is certainly one of the big benefits. And with noticeable price reductions in 2012 that are certain to continue in 2013, I concur with recent reports from IHS iSuppli, Platt Retail Institute and others who believe the demand will continue to build at a healthy pace.

Price reductions are being realized in every area of digital signage. For example, as hardware is getting more specialized for media playback on consumer-type products that are mass produced for a worldwide market, the digital signage industry either directly or indirectly benefits from the use of this mobile and media-centric technologies that have a considerable scale of economy in production. This scale of economy is being reflected in today's prices of media players and displays used for digital signage. Even on the software side, the use of Linux and the recent emergence of Android on media players leads the way to extremely low cost albeit more basic offerings, putting a small turnkey system at about the same price as taking the family out for a nice dinner.

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