6 home automation companies merge into 1 super company for the super rich

Six home technology companies are merging to form one super-company that caters to the super-rich. Dubbed VIA International, it will provide a premium home automation experience to people with a lot of money to spend on their homes. Cyber Sound, DSI Entertainment, Engineered Environments, Paragon Technology, S3 Aurant, and Studio AV are joining forces to become a full-service home technology provider with distribution across the country, or at least where “ultra-high net worth clients” live. Before the merger, the companies were based in regions across the Western United States, in Colorado, Utah, Northern and Southern California, Arizona, and Montana. They build and install systems for home movie theaters, speaker systems, lighting control, security, and energy management. “The merger of leading home technology integrators to form VIA International will transform the entire residential systems industry,” Randy Stearns, CEO and founding partner of VIA International said in a statement. “Together, we are elevating a fragmented, project-based business model into a consolidated and streamlined service provider that emphasizes providing a concierge-level experience over multiple years in multiple homes, not simply a one-time, product-centric solution.”

SAVANT® Introduces SmartLighting Wi-Fi Lighting Control System

Savant Systems, LLC has announced the introduction of their SmartLighting Wi-Fi 802.11-based lighting control products, delivering a versatile solution that can be used as both a standalone lighting control platform or as part of a complete Savant automation system. Featuring a dimmer inside each Wi-Fi-connected keypad, Savant has created the ultimate customizable solution ideal for both new construction and retrofit lighting control that can be integrated without rewiring the home or commercial facility. Savant's SmartLighting technology expands the brand's presence in the growing connected home marketplace with a versatile Wi-Fi-based lighting control system.    Once the Wi-Fi lighting control keypads have been connected to existing line voltage and lighting load wiring in the wall, they become a powerful and secure networked device that can be controlled using Savant's new standalone lighting control iOS app or as part of a larger Savant ecosystem. 

Best Buy surges 13% on earnings

Best Buy's stock rallied Tuesday after the electronics retailer reported a substantial gain in quarterly earnings, helped by aggressive cost cutting. Best Buy said earnings jumped to $266 million in the quarter ended Aug. 3, compared with $12 million in the year-ago quarter. The company's stock jumped as much as 12.8% to $34.65. That helped it unseat Netflix as the S&P 500's top performer this year. Chief Executive Hubert Joly said Best Buy cut $65 million in annualized costs. He said the company has managed to slash $390 million in nine months, as part of an effort to cut $725 million. Looking ahead, Joly was a little cautious, noting that Best Buy has incurred some additional costs and an interruption in same store sales growth as it rolls out its new Samsung Experience Shops and Microsoft Windows Stores. Same-store sales slipped 0.4% for the quarter, but Joly said they would have been flat to slightly higher if not for the Samsung roll-out.  

Samsung To Sell Under-$9K 55-inch Curved OLED TV

Samsung will begin selling on its web site and through select specialty dealers its first Curved OLED TV: the 55-inch Model KN55S9C. At $8,999.99, it enters the market at $6,000 less than competitor LG’s 55-inch Curved OLED, introduced three weeks ago at the Magnolia Design Center in Best Buy’s flagship Richfield, Minn. store. Samsung vice president of Home Entertainment Dave Das said the price was achieved due to “better than anticipated yields,” which led to the company’s being able to deliver product at such a low price point. He said the metallic-frame curved aspect of the set, which Samsung is referencing in marketing materials a “Timeless Arena’ that evokes the curved shape of an arena, would serve to distinguish it on a typical sales floor, where consumers are generally faced with a wall of “me-too” flat-panel TVs. The decision to market strategically through the same specialty channel through which Samsung has been marketing its  $40,000 85-inch Ultra HD, however, means that that dealer group will likely be better able to make the case for purchase through its caliber of sales personnel, Das said.

Home Automation Market Forecast to Grow at 78% CAGR to Exceed 351 Million by 2018

By 2018, ABI Research expects annual home automation device shipments to exceed 351 million, growing at a CAGR of 78%. ZigBee dominated IEEE 802.15.4 and claimed the top share of node shipments at 4.5 million, narrowly beating out proprietary protocol offerings. Senior analyst Adarsh Krishnan, comments, "ZigBee is enjoying success in the home automation market because, as an open standard technology, multiple IC vendors are creating ZigBee chipsets. Quite simply, open standard technologies are considered less risky and highly scalable when compared to the closed ecosystems of proprietary RF technologies."  Another wireless communication protocol that has gained traction in the home automation market is Z-Wave. Recent managed service initiatives that offer home automation as a service are using the Z-Wave protocol to connect low-power home automation devices. Z-Wave enjoys support from consumers, especially in the DIY segment, because the interoperability of the wide portfolio of vendor products. As a result, consumers have choice regardless of the distribution channel or supplier.  Smart devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol part of Bluetooth v4.0 single-mode specification will experience the highest growth in the category, reaching over 133 million units by 2018. Practice director Dan Shey explains, "Consumer electronics (CE), including smartphones, tablets, and laptops equipped with Bluetooth are a major contributor to Bluetooth growth in home automation. Not only do these devices drive production economy of scale advantages but CE's are also growing role as a tool for managing and interacting with home automation systems."   

What to Consider When Using Tablets and Smartphones in Home Automation Systems: Part 2

There are a number of disadvantages that may affect the decision of whether to use a smart phone/tablet or a proprietary device. These disadvantages can be addressed and most times removed all together if approached logically.

Why Go to CEDIA?

CEDIA gives us an excellent opportunity to connect with dealers and reps, as well as build relationships within the industry. There are only a handful of times when you can see the year's best trends and innovation in one spot, and it's exciting and inspiring to be surrounded by so many smart individuals.

Wireless Audio In Home Automation

Mastering wireless audio can bring many benefits, but doing so demands understanding of both the solution's inherent advantages, and its challenges.

Advanced Beamforming Microphone Array Technology For Corporate Conferencing Systems

This paper focuses exclusively on beamforming as a method of sensing and filtering acoustic waves for enterprise video and telephone conferencing applications, and describes emerging techniques and technologies to improve the capture and processing of acoustic patterns, and the clarity of human speech in corporate conference rooms.

Rack System Design

Remember how a few generations ago, there was the "Children should be seen and not heard" attitude? As it pertains to rack enclosures, it's kind of the opposite, many customers want them to be used but not seen.

You're In Play: Internet of "Things" a Playground for Bad Guys/Gals

You could unplug and crawl under your bed or use common sense and be skeptical of all the great stuff that comes across your device/system screens. What the good and bad guys/gals can do is freakin amazing!!

Case Study: D.C. Transit System Weatherproofs New Passenger Travel Alert System

Messages are localized for each station and tailored to special events when relevant. During the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, for example, kiosk screens recommended destination stations for the four key inauguration locations.

No batteries! Wireless tech recycles airborne radio waves

A world full of Internet-connected devices is a giant step closer to reality thanks to a new communications system that works without batteries or wires for power. Just as we use mirrors to reflect light, or turbines to catch the wind, this technique — known as "ambient backscatter"— co-opts transmissions from TV and cellular towers and reflects them to exchange information between wireless devices. These waves serve as both a source of power and carriers of information. "We just use existing signals all around us," Shyam Gollakota, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, explained to NBC News. He and colleagues built a proof-of-concept system consisting of credit-card-size electronic devices that use antennas to detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which is then picked up by similar devices. Since TV signals are reflected off buildings, cars, trees and everything else in a city as it travels from a transmission tower to a TV set, the extra reflection doesn't degrade the signal. "Our reflection is yet just another reflection," Gollakota said. The prototype devices communicate with each other over a distance of several feet. They flash little LED lights when they receive a signal from another device. The applications of the technology are limitless: a keychain that sends out a text message to its owner's mobile phone when it falls out of a pocket, for instance; or an array of pad-like sensors embedded in a roof that relay a message to a homeowner when a water leak is detected.

Revolv home automation hub hits preorder: Controls Sonos, Hue, more

Multi-platform home automation hub  Rev olv  has gone up for preorder, offering a $299 way to harness your Sonos, Hue lighting, Yale automatic locks, and more, all from a single app. The smart home base-station – previously known as Mobiplug – packs a total of seven radios so as to  communicate  with a broad variety of popular remote-control kit, with support for automated macro routines based on your location, the current time, and more. Currently, while streaming music systems like Sonos and wireless multi-color LED lighting systems like Philips Hue offer a more cost-effective way to get smart home functionality that might once have cost many thousands of dollars, there’s no unified way to control them all. Instead, users generally end up with multiple individual apps, each suited to one platform but not any others. Revolv aims to address that, by bridging the connectivity of multiple platforms into a single base station. According to the company, setup is effectively automatic once you’ve plugged it into a power supply: the hub scans first for the home WiFi  network , then for any compatible devices, associating itself with them instantly if possible or, if not, with a simple “push button discovery” system.

Z-WAVE CAPABILITIES TO BE DEMONSTRATED IN MOST REMOTE HOME-AUTOMATION DEMONSTRATION EVER RECORDED

Shout it from the mountain top: home automation is reaching new heights -- 26,906 feet, to be exact.  That's the height of Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest mountain in the world. And that's where an amateur mountain climber will demonstrate the home automation capabilities of Z-Wave using a variety of devices powered by Z-Wave technology. By virtue of the remote location, rugged environmental condition, and lack of technical support capabilities, it is being dubbed the "most remote home automation demonstration ever recorded."  The climb Cho Oyu and the subsequent demonstration -- officially titled the "Z-Wave Himalayan Expedition by Kwikset®" -- will be performed by named Mariusz Malkowski, a 40-year-old technical services manager at Sigma Designs, a member of the 200-member Z-Wave Alliance. Malkowski has climbed world-class mountains on four continents, many of them by himself. Using no supplemental oxygen, Malkowski is scheduled to begin his ascent on September 10 and will conclude his descent on or around October 6.  Using only his smartphone, Malkowski will control various home automation scenes set up in the Z-Wave booth at the CEDIA Expo in Denver (CEDIA is the leading tradeshow in the residential electronic systems industry). Scenes will include locking and unlocking a Kwikset SmartCode™ Deadbolt Lock with Home Connect™ Technology and adjusting temperature on his Remotec Thermostat, as well as controlling other Z-Wave Devices. The purpose is to show end-users the dependability of Z-Wave technology, as well as highlighting the overall benefits of home automation. 

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

GreenPeak’s GP565 – ZigBee for smart Remote Controls

GreenPeak's GP565 - ZigBee for smart Remote Controls

The GP565 Smart Home RF chip for remote controls supports voice control, motion sensing and the new ZRC 2.0 protocol. The GP565 is optimized for advanced & low cost ZigBee RF4CE remote controls. • 120k or 248k Flash (8k or 16k RAM) memory • 40-pin footprint to support a keyboard scanner interface or other IO interfaces required for remote controls. • Reduced current consumption and improved receiver sensitivity and output power • Patented Antenna Diversity technology enables superior range and WiFi/Bluetooth interference rejection