Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Everyone Missed at CES 2011

Most of the press this year has called this past CES either the “Year of the Smart TV” or the “Year of the Tablet”. Personally, I didn’t see anything that knocked my socks off.  I did however notice off in the corner technology that I think will be the next big thing.

For many years my tech career revolved around convergence of your TV and the Internet.  My work in the 90’s at Microsoft and Gateway was pre-appphone and the infiltration of WiFi networks in every home.

My prediction the next huge growth in the tech market will be “Home Automation”.

Until now the industry standard has been something called X-10. You can still buy X-10 modules at Radio Shack but it never reached wide scale acceptance. The main problem with X-10 is dependability. Signals are sent along your electrical network and I found many new tech appliances conflicted with X-10 signals. The protocol is limited and the modules vary depending on their power usage.

Now that most of us have WiFi and app phones it’s an ideal environment to control even legacy devices within our home. Most of the focus at CES was using Home Automation to save energy.

General Electric demonstrated a new energy hubs called “Nucleus” using technology from ZigBee to monitor and control your energy use.  The majority of companies seem to like the ZigBee protocols but they’re not alone.

Verizon showed off their new FIOS based automation system which will be going to trials this month in New Jersey.


The other protocol trying to make a mark at CES is called “Z-Wave”. The Z-Wave Alliance announced 21 new members including Black & Decker, Schlage, Yale and Trane.

Expect to see a Home Automation war between Z-Wave and ZigBee who has a head start on members including Intel, Pioneer, Sony, Samsung, Whirlpool.

All I know is the technology exists and I want a simple, inexpensive way to control my home from anywhere.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Home automation via the Internet; anybody ever hear of the Stuxnet worm??? In a previous life, I was an industrial process control engineer, and the thought of hitching up industrial systems to the Internet scared the devil out of me!
However, you can get that right now, from, if you want it. I have used X10 for years to control my house, and am considering it for a security system, but... I WILL NOT allow external access via any method!
Sanford (Sandy) Brown
Covington, GA

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I'm sure there are many others who would like a simple, inexpensive way to control YOUR home from anywhere!

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Art Monk said...

In addition to using X-10 to send commands around your house wiring (I toggle my garage lights from the house using X-10) there are also a few vendors offering devices to transform your house wiring into a data network. The very best I know of (and have installed) is Plaster Networks. Their modules transform house wiring into a distributed switch and allow me to move data between my computer and TV at up to 200 MBPS. I currently have 6 computers, 2 TVs, 2 wireless access points , and an internet connection all running on such a network (and across multiple sub panels). The DicecTV installer was amazed ... worth looking into.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Then there is Insteon which is much more reliable than the X10 I had. With the ISY99i/IR server, I have excellent management of my insteon devices without a PC running all the time. My biggest complaint with all solutions is the high cost of the devices...

2:44 PM  
Anonymous johnnyicemaker said...

I am an early adopter of the "Z-Wave" technology. I installed light switches in my family room that can be controlled wirelessly with my Logitech Harmony remote control (along with all my other entertainment system devices). Z-Wave seems to have stalled somewhat in the last year, with the loss of support in the newer Logitech remotes. I sure hope they can make a come back. It is easy to set up Z-Wave and it uses wireless communication between devices, including switches, light timers, thermostats, etc. I haven't gone "all in" fully automating my house yet, but that is mainly because of my perception that Z-Wave may be stalling a bit. High cost for Z-Wave devices also limits full scale implementation.

4:25 PM  

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