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European Custom Installer

System Integration for the Connected Home

Control and Home Media Systems

ABI: Voice Control is "New Breakout Star"

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Voice control is the "standout category" for smart home device control, ABI Research reports-- and one set for a brighter future thanks to solid marketing and the leveraging of smartphone digital assistants.

ABI Voice ControlAs a result, the analyst predicts voice control devices such as the Amazon Echo will represent around 30% of smart home device spending by 2021 (or annual shipments reaching 600 million, up from 40m in 2015), despite only being around since 2014. This is thanks to big names pushing in the category, with Amazon taking the lead followed by Google, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft.

“Voice control will not only draw in new consumers to smart home functionality, but it will help transform a wide variety of new and emerging smart home services and devices into more attractive investments,” ABI adds. “The stage is set for voice control to become the heart of any smart home system.”

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URC Launches TDC-7100 and TKP-7600 Interfaces

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URC announces a pair of user interfaces for the Total Control system aimed at the custom installation channel-- the TDC-7100 tabletop controller and the TKP-7600 in-wall touchscreen.

URC ControllerThe two devices feature a 7-inch touchscreen for the control of home entertainment and smart home products, as well as an intercom with door station integration through the addition of a built-in camera, microphone and speaker. Such functionality also enables room-to-room  and whole house family communication.

In addition the TDC-7100 features an integrated induction charging base.

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The Next VR Contender: Microsoft

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Microsoft VRMicrosoft quietly announced virtual reality plans at the tail end of its recent Surface event, as a number of partners will be selling headsets taking advantage of the VR and holographic capabilities of Windows 10.

The partners in question include HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer. Very little is known about the actual headsets, but Microsoft says the devices  feature "inside-out" tracking sensors able to handle 6 degrees of movement freedom, eliminating the need for the external cameras or laser systems used by the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.

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Logitech Harmony Gets Alexa Voice Control

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Logitech is the next company to get an Amazon partnership, as customers can now pair the Logitech Harmony Hub with Alexa-enabled devices for "voice control of the entire living room entertainment experience."

Harmony AlexaHarmony Hub connectivity comes through an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot skill, and includes the starting/stopping of Harmony Activities, device control and turning directly to favourite channels, all through voice control alone. As such, one can summon different controls through statements such as "Alexa, turn on the TV" or "Alexa, turn on Netflix."

“This new capability is both practical and fun for our users,” Logitech says. “We’ve been working closely with Amazon to deliver robust voice control of your smart home using a Harmony hub-based remote and an Alexa-enabled device-- and if you don’t have Harmony yet, just say ‘Alexa, order a Harmony Hub’ and have one delivered.”

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Global Caché Teams Up With mediadogg

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Connectivity product provider Global Caché announces a "strategic partnership" with mediadogg Software, developer of media device and home automation control software.

Global CacheThe partnership already bears fruit in the shape of iTower, an application Global Caché says enhances the UI of its cloud-based Control Tower IR database with a "rich and intuitive graphical user interface."

“The user interface that mediadogg has developed for Control Tower is really impressive,” Global Caché Tech adds. “It’s easy to use, employing drop down menus and an attractive GUI that we believe integrators and other partners are going to love. Their three versions of iTower will appeal to all levels of users.”

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Panasonic Intros Wireless, Batteryless Switch

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Panasonic switchCEATEC 2016 sees Panasonic present a new kind of switch ideal for both residential and commercial applications-- one the company says is doubly convenient by being both wireless and batteryless.

The switch is a simple enough device. It uses a power generator to turn motion (such as a button press) into enough power to activate a wireless signal. It also can be integrated into furniture, as seen in a Panasonic video demo where sitting on a chair triggers lights, fans, computers and music at a desk.

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ELAN Presents 12-inch Touchpanel

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The ELAN user interface portfolio gets an addition in the shape of the gXP12-- a 12-inch touchpanel compatible with all ELAN systems introduced at CEDIA 2016.

Elan touchpaenThe gXP12 has an 11.6-inch 16:9 display offering 1920 x 1080 resolution together with a 5MP camera. Designed for ELAN Intercom, the touchpanel provides high-fidelity audio for clear conversations and notification chimes, as well as a digital MEMS microphone with echo and noise cancellation.

Powering the gXP12 is a Freescale IMX6 dual- and quad-core processor with a NEON SIMD co-processor and 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9. For installers the touchpanel uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) and a 24VDC power jack, and is CE, RoHS/WEEE and PoE 802.3af compliant.

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