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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