1.5 Million Home Automation Systems Installed in the US This Year, Says ABI Research

The global market for home automation services saw strong growth during 2012, driven by a wave of new entrants and offerings in the North American market. The US in particular leads in deployments and new shipments - acting as a bellwether for markets around the world. Even with the low growth US economy and the stuttering housing market, home automation systems installed in the US this year almost doubled over 2011 shipments, according to the latest market study from ABI Research. In 2017, more than 8 million systems will ship, showing a CAGR rate of 45.2% between 2011 and 2017. In the US over the past 12 months, Verizon has rolled out its service offering, cable companies including Comcast and Time Warner have expanded their footprints and security vendors including ADT and Vivint continued to see strong demand for their solutions. "Home automation adoption is moving into the mainstream as a combination of home connectivity, standardization, and a range of new sensors and devices bring an ever expanding number of players into the market," says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst, ABI Research. "Meanwhile existing players are adapting their offerings and a host of technologies and connectivity options are battling to become de facto standards."

Best Buy Black Friday Shoppers In Line One Week Before Thanksgiving

It seems these Best Buy loyalists have not been deterred by the recent wave of bad news for the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer. Best Buy has been struggling to keep up with steep competition from rivals, such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. This summer, the chain announced a 90 percent loss in net income and cut thousands of jobs. And we're not quite sure the hot deals shoppers are anticipating will be worth the time spend in line. A recent study found that Black Friday sale prices at Walmart, Target and Best Buy increased from 2011 to 2012. At Best Buy, the average Black Friday sale item costs $35.00 this year, up from $29.99 in 2011. Unlike many other brick-and-mortar retailers like Target and Walmart, Best Buy won't be kicking off its Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day. Doors will open at midnight on Friday.

LEGRAND ACQUIRES NUVO TECHNOLOGIES

Legrand, North America today announced that it has acquired NuVo Technologies, LLC (NuVo), a company based in Hebron, Kentucky and a recognized leader in whole home audio solutions. NuVo will continue to operate as an independent business within Legrand's Home Systems division and focus on home audio markets under the NuVo brand name. The acquisition is consistent with Legrand's proactive strategy and business objective to acquire market leading companies that complement its product line portfolio. The addition of NuVo's high quality multi-room audio systems strengthens Legrand's significant audio offering across all of its professional channels. "The acquisition of NuVo is of strategic importance as it provides us with a leading position in the whole home audio market. We are now able to overtake other industry players and rapidly bring affordable, easy-to-integrate audio solutions to market," said John Selldorff, president and CEO of Legrand North America. "These include systems that are intuitive, plug 'n play and user friendly. NuVo also strengthens our product lineup with its wireless audio distribution technology. This means we can provide consumers with better integrated home audio systems and wider choices of both wired and wireless products. NuVo Technologies places Legrand's home systems offering in a different league. We now bring together the best in all core subsystems."

The Quest for a Better Remote

I've used Logitech Harmony remotes on my Home Theater and in the Master Bedroom for a few years and for the most part, they worked OK. The "Help" button painlessly solved many hiccups. With a move to a new house, all AV gear was hidden away (most of it in the basement). A second Blu-ray player and Apple TV complicated things, so it was time to look for a new solution that would dispense with the hiccups. My quest has ended (for now) with URC.

Blowing Hot and Cold with Z-wave and Wi-Fi Thermostats

Last winter I installed a Z-wave thermostat. Integration was good, but usability was dreadful. The Wife Acceptance Factor plummeted; my own with it. Waking up to a chilly house about a month ago reminded me that it was time to turn on the heating, and replace the thermostat. I was torn between a better Z-wave model and a Wi-Fi unit. Whatever I chose had to integrate with my Home Automation system, and that was the challenge.

Laser Phosphor Display Screens

LPD walls are larger than the largest LCD screens, far brighter than projection screens, and far more detailed than LED displays. LPD displays have no bezels, allowing the image to extend to the edge of the glass, resulting in displays that can be lined up in stacks or rows to form a single image, as large as desired.

Device Design - The Art of Compromise

It is important to know the requirements of your target customer base. For a general purpose product this can be quite difficult. Some users will only be interested in monitoring inputs, be they digital or analogue. Others may be interested only in controlling outputs. Others again may have requirements for both input monitoring and output control.

Eldercare Robots

Games, sensors and robots are among the tools beginning to come to market to help aging people live in their homes as long as possible.

Petabytes are the New Terabytes

The growth in content complexity will drive higher storage demand for rich media projects including direct attached storage but increasingly network attached storage and even Internet-accessed cloud-based storage as the speed of these solutions increases and the costs go down. A project that used to require terabytes of storage may now require petabytes at a higher resolution and frame rate.

IAV Light Speaker

Put it conveniently into 5" and 6" ceiling cans or neatly into larger lamps, pendant lights or carriage light fixtures; anywhere there is a standard Edison light socket. Once installed you have not only a high quality speaker system but you gain a super efficient lighting system that will last decades and because it saves energy and therefore your money,

CEA Announces Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Honorees

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® announced today the International CES® Best of Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award honorees. The CES Innovations Awards honor outstanding design and engineering advancements across 29 consumer electronics product categories, including two new trend-focused categories: Accessible & Universal Design Technologies and Tech for a Better World. Accessible and Universal Design Technologies focuses on technologies that have innovative features that make them easier to use, especially for seniors and people with disabilities. Tech for a Better World recognizes technologies that share a common goal and the ability to impact the world in a positive way, either domestically, or around the globe. Visit the HomeToys Newspage for news and announcements from many of this years honorees.

Why The Digital Signage Industry Will Grow In 2013

As I peek at 2013 coming just around the corner, I cannot help but notice how downward price pressures are intersecting with demand and driving digital signage market growth. As many benefits continue to be realized, I believe some are more important than others and point to what we can expect in the coming year. As in any tech-fueled market, reducing cost while increasing efficiency are major factors that come into play when talking about market growth. This fact is highlighted by realizing that digital signage fits well into the corporate mantra of "doing more with less." With digital signage, doing more with less is certainly one of the big benefits. And with noticeable price reductions in 2012 that are certain to continue in 2013, I concur with recent reports from IHS iSuppli, Platt Retail Institute and others who believe the demand will continue to build at a healthy pace. Price reductions are being realized in every area of digital signage. For example, as hardware is getting more specialized for media playback on consumer-type products that are mass produced for a worldwide market, the digital signage industry either directly or indirectly benefits from the use of this mobile and media-centric technologies that have a considerable scale of economy in production. This scale of economy is being reflected in today's prices of media players and displays used for digital signage. Even on the software side, the use of Linux and the recent emergence of Android on media players leads the way to extremely low cost albeit more basic offerings, putting a small turnkey system at about the same price as taking the family out for a nice dinner.

Walmart moves "Black Friday" earlier on Thanksgiving

"Black Friday" arrives earlier than ever at Walmart this year, with customers barely getting to digest Thanksgiving dinner before holiday shopping kicks off at 8 p.m. local time. Wal-Mart Stores Inc is loading up on electronic gadgets in a big bet that shoppers are ready to spend during the critical holiday season at its Walmart U.S. division. The holiday season generates more than a quarter of annual sales for the world's largest retailer. "We bought deep, very deep, and we bought deep on items that matter to our customers," said Walmart U.S. Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Duncan Mac Naughton. U.S. retailers are devising new ways to entice shoppers this year, as holiday spending is expected to rise only 4.1 percent, according to the National Retail Federation, down from 5.6 percent growth in 2011.

CEDIA Releases "Using Mobile Devices as a Control Platform" White Paper

The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) has released the third white paper in its Mobile Devices in Residential Systems Integration series. The new white paper, Using Mobile Devices as a Control Platform, discusses the current landscape of using mobile devices for integrated system control applications and provides system designers and technicians with guidance on design considerations in integration and automation with mobile devices. Mobile devices have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. High-end and budget-conscious consumers alike are increasingly requesting their mobile devices be integrated into their automation systems, making it necessary for electronic systems contractors (ESCs) to adapt and learn to properly integrate mobile devices within the home. “Many consumers want to use a device they are familiar with such as a smart phone or tablet to control their home,” said Dave Pedigo, CEDIA Senior Director of Technology and Learning. “This can sometimes be challenging for the ESC to integrate, but the considerations outlined in this white paper can help ESCs create a seamless control experience.”

First OLED TV Releases Seen This Year

The first OLED (organic light emitting diode) TV displays, while delayed, are still expected to reach the market late this year, although the category is elected to make up less than ten percent of the overall market for at least the next four years. That's according to a study released Monday by research firm NPD DisplaySearch. The Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report stated that LG and Smaunsg's versions of the technology will debut in "small volumes" by year's end. “If we do see OLED TVs hit the market within 2012, the shipments will be used primarily for retail demonstrations in developed regions like North America and Europe.” DisplaySearch vice president David Hsieh said in a statement. “4K × 2K LCD TVs have has become a focus and are currently available, and OLED TV needs to demonstrate its technical superiority.”

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.

INTRODUCING THE SIMPLEST WAY TO CONTROL YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE YOUR VOICE. Imagine this... We've all been there-walking through the door into a dark house, arms full. Wouldn't it be nice to tell your house to offer a helping hand? Now you can. A simple voice command-such as "Alexa, turn on Welcome"-lights up the hallway and kitchen, fires up your favorite Pandora station, while the door locks itself behind you. This is Control4 Home Automation with Amazon Alexa.