Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2013 0 comments
Home automation and energy management had a big presence at CES, and Nexia Home Intelligence came to the Show to show off some recent additions to the growing portfolio of Z-Wave-enabled devices that are compatible with the Nexia ecosystem. Primary among those were: the new Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt that provides keyless entry and built-in alarm technology that will notify you if someone tampers with the lock or tries to break into the home while you’re away; the new eMonitor Trane Energy Management Solution that monitors energy usage data 24/7 and provides overall energy usage reports, as well as real-time alerts and notifications of situations such as circuit overloads – or even if a freezer door has been left open; and new zoning capabilities with the Trane ComforLink II Control command center/thermostat that uses zone temperature sensors to figure out which areas of your home need additional heated or cooled air. (Unfortunately, the zoning features aren’t compatible with all HVAC systems – including mine…) While indoor/outdoor cameras, networked appliance and lighting control AC modules, wireless deadbolts, heating/cooling control, energy management, and web/smartphone control of the system are all features within the Nexia architecture, home AV control is not.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2013 0 comments
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
As a general rule, home automation is pricey. When you add motorization into the mix, it can get even pricier. SABAJ, a vertically integrated, extremely automated manufacturer located in Poland, showed off a motorized TV lift mechanism designed to raise flat-panel TVs up out of hidden cabinets that is surprisingly affordable. The company’s various lift mechanisms include an RJ45 socket for use with home automation systems, power guard circuitry to prevent the mechanism to lower the TV if it is still on, an active safety system that stops the downward movement and raises the screen slightly if something gets in the way, a three-button programming sequence for programming a preset viewing-position, and comes flat-packed so shipping costs are low. The TV-LIFT K-LINE ECO and K-LINE PREMIUM models are designed for flat-panel TVs up to 60 inches and up to 155 pounds (depending upon the K-LINE model). Product will be available in the US market very soon, and pricing will likely start at well under $1,000 for the lift mechanism.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
BodyWave uses specially designed sensors that monitor the brain’s physiologic signal through the body to interpret your thoughts and allow you to control apps on computers and smartphones. It can also be used with computer simulations to “teach stress control, increase attention, and facilitate peak mental performance.” While I didn’t get a chance to try it myself, the guy who got to the booth just before I did learned how to drive a virtual forklift on the computer monitor in front of him within about a minute using only his thoughts and a stationary non-turning steering wheel with the company’s physiological sensors embedded on the wheel. The device “read” his thoughts – as long as he concentrated on it. When the presenter distracted the tester by tapping him on the arm, the forklift stopped moving. There was a slight ¼ second lag in time between the brain’s thoughts and the movement of the forklift on the screen, so you’re not going to be using this device for playing computer games at the moment.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Plex is a media server and suite of apps for your computer, mobile devices, a variety of connected devices that helps you access and control your local and online media from just about anywhere and easily share it with friends and family. There are specific versions of Plex apps for Roku boxes, LG TVs, Samsung TVs, and Google TV. If it really is the “bacon of media apps”, though, digital-media-savvy vegetarians are going to be left out.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
IN2UIT’s very stylish, very portable Filo sound system is light (about 1.7 pounds), less than 2.5-inches thick, includes Bluetooth connectivity and has a li-polymer battery that’s good for up to ten hours of operation. But it’s not just another pretty desktop speaker. The Filo incorporates IN2UIT’s unique electrostatic loudspeaker (ESL) technology the company calls “Electrostatz”. Like larger, more expensive ESL’s on the market, IN2UIT’s Electrostatz speakers are super-slim – in fact, the company claims its speakers are “the world’s slimmest, paper-thin speaker technology in the market”. Electrostatz speakers, however, include a proprietary self-biased (SBESL) nano-diaphragm design, so they don’t require high-voltage bias or transformers, which helps to keep the cost and power consumption low.

The Filo is available in three colors, Vogue red, Mod blue and Urbane grey. Each Filo also comes with a power adapter/charger and a wall mount bracket. Even on the noisy, open show floor, I was highly impressed with the sound quality of the many $299 Filo speaker systems IN2UIT had mounted on the walls of the company’s booth. In my opinion, it outclassed any other Bluetooth-enabled, portable speaker costing under $300 that I’ve ever heard. IN2UIT’s Filo is expected to be available in the US in the next several months.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
After filming a brief interview yesterday with Winston Cheng, VP of Development at Aeon Labs, at the Z-Wave Pavilion where the company was showing off its soon-to-be-released DIY LCD window film, I had the chance to stop by the SONTE booth for a brief demo today. Much like the product from Aeon Labs, the 0.7 mm SONTE FILM can be applied to any glass surface and can switch from transparent to opaque in under one second. SONTE FILM, however, is controlled via Wi-Fi, so it can be controlled by a wide variety of IP-based control/automation systems. The flexible film comes in 1 x 1 meter sheets, and they can be daisy chained to cover large windows. They can also be trimmed to fit smaller windows. One potential use on large windows is to incorporate multiple sheets side-by-side on the window, but without daisy chaining them together. Theoretically, you could then control each film-treated section independently – and be able to use your automation system to block out direct sunlight panel-by-panel as the sun moves across the sky. The SONTE FILM improves the window’s insulation rating, although the company did not give any specs on by how much. The SONTE FILM isn’t totally clear – nor does it block 100% of the light. In the transparent state (energized), the film is transparent with a “Haze Coefficient” of 7%. With the power off, the film turns opaque with a Haze Coefficient of 67%.

Another interesting use of the SONTE FILM suggested by SONTE is to use the film to turn any large window or glass partition into a rear-projection screen. (With the projector supplied by the homeowner, of course.)

Pricing hasn’t been determined, but SONTE hopes to have DIY product available in the next three to four months.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Over the many years (this being my 24th or 25th trip to the magic kingdom known as Las Vegas during CES) of attending the International CES, I've noticed just a few changes. One small change, for example, is the ubiquity of this newfangled thing called “the internet”. From a journalistic perspective, one of the most notable changes has involved the lowly press release. No, they're not being written any better. (At least they're not being written any worse…) What's changed is the method of distribution. In the olden days, an intrepid fact-finding writer would scour the press room's stacks and stacks of press releases looking for a rare gem or two to write about. (All the while lamenting the loss of so many trees to produce so many useless sentences.) Not only was the process time-consuming and inefficient, it resulted in plenty of extra weight that had to be lugged home in briefcases and suitcases. You can imagine the shouts of joy that arose once the majority of PR departments switched to the now-archaic CD-ROM as the method of information distribution. The real breakthrough in making press coverage less backbreaking, however, was the introduction of the flash drive. Not too long ago, getting a press kit on a 256 MB flash drive was something you talked about in the taxi line. Now, the truly jaded among us don't even attempt to hide our disdain for flash drives with less than 2 GB capacity. Or, as a friend told me, “Two gig is the new 512 MB.” Unfortunately, it won't be long before the press page on the company's website becomes the new 2 GB…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 Published: Jan 11, 2013 1 comments
Allure Energy’s new EverSense 2.0 is a “home environment and energy management product” – or, put another way, a next-generation, super-high-tech thermostat/home automation hub that can also be used for streaming music, viewing photos, and getting weather updates – with built-in Proximity Control and NFC technology. The new system allows homeowners with an Android phone running a mobile app called EverSense to change the home environment simply by setting the phone on a SyncPad triggering the EverSense 2.0 to turn lights on/off, adjust the temperature setting of the thermostat, and set the security system based on the user’s programmed preferences. In the future, homeowners will be able to add and control other smart devices within the EverSense ecosystem. While the owner is at home, NFC technology in the user’s Android phone will let the system know how to react based upon which SyncPad the phone is placed. When the homeowner leaves the house, though, the system will use its built-in proximity control technology to manage temperature and other aspects of the home’s environment based on how near or far from home the user happens to be. In other words, the EverSense system is smart enough to realize when you are away and when you are on your way home and will adjust the thermostat accordingly to save energy while you’re away while making sure that the house is comfortable when you arrive home. EverSense 2.0 units are expected to be available for sale directly to consumers sometime during the first quarter of 2013. Final pricing on the hardware hasn’t been announced. No monthly subscription fees are required.

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