HomePlug AV2 MIMO - Advanced Powerline Networking

HomePlug AV2 MIMO fulfills the promise of powerline networking delivering 100BaseT class service over the home's powerlines and truly makes the powerline a high bandwidth backbone for the hybrid home network to deliver Ultra HD Video and IoT applications as well as extend Wi-Fi coverage to all areas of the home

A Brief Technology Overview of the Lighting Control Marketplace

Doing a Google search for 'home automation' or 'lighting control' can many times lead to confusion, resulting in head scratching 'chaos', given the information provided blogs, trade publications, hobbyists, and DIYers, many times provides incomplete and sometimes incorrect information.

Too Much of the Cloud Could be Bad for You, Your Business

The problem is the iNet was never built for security but for information exchange. Then people found out they could do other neat stuff like shopping, sharing, posting, tweeting and selfiing.

British Gas Buys UK Smart Home Pioneer AlertMe In $100M Deal

The connected home may still be a distant mirage for most average consumers, but in the meantime the technology is becoming big business. Today, British Gas announced it will buy AlertMe, a developer of platforms for running various domestic “smart” devices, in a deal worth £65 million ($100 million), lining up the energy company to provide smart services covering heating, lighting and more. The net cost to British Gas and its owner Centrica will be £44 million ($68 million), after accounting for an existing 21% investment in the company.   In addition to being an investor, British Gas was a user of its services, specifically in its Hive product, which lets you control your heating and hot water remotely. Hive is in use by 150,000 customers today.   Smart home technology may sound like a novelty to some, but it is more than that. It is a way of improving the efficiency and cost associated with energy use, and in many cases it can make everyday life simpler and easier for people.   Founded in 2006, Cambridge, UK-based AlertMe was an early mover in connected home technology — the idea of giving “dumb” services like your heating a network connection that helps calibrate and control them in a more efficient way. (And here’s an interesting fact: AlertMe was a partner of Google’s in one of the search giant’s earliest attempts to tackle the smart home, the now-defunct Powermeter.)

The Internet of Anything: The Startup Bringing the Smart Home to Apartment Renters

From Klint Finley for Wired.com:  Smart homes are here. You can use motion sensors to trigger smart light switches. You can program smart thermostats to warm only the rooms that people are actually using. You can even control smart power outlets with your mobile phone, setting appliances to turn on and off at certain times of day.   The problem is that all this gear is pretty expensive. And generally, you’re forced to install each system by hand—or hire someone to do it, which makes things even more expensive. And if you’re renting? Forget about it. These devices are almost completely out of reach you’re not allowed to retrofit your home.   All those barriers make it particularly difficult for young people to embrace what we now call the Internet of Things—and they’re typically the ones who are most interested in experimenting with new technologies. Sce Pike, the co-founder of the Portland, Oregon-based startup IOTAS, points out that only 36 percent of people under the age of 35 own their own homes, according to the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.   But Pike and IOTAS aim to solve this problem. The company works with real estate developers to build Internet-of-Things tech into apartment buildings, so that renters get access to it without having to pay upfront costs. The idea is to bring the smart home to everyone, to finally push it into the mainstream.   IOTAS is starting simple, with motion sensors, light switches, and power outlets. Using the company’s mobile app, you can create custom rules for your apartment. You could have IOTAS turn off all your apartment’s lights when you go into your bedroom after 10pm. Or maybe even tell it to blink your kitchen lights when you get a text message from your boss.   The system operates via a central online service. This could be included with your rent, or offered for an additional fee, like a utility. If you opt-out of the service, all the lights and outlets would still work just as they do in a normal apartment. And if your internet connection goes down—or if the cloud service can’t be reached—existing rules will still work. You just won’t be able to create new ones or use the app as a remote control.   Cont'd...  

ISE 2015 underway in Amsterdam

Integrated Systems Europe 2015 is now underway in Amsterdam.  With over 1000 scheduled exhibitors and 50,000 attendees this years show will be Europe's largest ever AV Systems integration exhibition. This year they will be offering a dedicated "Discovey Zone" showcasing the first time exhibitors at ISE.  As well they have divided the show floor into 4 technology areas:  : Digital Signage; Residential Solutions; Unified Communications and Smart Building. As usual The HomeToys Team we'll be busy posting news and product announcements from this years show which you can view on our  ISE 2015 Newspage .

RadioShack will close over 1,700 stores following bankruptcy filing

From Emily Gera for Polygon:  Long-running electronics company RadioShack, which filed for bankruptcy last week, will see the closure of 1,784 stores across North America by March 31, the company confirmed in court documents.   RadioShack plans for the closures to come in three waves, the first of which will be completed by Feb. 17 and see the closure of 162 stores. The second will see 986 stores closed by Feb. 28, followed by a final purge of 636 stores by the end of March.   Despite filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, some stores will continue to exist. RadioShack operates 4,485 stores across the U.S. and it was reported General Wireless had plans to purchase between 1,500 and 2,400 stores. As part of an agreement with wireless service provider Sprint, 1,750 RadioShack stores will also be transformed into a combination Sprint/RadioShack retailer.   According to the Delaware court filing, RadioShack representatives said the company had $1.2 billion in assets and $1.38 billion in debt.

The Hive Trio smart system promises to make connected homes more vocal

From TechHive:  Developed over an 18-month period by a team with 12 years of experience creating ZigBee and Z-Wave devices, the Hive Trio connected-home system comprises a smart hub melded with a whole-home audio system.   Choosing a smart hub is arguably the most challenging decision that any connected-home DIYer has to make. The hub, after all, is not just another cog in the smart home machine but the very linchpin around which the whole setup must revolve. Fortunately for all you DIYers out there, new devices are coming in thick and fast and the increasing competition is forcing manufacturers to think out of the box. The Hive Trio is one such attempt at adding a new twist to the whole smart hub concept.   Currently seeking $100,000 on Kickstarter, the Hive Trio smart home solution from Salt Lake City-based startup Hive Life consists of the Hive Hub, Hive Sound speaker system, and Hive App. While the Hive Hub has a lot going for it in terms of specs, the star attraction in this case is undoubtedly the Hive Sound.   The Hive Sound is a multi-room, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled speaker system that can blast out the same or different tunes to different corners of your connected home, to say nothing of its ability to fetch your favorite beats straight from a long list of streaming services including Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, and Pandora. Providing entertainment, however, is not its sole purpose.

Take These 4 Steps Before Making Your House a Smart Home

From  John Patrick Pullen  of Time.com:  Companies selling smart home products are quick to say how easy it is to connect their devices to the Internet. And while most of the time they’re correct, they are sidestepping a big, thorny pitfall: namely, your home’s wireless network. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on turning my house into smart home, and have learned that nothing is more important — and infuriating — than my house’s Wi-Fi.   Here are four lessons I’ve learned so far: 1. Be smart about where you put your Wi-Fi router. 2. There are no great ways to extend the range of your home’s Wi-Fi. 3. Hard-wiring your home is easier than you may think. 4. Power is a problem.   Full Article:

Creating a Digital Signage Network: Design, Management & Operations

If considering a digital signage network for your business, I offer the same advice that I give to my kids: Do your homework.

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2015 Tradeshow Report

Here are a bunch of press releases from exhibitors at the show --- be sure to add yours.

What's More Important: Color Accuracy and Contrast or Brightness in Conference Room Presentations?

These test results find that that higher contrast and color accuracy can produce an image that is preferred by those surveyed.

A True Smart Home Automation Solution

A true home automation is not about offering a singular solution for access control or temperature control; it is about an integrated platform that unifies devices, mobile applications, cloud services and data analytics, with an overlay of a consistent, easy-to-use interface.

Second Look: Virtually There, Fly-bys, Friendly Bots, Something from Nothin

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is like fine dining. It is best to be tasted, eaten, consumed slowly but unfortunately that's impossible because it is like a limited time giant buffet.

Peerless-AV Case Study

NYC real estate company hires ESSENTIALCOM and Peerless-AV® to create a transparent lobby in hopes to bring the outside views, in.

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Featured Product

WaterCop + Z-Wave Technology = Complete water control

WaterCop + Z-Wave Technology = Complete water control

The WaterCop family of products continues to grow! We now offer Z-wave technology that allows remote control of a home's main water supply via phone or internet. It's perfect for people who want peace of mind that they can shut off water in homes from nearly anywhere using Z-wave protocol. Z-wave joins systems WaterCop Pro, LeakStop, WaterCop Classic, Outdoor, and Large Valve (1 ½"-4") Integration. Visit www.watercop.com to learn more.