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System Integration for the Connected Home

Home Conferencing

Beam+: Newest Telepresence Robot for Home

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Beam+

Suitable Technologies’ latest telepresence robot platform is the Beam+, and it was created to be used at home.

Beam+ is similar to the Beam Pro. Both Beams have a big camera, big screen, big speakers, user friendly software interface, and the ability to drive. Beam+ is slightly shorter than the Beam Pro. Beam+ just doesn't include the dual radios that let the Beam Pro jump seamlessly between multiple access points required in enterprises.

There are no buttons on the system: it's all controlled via the web interface, and it just sleeps on its charging dock until you log into it. With a 10-inch LCD screen (larger than some other robots), an HDR camera plus a dedicated navigation camera, and a 4r-microphone array, the Beam+ offers telepresence experience if good wifi is around.

The first thousand Beam+ units were pre-orders for just US $995 and it goes up to $1995 after that. Compared to existing telepresence robots (a Double will run you $2500 plus an iPad ($400); an Anybots QB $9700; and the Vgo about $5000). theBeam+ is a market spoiler.

Like many consumer products, the price point may be attractive to small businesses that want to try out telepresence

Go Suitable Technologies: Beam+

Logitech Intros TV Cam HD

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Logitech upgrades its earlier take on living room conferencing with the TV Cam HD-- a single device with built-in Skype hooking up your customers' HDTVs without the need for a PC.

HD TV CamIt has all processing power required to not only run Skype, but also send wide-angle 720p footage over wifi or ethernet connections. As the company says, all it needs is an available HDMI port, an internet connection and a Skype account.

Unlike the previous TV Cam model the TV Cam HD does not need a Viera Connect HDTV-- any TV with HDMI-is ideal.

"Powerful" image processors brighten images, while Carl Zeiss provides the camera optics. Four noise-cancelling microphones complete with beamforming and unidrectional technologies handle audio, and control comes through an easy-to-use remote.

Go Logitec TV Cam HD

Ultra-HD TV Standards Set by ITU

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UHDTV

Ultra-HD TV systems may be years away from homes, but ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré is already describing UHDTV as "an earth-shaking development in the world of television."

A new ITU-R recommendation addresses specs for both 4K and 8K.

While HDTV today has between 1 megapixel and 2 megapixels, the first level of UHDTV picture levels will have the equivalent of about 8 megapixels based on a 3840 x 2160 image system. The ITU recommendation also deals with an even higher level that has the equivalent of about 32 megapixels using a 7680 x 4320 image system.

David Wood, chairman of ITU-R Working Party 6C (WP 6C), which developed the draft new recommendation, noted in a statement that "some years will pass before we see these systems in our homes" but that the move towards a standard is "a historic moment."

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) want to add ultra-HD standards into their next generation for digital broadcasting,ATSC 3.0. The ITU standard would help them and other groups around the world begin to incorporate ultra-HD features into their standards for digital broadcasts.

Meanwhile, the ITU’s land-grab for taking control of the internet has met much resistance. OK, but that’s another story…

Watch Video on UHDTV Development

Crestron, AMX Control System Modules for StreamNet

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 ClearOne

ClearOne releases free enterprise-grade control software modules to enable AMX or Crestron integrators to seamlessly integrate these systems with StreamNet to deliver The Power of AV Over IP for any size commercial control and AV distribution project.

"We're giving professional AV integrators the best of both worlds by combining our industry-leading StreamNet technology for scalable AV distribution on your existing data infrastructure with these popular AMX and Crestron control systems," says Durai Ramachandiran, Product Line Manager for Multimedia and Networking Products. "These StreamNet modules allow easy control implementation to any touch-panel or mobile device providing single-interface control for both AV distribution and room systems."

Each of the integration software modules allows customization so integrators can create their own graphical user interface for any StreamNet system using a sample program source code and instructions that come with the modules.

Both the AMX and Crestron integration software modules are now available for download.

Go StreamNet: Download AMX and Crestron Integration Software Modules

Google Wants to Popularize Video Chat

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Google Hangouts

By launching the first apps from independent developers for the "Hangouts" video chat feature of Google+, Googleplex hopes to increase the time people spend on its social network and create a popular platform that will ultimately grow to hundreds of video apps, or more.

Hangouts allows up to 10 people to connect on a video chat. The service allows people to connect through a video chat, and a drawing pad embedded in the service allows participants to collaboratively draw colorful lines using their computer mouse.

A touch-screen version for iPad and other tablets is planned.

Read more...

Farewell, Umi

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With hardly any noise -- not to mention a press conference-- Cisco shuts off sales of the umi, its ill-fated stab at a consumer videoconferencing system.

Cisco umi failCall it sneaking away from another disaster from a once-infallible Cisco who thought it could easily crossover into consumer marketing, if you will.

Launched back in October 2010, the umi (pronounced You-Me) was a premium home conferencing kit offering 1080p video conferencing (720 for recording) at $599-- and an additional $10 monthly service fee. The package included a camera, controller and STB... and customers had to include their own HDTVs and internet connections.

Existing users will still be able to use the service to chat with either umi subscribers or Google video chat accounts.

Is Cisco giving up on home telepresence (while using the Linksys brand to target home users) or simply waiting until the time is right? Either way, we're sure Cisco will continue chasing the online video market.

Go Cisco umi

Video Calling Expanding Further on Other Screens

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The latest In-Stat research might be pointing out your next install opportunity-- living room video calling systems. According to the analyst, global video calling will surpass 380M active users by 2015.

Video Calling TVThe number of video calling users for 2010 totals 63M.

In-Stat says that while PC video calling will "account for the majority of video calling minutes," it also expects "significant developments" in the living room segment as more vendors enter the market.

Skype remains the market leading solution across all screen types-- PC, mobile and TV. Solutions offering integration with social networking will also be "significant" market drivers.

One can find Skype embedded in a number of devices (including HDTVs and Blu-ray players), while Google TV also offers TV calling features via Google Chat.

Go Video Calling Across Screen Types (In-Stat)