Best Buy Jumps Into Home Automation With Startup Peq

Electronics retailer Best Buy is entering the crowded home automation market through a deal with startup Smart Home Ventures, which designed its offering around ease of use. Called Peq (pronounced “peak”), the service costs $9.99 a month for an unlimited number of gadgets connected to a wireless hub, which are sold in kits ranging in cost from about $120 to $490. Best Buy will start selling the products at 250 stores at the end of the month. Peq will also be available online and through a telecom company that is yet to be announced, according to a company representative. As with most smart home offerings, the makers of Peq assume the primary draw for consumers is home security. Over time, the company expects consumers to add other connected devices, such as lamp modules and thermostats. The monthly service charge covers the ability to watch live video on a smartphone and record twenty video clips and 40 images a day. It also sends text or email alerts in response to certain occurrences, such as when a door or window sensor is tripped at an unexpected time.

Broadband Access

Broadband allows for learning opportunities by making available educational materials and course instruction, which previously could only be delivered in a classroom setting.

Upcoming Tradeshow, Conference & Exhibition Summary
October, November & December 2014

2014 was a big year for the Internet of Things (IoT) and there has been big growth in events focusing on this topic. As well shows like ISC that cover Security are seeing big changes as IoT and Wireless devices have expanded and changed this market.

On Controls - Automation in the Cloud

Using our cloud-based tools and templates, our dealers can recall each template created for packages they use often so that the programming time for these replicated systems is reduced to minutes. This is far more efficient than starting the programming process from scratch each time a system is installed.

The Evolution of the AV Industry

There has been a strong shift to commercial projects, which has vastly evolved our customers' businesses. This change has allowed them the flexibility to balance their business and explore new technologies.

Video Storage: Meeting Today's Cinematography Ballooning Needs

While most of the attention at this year's FMS (Flash Memory Summit) in Santa Clara, CA focused on the enterprise, one of the most eye-opening sessions in the 3-day event was the M&E (Media & Entertainment) panel.

Samsung Acquires SmartThings, A Fast-Growing Home Automation Startup

Samsung is making a big push into being the center of the smart home today with its acquisition of SmartThings, which allows people to sync up their connected gadgets onto a single smartphone app and hardware hub.   The company isn’t releasing the acquisition price, but TechCrunch reported a $200 million pricetag when first caught word of the deal last month.   “From the beginning, our goal has been to make a platform every human being could use—and to make every home a smart home,” said SmartThings cofounder and CEO Alex Hawkinson in phone call today. “This will help us reach a massive scale. We saw an opportunity to bring SmartThing’s vision to hundreds of millions of customers.”   Founded in 2012, SmartThings told me a few months ago it was currently only in “tens of thousands” of homes, but growing at a quick pace of 20% new installations every month.   According to the two companies, SmartThings will operate as an independent company and will be moving from its home base of Washington D.C. over to Samsung’s Open Innovation Center in Palo Alto. The Open Innovation Center acts as an investing arm and startup accelerator for U.S. companies that Samsung is interested in.

Parks Associates: 64% of all smart devices are part of a security or home controls system

Parks Associates today announced Internet of Things (IoT) research showing nearly 4% of U.S. households will have a smart home controller by the end of 2014, with an estimated increase to nearly 6% by 2015. The firm's Evolution of Smart Home and the Internet of Things, which includes data from a 1Q 2014 survey of 10,000 U.S. broadband households, also reports 64% of all smart devices currently in households operate as part of a security or home controls system. Smart devices include motorized door controls, lighting controls, networked security camera, and programmable thermostats, among other devices.  "The smart home is an emerging market with multiple channels, from service channels to retailers such as Staples and Lowe's," said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls & Energy, Parks Associates. "The majority of smart devices installed today were acquired as part of a security or home controls system deployed by a providers such as ADT, Comcast, or AT&T. However, consumers are starting to buy individual products such as smart programmable thermostats and smart smoke detectors in greater numbers and install them as stand-alone devices-but with the expectation that these new devices will interact with all existing and future devices in the home." 

Battle for the $18 Billion US Smart Home Heats Up as Apple and Google Posture for Position says Strategy Analytics

Spending on smart home systems and services in the US will hit $18 billion in 2014 and more than double to $39 billion by 2019 according to Strategy Analytics' Smart Home Strategies latest forecast. Apple, Google and Samsung are among the big consumer brands posturing for position in the market as ADT, Vivint, Comcast and AT&T drive growth in the interactive security market. The competitive dynamics shaping the market are described in "Handicapping the US Smart Home Horserace." Key findings from the report: Security service providers will drive revenue growth in the US market as ADT and Vivint run neck and neck in front with each having more than 800,000 residential subscribers and FrontPoint, the online reseller Alarm.com's platform, not far behind. Comcast's  Xfinity Home  is likely to catch up with the frontrunners in 2014 with AT&T's  Digital Life  also in the chase. Lowe's  Iris  self-monitoring and control system currently has a big lead on Home Depot for the DIY customer, but Staples, Amazon and Smartlabs, with Microsoft now selling INSTEON devices in its stores, will intensify the battle for DIYers. Apple's HomeKit caused a stir when introduced in June. It has perked up iOS devotees to smart home applications, but it remains a dark horse in the race. Google's Nest acquiring Dropcam adds another cool product to their portfolio and another point of "learning" about what goes on in homes for future Google/Nest applications.

LG Launches New 55-Inch Curved OLED TV in U.S. for Under $3,500

The all-new 55-inch class (54.6 inches measured diagonally) LG Curved OLED TV (Model 55EC9300), will be available beginning this month at various retailers nationwide at a suggested price of $3,499. Best Buy will be the first dealer to sell the new LG model starting on Aug. 24 and is taking pre-orders now on BestBuy.com. This marks the third OLED TV that LG has released in 13 months, further cementing its market dominance in this new display category, while also making the technology more affordable than ever before to consumers. In fact, even with new features and design enhancements, the 55EC9300 priced more than 75 percent lower than LG's first-generation 55-inch class model, which first sold for$14,999 a year ago. "LG is the only manufacturer to make big screen OLED TV a reality, and we're prepared to help them usher in a new era of TV technology," said Luke Mothschenbacher, Merchant Director of Televisions at Best Buy. "Best Buy is enthusiastic about this OLED TV because LG has combined incredible picture quality with an unparalleled cosmetic design that we know will appeal to our customers."

Ninja Sphere promises to turn your house into a smart home for $329

Back in January, a smart home device called Ninja Sphere made over $650,000 on Kickstarter. Now, its creators (Ninjablocks) has started accepting its first pre-orders outside the crowdfunding website for $329 per unit. But, what can a Ninja Sphere do in the first place? Well, this gesture-controlled device can monitor temperature, lighting and even energy usage, but that's just one of the things it's capable of. Ninjablocks touts it as a veritable multi-tasker that sends alerts if you've left appliances running when you go out and let you turn them off using your phone. With the proper IFTT recipes in place, it also lets you switch on the heater or AC before you get home, or switch on the lights at a set time using a phone or even a smartwatch.   Since the Sphere can connect to Bluetooth Low Energy devices, it can locate pets and items tagged with those small BLE locators like Gecko. It can even tell you if one of the things you've tagged has been moved and gives you the option to activate cameras in the room, if available.   cont'd..

Strong Q4 Expected In Home Automation

Mass-market home automation will come into its own in the fourth quarter, driven by widespread retail rollouts, a growing product selection, growing consumer awareness and falling prices, marketers and analysts told TWICE. If Apple launches its HomeKit home-automation initiative as expected in the quarter, awareness and sales will grow to even higher levels, thanks to the company’s massive advertising and promotion budget. Home automation will enjoy its largest retail/e-tail presence ever in the fourth quarter, said Z-Wave Alliance chairman Mark Walters. “We’ll see a lot more advertising this fourth quarter, including from Apple.” A strong brick-and-mortar presence, he added, is a “brand new” phenomenon. “Up until the past month or two, the products were bundled with service from telcos and other service providers, or you bought at e-tail as an early adopter.”

Leviton Launches Omni Notifier

Leviton announced the release of the 20A30-1 Omni Notifier, adding immediate e-mail notification to your smartphone or tablet.    This board is an attachment to the Omni and Lumina automation systems including OmniPro II, Omni IIe, Omni LTe, Lumina Pro, and Lumina. For zero fees, homeowners, business owners, facility managers and more can be notified immediately based on security or energy occurrences such as intrusion, temperature change, arming/disarming of security system, etc.  As an added benefit, the Omni Notifier board connects to internet time synching. Now your Leviton keypads, Touchscreens, and thermostats can be the most accurate clocks in the home or business.  "The Omni Notifier provides a new way for you to stay in touch with your home or business 24/7," said Jay McLellan, President of Leviton Security & Automation. "Our powerful automation systems have long been controlled via mobile apps and even telephoned homeowners and business owners, but now without any monthly fees, they can receive e-mails and text messages as well."

Dolby Atmos is Here for Your Home Theater! Should You Care?

By incorporating ceiling channels, or "voice of God" speakers as some like to call them, you can fill that large void in your soundscape.

Why do I Need a Subwoofer? Part Two

With a little patience and attentive listening, you can make your bass performance rival the most expensive systems.

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