Product Prototypes and Startups That Caught My Eye at CES 2014

Jan 14

Written by: Lindsey Adler
1/14/2014 11:03 AM  RssIcon

While the International CES is certainly the place for broad consumer market technology product launches, I find that for the custom installation channel the show is more of a place for our industry to present updates to CEDIA EXPO introductions (I heard a lot of “it’s now shipping” news), present those products to the broader consumer base that attends CES, meet with vendors and other partners, and preview what they’re working on next. Beyond the many tech introductions on the show floor at CES last week in Las Vegas, I saw a number of interesting product prototypes that we can look to hear more about in the near future.

One of these prototypes from MartinLogan is a big brother to the current Motion 40 and 20 tower speakers. The as-yet-unnamed, spec-less speakers were charmingly referred to as “party speakers.” From what I could glean, each speaker features two 8-inch bass drivers; one 6.5-inch mid/bass driver; MartinLogan’s Folded Motion XT tweeter—the XT designation indicates that it’s a larger size than the usual Folded Motion tweeter used in most non-electrostatic ML speakers—an expected late summer/early fall ship date (in time for CEDIA EXPO), and an approximate $3,000/pair price tag.

Leviton was previewing a new app slated for formal announcement around NAHB’s International Builders’ Show (IBS) in February. “Leviton is undergoing a significant redesign to their remote access apps, Snap-Link Mobile,” said Tom Morgan, Leviton’s new director of product manager. “Leviton is no stranger to advanced GUIs, as they first produced smartphone apps in 2008, with an in-wall touchscreen released in 2002. During 2014’s CES, Leviton’s latest in-wall touchscreen, the OmniTouch 7, was awarded Human Interface of the Year by the CEA TechHome Division. The same award-winning interface is now being replicated on iOS and Android platforms, so whether you’re in the foyer or the Bahamas, the same comfortable interface will be available in your native language to control security, energy, and entertainment.”
 
 
Leviton latest apps for iOS and Android are available as one-time downloads without recurring monthly fees or licenses.
 
Leviton anticipates a late Q1 release of its latest apps for iOS and Android, available as one-time downloads without recurring monthly fees or licenses. “Homeowners can access their home, their vacation home, and their business, thanks to multiple account files within one app,” Morgan said.

Vutec announced a major collaboration with automated shading provider Qmotion to produce the first battery-operated motorized projection screen, the Lectric I with Qmotion. There is not yet a ship date for the product, but Vanessa Sayen, marketing and communications manager, said it should be available by CEDIA. The screen integrates with major control systems like Control4, Savant, and Crestron and is mobile app-enabled. Ultimately, the screen was designed to feature a much quieter motor and cut installation time for dealers. The Qmotion technology will also be offered with Vutec’s Artscreen, which transforms a flat-panel display with a work of art when the display is not in use.

Sanus is set to release an installer-friendly accessory for in-wall power and cable management. The PowerBridge system has been designed to simplify cable and wire installation behind wall-mounted flat-panel TVs, eliminating the need to call in an electrician and to pull power cords by routing low-voltage cables and wires through the wall and into AV components, surge protectors, or power conditioners. The outlets are color-coded without modifying the existing circuit. PowerBridge connects to a local AC power outlet or can be used remotely or in an AV rack room. The one I saw at CES is a brand-new version of PowerBridge (the PIM807), and it has been refined to be much smaller than a previous model; the change was based on installer feedback about the desire to cut smaller holes. There will be a dual-gang version with two outlets and a single one available in March. It comes with a Soundbridge attachment to easily plug in a soundbar and hide those wires as well. It can be daisy-chained together behind the wall.

I also saw some interesting tech startup solutions coming to market this year. Though these tend to have broader market goals, they could have useful applications in the CI channel, as well.

Piper is a home security and automation device that was on display in the Z-Wave Alliance’s booth. Piper includes an advanced PTZ IP camera for live video monitoring, security, and environmental monitoring. It offers a wide field via a fisheye lens and can break down a room into a quad view to monitor different angles and spaces. Piper also offers data analysis, vacation mode, and a security siren if an intruder is detected. A high functioning mobile app provides impressive customization, too. The device is made by Blacksumac, an Ottawa-based startup doing engineering design and development on remote presence-based smart home and business technology. Piper came to fruition via an Indigogo campaign in April 2012, and it is scheduled to ship this week, according to Blacksumac marketing director Stephanie Mitchell.
 
 
Tablo combines an HD antenna with an app-friendly DVR. 
 
Another newbie that could appeal to cord-cutters, is Tablo, which essentially combines an HD antenna with an app-friendly DVR. Billed as an OTT accompaniment, Tablo delivers live programming to any connected device in a home. The program guide interface enables simple browsing, recording, and streaming of live, local TV broadcasts in HD. Two tuners allow two programs to be recorded at the same time, and a four-tuner version is in the works. Up to 2TB of local storage is available. Tablo is compatible with all mobile devices and works with other OTT solutions like AppleTV, Roku, and Chromecast. Parent company Nuvyyo is currently accepting preorders for a February ship date.

This is just a sampling of some of the exciting technology that our industry has to look forward to in the near future from companies we know and others that we’re just finding out about for the first time.

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