Remember that expansion into the gaming space that Netflix was talking about when it launched its Quickster DVD rental service last summer? Those plans seem to be canned together with the whole Quikster idea, according to statements by the company's CEO Reed Hastings on Wednesday's earnings call. However, the company may have another interesting product in store for its streaming subscribers: 3-D movies. "On streaming, that is definitely something we can do and we will be looking at," Hastings said. The company is already offering 3-D Blu-rays for rent, but hasn't said how well these titles are doing. Subscription plans for physical discs have been declining sharply, and Hastings said during the call that he expects these numbers to decline quarter-over-quarter "forever."
Kaleidescape, a prominent manufacturer of high-end movies servers, has lost its latest battle in its eight-year war against the DVD Copy Control Association, the organization that licenses the Content Scramble System (CSS) for DVD players. The DVD CCA sued Kaleidescape in 2004, arguing that its products violate a licensing agreement that expressly prohibits the copying (ripping, archiving) of DVDs. Judge William J. Monahan of the Santa Clara County Superior Court in California issued the tentative judgment favoring the DVD CCA on Jan. 9, 2012. The ruling is subject to revision pending input from the two parties. If it stands as written, the DVD CCA can permanently prohibit Kaleidescape from selling DVD movie servers, unless the disc is present at playback (or some other authentication mechanism is in place) -- effectively killing the movie server category as we know it.. The DVD CCA also may collect court costs.
Amidst the grid-climbing robots, smart thermostats, and electric cars at the smart grid conference DistribuTECH in San Antonio, Texas this week, battery makers were touting their low-cost batteries as energy storage for the grid, for buildings, and some day, homes. It's not so unfeasible that in the future many homes could have their very own battery, likely to be combined with a rooftop solar panel. In Panasonic's booth - the company bought controlling interest in Sanyo back in 2009 - a battery box was featured. The box strings together hundreds of small format lithium-ion laptop batteries in much the way Tesla for its electric car battery. (Note: Tesla also uses Panasonic laptop batteries.) A couple of battery stacks would be enough for a single family home, combined with an inverter already retailing in Germany (one of the largest rooftop solar markets) for less than $5,000. A few years ago there were reports this battery could store a week's worth of electricity.
Horizon Software International, the leader in K-12 food service technology, announces the successful implementation of 100 digital signs throughout the School District of Philadelphia's K-12 school cafeterias. "The successful implementation of SourceBoards throughout the School District of Philadelphia is a major milestone for the partnership between Horizon Software and Touchtown". The SourceBoard solution will allow schools within the district to better communicate with students and faculty through digital signs placed in front of meal lines. The ease of communication will translate to reduced costs and increased efficiency for the schools. In addition, the digital signs will assist with promoting various initiatives important to the school district. Horizon partnered with Touchtown, Inc. (www.touchtown.us) to offer this digital communication medium that allows schools to easily broadcast nutritional information, menus, organization news, activity announcements, videos and more to HDTVs strategically placed throughout their facilities. SourceBoards in the School District of Philadelphia engage students not only in understanding the nutritional values of the foods they are eating, but also in helping them make more informed decisions on their food choices.
Boxee is rolling out some major updates to its connected television platform today, including a new software update to support the company's Live TV stick product, which goes on sale today. The Boxee Box is a streaming set-top box featuring Boxee's open-source media software, which transforms televisions into internet connected media centers. The company announced back in November it would be launching Live TV stick, a $49 addon that acts a high-powered HD antenna to give Boxee Box owners access to local channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, CW and NBC with no monthly fee. Boxee is betting that the combination of free basic live TV channels with videos from services such as YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and others will be enough for many people to end their expensive cable subscriptions (a.k.a. cut the cord).
Is the AV industry doomed? If it’s the “audio/video” industry, I think so. If all your company does, after years in the industry, is sell and install projectors and screens, or TVs and stereos, then yes, absolutely, that business model is a dying breed. Is the electronic systems contractor/systems integration industry doomed? No. That’s an expanding and growing area, but you need to know where to look and we all need to spur a new “rise” in our industry. As systems integrators, we are perfectly positioned for many emerging disciplines. Click here for full article.
Best Buy gave owners of its Rocketboost wireless audio system a way to steer it independently with both desktop and mobile apps. Both a Windows controller (above) and an iOS app (free, App Store) let users pipe audio from a Rocketboost host device to any Rocketboost audio system on the same local network, including Insignia TVs and soundbars. It lets users mix and match sources and destinations, also giving them a signal strength for each device to give a hint of how reliably it will play. The system depends on having a computer with a USB adapter that makes the RF wireless-based connection to end devices. Rocketboost's main advantage is claimed to be its "HD" audio by using the higher bandwidth RF affords without having to tie the audio to a specific app or using a short-range, narrow bandwidth technology like Bluetooth.
The Stop Online Piracy Act has officially been put on hold. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced that the House Judiciary Committee, which he heads, "will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution." Smith added that he has taken critics' concerns "seriously." "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products," Smith said in today's statement. The statement from the House Judiciary Committee does not mention SOPA by name, but a committee representative contacted by phone confirmed that it does indeed refer to the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Fujitsu announced the availability of U-Scan® Compact™ self-checkout, a game-changing self-checkout solution that enables more retailers in more verticals to offer a self-checkout experience that is efficient, flexible, and designed to fit into the retailer's unique environment. With its smaller in-counter footprint, flexible transaction options, and build-to-order design strategy, the U-Scan Compact system is the first self-checkout system that can satisfy the needs of retailers in a variety of verticals beyond grocery and do-it-yourself (DIY), including pharmacies, convenience stores, category-specific stores, and specialty stores. In addition, from queue management to automated cash handling, to built-in options to encourage impulse buying, U-Scan Compact self-checkout can create the ideal checkout experience for each retailer's target customer. The new Fujitsu U-Scan Compact system will be on display at the National Retail Federation's (NRF) Big Show in New York, January 16-17.
Lackluster 3DTV sales may be getting an unexpected lift. That's thanks to expected growth of Internet-connected TV shipments, according to U.K.-based Futuresource Consulting. The company forecasts such TVs will comprise 80% of all worldwide TV shipments in three years. Right now, connected TVs shipments are at 27% of all TVs shipped globally. When it comes to 3DTVs, shipments of 16 million units are estimated for 2011, growing to represent 50% of the market in 2015. But there might be an asterisk here. Futuresource says: "One of the key reasons behind the growth of 3DTVs is that consumers are purchasing the 3D function by default when looking to upgrade to higher-end models." The firm notes the public is "unaware of the in-built 3D capability at the time of purchase." Right now, Net-connected TVs have the biggest share of the market in Japan, where they represent 59% of all TV shipments last year. Looking at other big markets -- USA and China -- both are getting 29% share of Internet-connected television sets. Europe receives a 24% share.
Samsung Group, which includes Samsung Electronics Co, said on Tuesday it is raising its 2012 investment to a record $41.4 billion (26.9 billion pounds), underscoring the widening gulf between the dominant South Korean conglomerate and its faltering competitors. Best known for making massive investments in new technologies ahead of rivals, Samsung is now banking on logic chips and OLED displays to repeat its roaring success in flash chips, computer memory chips and LCD flat-screens, even as a gloomy global economic and IT spending outlook forces its peers to be conservative in spending. Samsung Group, South Korea's biggest business group, did not provide a breakdown of the 47.8 trillion won investment. But analysts have widely expected it to raise investment in mobile chips and next-generation OLED (organic light emitting diode) flat-screen displays.
SWELTERING in the office while your colleague shivers under layers of extra clothing? Just register your discomfort by tapping a button on your wrist and let the room do the rest. That's one of the ideas behind WristQue, a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that aims to create a low-power wristband device that works with sensors embedded in buildings to monitor how you feel and continually adjust the lighting and temperature to keep you happy. WristQue is the key to controlling "the immersive world of interactive media that will one day surround us", says Joe Paradiso, director of the Responsive Environments Group at MIT's Media Lab, who is working with colleagues to design it. Each 3D-printed, plastic WristQue band will contain a microprocessor and will be packed with environmental sensors to detect changes in temperature, humidity and light. It will be fitted with a chip that uses ultra-wideband radio signals to pinpoint the user's location and will be able to communicate wirelessly with sensors fitted in smart buildings.
The world's technology showcase has long been a vibrant meeting place for industry executives, consultants, fund managers, analysts and bloggers. But in the past five years, entrepreneurs, and the venture capitalists they depend on have joined the club. Howard Morgan, a partner at First Round Capital, said CES gives him a chance to connect his portfolio companies with retailers. One of his portfolio companies Ambient Devices, which makes weather forecasting gadgets, reached a deal for Brookstone stores to sell its products after an agreement struck during a previous show. Another deal that Morgan was able to broker at a CES show was with Best Buy. CES has become a mandatory event on the calendar for VCs lured by the promise of connecting fledgling startups with the tech world's biggest companies. Although Apple, the industry's largest company, did not have a exhibit at CES, a source familiar with the company's plans said more than 250 Apple employees registered for the week-long convention.
According to SlashGear , Corning and Perceptive Pixel are showcasing a new 82-inch multitouch Gorilla Glass display at this year's CES. The new display is the world's largest Gorilla Glass 2 display and the world's largest touch display to be covered by the super durable glass, according to the site. The display also features unlimited multitouch touch points and stylus support as well. Using the super-tough Gorilla Glass, also used to make smartphone fronts more durable, is of obvious utility for public-facing and outdoor digital signage. Watch the YouTube video from SlashGear above:
Nothing complements a big-screen HDTV like a great 5.1 or 7.1 home theater audio system -- but running wires to connect speakers in all corners of a room can get messy. Wireless speakers address the cable problem, but with no standard in place for wireless home theater audio, you're pretty much forced to buy a complete system from one vendor to be sure everything works. The Wireless Speaker & Audio Association, or WiSA, a group that includes such well-known speaker manufacturers as Klipsch, Pioneer, Sharp, and the parent of Polk Audio, is trying to address that problem. The one-month-old group is working on specifications and a certification testing program for high-performance wireless speakers and the consumer electronics that use them (e.g. HDTVs and Blu-ray players). The idea is that WiSA-certified components would work together, regardless of manufacturer, to deliver high-quality home theater audio over wireless speakers.
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