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System Integration for the Connected Home

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Alexa, The Killer App

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GUEST EDITORIAL

by Shelly Palmer, CEO, The Palmer Group

Shelly Palmer is CEO of The Palmer Group

The superstar of CES 2017 was not a car, or a robot, or even a TV; it was Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the software that allows you to control compatible devices with your voice. Various reports estimated there were 700–1,100 Alexa-controllable products at the show. I can’t verify the number, but “and it works with Alexa” was the running gag at CES. The familiar Amazon/Alexa logo seemed to be everywhere.

Why Alexa Is “The” Killer App

The 1960s vision of living in George and Jane Jetson’s house has not been realized at scale. While it is possible to build a smart home where everything from the window shades to the television to the HVAC are self-aware and work in a perfectly balanced AI-controlled, automated way, in practice, it’s just too hard to accomplish. Devices really don’t talk to other devices, at least not in meaningful ways. This is especially true if you try to mix devices from different manufacturers. The IoT industry has been waiting for a killer app, an app like Apple Homekit or Google Home, but neither of those has delivered on the promise of a “grand unified smart home universe.”

Enter Alexa … the Killer App for IoT. If we learned anything at CES this year, we learned that anything that can be connected to Alexa will be connected to Alexa. Which truly changes everything!

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Star Achitect to Open ISE 2017: Ole Scheeren

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Ole Scheeren

“Ole Scheeren is the man who makes the impossible possible in architecture. He is a man who turns structural calculations into magic, who can seemingly make skyscrapers disappear into thin air and who created a movie theater that floats in the Indian Ocean. His wave of success has already carried him far. And when he has his way, this will only be the beginning.” Der Spiegel

One of the world’s pop stars of architecture, Ole Scheeren is a German architect and principal of Buro Ole Scheeren with offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Berlin, and Bangkok. He is chief designer and leading the company’s creative vision and strategic development.

And what a creative vision that is… for example, one project, MahaNakhon, is-- at 314 meters-- Bangkok’s tallest tower. Housing the Ritz-Carlton Residences, the building features a pixelated ribbon that swirls around the exterior, peeling back its surface layer to expose an inner layer (also creating balconies with sweeping views of the city).

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CEDIA's Tech Council Sees the Future, Part 6: Lights! Uber! Security!

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CEDIA Collage

by Ed Wenck, CEDIA Content Marketing Manager

A 17-member panel has made 100 predictions for 2020.

Here are 10 more predictions for 2020 (#51-#60) from CEDIA Senior Director of Emerging Technologies Dave Pedigo and the 16 volunteers who join him in CEDIA’s Tech Council.

Prediction 51. We’ll see the “Uberization” of technology product delivery and continuing support services. In the CEDIA universe, there’s an opening for an app that will send the nearest home tech pro out to the consumer’s place on an as-needed basis.

Consumers will pay more when demand is high — or choose to wait a while, since the inverse is also true. (One wonders how many people have turned Tuesday night into pizza night now that take-‘n’-bake chain Papa Murphy’s has a $10/any pizza deal that day.)

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CEDIA's Tech Council Sees the Future, Part 5 : Getting Older

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CEDIA Brain

by Ed Wenck, CEDIA Content Marketing Manager

A 17-member panel has made 100 predictions for 2020. Here are predictions 41-50._

Let’s continue with the predictions for 2020 from CEDIA Senior Director of Emerging Technologies Dave Pedigo and the 16 volunteers who make up CEDIA’s Tech Council. There are 100 in all, and links to the first 40 can be found at the bottom of this article.

This time we tackle Aging in Place, augmented memory, and attorneys.

Prediction 41. Aging in Place is becoming a profit center for our industry. Ric Johnson, who’s not a member of the Tech Council but blogs about CEDIA’s annual show as a “CEDIA Tweep,” is with a firm that already specializes in this segment, Right at Home Technologies. Ric brings the data in a recent post at cedia.net/show:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of residents 65 or older will grow from 35 million in 2000 to nearly 73 million by 2030. Right now, in 2016, nearly 54 million residents are at or nearing 65 years of age. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that over 70 percent of these homeowners are planning or making aging related improvements for themselves or their parents. This is an active, growing market. In this market, Home Automation requests are at about 49 percent, with assistive technologies around 14 percent and home health or activity monitoring tracking currently at 10 percent. As our population continues to age, requests for these services will continue to grow.

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CEDIA's Tech Council Sees the Future, Part 2

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by Ed Wenck, CEDIA Content Marketing Manager

Dave Pedigo, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Emerging Technologies, and 16 volunteers have created the CEDIA Technology Council, a group that discusses the advances — a better term might be “jumps” — in technology.

The group uses their combined knowledge to attempt to make concrete predictions regarding what’s next in the smart home industry. Their most recent project: creating a list of 100 predictions for the year 2020. If you didn’t catch the first 10, you can find them here.

Let’s pick up where we left off.

CEDIA Part 2, A

Prediction 11. Projection mapping will begin to appear on surfaces throughout the home. Julie Jacobson, Tech Council member (and Big Kahuna at CE Pro) remembers seeing a demo at the last CES in which small, hardly-visible projectors displayed images across kitchen surfaces. In addition to providing ingredient lists and recipe instructions projected onto cabinets, images were flashed “onto a countertop, which could become hot pads on command. The hot spots would become inductive heat sources. You could interact with a video with a gesture.” This technology also offers the ability to redecorate in a hurry: Think about a distortion-free striped or plaid pattern surreptitiously projected onto a neutral-colored couch. Sick of Tartan by next Tuesday? Tap the app and make it look like blue denim.

Prediction 12. All media and games will stream directly to smart displays which become apps on walls. Sending the kids chasing a virtual Pikachu all over the house sounds like a pretty good way to wear ‘em out on a rainy day, right? Jacobson says that as both short- and long-throw projectors gain the ability of gesture recognition, those devices will become more and more prevalent.

Prediction 13. Full-wall video with multiscreens will appear in the home. Here’s something interesting: The first three predictions in this set of 10 all have an origin in commercial applications. This one — think of it more as digital signage than sports bar — will allow the user to have access to a wall that includes a weather app, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, the latest episode of Chopped, a Cubs game, and literally anything else a member — or members — of the family are interested in. The unintended consequences: some 13-year-old will one day actually utter the phrase, “MOM! Can you minimize your Snapchat already!?!”

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It's Not TV, It's a TV App

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GUEST EDITORIAL BY SHELLY PALMER

How soon will TV transform from wall-mounted 4K flat-screens to a 99-cent app in a VR/AR App Store?

That’s a question few will ponder this week as the National Association of Broadcasters gathers in Las Vegas for the NAB Show 2016. TV has both defined and enlarged mass communication for more than a half-century. No one in their right mind would suggest that big-screen TVs might go away – ever!Shelly Palmer

Well, no one ever said I was in my right mind. I’m not “liquored up” on the scatter market, and TV sales in an election year/Olympic year are cyclical. Yes, people are making real money right now and the TV business (from an advertiser sales perspective) is doing great. But a few technological breakthroughs have caught my attention in the past few weeks, and they’re worth a discussion.

VR and AR at F8

VR (Virtual Reality) is for gamers, education, sports and adult entertainment (which has led the transformation of video technology as far back as anyone can remember). AR (Augmented Reality), a different technology which some say is more difficult to work with, is for navigating and augmenting experiences in the real world. Last week at F8, the Facebook team told us what we already knew: big headsets will evolve into a pair of glasses as soon as technologically possible. The question is, when?

AI and Machine Learning

AlphaGo recently beat 9-dan Go Master Lee Sedol 4 games to 1, demonstrating a system of Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning algorithms that should have gotten everyone’s attention. Computers that can pattern match at or near human capabilities (or closely enough to do the jobs we are asking them to do) are a gigantic stepping-stone toward the seamless Natural Language Processing (NLP), Image Recognition and spatial navigation required to make VR and AR awesome. These fields of data-scientific research are progressing at an exponential rate. Computers are going to have capabilities required to bring us very believable virtual and augmented worlds. The question is, when?

We Talk to Things and They Talk Back

Amazon Echo, Siri, OK Google, Cortana, my car and a bunch of other “things” in my life now understand me and are in training to talk back in useful ways. “Alexa temperature” is an easy one. “Alexa, what’s my schedule for tomorrow?” It responds by reading my calendar. “Alexa, remind me about lunch 15 minutes in advance.” I don’t need to tell it why I want to be reminded – it doesn’t care; it just does what it’s told. “Alexa, play Mozart.” If you’re a prime member, try it. It’s super fun. Talking to things, which is facilitated by advanced AI and Machine Learning tools, is an important step toward TV as an app. You won’t have to type your searches; you’ll just say what you want. The question is, when?

TV Apps

Chatbots Are the Future

Why open an app to do something when you can just send a quick txt message and accomplish your goal? Dumb chatbots let you send a simple txt message to order a pizza, buy movie tickets, book a flight, schedule an appointment, set a reminder, etc. Smart chatbots are going to change everything. By adding AI and machine learning systems behind the scenes, the chatbots will become interfaces into a world of capabilities. Txting a message such as “Set a meeting with jeff on tue” will initiate a negotiation between your calendar and Jeff’s calendar. The system will figure out the best time for you to meet, when and where or will offer suggestions for a better day. You won’t deal with any of it; the system will do the work.

This has huge implications for TV as an app. You won’t ever need to know anything about what show is on what network or even the name of the show. You’ll txt something like “TV show with the skateboarder I follow on Snapchat” and the chatbot will start playing the latest episode or give you some other options to view or interact with the omni-channel property. You can’t even call this a TV show; it’s an IP-delivered video property with a full array of digital and social components. AI-empowered chatbots are on the way. The question is, when?

Sooner than You Think

If you look closely at all of the related technologies required to change the way we consume media, it is clear that the primordial techno-soup is brewing. My guess is that smartphones will cease to exist in their present form within a decade. Big-screen TVs will cease to be the “best” way to watch football in about the same timeframe. Local bandwidth will empower group viewing with headsets or glasses or whatever they evolve into even sooner, probably 60 months or less. And everything we think we know about media consumption will seriously change. Millennials in movie theaters? Sunday gatherings for football? Mass media measured as a function of the number of users of fixed devices? Set-top boxes? Sets?

This may be an amazingly profitable year for the TV business, and for reasons that have nothing to do with television technology or consumer behavior, profits may continue to rise. But sometime in the very near future, something awesome is going to emerge from today’s frothy primordial techno-soup – and I would not be surprised to see it change the very structure of the TV business. TV as an app or as a chatbot service … imagine the possibilities!

Named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Technology, Shelly Palmer is President & CEO of Palmer Advanced Media, a strategic advisory and business development practice focused at the nexus of technology, media and marketing with a special emphasis on data science and data-driven decision making. He is Fox 5 New York's on-air tech and digital media expert and a regular commentator on CNBC and CNN.

Go Shelly Palmer or @shellypalmer

The ECI Top 10 for 2015

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As 2015 heads to a close, it is customary to reflect on the year it has been. So join us as we check what we think are the top ECI-- and custom installation-related-- stories of the past 365-or-so days...

2015 The 4K TVs Start Trundling In: Global TV shipments might be technically on a decline, but analysts point out at least one bright industry spot-- 4K TVs. CES and IFA saw the likes of LG, Sony and Panasonic (among others) present higher-resolution TVs, and with the increasing availability of content taking advantage of such displays one should hope consumers will start picking up such sets.

First 8K TV Hits the Market: Speaking of TV, Sharp already has the next-next big thing as it launches the LV-85001, an 85-inch TV with 8K (not 4K) resolution. Aimed at early adopter within the B2B and B2C markets, it is available in Japan and, as far as content goes, handles 8K test transmissions from national broadcaster NHK.

Virtual Reality Edges Towards the Mainstream: 2015 did not actually see the release of any big name virtual reality headsets, but news involving the revamped product category came thick and fast. The Facebook-owned Oculus revealed the final version of the Rift, as did Samsung with the smartphone-powered Gear VR. Meanwhile Google presented an update on the View-Master, and even Valve announced a collaboration with HTC in VR headsets.

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