News / Media

Apple Announces iCloud

The company’s free cloud-based service will officially launch this fall.

June 07, 2011 by Rachel Cericola

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After quite a few web rumblings, Apple officially announced iCloud. Apple CEO Steve Jobs just unveiled the free cloud-based service at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif.

The service is designed to store all of your digital goodies, then wirelessly push the content to devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, as well as a Mac or PC. It can also sync those devices, meaning when something changes on one device, all compatible devices will get the message almost instantly.

“Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices,” Jobs said. “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.”

Additional iCloud services include MobileMe Contacts, Calendar and Mail, the App Store and iBookstore, iCloud Backup and Storage, and a photo stream service. iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. However, purchased music, apps, books and the Photo Stream service do not count against the storage limit.

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Posted by chantal Fri, 29 Jul 2011 16:24:00 GMT

First Look: SIM2 LUMIS SOLO 3D Home Theater Projector

EH gets hands-on with SIM2’s latest star projector

July 05, 2011 by Robert Archer

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The Italian-based video manufacturer SIM2 has established itself as one of the top video products manufacturers in the consumer electronics and commercial video industries.

Earlier this year the company announced a string of new products that it says will bolster its product line in 2011 and beyond. Headlining these new products is the company’s LUMIS Solo-3D projector, which is designed to provide home theater enthusiasts with a single-chassis, high-performance 2D and 3D projection solution.

Utilizing a Texas Instruments’ three-chip Dark Chip 4 DLP chip set, the LUMIS 3D-Solo also features a choice of lens options, multiple inputs, including two HDMI 1.4; video processing and the company’s triple-flash 3D technology that’s said to be three times faster than the movie industry’s 24fps video standard.

SIM2 explains the triple-flash technology by pointing out it is engineered to produce pictures that are six times faster than 24fps video to ensure that 3D graphics appear smooth to viewers. “Currently triple flash is only used in commercial theaters—-and DCi group professional projectors—-because it is the answer to most of the usual complains about 3D vision: flicker, vision fatigue and ghosting,” says the company on its website. “LUMIS 3D-SOLO images are displayed at 144 fps, 72 fps per eye, resulting in extreme smoothness and visual pleasure.”

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Posted by chantal Thu, 28 Jul 2011 17:16:00 GMT

Panasonic Readies 3D Projection System

Panasonic is developing a 3D projection system for the commercial market that will launch this summer, the company announced Tuesday on its Critical View blog.

The PT-DJ3D53 system will be offered to military and education customers, as well as restaurants and sports bars. It will feature two PT-DW530U DLP projectors, and does require glasses.

Posted by chantal Tue, 19 Jul 2011 16:22:00 GMT

Are House Keys About To Become Obselete?

By Mobiledia Staff Jul. 5, 2011

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Lock maker Schlage released a new app allowing smartphone owners to unlock their homes without a traditional metal key, adding to the number of ways in which people can control household items with mobile technology. The Colorado Springs-based company said its new technology, called “LiNK,” works by sending a signal from a smartphone to a house lock, which is controlled by wireless signal inside a home’s Internet connection.

Schlage isn’t the first company to announce home control technology using smartphones. Apigy’s Lockitron system also lets users lock and unlock their doors remotely, by using a wired connection with an Ethernet cord and electronic lock. Schlage’s system eliminates the cords and wires that Lockitron uses, however, there are additional costs involved, due to special locks. Like any other technology, LiNK has some drawbacks. For one, homeowners must punch in numbers and codes to unlock the door, which takes more time. In addition, if a user’s cell phone runs out of power, they may be locked out of the house. Remote key services have already found their way into the hospitality industry. InterContinental Hotel Groups, which owns Holiday Inn, tested wireless technology to open doors for guests. With OpenWays, a user can open a hotel door by pointing his cell phone at it, eliminating the need for keys or electronic keycards.

Schlage’s system doesn’t have to be next to the door to open it. LiNK lets homeowners open doors remotely for a friend or relative or lock it while away from home. Just last month, Google announced its new Android@Home service, which allows owners to use the mobile devices as universal remotes for their homes’ electronic devices. Android@Home also includes a wireless home lighting network so homeowners can control their lighting virtually, as well as creating a wireless home theater system.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 13 Jul 2011 18:11:00 GMT

Samsung Launches 3D on Demand

Samsung Electronics this week announced the launch of its “Explore 3D” app, through which owners of connected Samsung 3D TVs can stream 3D content.

The available content includes movie trailers and programs from Wealth TV.

“Once consumers experience the wonder of immersive 3D that we deliver on Samsung 3D LED and 3D Plasma TVs, they generally crave all the 3D content they can get their hands on,” John Revie, senior vice president of Home Entertainment, Samsung Electronics America, said as part of the announcement. “We decided to expand our Explore 3D App with both free content and – coming soon - feature films in order to meet this growing demand.”

Posted by chantal Thu, 30 Jun 2011 16:06:00 GMT

SID 2011: A Sneak Peek of Future HDTV Technology

May 24th, 2011

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The Society of Information Display’s (SID) show took place last week at the Los Angeles Convention Center. While there was not as many experimental designs as prior years, we were able to view a number of new, cool technology statements. Samsung was the most prolific company displaying new 2012 LCD panels, experimental sequential color backlights and more. Listed below are our favorites.

Like any other prototype, things could get pushed back or stalled out so don’t assume these products will reach market in 2012 or beyond, although a number look production ready.

Transparent LCD Refrigerator Door

This is a see-through LCD screen so you can make sure you have enough beer in the house without opening the door, while watching ads or whatever on the screen. The Samsung spokesman was kind enough to open the fridge and prove they were really cold brews inside. We don’t see this as a practical item for the home, but can imagine seeing LCDs in your grocer’s refrigerated food section hawking sales and specials.

70″ Ultra Defintion Oxide Semiconductor 3D TV

Samsung took best in show honors for its UD 70″ LED LCD. By using a oxide semiconductor TFT (thin film transistor) Samsung is able to cram 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution in a 70″ LCD display, an industry first.

Advanced Field Sequential Color Backlight LCD

Instead of red, green and blue color filters in front of sub-pixels as used in every LCD panel (Sharp adds a yellow filter in their Aquos sets) Samsung incorporates a color sequential back light unit (BLU) to create full color using red, green, blue, cyan and white LEDs. If commercialized, sub-pixels would be eliminated as each pixel would represent all colors, making panels less expensive. Sequential color is currently used in front and rear single chip DLP projectors.

Z-Screen Active Panel 3D TVs

We first wrote about this technology last September link. Samsung displayed its latest prototype. Like LGs FPR 3D, the Samsung/RealD design achieves 3D with passive glasses (like the ones you get at the movie theater), however their display is Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, not one-half (1920 x 540) as with the patterned retarder designs. Samsung announced at SID it will be shipping Active 3D Panel computer monitors followed by a 55″ Full HD 3D TV in 2012.

Samsung VA I and VA II LCD Panels

Samsung showed new LCD panels promising wider viewing angles, faster response time and higher light transmission for more energy efficiency. The VA I is scheduled to be introduced in 2012 and the VA II panel in 2013

Real D Universal Active 3D Glasses

Real D developed an new application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that allows its active 3D glasses to automatically sync to any infra-red or RF sync TV. A Real D spokesperson said these new glasses may be available later this year through major retailers.

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Posted by chantal Thu, 16 Jun 2011 16:15:00 GMT

Marvell chip designed to improve LED light quality

MAY 16, 2011 by Martin LaMonica

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Semiconductor company Marvell today is set to introduce a chip geared at improving the light from LED bulbs and connecting them to a network. The 8801 chip is small–about the size of a penny–and will be about the same price as existing LED lighting electronics.

If Marvell signs on light manufacturer customers, it could bring the very good light quality of some commercial LEDs to more affordable consumer products, said Kishore Manghnani, vice president of Marvell’s Communications and Consumer business. He said the chip, which integrates multiple functions on this single controller chip, is being tested by commercial or consumer light fixture makers now and it takes them about six months to introduce products with new chips.

Light quality for consumer LED bulbs has improved over the past few years but the color rending index (CRI), a measure of quality, is still not as high as incandescent bulbs. With the chip, Manghnani said a CRI of 95, higher than most of the consumer LED bulbs available now, is possible. The chip can control the current and temperature of two types of LED light sources. So a fixture or bulb maker could use the chip and driver to use LEDs with two different colors, such as white and red, to improve color rendering. Until now, the electronics to control different colored LEDs would be too large or expensive for consumer products, Manghnani said.

The Marvell component will also make LED dimming more precise and allow a lighting company to embed a wireless chip in the bulb. With a wireless ZigBee or Wi-Fi radio, lights can be controlled from a central point or set on a schedule. Last week, Google demonstrated a networked LED bulb controlled by its Android@Home software due for release by the end of the year.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 01 Jun 2011 16:10:00 GMT

Intelligent Device Automates Energy Savings

ThinkEco’s plug-in modlet learns your usage patterns and offers scheduling recommendations.

May 03, 2011 by Steven Castle

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Like many of us, Mei Shibata has a home entertainment system with a sizable TV, DVD player, Wii game console and a cable box. But unlike many of us, she’s saving energy and money with it.

While no one is at in her New York home during certain times of the day, power is cut to the entertainment system—including the “always-on” cable box. Then, before her child arrives home and watches TV, power is resumed to the system and the cable box has time to boot up and download the necessary programming information.

It’s all done with a product called the modlet, from ThinkEco. The modlet is a plug-in device with two outlets and wireless ZigBee connection to a computer for the software interface. The modlet can monitor the energy of an appliance of device plugged into it—and it can cut or resume power to that device automatically. Even better, this is based on your preferences and your usage patterns.

The modlet and its software learns how you use the things plugged into it, and recommends savings plans.

ThinkEco estimates that cutting power to a cable box alone for 12 hours a day results in annual savings of $17, and cutting power to it 18 hours a day can save $25, based on a rate of 15 cents per kilowatt hour…

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Posted by chantal Fri, 27 May 2011 16:15:00 GMT

Voice Recognition Coming to Control4 Systems

Avoca to launch voice recognition for Control4 automation systems, enabling users to navigate to movies or set back thermostats just by saying so.

By Joe Whitaker April 21, 2011

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Ontario, Canada-based Avoca Semiconductor has demonstrated voice-activated A/V and home automation systems for a couple of years but it looks like the company is almost there. During the recent Electronic House Expo (where I suggested in my “Game Changers” session that voice control trumps gesture control), Avoca demonstrated its voice-enabled solution for Control4.

A Modern-Day Scotty

At EHX 2011, Avoca principal Iain Scott controlled lights, music, scenes, even a DVD (The Matrix, of course) through voice. I was astounded at how well it worked. I was surprised not because the show floor was noisy, but because Scott has as a thick Scottish accent – just like the guys in that elevator video.

I always thought nationality would be the biggest obstacle for voice-controlled devices, as in the case of the other Scotty who travels back in time in a Star Trek movie and tries to talk to the unresponsive computer.

Challenges of Voice Technology

The technology Avoca calls Voice-enabled User Interface, or VUI, falls into a category called Voice Control and Search Technology (VCST).

While VCST has been successfully deployed for years by government and other agencies around the globe, the service has not made its way into consumer electronics in any meaningful way, except for mobile phones and GPS devices. These devices are often subject to hands-free laws that mean to keep drivers focused on the road ahead.

In the home, no one is making you talk to your TV, and you could look very silly doing it, especially if the technology is such that you have to repeat yourself to, “Record Myth Busters at 6:00.” (“Did you say, ‘Purchase Dust Busters on CVS?’”)

In theory, voice control is the easiest way for people to express their “wants and needs,” says Scott. The technology is becoming ever more compelling with shrinking remote controls and TVs, and a baffling array of entertainment options. Scott says, “Voice is the only technology that lets you go straight to what you want.”

After seeing the technology firsthand I couldn’t agree more. Even with short-cuts and “favorites” on a standard remote control or touchscreen, bringing up a DVD can still take three button presses.

With voice control, there’s just one button to press: the one that puts the device into “listen” mode.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 25 May 2011 16:12:00 GMT

MOG available on select LG products

by Rachel Cericola/Electronic House

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LG just added one more reason to get one of their web-enabled products. The company just announced that they now have MOG available on select LG devices.

The streaming music service can be accessed through LG’s Smart TV platform on select Blu-ray players and home theater systems. Once you select the MOG app, you can browse and play millions of songs, all from your remote control.

“MOG remains focused on ensuring our users have the best listening experience wherever they are, and thanks to LG’s Smart TV platform, consumers can now enjoy high-quality, on-demand streaming of music in the living room,” said David Hyman, CEO of MOG. “We designed this app specifically for the living room and can’t wait for people to experience the gorgeous graphics, simplicity of the app, and high quality audio.”

A few key MOG features include unlimited, ad-free listening; charts, editors’ picks and new releases; MOG radio; and music streams at 320kbps.

Another key feature: the price. That’s right; MOG isn’t free. The MOG Basic service delivers MOG access on LG’s Blu-ray players and home theater systems, as well as on for $4.99 per month. To add in iPhone and Android access, expect to pay $9.99 per month. If you want to try before you buy, MOG does offer a free 14-day trial.

For now, MOG is only available on LG’s BD650, BD670, BD690 Blu-ray players, and LG’s LHB336, LHB536, LHB976 home theater systems. It’s also available through LG’s new Smart TV Upgrader set-top box. LG expects to add the service to Smart TV Enabled HDTVs soon.

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Posted by chantal Tue, 24 May 2011 16:10:00 GMT