We are now hearing word from Financial Times that Apple is looking to enter the home automation space with a “Smart Home” initiative that will kick off next month at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The details of Apple’s system were first revealed in a patent filing last year, but the time is now for Apple to introduce the functionality according to Financial Times. The earlier filing (Patent No. 8,577,392) described how an iPhone or iPad could be used to control “lighting systems, security systems, garage-door openers, music controllers, climate controllers, or kitchen appliances” – in fact it could be similar in scope to AirPlay and iBeacon, but geared towards home automation products and appliances. Apple sees its Smart Home system as being superior to other “automatic operations” that are currently on the market: Automatic operations are frequently sub-optimal due to variations in a person's daily routines. A person can leave work at different times each day, can encounter different traffic patterns, or can exhibit different hunger levels. Thus, unpredictable events and emotions can make it difficult to establish automatic operations that consistently produce desired results. The Financial Times gives the example of how a homeowner’s lights could be turned simply by entering the home with an iPhone in his or her pocket.
HARMAN to Acquire AMX - Technology Leader in Video Switching and Enterprise Control and Automation Solutions
Harman International Industries, Incorporated (NYSE:HAR), the premier infotainment and audio group, today announced it has signed an agreement with The Duchossois Group, Inc. and its affiliates to acquire AMX LLC for US$365 million. AMX is the leading provider of enterprise control and automation systems and audio and video switching and distributing solutions. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including applicable regulatory approvals. "HARMAN is the leader in smart connectivity. Our vision is to extend our reach beyond the car into the enterprise, where we already have a substantial audio presence,” said Dinesh C. Paliwal, Chairman, President and CEO of HARMAN. “AMX is the global technology leader in enterprise control and automation as well as audio and video switching and distribution. With the addition of AMX, HARMAN will be uniquely positioned to provide complete audio, video, lighting and automation solutions to our customers globally.” Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, AMX’s hardware and proprietary software solutions simplify the way people interact with technology and are implemented worldwide throughout a variety of enterprises and venues such as conference rooms, hotels, classrooms, network operation / command centers, entertainment venues and broadcast facilities. AMX employs more than 600 people across its operations in 19 locations worldwide.
If you have AirPlay or any other kind of wireless home network audio setup, you’ll no doubt be aware there’s a delay. You click play, there’s a few seconds of silence, and then the music starts. This is ordinarily fine, because we don’t usually need things to be real-time, but that’s not the case when you’re trying to broadcast live music within a home or building, or when you’re trying to watch a movie and the audio isn’t syncing correctly. New Kickstarter project Brick & Bullet wants to offer no-latency audio streaming to consumers, using the Ethernet AVB standard and its new hardware to provide instant playback. The project is the creation of John Gildred, founder of AVB.io, and it’s making its debut at SF’s Maker Faire this weekend. Brick & Bullet compares to a traditional AirPlay setup using an Airport Express router. It’s a much better system, and one that could solve a lot of the annoying issues that come up when you try to extend AirPlay beyond its intended purposes using aftermarket software like Airfoil. OS X has support for AVB out of the box, too, so it works instantly with Mac computers running Mavericks.
Microsoft announced a partnership with Insteon today, along with some big plans to fully incorporate the popular home automation network into its ecosystem. Starting June 1, an enhanced version of the Insteon app with exclusive features will be made available for Windows Phone 8 devices, along with any tablet, laptop, or desktop running Windows 8.1. In addition, it won't be long after that before you start seeing Insteon products lining Microsoft Store shelves. These include individual products like the Insteon LED Bulb, as well as complete smart-home packages consisting of the Insteon Hub and select peripheral devices, similar to the Insteon Starter Kit we reviewed last year. Devices will range in price from $30 to $80, with kits starting at $199. Windows-exclusive features in the new version of Insteon's app will include complete Live Tile integration capable of offering status updates for multiple devices at once on the start screen of devices running Windows 8.1. Insteon is also promising enhanced camera support that will allow users to view full-screen feeds, view multiple feeds at once, or use a camera without needing to install an Insteon Hub.
The Indus Entrepreneurs ( TiE ) is a nonprofit trade group dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and sponsor to TiECON, the annual conference for entrepreneurs from technology companies, venture capital firms, and service providers, released an infographic that highlights industry insights and predictions on the Top 5 Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for 2014 (full infographic below). According to the infographic, the Top 5 most influential IoT technologies this year are smartwatches, health and fitness tracking, connected retail, virtual and augmented reality, and the automated home. The automated home market is expected to reach revenues of $35.6 million by 2016, reports TiE, as more consumers leverage technology to help them save on utility bills. A homeowner can expect to save up to 20 percent in their home costs per year, an average of about $1,154 annually. One of the most widely adopted home automation systems available today is temperature control, with popular products including the Nest smart learning thermostat and Belkin’s WeMo line of home automation solutions.
Almost all installations of home technologies in new homes increased or held constant in 2013, indicating the built-in home technology market has a strong, stable foothold in the U.S. The 12th Annual State of the Builder Technology Market Study, was released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. Installations of almost every home technology increased or held constant from 2012 to 2013. Structured wiring was the most common technology installed in 2013 (78 percent, an eight percent increase from 2012), followed by monitored security (47 percent, up three percent) and home theaters (32 percent, up five percent). Multi-room audio (21 percent), energy management (13 percent) and home automation (12 percent) all saw increases. A new addition to this year's study are stand-alone video surveillance systems (including pre-wire),which were installed in eight percent of new homes in 2013. The U.S. housing market continued to recover in 2013 and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) predicts there will be 1.3 million new home starts in 2014. In parallel with the housing recovery, built-in home technologies are expected to reach $2.3 billion in revenue in 2014, according to CEA's U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecast report.
Do you have some old 433MHz home automation gear lying around and fancy making your home a little smarter? TinkerForge is releasing a new internet of things controller designed to let you run power sockets, light fittings and even electric blinds from the comfort of your smartphone. The platform markets itself as a coding-free alternative to Arduino and Raspberry Pi, so building the control scheme online promises to be entirely safe for novices. If you snag the hardware before May 24th, then it'll only set you back €50 ($70), after which the price will go up to €65 ($90), but that's a small price to pay to really freak out your housekeeper.
D-Link today announced the Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W215), the company’s first product in a new line of Connected Home solutions designed to bring the convenience and flexibility of mydlink to everyday household electronic devices. The compact and easy-to-use Wi-Fi Smart Plug allows users to monitor and control their home’s electronic devices from anywhere. Using the free mydlink™ app for iOS® and Android™ smartphones or tablets, users can set power on/off schedules, turn devices on and off remotely and monitor energy usage at home or on-the-go. “The launch of the Wi-Fi Smart Plug represents a key moment for D-Link as we look to expand our offering of connected home solutions designed for consumers looking for a convenient way to automate their home and control their devices from their smartphones and tablets,” said Daniel Kelley, vice president of marketing, D-Link Systems, Inc. “The Wi-Fi Smart Plug offers that convenience at an affordable price so customers can automate any range of devices in their home.” With advanced power scheduling features, the mydlink app can be used to create on/off schedules for home appliances and devices, a useful feature for increasing home security with automated lights. For even more peace-of-mind, the Wi-Fi Smart Plug comes with a built-in thermal sensor that will automatically shut off connected devices if they overheat. In addition, the mydlink Wi-Fi Smart Plug features a simple one-button installation – users press the WPS button on their existing router and on the Smart Plug, and then download the mydlink Smart Plug mobile app to start setup.
Home-automation start-up Revolv is trying to make it easier for consumers to select products compatible with its $299 hub, which incorporates multiple wireless technologies to control home-automation products made by other companies. The products can be controlled through the hub via an iOS app. On its website, Revolv created four product packages consisting of its hub and such products as a Yale Z-Wave deadbolt, Honeywell Z-Wave thermostat, Nest thermostat, Insteon wireless motion sensor, Belkin and Insteon plug-in appliance-control modules, Philips Hue and Insteon LED light bulbs, and the Sonos Play:1 networked wireless speaker. The bundles are fulfilled by Amazon. Revolv sells its hub on its web site and through Amazon, the Smarthome catalog, Smarthome.com, and Build.com. Revolv is also testing sales through 72 Home Depot stores and Home Depot’s web site.
Although high-res audio has been around for a while now, the public really knows very little about it. Until recently, talk of high-res audio has been relegated mostly to audiophile mags and enthusiast forums. But with the recent success of Neil Young’s Pono projector on Kickstarter, Sony’s declaration of war against the MP3, and a surprising move toward high-end audio by Samsung, the topic has been making headlines and generating interest … and a lot of questions. So we decided to answer them. Here is everything you need to get up to speed on high-res audio, in plain English, so that you can really wrap your head around what may be be the next big development in consumer audio. What does the term “high-res audio” mean? The consumer electronics industry and news media only recently embraced the term “high-res audio.” Before now, it was often called HD audio (which we would argue makes a lot more sense). But, now that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has gotten involved, standards are being formed and it looks like “high-resolution audio” is the way we’re going to go. While high-res audio is really a very broad term that could apply to any kind of high-quality sound, it has become popular to use it to refer specifically to high-quality digital music files. For many, “high-res” means anything better than CD quality, but there are some measurements and formats we get into a little bit later that help us identify some of the most common kinds of high-res audio. Full Article:
Home Audio - Gibson Brands Announces Agreement to Acquire Philips' Audio and Home Entertainment Business
As part of its continued growth and diversification in the music and audio lifestyle arena, Gibson Brands, Inc. ( www.gibson.com ) today announced that it has signed an agreement with Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) to acquire WOOX Innovations, the audio, video, multimedia and accessories business of Philips. Under the terms of the agreement, Gibson Brands will pay $135 million and a brand license fee, relating to a license agreement for an initial period of 7 years. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2014, subject to customary conditions, including regulatory filings and works council procedures. Gibson Brands, based in Nashville, USA, has in recent years invested in audio brands including Onkyo and TEAC as part of its ambition to become a global leader in music and sound. This transaction will leverage Gibson Brands' strong market presence in the U.S. and Japan, and WOOX Innovations' market strength with Philips-branded audio and home entertainment products in Europe, China, Latin America and other growth geographies.
Home Automation - Bosch HomeConnect platform will offer one app to control your home appliances, regardless of brand
BSH (Bosch Siemens Hausgerate) is launching a unifying platform called HomeConnect designed to connect all your home appliances, regardless of the brand. Talking at the IFA Global Press Conference 2014 in Belek, Turkey, Dr Claudia Happ, digital transition project leader for HomeConnect, introduced the new platform, saying that BSH research revealed that 90 per cent of customers had different home appliance brands in the home, but 66 per cent want one app to connect to them all. Outside the core needs of flexibility, usability and efficiency, customers revealed through BSH research that connectivity was high on the list of desired features, allowing remote control and service functions. HomeConnect will be an open platform, designed so that a range of domestic appliance manufacturers will be able to use it, not just Bosch and Siemens. Aiming for interoperability, BSH wants to deliver one app, saving customers from needing to use a different app for each different device. Currently there is no set standard for appliance connectivity, but BSH confirmed today that the aim would be to have HomeConnect work with other domestic control systems, so in the future it could be integrated into a larger home control service.
When someone mentions “home security,” it evokes images of cameras, wires, sensors, and a little warning sign posted in the yard. If you agree, you wouldn’t be wrong. That’s how the common security system is perceived. But things have been changing over the years. Advances in technology have transformed home security products, making them more accessible and easier to use. If you’re interested in easy – like, really easy – you couldn’t do any better than Korner. Korner, which is currently funding on Indiegogo, is a simple yet genius home security product. There’s only three parts to set up: wireless router fob, the tag, and the mobile app for Android or iOS. The single-piece tag is as easy to “install” as putting a sticker, well, anywhere. Korner works by detecting motion of the object its attached to, such as a door or window. The sensors in the tags can determine when there has been an entry. The sensors are smart enough to know the difference between an entry and vibration, so false alarms are kept to a minimum. What happens when there is an actual entry? The tag communicates to fob, which in turn sends an alert to your mobile device. From there, you can notify authorities, friends, or neighbors.
Our ongoing investigation into how home audio is changing in 2014 has unearthed a surprising nugget of sonic wisdom, for those of us who are trying to take home audio just a little more seriously. Now that legitimate digital music services sound so good, fans no longer have to put up with dodgily-encoded MP3s from Napster and the like — and so it’s worth it, for many of us, to give our music the sonic respect it deserves, whether we want to spring for new player hardware or not. The single most important thing you can do to improve your sound is to improve the physical mechanics of its reproduction — mainly, your headphones or speakers. It’s always worth paying more for either of these than you think you really should, because nothing else can make your tunes sound better (i.e. stirring, soul-restoring, inspirational, mind-blowing, empathetic, mournful, joyful, and everything else it can make us feel) than making the conversion of ones and zeros into vibrating air as clean as possible. We asked renowned audiophile and author of The Audio Expert Ethan Winer for some advice to share with our readers on the best thing they can do to improve their audio quality in the home. According to him, the answer has nothing to do with electronics: “The single best way to improve audio clarity is to add some acoustic treatment to the room,” said Winer. “Even one 2×4 foot acoustic absorber panel placed at the key place on each side wall will improve the clarity of music enormously. Most ‘average’ people have no idea about this, and most probably wouldn’t consider adding panels in their living room or bedroom anyway. But it’s the correct answer. Serious audiophiles and home theater owners do understand the importance of room acoustics, and some have extensive treatment.” Full Article:
There are lots of companies trying to crack intelligent lighting in the home. Philips has its Hue lighting system with intelligent bulbs, while others like Belkin's WeMo system let you control everything via smart plugs. Plum, a relatively new and unheard of company based in Austin, Texas, is tackling the problem from a different perspective. It has designed an intelligent light switch that will not only control the current lights in the house, but also have the potential to control internet-connected devices like Sonos in the future. "The long term goal is an app that will control everything in your home, from your lights to your sonos," explains Utz Baldwin, CEO at Plum, to Pocket-lint over a coffee at Capital Factory, a startup hub in Austin, Texas. Called the Lightpad, the light switch promises to fit into a standard American light switch fitting (a UK version is due in 2015), and then allow you to control your lights either via the switch or an accompanying iPhone or Android app. Created by Baldwin, who in a previous life was the Chairman of CEDIA, a global home technology trade association that offers home automation, audio video, home network training and certification, Baldwin has used his numerous years in the field to invent something he believes will be the answer to controlling your home without always having to reach for your phone.
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