Remote With Wireless Speaker

Asahi Electric Corp (Japan) has introduced a TV remote control with a speaker. The unit consists of a remote control with a 30mm-radius speaker and a receiver unit for wireless connection. The idea is you might want to hear the TV from a distance, but without increasing the overall volume too much because you're in the kitchen, or because your spouse is sleeping next to you or because grandpa is the only one who needs a sound boost. The RC-25SP Universal Speaker Remote will be available soon for around $40.

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Though history was mentioned in the article, it missed a few highly-acclaimed technologies at the time. During that era, many companies and technologist touted the phrase "no new wires" instead of wireless. The latter is too restrictive hence narrow down the choices. HomeRF, HomePNA, HomePlug should get a honourable mention in the article. In fact, HomeRF was as wireless as BT and 802.11. Further, the adoption of BT was not due to power consumption alone. The other factors were, at least three: complicated profiles (same as ZigBee), mis-algined mesh ambition and short transmission distance, implementation cost. All these years, BT's own stronghold is probably headset in wireless communications. But then, BT headset hasn't really taken off in the smartphone market, especially in markets other than NA and Europe. In fact, BT is not even very popular in NA and Europe. BT only started to pick up in the tablet market because Apple refused to provide a full-size USB connector from day one, quite unlike the Windows and Android tablets. Yes, the war in Connected Home is happening. However, I feel that the BT folks are trying to swallow too many things. BT should focus on the applications inside the 2nd home (i.e. car) and leave the 1st home to Zigbee. Anyway, it would be interesting to see how the war ends up with. The lessons which I learnt over the years are: 1) the best technology always fail (Fibre Channel, Token Ring, IEEE 1394); 2) a sure win with the right partners and eco-system (WiFi over Wireless-USB, USB over IEEE 1394).
As a person who is currently struggling to assemble a smart home, I would like to see a standard, or standards, that would allow manufacturers to produce fundamental products, such as light switches and control devices, that do not cost $40-$80 each. Having open source hardware/software standards, combined with reference designs for commonly used products, would go a long way toward advancing the smart home concept for the average consumer. A typical home has 10 or more lighting switches and at a cost of $50/switch, on average, would cost $500, not including the cost of controller hubs, software etc. Newer technologies, such as Z-wave & Zigbee, are smarter versions of the venerable (and inexpensive) X-10 products, widely used by HA (home automation) enthusiasts for the past 30 years(or more) and still widely used in Europe. The problem with X-10 is lack of security and the fact that it is a receive only protocol, lacking two way communication with execution or state confirmation. Z-wave & Zigbee were both conceived to correct these deficiencies as well as provide wireless connectivity to control hubs and devices. In these days of $50 Chinese Android tablets and under $100 smart phones, all capable of controlling automated home devices, it seems absurd to have to pay $50 or more, for a light switch, capable of implamenting common HA tasks. With modern manufacturing techniques, and the use of standardized VLSI components, the cost of common HA components should drop dramatically. The cost of certification and licensing adds significantly to the retail price of basic hardware required to automate home lighting. This added cost significantly impacts your average consumers willingness to upgrade existing homes and add automation components to new construction and remodeling upgrades. Lowering the initial cost of fundamental components would go a long way towards increasing market penetration of home automation hardware, further reducing costs due to increased sales and echonomies of scale.
Z-Wave is the interoperable home control/sensor protocol that already has over 1100 devices in the market. Most importantly - ALL 1100 devices work with each other quite unlike Zigbee! Look at all the hub manufactures out there. They have ONE Z-Wave radio and 5 or 6 DIFFERENT Zigbee radios. Why? because every Z-Wave device is certified to be interoperable. Zigbee on the other hand is the Wild West where every vendor defines its own API and interface standard. As a result, they don't talk to each other - IE: BROKEN user experience!

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