Now that the booths are packed away for another year and the engineers are finalizing the prototypes displayed at the show, what does the future hold for the audio visual and home automation industry?
4K Blu-ray disc players should start rolling out to stores near the end of 2015. 4K offers a wider color gamut and a higher dynamic range to go along with the improved resolution. 4K Blu-ray players will be capable of extracting data at rates around 50 and 60 megabits per second with possible support for rates as high as 100Mbps. Most 4K players available today are just upscaling to 4K. I don't know about you, but I'll have to save my pennies to convert my DVD collection of movies to 4K.
If you don't want to permanently install a full surround sound system, Yamaha has created its “Sound Projector” line of sound bars. Yamaha is able to create a surprisingly vivid and full sound stage through their use of small directional drivers that the company calls “beams."
Yamaha's YSP-2500 uses a blend of directional sound and time delays to bounce sound off the walls in an effort to create a more realistic virtual surround sound effect. The system also offers Bluetooth support, as well as control of the sound projector via the Yamaha Home Theater Controller app for iOS and Android.
We can look forward to new technology in projectors for 2015. Epson introduced the PowerLite Pro Cinema LS10000 and LS9600e, both of which employ a laser light engine. The lasers illuminate three liquid crystal-on-quartz imagers. This technology is similar to LCOS. Two blue laser-diode arrays are utilized. One excites a yellow-phosphor wheel, splitting the yellow light from the wheel into red and green. With the blue light from the second laser, all three illuminate the three imagers.
The LS10000 will put out up to 1500 lumens, while the LS9600e will be at 1300 lumens. The projectors will be brighter in the Cinema mode. These models are optimized for Blu-ray and other consumer content. The laser light engine is estimated to last 30,000 hours, using the economy mode. There is no need to wait for the projector to warm up or cool down, which is a nice feature. Another feature is called "Absolute black," which Epson claims produces zero lumens when displaying a fully black field.
Severtson Screens demoed their Titanium Acoustically Transparent screen material. It is a tightly woven surface, which has a tight weave, making it ideal for 4K projectors. The gray color is unique among woven screens, maintaining a great contrast even with bright projectors in ambient light. This screen will work well with the new laser projectors by reducing the speckle, even from direct laser illumination.
Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. will be featuring movies utilizing Dolby Atmos soundtracks for home theater enthusiasts with Dolby Atmos enabled AV receivers and speakers. The first film to be released is Transformers: Age of Extinction.
The Dolby Atmos sound system produces breathtaking, multidimensional sound that comes from all directions, including overhead, to create an immersive experience with astonishing clarity, richness, detail, and depth. The specific sounds of people, music, and things move around you in a multidimensional space, so that you feel like you are inside the action.
Dolby Atmos is the first audio format based on audio objects rather than channels. The sound, such as a helicopter can exist as an independent audio object, free of channel restrictions and can be placed anywhere including overhead. Speakers are specially designed to create overhead sound even though the speaker is at the same level as traditional speakers. They emit sound upward, where it reflects off your ceiling down toward where you’re sitting. Dolby Atmos enabled speakers filter high frequencies to mimic the natural filtering imparted by our ears when a sound comes from overhead. The filtering tells your brain that this is a sound coming from above.
With all of the new advances in home theater, there is very little motivation to go out to a movie, unless, of course, you just have to have $10.00 popcorn.
One of the biggest trends in the home automation market is the emergence of the smartphone, which places touchscreens into the hands of a much wider range of homeowners, using apps to control thermostats, security systems, and home theater components. Until the emergence of the smartphone, the touch screen was a very expensive device.
Touchscreens are slowly being phased out because many consumers already have their own touchscreens in a tablet or smartphone. The companies that still manufacture dedicated touchscreens are placing more emphasis on integrating iOS and Android devices with their home automation systems.
Smartphones and tablets allow on-the-go access to the automated systems within the home. You can start an app on your phone when leaving work, and turn on the lights, start-up the home entertainment system, cool or heat the house, and even activate automated routines that combine some variation on all of the above with one button-press.
There are a lot of apps available for home control, but most of them require using your fingers. Insteon is replacing your oversized fingers. Instead, you can now convey your wants and needs through Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant. Just think — you can just speak into your phone to turn lights on and off or dim them, as well as lock the door, adjust the thermostat, and more—from anywhere in the world, using the Windows Phone 8.1 app.
Voice interaction ability is a major improvement in the progression of the home automation industry.
Proprietary and confusing home automation solutions will be replaced over the next few years by low-cost, intelligent, easy-to-use and programmable products. Instead of custom programming, automation systems will learn. Instead of using proprietary user interfaces like keypads or special tablets, they’ll instead use smart phone apps and voice commands. They’ll use standard connection interfaces, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Homes are going to become smarter and more connected over the next five years.
We will see Internet-connected appliances, thermostats, HVAC, cameras, audio, video, lighting and beyond that can "talk" to one another, but many of these devices might be too expensive for the mainstream consumer and will take years to be a normal purchase. One such device goes in the kitchen, allowing the consumer to order groceries just by pressing a button.
Many of these advanced products will be embedded in the home, rather than being free standing. These Internet-connected sensors would inform consumers ahead of time when they need to replace air conditioner filters or service their heating system. Consumers can even raise and lower the shades, dim the lights, set the alarm with just the smart phone in their hand.
"Cortana, fix me a cup of coffee, please."
Len Calderone – Contributing Editor
He also writes short stores that always have a surprise ending. These can be found at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Megalen.