Z-Wave Announces 600th Certified Product

The Z-Wave Alliance, the consortium behind the world's largest ecosystem of interoperable wireless control solutions, today announced that it has certified its 600th product. This major milestone solidifies its position as the leading consortium dedicated to Home Control and Smart Energy development. The 600th Z-Wave product is a Whole House Energy Meter designed to provide timely and accurate consumption data.

Six months ago, saw the 500th certified Z-Wave product: a goal that took almost 6 years to reach. Today, the announcement of a 600th product indicates rapid growth in Z-Wave. What are the primary factors for the growth? Read Mark's take on this here.


Retailers, service providers, and utilities are all entering the U.S. market for energy management, which will help drive annual subscription revenues from these systems to over $180 million by 2015, according to Parks Associates. The international research firm hosts Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer in Austin, Texas, February 28-March 1, an annual event focusing on new technologies, partnership opportunities, and consumer-oriented energy management solutions.

“Energy management is being bundled with home monitoring and control, security, broadband, and video services,” said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls and Energy, Parks Associates. “Next week, we will hear insights into partnership opportunities that can generate recurring revenues, reduce customer attrition, develop value-added services, and engage consumers in new ways with energy management solutions.”

Advert on Oxford Street shown only to women

An interactive hoarding at a London bus stop aims to show a 40-second advertisement only to women and girls.

The screen showing the short video campaign, by children's charity Plan UK, is located at a bus stop opposite Selfridges on Oxford Street.

A camera will measure facial features of the person standing at the screen to decide whether it is a man or a woman. It guesses right 90% of the time.

If it is a male, the screen will direct him to the charity's campaign website.

Texas McDonald's deploys digital signage nutrition info kiosk

Iowa-based creative design company QA Graphics recently announced the completion of an interactive digital signage nutritional kiosk for Jonathan Chan, owner and operator of a McDonald's franchise in Richardson, Texas.

The nutritional kiosk allows customers to review the restaurant's menu items and nutritional information. As customers walk into the lobby of the re-opened Richardson McDonald's they can view the restaurant menu and nutritional information on a 42-inch LCD interactive display. When interacting with the kiosk, customers can browse the full menu to see images along with nutritional facts for the extensive menu. The nutrition breakdown provides information for calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and other dietary requirements including fiber, cholesterol, sugars, calcium and iron.

To develop the solution, QA Graphics worked directly with Chan, who owns and operates three franchise locations. QA Graphics said this is the first McDonald's location to provide this interactive experience solution for customers.

AVC Group Launches Global Training Program

The AVC Group, in a effort to provide its international distributor network with a new level of training support, has begun a comprehensive training program that combines trade show, Internet, and field-based classes into one global training initiative.

According to Ken Johnsen, international training manager at The AVC Group, the new program was rolled out last month at ISE 2012 and featured brand specific training on the Elan, Niles, Xantech, Sunfire and Aton brands. "Over a five-day period we trained a large percentage of our European distributor partners and their trainers on every aspect of each brand's product line," Johnsen said. "We are now taking this same integrated approach and bringing it to every part of the world."

The entire focus of The AVC Group's international education effort, Johnsen emphasized, is to "train the trainers" to be complete experts in all of the five brands' product offerings. "Our goal is to provide our distributors with the tools they need to successfully represent any brand within The AVC Group. To achieve this goal, we are combining trade show, internet, and field-based classes into a single comprehensive program that allows for the largest number of trainers to be trained in the most time and cost-efficient way possible. These training courses will culminate in a certificate of completion for various products and techniques unique to the brands of The AVC Group."

It's cool to have rabbit ears again.

Largely relegated to obscurity decades ago, old-fashioned television broadcasts—over the airwaves and not via cable or satellite—are enjoying an unexpected revival in the digital era.

With an increased array of online-video programming now drawing viewers' attention, companies are starting to pitch consumers on complementing online video streamed from the Web with broadcast-TV signals as a way to save money on cable subscriptions.

If it gains traction, this trend could undercut part of the rationale for selling off TV spectrum in voluntary auctions, approved by Congress on Friday, aimed at freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband.

There are signs that consumers are responding. TV-antenna seller Richard Schneider of St. Louis says sales at his company are soaring. Mr. Schneider's Antennas Direct sold 70,000 antennas in January, and he expects to double last year's sales of about 600,000. That was up from 400,000 antennas in 2010.

Apple TV taken off store shelves; refresh coming soon?

If you're looking to buy an Apple TV, you're going to have an exceedingly difficult time doing so.

As of this writing, BestBuy.com and Walmart.com don't even list the Apple TV on their sites, and Amazon has stopped selling it. Apple's online store is the only major e-commerce Web site CNET has come across that lists the Apple TV, and actually has the set-top box in stock.

AppleInsider, which first reported on the news, says it's a similar story in many brick-and-mortar stores around the country, with one Best Buy sales representative telling the blog that "it doesn't look like we'll be getting [the Apple TV] back."

So, what's going on? All signs point to an Apple TV refresh.  Full Article from CNet:

Get creative with digital signage

Quebec’s Hotel de Glace doesn’t let the cold climate get in the way of showcasing its corporate sponsors.

The hotel thanks its sponsors by running at least a half-dozen digital signage systems in the public areas.

What’s interesting about this is two things:

  • Snow isn’t exactly “wired” for electricity
  • The innards of technology doesn’t exactly like it when the ambient temperature is 28 degrees Farenheit

But the Hotel de Glace technology team found out a way to run electricity throughout the site by scooping out snow and running wires AND by using fur creatively to wrap around the sensitive parts of the displays. So, the managers have been creative about finding a way to showcase the sponsors very publicly.

The team also didn’t let a little thing like frigid air get in the way of installing a sophistical point of sale system in the ice bar.  Read full article here:

Boxee may launch a DVR subscription service

Boxee is considering the launch of a DVR subscription service for users of its new Live TV tuner, according to a user survey the startup sent out over the weekend. A Boxee-powered DVR subscription service could cost anywhere from $5 to $15 per month if the company follows through with the offering. Boxee recently released its Live TV tuner, which allows owners of the Boxee Box to receive over-the-air TV programming through the device. The tuner currently doesn't support any DVR functionality, but there have been numerous requests to add this to the Boxee Box, and the startup has said that it is looking into such a possibility.

Increasing from $72.5 billion in 2011 to $146.4 billion by 2021.

Because commercial buildings consume roughly 23% of all electricity globally, the automation systems that ensure efficient performance are a critical part of energy management. Until the mid-1990s, modern building automation consisted of little more than individual systems with simple control panels for switches, timers, and alarms. Today, the market for commercial building automation systems is in the midst of revolutionary change in terms of technology and utility. In the last several years, the focus has shifted from an individual system view to a more holistic view so that the "building system" can be defined to include virtually any device or data source within the building. The amount of data created by automation systems can be overwhelming, but real competitive and economic value exists in using the data to monitor performance and uncover trends. According to a new report from Pike Research, the market for commercial building automation systems will double over the next decade, increasing from $72.5 billion in 2011 to $146.4 billion by 2021.

Majority of Buyers Prefer Bigger LED Backlit TV's

TV buyers have shifted away from LCD towards backlit LED over the last quarter. 40-42-inch sets are now the preferred size (source: isuppli).

In Q3 2011, over 50% of buyers opted for TV’s based on LCD or cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL). In contrast, in Q4 of 2011 the pendulum shifted dramatically in the direction of LED. Moreover, 81% of buyers who had previously expressed a preference for CCFL purchased LED models. LCD and plasma both hovered around the low 20% in Q4.

CCFL is a long tube placed behind the LCD (which does not emit any light itself). The CCFL is illuminated and the liquid crystal turns on or off to allow light to pass through or to block it. Because it’s a tube, the entire unit must be on or off. LED sets overcome this limitation as they are installed in arrays and can be turned on and off selectively to provide what is referred to as “local dimming”. Local dimming improves picture contrast as the LED’s can be turned off in dark areas of a scene, whereas CCFL’s are always on. Budget sets will use edge-lit LED’s while higher end models will arrays of LED’s behind the LCD. LED’s do not have a on 1:1 ratio with pixels, so dimming can only be achieved in “blocks”. Organic LED (OLED)

The improved picture quality is an obvious reason for the rapid change. A reduction in price disparity between CCFL and LED has also helped to sway buyers toward LED. The price differential has dropped from over 30% to about 13% over the course of a year. Substantial promotion of LED by retail stores and the media has no doubt had an effect on buying decisions.

32-inch TV’s used to be the most commonly purchased size, but this has now increased to 40-42 inches. Reduced prices mean that larger sets can be purchased for the of a 32-inch set a few years ago. The shift to HD has no doubt driven consumers to larger sizes, as they try to replicate the theater experience at home. Compared to a 4:3 aspect ratio picture, the picture height of a 32-inch 16:9 aspect ratio picture is almost 4-inches smaller (19.2 vs. 15.69-inches). Stepping up to 40-inches results in a 19.6-inch vertical size.

Planar Launches First Thin Video Wall Solution Targeting Large and Growing Wall Coverings Market

Planar Systems, Inc. announced the introduction of Planar® Mosaic™, the only video wall system providing three flat panel tiles, including a new square LCD, and unique features designed specifically for the global architectural wall coverings market, expected to be $26 billion in 2015, according to the Global Industry Analysts.

"Planar is changing the rules, creating a new category of thin architecture video displays."

Combining one-of-a-kind video wall expertise with nearly 30 years of display innovation, the Planar Mosaic video wall solution was developed in direct response to a growing trend in the architecture and design industry, and unleashes architectural expression.

A large-scale prototype exhibit of the Planar Mosaic video wall system will debut February 16 through March 30 at the Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York, New York, in conjunction with video artist, Yorgo Alexopoulos.

Planar Mosaic is the only video wall system that allows designers to integrate three different LCD tile sizes and shapes-including a truly square LCD tile measuring 21.6 inches on the diagonal.

Google working on home entertainment device

The company behind the Web’s most popular search engine is working on a home entertainment device, according to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. And reports say that device will stream music wirelessly in people's homes.

Google plans to test 252 of the devices in its employees’ homes in Mountain View, Calif., where it has its headquarters; in Los Angeles; in New York; and in Cambridge, Mass. The device uses wireless home networks and “requires testing outside the laboratory environment,” the filing said.

The device isn’t ready to ship yet. The company says it’s still in the “prototyping phase.”

Google is looking for promising gushers other than its gangbusters search advertising business, which accounts for nearly all its revenue.


Amazon and Viacom close to Web video deal

Amazon.com Inc is about to announce a Web video deal with Viacom Inc in what sources said was one of the last steps in a plan to launch a standalone subscription service to compete with Netflix Inc. The online retailer will unveil the deal as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Viacom, which owns TV shows and movies from MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and Paramount Studios, would be the latest of several partners Amazon has made deals with for its Prime Instant Video service. So far, major studios such as CBS Corp, Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros, News Corp's Fox, Sony Corp, Comcast Corp's NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co have licensed programming to the retailer.


Verizon and Coinstar, Inc. today announced the formation of a joint venture that will create a new choice for quality- and value-conscious consumers seeking a simple and affordable way to access the video entertainment they crave. The venture's services will offer all of the convenience, simplicity and value of Redbox® new release DVD and Blu-ray Disc® rentals combined with a new content-rich video on-demand streaming and download service from Verizon.
The joint venture plans to introduce the product portfolio in the second half of 2012. It will offer subscription services and more in an easy-to-use, flexible and affordable service that will allow all consumers across the U.S. to enjoy the new and popular entertainment they want, whenever they choose, using the media and devices they prefer. Additional brand and product information will be revealed in the coming months.

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