In this column I wanted to highlight three IP solutions that delighted our customers this summer. These are applications that you may want to consider in your current and future IP home designs.
Personalized DJ Services. This summer the Sonos Digital Music System (www.sonos.complease see my review on this system in the March, 2005 issue) added support of the Rhapsody music service (www.rhapsody.com). This is a phenomenal new service that greatly enhances the value of Sonos digital music system. Clients that subscribe to the Rhapsody music service can now leverage their online musical playlist via the whole-house Sonos music system. Personalized playlists created online with rented songs (the client pays a $10 monthly subscription fee to Rhapsody for this service) can now be played and controlled by the Sonos controller throughout the home.
We have even set up clients with a laptop running a session of Rhapsody wirelessly connected to their home network so that they can offer personalized DJ services. Our clients ask a party guest for a specific artist or song request, searches the Rhapsody online service for these songs from their laptop, adds them to the Rhapsody playlist, and the music is instantly recognized by the Sonos music system and played throughout the home. Demonstrate this feature to your music-loving clients, and you could easily sell them a Sonos System, a whole-house speaker installation, and your companys networking products and expertise.
Personalized Camera Portal. More and more of our clients are asking for camera installations at their front door and overlooking the backyard. Many of these clients want to see these video images not only on televisions throughout the home but also on their computersat home and when they travel. IP cameras from Panasonic, Linksys, Sony, and many other companies now offer these network-compatible video solutions. The novel IP camera solution that we offered several of our clients this summer was that we placed multiple camera images from two different home sites on one easy-to-recall web portal. Many of our clients have a primary residence and a vacation home that they would like to monitor when they are on the road.
With a Linksys router implementing the DynDNS service (please see my column on Dynamic DNS in the August 2003 issue) and Panasonic IP cameras at each property, we created a single portal that shows each of these cameras on one web page, even though the cameras physically reside at two different locations. Now our clients can travel anywhere in the world, connect to an Internet station, and see all of their properties at a glance on their own personalized website.
Remote Restart. Unfortunately, one of the problems with ethernet-based home networking equipment is that they can freeze and lock-up from time to time and need to be restarted to perform properly. Any product with a computer operating system is prone to this problem. Suffice it to say that many of these products have to be rebooted occasionally. The obvious way is to restart equipment is to unplug the device and plug it back in. This works well if the product plug is easily accessible; its more difficult if the product is in a basement rack of equipment that is not as easily accessed (like a server, router, or high-speed modem) and impossible to do if youre not in the home. A solution that we are now incorporating in our equipment racks is an IP-connected power strip from Pulizzi Engineering (www.pulizzi.com) that allows us to connect up to eight electronic products (up to a 20-amp draw), and turn on and off these electronic products individually from any browser pointing to the IP address of the power strip. Saving this IP address as a personal favorite in a browser allows our clients and our engineers to easily navigate to the power strips Java based outlet control portal.
Each device connected to the power strip is described and identified on this portal and can be turned on and off with the click of a mouse. Cable modems that need to be restarted can now be handled from the comfort of the clients office computer. Time delays can even be assigned that allow products to boot up in sequence after a specified number of seconds. This is very useful feature for sequencing the power up of large bank of amplifiers that could otherwise trip a circuit breaker if they were all turned on at the same time.
While none of these IP solutions are guaranteed to generate a six-figure deal, all of them showcase a level of innovation and expertise that will help differentiate your company from the competitors in your area. And that, in and of itself, is a very sound financial move.