Everything Is Connected in the Digital Home of the Future

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Everything Is Connected in the Digital Home of the Future

by Chris Preimesberger

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Lighting It All Up

This model of a future "all-connected" residence shows that all the lighting, heating, security, appliances, entertainment, food and water storage—in other words, just about everything of note in the home—is connected to a central server and able to be controlled wirelessly from an iPhone, BlackBerry or laptop.

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Lock Doors, Turn Off Lights—from Anywhere

Everyday items such as lamps and door locks can be controlled from anywhere on Earth via new browser-based controls from 4Home. The company's Home Control service also enables users to control appliances, thermostats, motion detectors, powered shades and blinds, and a list of other items.

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Control Freaks Will Love This

4Home Director of Marketing and Business Development Jerry Kurtze demonstrates how using the service on a laptop can control just about everything electrical inside a home.

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Checking on the Power Company

A closer-up view of items that can be monitored and controlled by the 4Home software includes a residential electricity meter (top), thermostats (top left), televisions and audio systems, security cameras, and many more.

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TV Becomes an All-Purpose Home Control Monitor

Using the 4Home software, which is housed within a home server and uses sensors all over the home, a user can check on a number of monitors, such as the air conditioner thermostat setting (pictured here).

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Check Utility Rates in Seconds

Users of the 4Home package can check the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity utilized in the home—right on the TV screen. Watchers of the current TV program will have to be patient.

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Cloud TV Is a Reality

ActiveVideo Networks' CloudTV service provides a clearinghouse for a household network's entertainment and communications functions. With this cloud-based service, users can hook together their TVs, game consoles, DVRs, Blu-ray players, smartphones, appliances and cable set-top boxes to share all that audio and video content among all other devices in the network. For example, a home video shot on a cell phone can be uploaded to the service and shown on anything with a screen in the system. ActiveVideo already has 5 million subscribers.

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Plugging in a Small, but Powerful Routing Device

This Ionics plug computer is a small but powerful unit that plugs into a wall socket and an Ethernet cable. It can run network-based services (such as media sharing and backup services) that normally require a dedicated personal computer. The plug uses low power (5 watts), only a small fraction of the energy consumed by an always-on desktop computer or laptop. The device is designed to simplify the management of digital assets by offering PC-like performance for $99.

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D-Link Shows Off Home Network Components

D-Link, known for its enterprise routers and other connectivity products, also makes home network components, including a wireless home server (center), network cameras, SmartCode connected security door locks (top right-center), lighting controls (right) and wireless keyboards, among others. Using this system, a homeowner can know everything that's going on at his or her residence from anywhere in the world at any time.

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Making Sense Out of All That Video Content

We're all aware of the overload of media and digital information in our homes and offices. What do you use and keep, and what do you edit out? Rovi, which used to be called Macrovision, has come up with a way to control all of this content. It's called TotalGuide, an on-screen directory that combines broadcast, cable, gaming, Web content and personal data all in one place, so users can scroll for anything they want and locate it fast. It's like Google for home entertainment.

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Samsung Shows Wall-Size HD Monitors

Samsung has been proclaiming "thin is in" for new LCD monitors for a while now, and as the economy continues to slowly heat back up, more homeowners are looking at upgrading their TV screens in favor of connected units that can do a lot more than just show broadcast and cable channels. The photo here shows the old-school idea of framing a CRT television screen with a big, bulky "home entertainment center" (left) that can take up a lot of room. Samsung's lightweight new LCDs (right) can be hung on the wall, like paintings, and the HD quality is excellent.

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Yahoos Widget TV

At the Connections 2010 show, Yahoo demonstrated its new Widget TV platform, which it introduced at CES 2009 and is now in distribution to OEMs. Widget TV is software embedded into CE devices made by Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio that enables control of content and applications as you would see on a laptop or handheld device. You can easily check your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter accounts; upload photos or video to YouTube, Webshots and Flickr; or do any number of other things using this platform. Widget TV already has a community of about 7,000 developers working on apps, Yahoo said.

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