The current credit squeeze for new mortgages means less moving and more investing in the current home. The question for businesses that offer residential integration is how to benefit from this opportunity.
Exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January displayed the latest technology and products for the smart home market.
Home Automation Inc. (HAI), New Orleans, showed its Snap-Link Mobile, which allows homeowners to monitor and control lights, security, audio, temperatures, and Web cams on handheld mobile devices, such as PDAs, Smartphones, or other devices running Windows Mobile operating software.
Front projection technology is getting a boost from portable, short-throw front-projection DVD players with speakers designed to be placed on a coffee table in front of people. The machines can throw large projections on walls or screens from those distances.
One popular use is for interactive video games that players can move around the house or take to friends’ houses. One such projector shown at the Consumer Electronics Show this week was designed for multi-purpose use, has an iPod dock, among other features and is a convincing replica of R2D2, the robot from the Star Wars movies.
Another extreme short-throw projector designed for mounting from Sanyo, the PLC-XL50, can produce a picture measuring 80 inches from a distance of three inches. It can project on walls, floors, tabletops or even under translucent or glass tabletops.
Three-dimensional televisions are being developed in several formats by manufacturers, and one has announced consumer availability. SpectronIQ 3-D Inc., Las Vegas, Nev., announced that its 46-inch 3-D LCD flat panel television will sell at Sears and Best Buy in June for a suggested price of $6,000.
The first 3-D LCD panel to be offered to consumers will only need a high definition video disc player to show special 3-D DVDs. Software for the 3-D process will be included in the panel.
The SpectronIQ system uses a special filter over an LCD panel to produce polarized images that are viewed through polarized glasses. Other systems shown in development included a 3-D plasma screen with shutter glasses that Samsung is demonstrating. The plasma panel will be available soon and operate with the computer as the company’s DLP 3-D rear projector does, which also requires shutter glasses.
Shutter glasses are synchronized with the DLP or plasma televisions, which show the views for the left and right eyes sequentially. The glasses block out alternate left or right eye views so each eye sees only the views designed for it.
With this system, the left eye sees only the left eye views, and the right eye sees only the right eye views. When the right eye views are on the screen, the left eye on the glasses becomes opaque. The same happens in the right eye.
Shutter glasses cost upwards of $50, whereas the polarized glasses cost less than $10. With the LCD systems using polarized glasses, the LCD screen has two images on it at the same time, but the image for each eye is polarized on alternate lines of the image so only the correct eye can see it through the glasses.
Phillips and LG Electronics showed prototypes of 3-D systems that require no glasses but have limited fields of view. Two Asian manufacturers, Zalman USA Inc., Garden Grove, Calif., and Miracube from Pavonine Korea Inc. also showed LCD flat-panels similar to the system from SpectronIQ and systems that require no glasses.
Whirlpool Corp., Benton Harbor, Mich., showed a stainless-steel, side-by-side refrigerator that can have a detachable wireless computer called Clio or a digital photo frame connected to it. This solves the problem of magnets not adhering photos to stainless steel.
The refrigerator with the computer connection in it, called the Central Park connection, is available now with the digital photo frame. The wireless computer is scheduled for introduction by April.