Mobiplug Networks Inc., a recent TechStars Boulder 2012 graduate, has secured $2.7 million in Series A funding led by Foundry Group. Additional strategic investors include Bullet Time Ventures, SK Ventures, Social Leverage, Clarion Direct Investment, and others. The company also named seasoned entrepreneur, Tim Enwall, as new Chief Executive Officer. As part of the round, Foundry Group's Ryan McIntyre will be joining Mobiplug's Board of Directors. Fresh out of TechStars Boulder 2012 summer class, Mobiplug offers an affordable all-in-one home monitoring and control solution. Mobiplug makes the smart home a reality for mass market consumers with easy-to-use iPhone and iPad apps, enabling hundreds of off-the-shelf smart household items from retailers such as Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy. The Mobiplug applications, associated web services and enabling equipment allow homeowners to achieve comfort, convenience, peace of mind and conservation right from their smartphones, home or away, with a single application experience. These services will also be available to developers who want to create their own immersive home monitoring and control experience.
The percentage of TV buyers who purchase a high definition television for its 3D capabilities remains very low- just 11 percent. That's according to J.D. Power and Associates' new 2012 High Definition Television (HDTV) Report. Price (75 percent) remains the top reason customers choose specific TVs, followed by brand reputation (60 percent); positive reviews (37 percent); past experience with the brand (36 percent). "While still finding its niche, 3D HDTV capability is not a leading force in purchasing a television," said Sara Wong Hilton, a director at J.D. Power and Associates, said as part of the announcement. "One reason is that 3D HDTVs are typically more expensive than non-3D-capable HDTVs. Additionally, in order to view 3D media, special media players, and 3D glasses in some cases, are required. The extra cost could play a role in dissuading customers from adopting the technology at this point."
Wawa Inc. has incorporated digital signage into more than 600 convenience stores. In the fall of 2011, following a successful 25-store pilot, Wawa selected ADFLOW Networks Inc. to power its digital marketing network as part of a redesigned foodservice area that features a fresh and appetizing new look. "Our new digital signage showcases our offer in a much more upscale, appealing way and moves us closer to our vision of fast casual to go," said Howard Stoeckel, CEO of Wawa. Wawa is using the digital signage displays to drive awareness for new products and to communicate relevant food and beverage options based on the time of day. Messaging is displayed on large-format screens mounted in the foodservice and coffee areas. "The feedback from customers and store associates was extremely positive after our initial rollout," said Steve Gamble, manager of marketing services for Wawa. "With ADFLOW, we found a digital signage partner who was flexible, creative and great to work with."
At last month's IFA 2012 electronics show in Berlin, one of the biggest head-turning products was from China-based TCL Multimedia. The company introduced the Ice Screen, a 26-inch Android-based smart display that reportedly offers the functionality of a tablet while aiming to capture the changing TV viewing habits of the youth market. It will debut in China as part of a partnership with Chinese Internet provider Tencent as the world's first large screen mobile intelligent cloud product. Just don't call it a television. "It is a 26-inch large display," says Hao Yi, general manager of TCL Multimedia Emerging Market Business Center. "It is not just for TV, as the younger generation doesn't watch TV like the older generation." While the vast majority of its business still comes from China, TCL has also looked to expand into the international TV market. The company just released its monthly sales volume for August of LCD TVs, reporting a 38.7% total year-on-year increase, with a marked increase of LED backlight LCD sets specifically. In its overseas market TCL reported an increase of 36.5% year-on-year, with notable expansion in emerging markets.
Homeowners in Little Rock, AR, are learning that there’s an easier way to control their electronic systems: just talk to them. They are asking their home systems to do what they want in a normal voice with everyday language, using commands like “turn on the lights in the kitchen,” “turn on the TV,” or “set the temperature to 70 degrees.” Thanks to an Apple Siri interface for Crestron control systems, developed by Matthew Carnes, president of Little Rock-based Carnes Audio Visual (CAV), the system will follow almost any simple command spoken into an iPhone, and then let you know when the action has taken place.“I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could interface Siri with a Crestron processor,” he said. A couple of overnight programming sessions, and he had a working interface, which he then installed in the CAV showroom. He began offering the system to customers in January, and he now has two completed installations with a third in the works.
A stores, by design, are a destination shopping experience. The Swedish-based retail stores draw in customers with modern home furnishings at an affordable price, while their massive store spaces and winding floor plans often keep shoppers inside for an hour or more. Spending that much time picking out a book case is one thing. Waiting another 20 minutes to pay for it is another. And after a rash of complaints from customers who described just that kind of repeated delay, IKEA stores in the United States are yanking the self-service checkout systems that were causing the back-ups. While most IKEA stores house a sprawl of checkout lanes, both self and cashier operated, typically the cashier lanes were opened only on peak shopping days. That meant that customers were funneled into a smaller group of self-checkout lanes that became clogged with shoppers trying to operate the system and manage their purchases. IKEA did not return calls to be interviewed for this story, but company spokesperson Joseph Roth told The Tampa Tribune that the self-checkout system "wasn't as efficient as we originally hoped."
ViewSonic said on Wednesday that its VSD220 Smart Display will be sold in North America in mid-to-late October for an ESP of only $399. It will combine a 1920 x 1080 full-HD 22-inch LED-backlit dual-touch panel, an ARM Cortex-A9-based OMAP4428 dual-core SoC (1 GHz) from Texas Instruments, and Google's Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system. It will also feature 8 GB of internal storage, although a microSD card slot will be available for added capacity. "The VSD220 Smart Display is engineered for today’s cloud connected world," said Jeff Volpe, president of ViewSonic Americas. "ViewSonic is embracing the post-PC transition with what will be a full range of connected display solutions. For consumers, the VSD220 is perfect for surfing the web, engaging on social networks and enjoying a world of Android apps. For commercial opportunities, the VSD220 serves as a flexible solution that can address the needs of Android compatible vertical market applications such as signage, hospitality, point of information, and kiosk. Whatever the need, our new Smart Displays are the future of connected computing."
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 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.
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 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.
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 (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, 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 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.
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Automation & Control - Featured Product
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