Digital Signage Expo 2013 underway this week in Las Vegas

HomeToys has partnered with DSE 2013 again this year and is providing a Specail Newspage devoted to news and announcements from this years event. Click here for the DSE 2013 HomeToys Newspage. Digital Signage Expo is the world’s largest international tradeshow dedicated to interactive display technology, digital signage, and digital out-of-home networks.  It’s a great way to discover technology that will draw attention to your business, increase sales, generate buzz, help save on overhead, and improve interactions with your customers.

SAVANT® Introduces WiFi Enabled Digital Thermostat

Savant Systems, LLC has announced the availability of the Savant Wireless Thermostat, SST-W100. The SST-W100 is a WiFi enabled digital thermostat designed to control Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems within any residential or commercial setting and integrate seamlessly into a Savant-controlled environment. The SST-W100 is a versatile thermostat for one and two stage control of forced air, radiant, heat pump and HVAC systems. The Savant SST-W100, requiring only standard thermostat wiring at its mounting location, is ideal for retrofit installations thanks to its wireless communication to Savant's SmartSystem controllers. The SST-W100 provides access to temperature adjustments from anywhere in the home or from a remote location using any Savant interface. Multiple Savant thermostats may be networked over an existing WiFi network, enabling temperature and humidity adjustment from any SST-W100 in the home. Energy conservation is achieved by programming the HVAC system (using the HVAC Scheduler within the Savant TrueControl™ iPad® app) to automatically respond based upon outside temperature, season or time of day.

Android home automation appears in 4.2.2 update

Android's long-rumoured home automation capabilities may have been revealed in the inner workings of the latest 4.2.2 update. The system configuration files within the update mention both mesh networking and Android@home, both of which in theory relate to home automation and Android. Android@home was shown by Google more than two years ago and then disappeared almost instantly into the ether. Since then, Google hasn't mentioned it once. So could it be coming back? Home automation is gradually becoming a bigger deal. CES this year had gadgets such as Belkin's iOS-controlled WeMo range of light switches and connected home gadgetry. Android integrating this kind of home automation directly into the OS makes sense. The Android Open Accessory API also exists and is able to put hardware and applications together, provided there is an Android smartphone somewhere in between.

Pioneer Home A/V Sees Flexibility In New Subsidiary Status

The consolidation of Pioneer’s home A/V business unit in Japan with two other business units will turn the unit into a leaner wholly-owned subsidiary. Russ Johnston, executive VP of home entertainment and corporate communications at Pioneer Electronics USA, said the move will speed up product planning, time to market, and a return to home A/V profitability. The home A/V business includes engineering and product planning for global markets. The other two units that will be part of the subsidiary are the company’s wired phone business, which largely sells into the domestic market and the company’s domestic home-A/V sales operation. The restructuring was announced Feb. 12. The new subsidiary, which will be responsible for its own profit-and-loss statement, will be home to all product development and engineering staff, sales management and back-office functions for the three business units, Johnston said. The consolidation will improve control of SG&A and enable the three groups to make speedier product planning and development decisions, he continued.

David Eun Explains Samsung's Silicon Valley Invasion

David Eun once led Google and YouTube’s partnerships with media companies, turning their sometimes adversarial relationships into licensing deals. These days, he’s doing something similar, but from the hardware side of the business. As EVP of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center, Eun is charged with developing new digital content and services for a consumer electronics juggernaut that’s gunning for supremacy in everything from TVs and smartphones to refrigerators. Onstage at D: Dive Into Media, Eun talked for the first time about Samsung’s plan to tap Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to drive its content and media business, and to turn its device portfolio into a massive content-distribution platform. A cornerstone of that plan: Samsung’s new Open Innovation Center, which the company announced today at D: Dive Into Media. That operation is geared toward drawing on Silicon Valley innovation to fuel the technologies that Samsung sees as the next big thing. “We’re doubling down on software innovation, particularly software that will enhance our products,” Eun said. “We’re focusing on investing in early-stage companies, and developing partnerships with them that can help us enhance the user experience of our customers.”

The Sonos Playbar expands wireless audio to the TV room

Wireless audio giant Sonos has announced the Playbar, a compact sound bar that incorporates all the usual surround-sound speakers and integrates with the company's other wireless speakers. It could be a great solution for the tech-savvy media lover. But this is the first time they've attempted to tackle TV audio, which is a more complicated proposal. There are good sound bar systems out there already, and of course many people already have excellent multi-speaker systems installed. Why get this Sonos? Well, it should have pretty great sound — Sonos has always been good about that — but the big draw would probably be putting the controls all on your phone or tablet. Combine the Sonos with a smart set-top box with its own app, and you've got a whole world of music, TV, and movies controllable from your iPad. And setup should be a breeze — it plugs right into your TV and you can even control it through the TV's remote.  

How the IT Industry Views AV

If you’ve ever subscribed to the line of thinking that says, “If we in the AV industry don’t sharpen our IT skills, those that already have them are going to swoop in and eat our lunches,” then you may be onto something. This line of thinking acknowledges that the whole AV/IT convergence has already happened and that more and more AV systems are really networked AV systems. It appreciates the growing market for digital signage, videoconferencing systems, streaming media and mobile collaboration and wonders, “Are we as AV professionals missing the boat here? Are we losing out to IT professionals?” Maybe not yet, but if any of this sounds familiar, I submit this: The IT industry is as interested in the market for networked AV systems (and they should be) as the AV industry is wary that IT will win a lion’s share of that business. Ironically, IT appears to know exactly what it needs to succeed in AV: the knowledge that AV specialists already have. Read full blog post:

Control4 Goes for Wireless Audio

Automation vendor Control4 makes an audio debut at ISE 2013-- the Wireless Music Bridge, a device allowing customers to wirelessly connect and stream music on PCs or mobile devices on Control4 systems. With Bluetooth, DLNA, Airplay, wifi and ethernet support, the Wireless Music Bridge streams audio from most, if not all, devices. It supports full metadata (including cover art) and allows access to connected content and devices through all Control4 interfaces, including TVs. In addition, Control4 systems with OS 2.4 get a TuneIn update, allowing access to over 700000 traditional and internet radio stations, as well as on-demand audio and podcasts. The Control4 Wireless Music Bridge ships from Q2 2013, while the TuneIn update should roll out from April 2013.

How Monoprice Is Eating The Tech World From The Inside Out

Five years ago, Monoprice was associated with two things: HDMI cables and nerds. Being able to tell people about two-buck Monoprice cables, and to explain, with confidence, why Monster cables were a scam, was one of the wonderful small privileges of geekdom; today, it's one of the dwindling few. In addition to making its boosters look smart, Monoprice had a pretty solid pitch. Its cables were cheap! They worked fine! The company was based in the U.S., processed orders quickly, had a return policy and answered emails. It was like eBay without the risk. The minimalist web store has long since expanded to include more than just cables; today, it's best described as an accessory shop. But in January, the company announced that it was taking a broad step into a new market: It was going to start selling big-ticket electronics under the Monoprice name. Click here for full article:

Study - Innovation and Affordability Open up Home Automation to a Larger Audience

In the last three years, numerous home automation related products have been introduced into the market. Existing market players have upgraded their product lines, while new entrants have introduced new offerings. Everyone is increasingly focusing on smart technologies. Manufacturers of individual home automation functions, such as security, climate control, window treatment systems or access control, have launched new smart products. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.buildingtechnologies.frost.com) European Home Automation Market, finds that the market earned revenues of €223 million in 2012 and estimates this to reach €348.2 million in 2017. While the home automation market is seeing a shift in technology and increased demand for novel products, the supply chain is also responding to such developments. "While installation of home automation has been of interest almost exclusively to professional home automation specialists, an increasing number of manufacturers are trying to simplify home automation technology, and spread installation and programming know-how to more participants in the supply chain," noted Frost & Sullivan Environment and Building Technologies Senior Industry Analyst Hammam Ahmed . "They have intensified their focus on training traditional electrical contractors, and are exploring other routes to market in order to reach a wider customer base. This will have a positive impact on the supply chain in the future." 

Integrated Systems Europe 2013 News

HomeToys has partnered with ISE 2013 again this year and is providing a Specail Newspage devoted to news and announcements from this years event. Click here for the ISE 2013 HomeToys Newspage. Integrated Systems Europe is the world’s best attended tradeshow for the professional AV and electronic systems industry. Launched in 2004, ISE has grown year-on-year to become a global forum for technology, education and networking. ISE 2013 is the biggest yet. With 894 exhibitors occupying 33,000 net square meters of floor spaces and more than 40,000 registered attendees to its Amsterdam RAI location.    

Logitech to sell Harmony remote division after 'unacceptable' Q3 results

Logitech has posted its financial results for Q3 of its 2013 fiscal year, and they're not too encouraging: the company made an operating loss of $180 million off sales of $615 million. Retail sales were down 14 percent year on year, and CEO Bracken Darrell has announced plans to take "decisive action" on the "unacceptable" results. And he's not kidding — the company has "initiated the process" to divest itself of its Harmony remote control division, along with its security video camera business. By the end of this year, Logitech also plans to have discontinued "non-strategic products" including video game console peripherals and speaker docks. Darrell says the strategy is for the company to focus on PC-related products and maximize profitability. The news isn't entirely bad, though, with Darrell buoyed by "continued strong demand" for the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad.  

Dish Closing 300 More Blockbuster Stores

Dish Network is closing another 300 Blockbuster video stores in the next few weeks, bringing its total number of locations to about 500, the company announced Monday. The move comes after Blockbuster closings last year that included the shutdown of 500 locations last February. The company said Monday, as it did last year, that it would close unprofitable stores. No locations for the closings have been announced. Some of the stores are reaching the end of their building leases, while others will close because of their performance, Dish spokesman John W. Hall told TheWrap. The closures come as little surprise as more consumers watch streaming videos or buy them on-demand through their cable company rather than trekking to the brick-and-mortar stores that were so packed with customers in the 1990s. Dish, which purchased the video chain for $320 million in 2011, is increasingly using Blockbuster's remaining physical locations to hawk its Dish services.

Report: Remote Control Boosts Willingness to Buy Home Security

More than half of broadband households without professionally monitored interactive security services are willing to pay for them if they’re combined with remote monitoring and control capabilities, according to “ Smart Home Systems: Consumer Adoption and Attitudes ,” a report currently featured on Strategy Analytics’ Smart Home Strategies (SHS) advisory service . Strategy Analytics surveyed broadband households in France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. and found that those households were more interested in and willing to pay for a variety of connected home services than expected. Survey respondents also indicated a significant willingness to pay for remote healthcare and energy management services for the connected home—if they were priced right. Potential adoption of smart home services is highest in the U.S., U.K. Germany and Italy, and less in France, “with the exception of retail DIY monitoring and control,” said the Boston-based market research and advisory firm. The highest level of potential interest in remote healthcare services was found to be in Italy, if recurring fees were kept under $10 per month.

2013 International CES Wrap Up

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® announced today that the 2013 International CES® is the largest in the show's 45+ year history, with 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space. The previous record was 1.86 million net square feet of space at the 2012 International CES. More than 3,250 exhibitors unveiled some 20,000 new products at the 2013 CES, drawing more than 150,000 attendees, including more than 35,000 from more than 170 countries outside the United States. Owned and produced by CEA, the 2013 International CES is the world's largest annual innovation event and concluded today. "Innovation abounded at the 2013 CES and executives from every major industry that touches technology were here this week," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. "From amazing new products, to CEA's new book Ninja Innovation, to our new publication - It Is Innovation (i3), innovation prevailed across 37 football fields of technology at the 2013 International CES. Our event is the biggest mobile show to kick-off the year and showcase our new mobile future." Major product launches occurred across all 15 product categories at the 2013 CES. In wireless/smartphones, highlights include the launch of Sony's Xperia Z, the Huawei Ascend Mate and ZTE Grand S. In video displays, LG featured its touchscreen Ultra HD, Sony launched the first Ultra HD OLED display, Samsung featured its bendable OLED and Hisense launched its transparent 3DTV. Digital Health and fitness launches included new products from Fitbit, Withings and BodyMedia. Audi and Lexus featured driverless vehicle technologies. For gamers, the 2013 CES saw the launch of Nvidia's Project Shield, the Oculus Rift, the Sifteo and Razer Edge. Other noteworthy products launched at the 2013 CES included: the Valve SteamBox, Tobii eye recognition technology, the Kickstarter-funded Pebble smart watch, Qualcomm's Vuforia augmented reality, multi-device connectivity from Ultraviolet, NFC technology from LG and Sony, tabletop applications from Lenovo, MakerBot's Replicator 2x and Samsung's Smart TVs with voice recognition. Click here for the Full Press Release here. Click here for the HomeToys CES Newspage. Click here for the HomeToys CES Tradeshow Report.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

INTRODUCING THE SIMPLEST WAY TO CONTROL YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE YOUR VOICE. Imagine this... We've all been there-walking through the door into a dark house, arms full. Wouldn't it be nice to tell your house to offer a helping hand? Now you can. A simple voice command-such as "Alexa, turn on Welcome"-lights up the hallway and kitchen, fires up your favorite Pandora station, while the door locks itself behind you. This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.