News Digest: Sleek Shades and Whole Home Audio

News Digest: Sleek Shades and Whole Home Audio

The QAdvanced Roller Shades by QMotion can be installed in window openings as narrow as 15.5 inches.

Sleek Treatments for Slim Windows

Narrow windows provide a slender, pleasing appearance, but often require custom window treatments. Now QMotion claims it has the world’s narrowest battery-operated shades to fit that sophisticated look. The QAdvanced Roller Shades can be installed in window openings as narrow as 15.5 inches.  

The motors and batteries are inside the roller tubes. The shades have the same benefits as their larger QAdvanced counterparts, like the manual override feature, simple programming and control features, with no strings attached. The lower resistance is said to provide a more peaceful atmosphere when the shades move.

Android and iOS apps can operate the shades, and the Android app can also program the shades to raise and lower at set times throughout the day, thereby lowering HVAC energy consumption. They can be operated by most home control systems, and automatically adjust to preset open positions. Three AA alkaline batteries power the shades, and lithium batteries can be utilized for longer life.

QMotion offers an extensive selection of fabrics for light filtering, decorative and beautiful blackout materials.


The Big Business of Connected Homes

How hot is the connected home? Big business has taken notice. In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal covered the steady stream of “smart home” rollouts and acquisitions, such as Samsung’s recent purchase of Internet of Things company SmartThings, Google’s acquisition of sexy/retro thermostat maker Nest Labs and the slew of big companies jumping into the home automation fray, such as Microsoft, GE and Honeywell.

Appliances use smartphones to connect to homes.News flash to the Journal: TecHome Builder has been on the smart and connected home scene for a while, but glad you’re … um … connecting on it.

“Why is the market growing fast now? Credit the smartphone, which can act as a control center for connected devices,” WSJ reports. Yep, we’ve said that too.

An interesting point is made in the article about insuring smart home, connected home and home automation systems:

Insurance companies are looking at how to engage with customers on different premium models. Allstate Canada, State Farm, BNP Paribas in Italy and Allianz have recently partnered with home-automation vendors to offer connected-home insurance models.

Part of insurance models will be based on collecting data from connected devices.

“Insurance companies hoping to build premiums on usage-based data will expect private information,” the article concludes.


Game Rooms for the Girls

Next time you build a game/rec room or even a family entertainment space, keep the ladies in mind. A report recently published by the Entertainment Software Association finds that female gamers made up about 48 percent of the game-playing public in the United States this year.

“What is more, women over 18-years-old now represent a significantly larger portion of the U.S. VIA game roomgame-playing population than boys under 18, a demographic that has traditionally been seen as a core target group for game companies,” WSJ reports.

The girls-got-game boom is fueled largely by mobile, Apple/PC and Nintendo Wii players—and couples playing together is also a trend. Wii tennis, anyone?

TecHome Tips:

1. Size that game room for active and athletic ladies, gentlemen.

2. Mention wholesome Wii exercise when the Mister wants the big play room and gets a frown from his better half. You could score big on options.


LED Light During Power OutagesSmartCharge bulb

It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a smart changing LED bulb. These beauties from Kickstarter-funded SmartCharge have Grid & Switch Sensor technology that senses a power outage, recognizes the on/off position of a light switch and allows control of the light, even with no utility/grid power. Pretty cool for a light bulb. The 5.5-watt (40-watt equivalent), 350-lumen lights won’t be enough for serious tasks like reading, but they can help light the way. Prices are $35. 


HD Music for Whole House Audio

LG, we know you for appliances, TVs and even some cool HVAC. But multi-room music systems?

LG’s four-speaker Music Flow is in the spirit of wireless music systems like Sonos that can also play music in your digital collection as well as services like Spotify and Rhapsody. The potentially big niche, though, is that Music Flow also delivers hi-resolution (or HD) audio, a higher-fidelity music format. An Auto Music Play feature automatically connects to the system when the Music Flow speakers are in range and enables users to listen over the app when out of speaker range. Like Sonos, the app also allows for broad searches across an entire music collection.

LG Music Flow H3 speaker

Don’t blanch at wireless music systems. About a third of homebuyers of Copperleaf Homes opt for Sonos systems controlled by Crestron home automation equipment—and in luxury homes. Music systems that sync to smartphones to stream music through a house should comprise a popular and profitable niche for homebuilders. You should be researching these, and have your low-voltage contractors offer packages.

Users can also communicate with the music system via LG’s IM-based HomeChat, reportedly through voice commands. LG has also touted HomeChat to keep in touch with some appliances remotely.

LG Music Flow models H7 (70W), H5 (40W) and the Network Bridge model R1 will be available in the U.K starting this month and in other markets in Europe following IFA 2014 Berlin in early September. Music Flow with model H3 (30W) and Sound Bar model HS6 (320W) will be rolled out globally soon after.

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