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System Integration for the Connected Home

Lighting

An End to Flourescent Lighting?

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Is plastic key to the next generation of lighting? Scientists at Wake Forest University claim to have developed a type of light bulbs as efficient as LEDs but without any of the drawbacks.

FIPELCalled FIPEL (Field-Induced Polymer Electrolumeniscent), the technology consists of 3 layers of moldable light-emitting polymer (aka plastic) blended with a small amount of glowing nanomaterials. Once an electric current is applied the system produces a bright white light without the harsh, bluish tint LEDs tend to have

The scientists say the system is "at least twice as efficient" as CFL bulbs and is on par with LEDs. It can also be moulded in any shape (from 2x4-foot sheets to regular bulbs with Edison sockets) and bulbs produced are unbreakable, non-toxic, non-buzzing and long-lasting.

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App-Controllable Lighting, Via Socket

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App-controllable light bulbs appear to be the next bright thing. Philips sells one, and so does Insteon. Now Spark Devices suggests an alternative system on Kickstarter-- the Spark Socket.

Spark SocketThe Spark Socket is a device customers screw into a regular socket, before screwing in any dimmable bulb. It allows users to control lighting (on, off, dimming) via wifi connection and iOS/Android apps, without the need for new lighting or major wiring.

The system also has a number of additional functions, such as a "sunrise" alarm clock (slowly fading on lighting at a set time), turning on/off all lighting via a single button, or flashing on lights when one receives a new email or text message. For further functionality, wannabe developers can also make use of the RESTful API.

Spark Sockets already exist in working prototype form, and the makers now look for funding (or "preorders," rather) on Kickstarter. One socket costs $60, with shipping estimated to kick off by around July 2013.

Go Spark Socket (Kickstarter)

Philips Take on App-Controllable Lighting

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Philips enters the app-controlled lighting arena with the Hue-- an LED lightbulb with brightness and colour settings controllable via either PC or smartphones.

Philips HueEach Hue bulb carries 11 LEDs in 3 different colours (red, lime, blue) providing up to 16 million colour combinations. Philips even claims Hue bulbs can even recreate the ultimate in light sources, incandescent lighting. Control comes through app (iOS and Android) or web-based interface on the Philips website.

Users can set individual bulbs with different lighting settings. The app also has "LightRecipes," 4 built-in presets based on "research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body."

The system itself works via hub connecting to router via Ethernet cable. It runs on the ZigBee LightLink protocol and is compatible with other devices running on the standard while using less power than wifi.

Philips also promises a pain-free setup-- screw in the Hue bulbs, plug in the hub and press a button.

The Hue introduction package includes 3 bulbs (enlargable to 50 bulbs), with each bulb providing 600 lumens of brightness.

Go Philips Hue

Crestron Releases Shades Design Tool

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crestron design toolCrestron makes selling its new shades portfolio more simple with the Crestron Design Tool (CDT)-- a web-based design tool simplifying design, quotation and ordering tasks.

It has various benefits such as:

  • Automatically selects the appropriate motor and tube size
  • Eliminates guesswork-- all configuration options are displayed, and if you make an incompatible selection CDT shows how to correct it
  • Access can be granted to multiple employees so you have visibility and access to all projects-- even if someone is out of the office
  • Easily organize shades in every room by creating a project hierarchy (by window, room, or entire building) making it easier to find what you are looking for
  • Generate quotes for a specific room, floor or building easily
  • Quote and order individual portions of a project
  • Email quotes and other project related detail to anyone directly from the software

The CDT is availabe to all Crestron dealers who completed Crestron Shading Solutions training.

Watch Crestron Design Tool

Go Crestron Shading Solutions

The Wifi-Controlled, Multi-Colour Bulb

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The LIFX is an interesting take on the familiar LED bulb-- a wifi-controllable "smartbulb" allowing not only remote on/off and brightness control but also a full range of lighting colours.

LIFXThe bulb is energy efficient, being a RGB phosphorous COB LED lamp. Using a master/slave system it connects to home routers via 802.11n and to other LIFX smartbulbs via 802.15.4 mesh networks.

Control comes through iOS and Android apps and is complete with timer and mood lighting options.

Currently using Kickstarter for pre-orders, LIFX already has orders worth $1.3 million after less than a month... with an original goal of just $100000.

App-controlled LED lamps are not a new concept-- back in March 2012 NEC lighting showed off a prototype with an integrated speaker and Bluetooth connectivity.

Go LIFX: The Light Bulb Reinvented

Savant Integrates LightTouch

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Savant Systems transforms the LiteTouch product portfolio into Savant Lighting Control, a series installers can integrate within the Savant automation ecosystem or use as a standalone lighting control system.

Savant LightingBest known for AV control systems based on trendy Apple products, Savant bought LiteTouch from Nortek back in February 2012.

LiteTouch users can activate lights via Savant keypads as well as the iOS and Mac apps from the company, including TrueControl and TrueImage Control.

In addition installers can set up Savant Lighting Control products as part of a standalone lighting solution, with the same interoperability LiteTouch offered to 3rd party control vendors. Savant's backwards compatible hardware and software designs allows for support and system upgrade of all LiteTouch systems already installed in the field.

The company will also continue supporting 3rd party lighting control systems through the Partners in Excellence Program.

Savant Lighting Control will be available from Q3 2012 through both Savant and LiteTouch dealer networks.

Go Savant Lighting Control

"Quietest Motor" in Crestron Shades

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Crestron claims the motor in its motorised shades line is "the quietest on the market," thanks to new low-voltage Quiet Motor Technology (QMT).

Crestron The line includes roller shades, Roman shades, skylight shades and drapery track systems, all with designer-inspired fabrics and hardware finishes. Being "Integrated by Design" the Crestron shading solutions work with lighting, AV, climate and security systems from the company.

Control comes through all Crestron systems, including touchscreens, keypads, remotes and Apple/Android devices. Installers can also integrate the shades with Crestron lighting presets for complete control of daylight and electric light.

Go Crestron Shading Solutions