Coolest Demo at ISC West This Year

One of the coolest demos at ISC West this year was the FIBARO Mount Everest Challenge.

On April 16, at 11:00am a live Skype conference call was established with mountain climber Mariusz Malkowski live from his base camp on Mount Everest.  Various Z-Wave sensors were tripped on the show floor in Las Vegas and Malkowski received notifications on his device at Mount Everest.  Malkowski then send Z-wave commands to remotely control the various devices at the Z-Wave Pavilion on the show floor.

The demo went smoothly with Malkowski opening and closing garage and door locks and controlling a Z-Wave water valve all from the slopes of Mount Everest.  There was a bit of nervous apprehension at the end of the live demo when Malkowski tried to activate the coffee maker and it initially didn’t work … Yikes!  As it turns out the coffee maker was receiving the Z-Wave command from Malkowski on Everest however someone forgot to close the lid on the coffee maker.  Once the lid was properly closed Malkowski sent the command again and the brew began to flow along with the smiles and cheers from the crowd.

Overall FIBARO’s Mount Everest Challenge Demo was a success and showed off the reliability of the Z-Wave platform for Home Automation and Control.  If you can control your home from Mount Everest … you can control it from anywhere!

Below is the video we shot at the show.  The quality of the audio during the first 20 seconds of the “LIVE” demo is very poor but does get better.  Unfortunately the PA system in the booth wasn’t very good and we couldn’t get our mic close enough to the presenter to get better audio.  The video is just over 11 minutes long in total.

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New Alarm.com App Now Available

new app

Alarm.com New App

Alarm.com’s new iOS App Version 3.2 is now available for download on the Apple App Store.

The New iOS App adds support for the Apple Watch and will allow you to arm/disarm, control locks, garage doors and thermostats all from the Apple Watch.

Some Notifications are now Actionable right from the notifications screen without the need to launch the app.  Actionable notifications include arm/disarm, door lock/unlock and garage door open and close.

Old New T-Stat

The Thermostat section of the App has been enhanced and allows you to control your furnace fan and edit schedules right from the app.

lutron screen 1Next up is huge improvements and better integration with Lutron Caseta and Radio Ra2 systems.

Previous to this upgrade Lutron integration with Alarm.com was clunky and awkward.  The new App organizes Lutron devices into Switches and Dimmers, Picos, Keypads and Scenes and Shades.  The new interface is more intuitive and easy to navigate and control.

This app upgrade is a must for Lutron users.

lutron 2

Not to be outdone by Lutron, the Z-Wave lighting section in the new 3.2 App also gets a minor upgrade.  Z-Wave lights and switches are now directly controlled by clicking on the on/off, dim icons next to the device name and gone is the SET button.

Two-Way status feedback is now provided to all Z-Wave and Lutron devices so the user can know if lights have been left on or off, or if shades have been left open or closed.

Lastly, Version 3.2 adds new features to the Water Value Control, allowing you to monitor your sump pump and remotely turn water values on or off via the app or by rules settings.

Overall the new Alarm.com Version 3.2 iOS App is a great improvement over the previous app.  The new interface is more intuitive and makes controlling the devices in your home smooth and easy.

If you would like more information on Home Automation or the New Alarm.com App call or email Ion Security Systems 780-489-5522.

 

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New Smart Thermostats Announced At ISC West

2Gig just announced it will be showing off a complete line of New Thermostats tomorrow at ISC West.

“HVAC management represents one of the top trends in smart home control, so we’re excited to bring this solution to security dealers,” said Duane Paulson, senior vice president of product and market development, Nortek Security & Control.

The new GoControl Thermostat lineup will include black and white and color LCD touch screen models as well as a non-touch screen version.  Right now we only have a picture of the B/W touch screen model to show you, but will post more pics from the show floor tomorrow.

In addition to 2Gig,  Alarm.com and Honeywell will also be showing off their new thermostats.

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New Alarm.com App Coming Soon

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 1.04.38 PMLas Vegas hosts North America’s largest security and tech show this week ISC West.  The trade show opens up in just two days (April 15th) but the new product announcements have just begun.

Alarm.com just announced a New App for iOS and Android will be coming soon.

The new App with include:

1 – Fan Support:  Control of Furnace Fan Settings via the app.  We’re not sure if this is for All Alarm.com supported thermostats or just the New Alarm.com branded thermostat they showed off at CES 2015

2 – Enhanced Support for Lutron Devices:  We can’t wait to see this feature.  Previously Lutron Support on the Alarm.com App has been hit and miss, (Mostly Miss) ,  any improvements to Lutron Integration will be welcomed.

3 – Remote Water Management: I briefly discussed water management last year with Alarm.com and their product development team was just beginning to work on water management last year.  It will be great to see what they’ve come up with and how they are going to integrate Water Management into the Alarm.com experience.

4 – Actionable Notifications:  With the New App some notifications will be actionable directly from the notification screen without opening up the app.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 1.25.56 PM5 – Apple Watch Support:  Anyone who watched the Apple Watch launch last month saw a demo of the Alarm.com app on the Apple Watch.  The biggest takeaway for me was watching the garage door camera screen pop up and show the garage door automatically when the open door button was pressed on the Apple Watch.  Currently with the Alarm.com app you have to do two things separate steps to enable viewing of the alarm.com camera and garage door opening.  1 – Press the open garage door button on the app, then second 2 – Press the garage camera icon button on the app.  The Apple Watch app during the demo seemed to integrate BOTH These actions into one step.  I’m curious if the iOS App and Android App will work the same as the Apple Watch App?

Stay Tuned for more news and events from the ISC West Show later this week.

 

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Twelve South Book Arc Stand – Review

If you’re looking for a dock for your MacBookPro laptop you might want to check out the Book Arc from Twelve South.  While technically not a dock, the Twelve South Book Arc is the perfect stand to use with a MacBook Pro and 27” Thunderbolt Monitor.

The combination of this stand and the Thunderbolt monitor allows you to easily remove the laptop and take it with you when you leave home,  then slide it back into the stand and connect the power and monitor cables to quickly dock with my MacBook with my thunderbolt monitor and external hard drives.

I love the fit and finish of the Book Arc.  It’s carved out of a single piece of aluminum and has silicone feet on the bottom to prevent slippage and a silicone sleeve insert which gently cushions and hold my Macbook Pro in place. The color and finish of the aluminum matches my MacBook, monitor and keyboard perfectly and looks awesome.

The Twelve South Book Arc is not only good looking but functional too. Buy holding the MacBook in the vertical position I save a lot of valuable space on my desk and the built in cable management makes everything look neat and tidy.

If there’s anything to fault about this case it would be the price … Yes it is expensive but for the fit, finish and function of this stand, I believe it’s worth it especially if you have a Thunderbolt Display … this is a must have accessory!

Links:

Amazon Link

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Future Shop Closes Stores All it’s Stores Across Canada Today

Future Shop closed all it’s stores in Canada today much to the shock of dismay of employees and customers.  There was no advance notice given, employees were greeted with a sign behind locked doors that read “This Store is Permanently Closed.  We Thank You for your support and look forward to service you at a nearby Best Buy Store.

Best Buys is the parent company of Future Shop.  The company employs approximately 2000 worker across Canada, many who are now unemployed.  Best Buy plans to re-brand and reopen some of the Future Shop locations as “Best Buy’s” but the majority of Future Shop stores will remain permanently shut down.

Customers who have prepaid purchases and service booked with Future Shop will now be serviced by Best Buy.

The closure of FutureShop is just the latest shoe to drop in the fragile consumer electronics industry.

Earlier this month we reported tech giant Tiger Direct is closing all it’s retail outlets,  Sharp Electronics is pulling out of Canada and maybe even North America as it struggles to restructure and Target will close all 80 of it’s stores by Easter Weekend.

Now with Future Shop closing the next question will be what’s going to happen to some of their Exclusive Brands like Vizio, Martin Logan, Marantz and others.  Some of these brands are available at Best Buy right now, and the others may also become available now that Future Shop is no more.  The real question is “Are brands like Vizio now going to allow other Canadian retails to sell their brand … I think the answer is going to be yes”.

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1,240,000 Reported Fires in the United States

According to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association there were 1,240,000 fires reported in the United States in 2013.

3,240 civilian deaths occurred due to fires and 15,925 civilian injuries resulted due to fires.

The total property damage due to fires in 2013 exceeded $11.5 Billion dollars.

“Most people think about getting an alarm system to prevent property theft” say’s Doyle Serink from Ion Security.   “People don’t realize that alarm systems can do much more.  An alarm system can detect fire, smoke, water and low temperature conditions, notifying the homeowner and  authorities quickly at first signs of trouble, often minimizing the damage and loss.”

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50% of U.S. Homes Have a PVR

Does anybody watch Live TV anymore?

According to a survey by Leichtman Research Group (LRG),  Almost half (47%) of U.S. homes have at least one PVR and 23 percent have a PVR on more than one set.  PVR sales are beginning to level out after years of exponential growth.  Among households with a PVR, LGR’s survey found 70 percent also subscribe to Netflix or use Video On Demand (VOD) services from their cable company.

PVR’s have changed the way we watch Television and it’s clear from the numbers that North American’s are no longer content to simply abide by the TV broadcast schedule but rather control not only what they watch but decide when they want to watch it.  Most viewers with PVRs time shift programs and Skip through commercials.  The growth in Netflix indicates that North Americans want to be able to view and access their programming not only at home but on the road, mobile as well.  The popularity of Video On Demand also indicates that traditional TV viewing habits are changing  and services like VOD and Netflix have spawned a whole new method of TV viewing called Binge Watching.

Responding to changing viewer habits the CRTC recently ruled to make cable companies unbundle some services and even allow a la carte programming.  PVR’s, Video-On-Demand and Netflix have changed the way we watch conventional programming and Smart Phones and Tablets have untethered us from our couches and transformed Television to a mobile platform.  The recent announcements by Dish Network and Apple TV to provide traditional TV programming on their streaming media devices indicates the future direction traditional broadcast television will be going in the near future.  The transformation won’t be fast and the road will be bumpy – but the way we watch television and access media is slowly changing

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TigerDirect Closes 31 Retail Stores – Hires Kevin O’Leary as brand Spokesman

TigerDirect is the latest consumer electronics retailer to announce it will be closing all it’s brick and mortar retail stores but three to concentrate on B2B and online sales.  TigerDirect operates 34 retail stores in North America, six of which are in Canada.  The three stores remaining open will be Miami, Georgia and Puerto Rico.

Shark Tank celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary was hired this month by TigerDirect to become their Official Brand Ambassador.  O’Leary commented,  “I’m all about helping businesses increase productivity, and ultimately, cash flow. I’m excited to be working with TigerDirect to do exactly that by providing businesses with the best IT solutions available.”

The majority of TigerDirect’s 2.6 Billion dollars in sales comes from online while a scant  $891 million comes from retail.  TigerDirect will be laying off approximately 25% of it’s workforce but will continue to operate it’s online stores TigerDirect.com, TigerDirect.ca and TigerDirect.pr.

sources:  canadabuster, south florida business journal 

 

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Sharp Canada Pulling out of Consumer Retail Sales

Sharp Electronics Canada is pulling the plug on it’s consumer retail sales for Aquos LCD-TVs in Canada.

I spoke to a couple distributors this morning who confirmed that Sharp is ceasing retail sales effective April 1st, 2015 and stock is limited to what they have on hand in their warehouse.

John Thomson of Wifi-hifi Magazine reports the following:

“WiFi HiFi has received official confirmation from Sharp Electronics of Canada that the brand will cease the marketing of Sharp AQUOS LCD-TVs to the retail channel effective April 1, 2015.

What follows is a word for word letter sent to us by Sharp. Company executives have relayed this information to Sharp employees.”

Carmine Cinerari president of Sharp Canada states “This decision was made in the context of extremely challenging business conditions in the Canadian retail CE segment and as part our our regular local mid-term planning process”

While Sharp is a small player in the whole TV market, they are the leader in Large Format 70-90″ LCD/LED Displays and will truly be missed.  Two of my favourite large format HDTV’s are the Sharp Quattron Plus LC-80UQ17U and LC-60UQ17U.  These TVs have impressive picture quality and the vast majority of my customers have preferred the Sharp picture to similar TVs from Samsung, Sony and LG.

While Sharp is pulling out of retail in Canada they still will be selling their commercial panels and will support and warranty all products sold.

Sharp will be missed, especially the 80″ TV size where there are few competitive alternatives.  Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony will fill the void left by Sharp, however the new sets offered by these manufacturers will be 4K and much more expensive than the current Sharp Quattron + lineup.   Sharp will continue to sell Quattron TVs U.S. so once stock runs out in Canada there will be the option to still buy Sharp from US retailers or perhaps Costco might bring some Sharp sets up from the US to sell in their Canadian stores.

The bottom line:  If you are in the market for a 70-90″ TV you may want to purchase one before retailers sell out of their stock.

Source: Wifi-hifi
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