From Video to Mounts, from Speakers to Control…Caster Clients totalled more than 500 stories off CEDIA

October 15, 2009

Coming off CEDIA is always a busy time at Caster. With ten clients on the floor, prepping for the show is hard enough, but coming back everyone wants their show reports. The line up of press stories they had is what keeps our clients smiling and keep us slammed through Columbus Day. If you estimate seven clients with two news releases each multiplied times 50 top tier news outlets covering the show, we captured over 500 news articles.

These are some of my favorites this year:

1. Paradigm: CEPro’s Julie Jacobson’s recap of her Toronto trip and blind listening of the new SE speakers attained a lot of buzz. Steven Kim at Engadget sure appreciated the story and supplied his take, the comments are especially titillating

2. Control4: With back to back shows, news from Control4 spanned the energy and utility space and its core business in home automation. Smart Grid News offered this take Texas Utility Choses Control4 for HAN Control and Energy Management while Stewart Wolpin wrote this on the new EMS 100 system for DVICE. Janet Pinkerton’s take on how the Smart Grid is going to impact CE retail and custom installers was a hit over at Dealerscope.

3. NuVo had a tremendous show nabbing  2009 CEDIA Manufacturers’ Excellence Award, Best New Product: Renovia and the press agreed with stories like HomeTheater.com – NuVo Renovia May Be Harbinger of Future and Twice’s  Retrofit, Remodeling Get CEDIA Expo Focus.

4. OmniMount had a powerhouse of a show as furniture and  TV Mounting Options Continue To Expand and with lots of sightings of their OmniLite Series, New Classic Series and Modena Series, and a huge volume of hourly giveaways posted through their Twitter site.

5. MartinLogan impressed the audio crowd at this year’s  Expo.  HomeTheaterForum.com offers this CEDIA 2009 Martin Logan Booth Tour and BigPictureBigSound.com highlights MartinLogan Shows Wireless Subwoofers: Dynamo 700 and 1000.

6. Anthem ran a great demo showing of their Statement D2V, fans flocked and the booth was slammed throughout the show. Home Theater Review posted their thoughts on the Anthem Statement D2v with Anthem Room Correction Reviewed.

7. Runco rounded out our clients at CEDIA with one of the most applauded video demos at the show, from their new entry level LightSyle to the debut of their Quantum LED line, the pools of drool were deep and accolades many as attested by Projector Central’s  Runco Takes Xtreme DLP Projection to the Next Level…  and engadgetHD.com with their Price check – Runco’s LS-3 projector within reach of mere mortals.

All in all, I’d say a very good show!

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster

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ZigBee Alliance Certifies 17 New ZigBee Home Automation Products

October 12, 2009

San Ramon, Calif. –  The ZigBee® Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy management, commercial and consumer applications, today announced the certification of 17 devices from 10 manufacturers using ZigBee Home Automation, plus enhancements to the public application profile.

ZigBee Home Automation is a standard offering control for home appliances, lighting, environment, energy use, and security. It provides a path to direct interoperability with other ZigBee public application profiles, including the industry-leading ZigBee Smart Energy. ZigBee Home Automation now features new security mechanisms and support for doorbells and mechanized window shades. The standard features control of HVAC systems, power outlets, motorized devices, security and other devices. Product manufacturers will benefit from this standardized approach that makes devices reliable, affordable, easy-to-install and operate. Products using ZigBee Home Automation are ideal for new construction, do-it-yourself and retrofit markets.

The 2009 “Home Technologies and Energy Efficiency: A Look At Behaviors, Issues and Solutions” study by the Consumer Electronics Association shows 75 percent of consumers expressed concern over possible rising energy costs. Many ZigBee Home Automation certified products are designed to help consumers manage home energy costs.

“With 17 products from 10 global manufacturers passing our rigorous certification process, ZigBee Home Automation will be in a position to make a strong retail debut,” said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “With a total of 41 certified products, ZigBee Home Automation and ZigBee Smart Energy will give consumers more options to monitor and control their energy use while enjoying a smarter and safer home.”

The following ZigBee Home Automation certified products are fully interoperable and will use the ZigBee Certified logo and the ZigBee Home Automation icon on product packaging and advertisements to clearly communicate interoperability to the marketplace. For a full list of features and product photos, please visit http://www.zigbee.org/homeautomation.

  • 4Home — ControlPoint, Portal Serverand SDK software products allow for the rapid development and deployment of compelling, easy-to-use, and profitable new applications for today’s connected home, including energy management, home monitoring and security, and media management.
  • AlertMe — Occupancy Sensor monitors rooms and corridors for motion, features an indicator LED, battery operation, low-power micro-controller, status reports every two minutes and alarm events as they occur.
  • AlertMe — Simple Sensor for domestic windows and doors is a two-part design comprising a compact magnet and a sensitive magnetic reed switch and features an indicator LED, battery operation, low-power micro-controller, status reports every two minutes along with opening and closing events as they occur.
  • AlertMe — On/Off Button is a wireless doorbell or panic button offering touch and visual feedback via a positive button action and bright LEDs. It features indicator LEDs, battery operation, low-power micro-controller, status reports every two minutes and button-push events as they occur.
  • AlertMe — Access Controller serves as a key fob for the AlertMe Intruder Alarm service and recognizes a user’s occupancy. It features indicator LEDs, battery operation, piezoelectric sounder, low-power micro-controller, status reports every two minutes and button pushes as they occur.
  • Black & Decker — Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt with Home Connect Technology enables the door lock to wirelessly communicate with other devices in the home, allowing homeowners to monitor and control their door locks using either a web enabled device or their home automation system. It offers true remote locking and unlocking features due to its motorized driven deadbolt and can automatically arm/disarm security systems as well as initiate customized scenes upon entrance and exit.
  • CentraLite — HA On/Off Light Switches can be controlled at the device itself or from any other ZigBee Home Automation enabled switch. It is rated to control 1,000 watts and will be available in the standard Decora style design in a variety of colors.
  • CentraLite — HA Dimmer can be controlled at the device itself or from any other ZigBee Home Automation enabled controller. It features press and hold precision dimming and tap on and off power along with configurable soft rates. It is rated to control 800W and will be available in the standard Decora style design in a variety of colors.
  • CentraLite — HA On/Off Switch can be bound to any ZigBee Home Automation compatible On/Off Device. It features a 110V input voltage and will be available in the standard Decora style design in a variety of colors.
  • Control4 — Home Controller HC-300 is the central building block for home automation, making it easy for anyone to add intelligent control to a home at a truly affordable price. One HC-300 replaces, on average, more than four traditional remotes and delivers easy navigation and operation.
  • Control4 — Wireless Dimmer offers affordable, elegant and convenient lighting along with intelligent customization features designed to fit individual life styles.
  • Jetlun – Jetlun Gateway (model RD75606) is a controller that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption information and helps homeowners manage and control energy usage through a simple user interface.
  • Jetlun – Jetlun Appliance Module (model 75613) is a three-prong electrical module with built-in advanced noise filtering technologies and surge protection that can be plugged into any standard wall outlet to monitor, store and control the energy consumption of electrical appliances and devices.
  • MMB Research — HA Coordinator provides control of thermostats, switches, sensors and other devices. It is a subset of RapidSE™ – a family of hardware and software allowing device vendors to rapidly integrate a fully-compliant ZigBee platform.
  • NETGEAR — ZEB102 ZigBee Bridge enables people to monitor and control their energy devices and in-home appliances over the Internet. The ZEB102 is designed around a flexible, yet affordable, MIPS 32-based high-performance system on a chip hardware platform supporting Linux, drivers and tool-chains to facilitate independent developers.
  • Radio Thermostat Company of America — CT80 Programmable Communicating Thermostat and In-Home Display is fully compatible with all popular residential central heating and cooling systems. It features a large dot-matrix display with touch-screen and multiple radio ports providing the most flexible solution for today’s complex energy management applications.
  • SerComm — NA401 Home Automation Gateway is a compact yet easy-to-use hardware platform supporting multiple communication interfaces. It is available as a ZigBee gateway development platform allowing application developers to develop solutions with pre-certified ZigBee gateway devices.

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster


Control4 Showcases Energy Management System at Autovation

September 24, 2009

Control4 demoed the Control4 Energy Management System (EMS) 100 at Autovation 2009. The EMS 100 combines the functionality of a home area network controller with demand response support, with a wireless thermostat and energy management software to provide utilities a cost effective, flexible, home area network solution for their smart grid deployments.   Leveraging award winning Control4® Home Automation product technology, the EMS 100 is the only home energy management solution that delivers customer usage data via the smart meter and a standard’s based, secure platform that can control virtually every device in the home.

“Our products support today’s regulatory requirements to proactively engage the residential consumer by delivering data via the smart grid to facilitate energy efficiency.  But the ability to control devices in the home, particularly during peak load and demand response events, is the key component to energy management that only Control4 provides, ” said Will West, Control4’s CEO. “By providing an easy-to-use, engaging consumer experience that’s coupled with automated device control, utilities can help their customers play a far more active role in managing energy use, which will contribute to generation and distribution efficiencies.”

The system aggregates energy usage data from various loads and presents the information in an intuitive display so that customers can make changes in their home to reduce energy usage or set up their in-home device to automatically do it for them. The EMS 100 serves as a valuable communications tool, providing utilities an efficient means to alert customers of demand response events and send signals directly to devices in the home during peak times.

The EMS 100 solution features the following:

  • The Control4® Energy Controller EC-100 5-inch color touch screen display – The EC-100 delivers usage data and energy costs for the home and the ability for the customer to take such actions as powering down lights or adjusting shades to reduce energy use.
  • The WT-100 Thermostat – A simple, elegant, ZigBee-based programmable wireless thermostat that connects directly to the EC-100 for total control of heating and cooling throughout the home.  Programming the WT-100 thermostat is managed through the EC-100 display.
  • Control4® Network Management Software – Control4® Network Management Software enables the monitoring, optimization and reporting of all deployed energy controllers.  The network management tools provide cost effective Tier 1 technical support and remote diagnostic capabilities.
  • Control4® ECO Software – Control4® Energy Consumption Optimizer (ECO) Software collects, analyzes and compresses energy use and behavior data on the EC-100, then communicates with the utility’s load management software to treat demand response events as a dispatchable resource.  
  • Control4® platform – The standards-based, secure Control4® software platform is based on industry standards of embedded Linux and Adobe Flash Lite.  The platform is secured through ZigBee SE, SSL, and OpenSSH technology.  The platform is extensible, allowing third parties to develop new applications, providing enhanced functionality to the system over time. For example, utilities can develop their own applications such as the monitoring of gas and water or a home’s carbon dioxide output.
  • Control4 Automation & Control — Using ZigBee, Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards, Control4’s solutions give homeowners the ability to control and automate their thermostats, lights, spa or pool, sprinklers and more, to manage power usage with one easy to use interface.

Control4 is poised for a big show at the CEDIA EXPO 2009.

September 12, 2009

Control4, the leader in affordable IP-based home control and entertainment systems, introduced its second-generation operating system (“OS 2.0”)! Control4’s OS 2.0 has an elegant new user interface and enables greater levels of customization for the custom CE installer and personalization for the homeowner. It’s a win-win solution as Control4® OS 2.0 offers:

  • new levels of home-control functionality
  • easy-to-access whole-home systems
  • integration of third-party applications
  • improved media management.

The result – Control4 integrators can now offer its most powerful automation and entertainment solution to date. 

Stop by Control4’s booth 161 at the show for a demo of the company’s new operating system and to see the company’s growing automation ecosystem.

Control4’s booth will serve as host to a number of new solutions from 16 technology partners and demonstrate its comprehensive suite of lifestyle solutions that provide Control4 dealers, and their clients, with: 1) Effortless Entertainment, 2) Comfort and Convenience, 3) Peace of Mind, including home security, elderly care, and communications solutions, 4) Solutions for Apple product integration, and 5) Green Living.

To see all of Control4’s CEDIA EXPO 2009 announcements, access their press page at www.castercomm.com/control4.


Texas Utility Chooses Control4 for Smart Grid Deployment

September 1, 2009

Control4, a leading developer of Home Area Network (“HAN”) and consumer energy management solutions, today announced that it has been selected as the HAN provider for Texas-based utility Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. Serving more than 65,000 members in 14 counties between Austin and Houston, Bluebonnet plans to begin integrating smart grid technology in its members’ homes and businesses by April 2010. Control4 will provide Bluebonnet members with its Energy Management System, which includes a powerful yet intuitive in-home display with a programmable smart thermostat that will give users the usage data and device control necessary to manage energy use and expenses.

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is a progressive utility looking to maximize member satisfaction and encourage efficient energy use through its Smart Grid investments,” said Will West,Chief Executive Officer of Control4. “Control4 is proud to support this important initiative by providing user friendly home energy management and usage data to empower Bluebonnet members to become active in the utility’s progressive energy conservation programs.”

Bluebonnet recently announced its application for a Department of Energy stimulus grant to fund a transformation of its entire business to a Smart Grid. To assist in that transformation, Bluebonnet sought a HAN partner to help provide engaging information and advice to the consumer that facilitates energy conservation and efficiency. Bluebonnet selected Control4 based on the platform’s functionality, expandability and capabilities as both an energy management and control system.   The company’s proven technology leadership (with over one million ZigBee devices shipped) and its established network of over 1,550 dealers for distribution and support were added factors in the utility’s decision.

“After an extensive search process that included several product demonstrations, Bluebonnet chose the Control4® Energy Management System for its ability to provide up-to-the-minute information about energy usage and price that our members can use to manage their monthly electric bill,” said Mark Rose, Bluebonnet CEO. “Control4’s EMS-100 combines an easy-to-use touch screen with a flexible and expandable system at a reasonable price. These features will enable Bluebonnet’s members to be better consumers of energy and help us achieve our cooperative goal of a 20 percent reduction in system load by 2020.”

The Control4 EMS-100 system will work in concert with Silver Spring smart meters and eMeter software, feeding vital information back to the utility and providing customers with up-to-the-minute information on outages, conservation events and price spikes. The Control4® system delivers energy usage data from various loads in the home, allowing homeowners to take action and manually turn off devices or program the system to do so during peak times and demand response. The entry-level system is composed of the EC100 Energy Controller, a five-inch intuitive in-home touch screen device that supplies consumers with updates on energy usage and costs, tips for saving money on energy bills, power alerts from the utility, and information on various loads and activity within the home. The system also includes a programmable thermostat that communicates with the Energy Controller for heating and cooling control of homes and businesses. In addition to energy management and control, the EMS-100 offers engaging lifestyle applications and features such as weather reports, traffic updates, stock quotes and podcasts. With the EMS-100, Bluebonnet members can be active participants in managing their energy usage and reducing their utility bills. From powering down lights to controlling shades, utility customers have access to additional ways to further reduce their energy costs.

Control4 recently announced $17.3 million in financing to fund a new business unit, Control4 Energy Systems, based in Silicon Valley, California. The company’s proven home operating system and HAN management technologies can improve operational efficiency for utilities while delivering exceptional features and benefits for the consumer. Control4 Energy Systems works with utilities, AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) Partners, dealers and retailers to bring easy-to-use energy management systems to homes and small businesses. 

For more information on Control4 Energy Systems, please visit www.control4.com.  For more information on Bluebonnet Electric, please visit www.bluebonnetelectric.coop.


The Smart Grid in 2010: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

July 28, 2009

One of the biggest challenges to understanding new technologies can be the lack of centralized and credible information readily available. Such is the problem with the Smart Grid – that buzz word concept being tossed around by cleantech companies in the Bay area to policy analysts in Washington. But what does it mean?

Last week, I stumbled upon a report from David Leeds of GTM Research entitled “The Smart Grid in 2010: Market Segments, Applications and Industry Players.” The report, a cool 145 pages, provides an in depth analysis of the smart grid end-to-end, identifying the key players, the overall technology, the market drivers and barriers to adoption. Being an information junkie like I am, I downloaded it and read almost half over the weekend. Mr. Leeds does an excellent job of providing a type of clarity not often found in research papers and I found it not only extremely readable, but interesting.

Some highlights:

  • About $1.3 billion in venture capital was invested in the Smart Grid sector in the last 4 years and $105 million just in the last 2 quarters of 2009
  • The electric grid remains one of the last networks not transformed by information technology (IT) and is arguably one of the furthest reaching and most extensive networks in existence.
  • The three biggest challenges facing the Smart Grid are: interoperability standards, utility business models that promote energy efficiency and proper development of systems architecture that can support enterprise-wide current and future applications.
  • Without a Smart Grid, renewable technologies will remain niche at best. The hopes for widespread adoption of renewables is non-existent without a smart grid to faciliate and integrate these variable generation sources.
  • The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that it will cost $165 billion over two decades to complete the evolution to a smart grid worldwide.

The report also details the major players in the various markets within the smart grid industry and includes our client, Control4 as a company to watch in the consumer energy management systems space. Control4 just announced $17.3 million in funding to develop its AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) business.

If you are involved or interested in this new intelligent utility system that promises to be a challenging and revolutionizing new infrastructure, this report is a must read.

Download here – kudos to Mr. Leeds and GTM Research for an excellent piece.

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter


Control4 Receives $17.3 MM to Fund SmartGrid Initiatives

July 8, 2009

This morning, Control4, a leading provider of affordable, IP-based home control and entertainment systems, announced that the company had received $17.3 million in new funding to accelerate the company’s efforts in the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) category. As more and more homeowners and utility companies recognize the importance of real-time monitoring and management of energy usage, the support of new and existing investors is a proof-point to the group’s commitment to the AMI category.

This $17.3 million in funding comes from our investors, Best Buy Capital, Foundation Capital, Frazier Technology Ventures, Mercato Partners, Thomas Weisel Venture Partners, University Venture Fund and vSpring Capital.
 
As you may know, AMI is an advanced metering system that enables Smart Grid technology initiatives. AMI-enabled electric meters will allow utility companies to monitor electricity delivery to each customer, giving them the ability to power and control high-tech residential devices.
 
Control4, with their AMI efforts, is striving to bring easy and affordable solutions to the home that translate to real value for consumers. Control4 will integrate its products with ZigBee, a wireless standard for energy efficiency, to let customers manage power usage. This solution will allow homeowners to be in control of their energy usage as they are able to program their thermostat, lights, spa or pool, sprinklers and other connected devices. The in-home system can provide alerts so the user can remotely make changes. The end result: Homeowners save on their utility bills.  
 
For complete funding details, please click here.