iPhone 5 Disappoints Home Automation Users

In my opinion, Apple has made a grave error with the iPhone 5 that will set it back a year compared to Android: lack of support for NFC.

As expected, it’s faster, thinner, higher resolution, has a better camera, integrated voice and data on a single chip, and some new cool apps. It’s hard to fathom how Apple could have omitted such a key, and rapidly growing, technology. What’s really bizarre is that Apple has six patents related to mobile payments.

At last week’s CEDIA, Crestron debuted their airConnect solution that allows $1 NFC tags to be scattered liberally around the house and it uses a Phone’s NFC reader and WiFi to communicate with the main server.

Even retail is ramping up its use of NFC with more and more swipe to pay terminals appearing. According to Gartner, worldwide mobile payments will surpass $170 billion in 2012 (up 61.9 percent over 2011)

I’m bitterly disappointed and will have to seriously consider switching to Android or WM 8. I’m not prepared to wait another year for NFC.

CEDIA Expo Draws Nearly 17K Attendees

CEDIA EXPO 2012 showed positive growth with non-exhibitor attendance gains of 4% over last year’s event. Ninety new exhibitors and more than 80 home technology products made their debut at CEDIA EXPO 2012, Sept. 5-8 in Indianapolis. More than 450 exhibitors participated in the 2012 event and over 16,900 attendees from 71 different countries. Of the total attendance 15% were first-time attendees to EXPO.

This year’s event, exhibitors, and attendees were defined as “electric”, “high caliber”, and “rock-solid”.

CEDIA EXPO offered 175 training courses including manufacturer product training. This year’s show was focused on educating electronic systems contractors on the network in addition to the foundational and advanced home technology education. Of those courses, 22 were new advanced IP Networking courses, all of which sold out. Additionally, CEDIA introduced a new credential, the Residential Networking Specialist, aimed for those who have demonstrated mastery of the network.

Is Digital Signage Worth the Investment for Small Retailers?

Digital signage is an increasingly affordable marketing technology that has become a lot more accessible to small retailers in the past couple of years. Digital signage display screens with HD resolution no longer cost the earth, while professional digital signage software can be downloaded for free. In fact, if you have a spare PC and either a plasma screen or LCD screen available it is pretty easy to get up and running at zero cost. But will it bring small retailers more sales?

The signs are positive. Digital signage is strong on the delivery of high impact visuals that capture attention and motivate consumer action. Animations, image movement and video on a well-positioned screen will certainly grab eyeballs. Data from Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau Europe (OVAB) suggests that moving images are as much as 28% more effective in attracting attention than static posters or billboards.

Scala Software Bundled In New Digital Signage Evaluation Kit 2012 From Intel, Kontron And Microsoft

Scala Inc. today announced its Scala digital signage software is packaged as part of the new Digital Signage Evaluation Kit 2012 (DSEK-12) introduced by Intel, Kontron and Microsoft. Scala digital signage software makes it easy to develop and deliver bold content that commands attention by tapping the advanced computing performance, and enhanced media and graphics capabilities of the DSEK-12.

Scala software drives content creation, management and distribution in digital signage networks. Scala has certified the DSEK-12 as a Scala player, ensuring optimal performance for display manufacturers, systems integrators, software developers and digital signage users. Scala software fully leverages the latest, 3rd generation Intel(R) Core(TM) processors in the DSEK-12 to produce and display visually stunning, broadcast-quality content in implementations ranging from a small number of screens to thousands of displays in a global network.

CEDIA Expo 2012 - Underway in Indianapolis

HomeToys.com has a special Newspage devoted strictly to all the news and product announcements coming out of this years show. So make sure to read and post all the news from the show. Click here for our Special Newspage.

CEDIA 2012 the leading tradeshow in the residential electronic systems industry is set to open its doors in Indianapolis, IN this week.  Boasting 444+ exhibitors showcasing thousands of products, over 135 education sessions taught by the industry's most respected experts and over 20,000 expected attendees from all around the world.

 

Digital Signage Expo Named 2011 "Fastest 50" by Trade Show Executive Magazine

Digital Signage Expo (DSE), the world's largest and longest running International Tradeshow and Conference dedicated to digital signage, interactive technology and digital out-of-home networks (DOOH), was just named one of Trade Show Executive Magazine's 2011 Fastest 50.

This award recognizes the fifty fastest-growing trade shows in North America based on total net square footage of exhibit space, number of exhibitors and attendance growth between 2010 and 2011. DSE was a previous winner of the Fastest 50 award in 2007 and 2009 when the now defunct TradeShow Week magazine was sponsoring this awards program.

By winning in 2011, DSE is now a 3-time winner of this prestigious award.

Nortek Launches New "Core Brands" Group

Nortek, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTK), a global diversified company with leading brands and innovative, technology-driven products and solutions for residential and commercial applications, today announced the formation of Core Brands, a new group that combines the product and marketing strengths of 10 of the company's formerly independent audio, power management and control brands operating within its Technology Solutions segment.

Including Nortek's Aton®, BlueBOLT®, Elan®, Furman®, Niles®, Panamax®, Proficient®, SpeakerCraft®, Sunfire® and Xantech® brands, Core Brands has more than 190 years of combined experience in the residential, commercial and professional markets and over 4,300 direct customer accounts in multiple distribution channels in the U.S. and worldwide.

Sony readying super-sized 84-inch 4K TV

Sony plans to introduce a super-sized 84-inch LCD television during IFA 2012, Europe's major consumer electronics show, a source told CNET.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNET that the upcoming 84-inch TV can display a massive 3,840x2,160 resolution (four times the number of pixels in a conventional 1080p set), also known in the industry as 4K. We learned that the 84-inch Sony TV features a side-lit LCD panel (think thin) and removable speakers. In terms of design, our source describes the aesthetics as a reimagined retro-style appearance with a modern twist.

 

Thin bezels give video walls appeal in retail, transport

Ever-narrower bezels that allow banks of displays to be perceived as a single screen are increasing the popularity of video walls in major digital signage sectors such as retail and transportation, according to new research.

A report from Futuresource Consulting forecasts that 380,000 video walls will be installed this year, up 60 percent on 2011’s shipments.

“Recent innovations have breathed new life into this comparatively mature industry,” said Parmjit Bhangal, a market analyst with the firm. “Since 2009, LED backlight solutions have been integrated into rear projection displays, negating the costs of bulb replacement and maintenance.

“However, LCD super-narrow-bezel displays have been the real game-changer, finally offering a viable alternative to rear projection devices and plasma screens, allowing vendors to drive new revenue streams from new markets, most notably retail and public display, as well as defending their positions in video-based verticals.”

That super-narrow-bezel (SNB) category accounted for more than 80 percent of the total video wall market last year, Bhangal added.

3D@Home Consortium and International 3D Society Merge to Form World's Largest 3D Organization

To better serve the growing global theatrical, television, video game, and mobile 3D marketplace and professional community, the International 3D Society (I3DS) and the 3D@Home Consortium today announced plans to merge operations and activities. With members in 20 countries and chapters in China, Japan, Korea, Europe, the UK and North America, the new organization will be known as the International 3D Society & 3D@Home. The Merger was ratified by both organizations' leadership and is effective immediately.

"This newly formed organization will serve to spearhead the growth and expansion of the 3D entertainment industry across the entire ecosystem - from content conception and development, to consumer education and adoption," said Tom Cosgrove, Co-Chair of I3DS & 3D@Home and President and CEO of 3net. "Across all platforms where 3D is expanding, everywhere consumers are consuming 3D content, and in any way the 3D format is being utilized, our organization is there to support our members and advance the growth of this prolific medium."

Miracast - A Challenger to Apple's AirPlay

Between my wife and me, we have three AppleTV’s, two iPhones, two iPads, a MacBook Pro and two Windows laptops. One of the single best features we use on the Apple devices is AirPlay. Sure, the AppleTV can stream virtually anything that’s already in the iCloud or in a known location on the network, but all too often, I have friends over and have something on my iPhone/iPad that I want to show them. Rather than copying it somewhere, passing the device around the room, or have several people hunching over it, I simply turn on my 50-inch plasma and stream it to the TV using AirPlay and the AppleTV. Sure, if it’s something on YouTube, I could search on the AppleTV, but frankly, I’d rather go to the dentist than use those infernal on-screen keyboards.

At one of my consulting clients, we recently equip all the meeting rooms with Sharp 80-inch screens, MacMini’s (with Bootcamp, so they can run Windows too) and AppleTV’s. Anyone sporting an iDevice or a recent Mac with Mountain Lion can stream to the TV.

When it comes to content on my PC it’s a whole other, very sorry, story. One of my laptops is a fairly new Core i7 model, and supports Intel’s WiDi. At last count, there were two devices available that would connect to a TV and neither had other compelling features. There are several proprietary solutions on the market for streaming wireless HDMI, but I don’t need any more set-top boxes, especially ones that won’t work with my friend’s devices. The Apple eco system, makes it all so simple: when my iFriends come over, anyone can throw up anything on the big screen. For my Droid/WM buddies, it’s a can of mal-connected worms.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has a plan to address this (WiDi RIP).

Wi-Fi Direct enables peer-to-peer connections between Wi-Fi devices and Miracast (Wi-Fi Display) supports display of video content from consumer electronics and mobile devices. According to ABI Research, by 2014, 66% of consumer electronics devices are expected to support Wi-Fi Direct and the majority of these will be Miracast certified too.

Major chipmakers, such as Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Marvell and Broadcom are all on board. Let’s hope Intel recognize that the writing’s on the wall for WiDi and support the open effort too.

 

Is AppleTV set to become a cable box?

There have been a lot of reports of Apple negotiating content deals with the major networks and the possibility of a la carte available via the iTunes store. According to the Wall St Journal, current discussions are centered on Apple producing a fully fledge set top box.

TiVo Inc. currently dominates this sector of the market, but has a miniscule installed base compared to users who are happy to rent a DVR form their cable provider for $10-15 a month. For those looking for a solution outside of their cable operator’s offering, an Apple-based device would be an attractive proposition if it provided the functionality of the current AppleTV. Such a device would allow users to get virtually all of their Cable and OTT content on a single device (and presumably stream wirelessly around the house). The device would also give TiVo a run for their money, especially fi there were no subscription fees on an Apple-branded device.

Streaming Wars Heating Up

 

It seems a day doesn’t go by without the announcement of a new music or video streaming service. Of course, many of them never get off the ground, but new developments among the heavy hitters are about to make things interesting.

Netflix has returned to profit—albeit at a lower figure than last year; however, this can be partially attributed to expenses it has incurred expanding into non-US markets and creating its own Content Delivery Network (CDN). No doubt, the loss of subscribers after its recent price hike is still hurting the bottom line, but subscribers are growing. Besides alienation a large percentage of its customers, Netflix now faces several real and present dangers: RedBox, HuluPlus and Amazon.

RedBox has begun alpha testing of its RedBox Instant streaming service with its partner, Verizon. Partnering with Verizon may help in the short term, but will cap growth unless subscription is extended to the general population.

Two weeks ago, the Amazon Instant Video app was released on the iTunes App Store. With thousands of titles available from Prime Instant Video at no additional cost with an Amazon Prime membership, Amazon’s instant video service is gaining ground rapidly. Recent exclusive content deals (The fringe and West Wing) will also hurt Netflix who seem to be plagued by stale content.

Last, but by no means least, HuluPlus is now available on AppleTV. One day Apple will wake up and realize the AppleTV could be as successful as the iPod and iPhone. Last quarter’s sales topped out at 1.4m and the current installed based is now estimated at about 6.3m. That’s a lot of potential HuluPlus subscribers. (Since HuluPlus appeared on the AppleTV, I signed up. Prior to this, I never found what I consider to be a usable interface on my many streaming-capable devices.)

I predict stormy waters ahead for Netflix; better dig out the lifejackets!

 

 

Ultimate Projection Mapping Display

Many of us—knowingly or not—have seen large scale projection walls with pretty good mapping and edge blending, Not many of us have seen as setup with 44 projectors, having a combined brightness of 840,000 lumens and covering a surface 600ft wide x 351ft high.

This impressive display was put together by Obscura Digital to celebrate the United Arab Emirates National Day.

 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Projections from Obscura Digital on Vimeo.

Going Big on Healthcare AV and IT

If, as an AV professional, you still scratch your head from time to time wondering why InfoComm and the InfoComm Board spend so much time and resources on things like standards, industry innovations, and ANSI-accreditation of the Certified Technology Specialist program (or even if you don’t), I’d like you to meet Kate Berry. We talk a lot about the AV industry having a more prominent seat at more prominent tables. Kate is the type of person AV professionals can expect to meet when they commit themselves to standards and raising the overall profile of the industry.

Recently, Kate joined InfoComm officials on a trip to the University of Central Florida’s new high-tech College of Medicine to check out the school’s AV and IT systems. She is CEO of the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC). And her organization is joining InfoComm in launching a first-of-its-kind conference on the intersection of AV and IT technology in the healthcare market. Full Interview here:

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