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System Integration for the Connected Home

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LeEco-Vizio Merger No More!

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Internet and CE company LeEco announces its acquisition of TV maker Vizio is no more due to "regulatory headwinds," with rumours suggesting issues with Chinese regulatory authorities.

LeEcoHowever, the two companies say they have achieved a new agreement-- one described by LeEco as a "win for both companies," since it involves LeEco bringing Vizio products to China via its content and distribution channels, while Vizio connected appliances get the Le app.

Announced back in August 2016, the $2 billion acquisition of Vizio would have created a combined entity worth $4 billion. Such ambitions were not to be though, since 2016 saw LeEco facing a series of financial woes. Recent examples include failure to pay US employees and lawsuits from multiple vendors accusing the Chinese company of not paying for goods and/or services. This despite an investment worth $2.2 billion from multiple Chinese backers.

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CEDIA Awards Go to Hogwarts in 2017

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CEDIA has a magical location for its 2017 Awards-- the magic academy of Hogwarts, or at least the version found at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter tourHeld on 29 September, the Awards will include exclusive access around the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London through a private after-hours tour of the sets of famous movies. Following the tour is a drinks reception at the Hogwarts Great Hall, before the main ceremony on Platform 9 3/4 complete with 3 course meal.

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Sound United Buys D+M Group

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The D+M Group, owner of Denon, HEOS and Marantz, gets a new owner in the shape of Sound United, the parent company of US hi-fi brands Polk and Definitive Technology.

Sound UnitedFinancial details of the deal are not available, but it extends a previous distribution partnership formed by the two companies back in 2014. Sound United is the largest loudspeaker supplier in N. America, but is still to make inroads in Europe. Post-acquisition the consolidated company will retain the Sound United name, with D+M Group CEO Jim Caudill remaining on board as advisor.

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Control4 Buys Triad Speakers

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Control4 buys more audio capabilities with Triad Speakers, the maker of advanced audio technology with customisable speaker solutions. The price? Approximately €9.07 million.

Triad speaker“Entertainment is integral to the connected home and our Control4 dealers are designing end-to-end experiences for family room entertainment, home theatres, and indoor and outdoor multi-room music for their customers.” Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn says. “The acquisition of Triad brings proven premium-acoustics experience and innovation to our company, enabling us to immediately deepen our entertainment offering and develop new integrated-audio experiences for the future.”

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Disney Shows Room-Scale Wireless Power

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Scientists at Disney Research present what one can describe as room-scale wireless power delivery-- a prototype living room housing 10 objects, all powered without need for cables.

Disney wireless energyDubbed "Quasistatic Cavity Resonance for Ubiquitous Wireless Power Transfer," the technology is free roaming, meaning one can move around the room and their smartphone will immediately start charging, with no need to be close to a wireless charging pad. It is also very efficient (around 40-95%, depending on the receiver's position in the room) and can deliver 1900W of power before the specific absorption rate (SAR) becomes dangerous for human beings.

However, like all things sounding too good to be true, the technology comes with a caveat-- it requires a purpose-built room, with walls, ceilings and floor built out of aluminium panels. A long copper pole runs in the middle of the room, and half-way down the pipe is a small section housing a ring of 15 capacitors. Outside the room are a signal generator and a power amplifier linked to the capacitors, which together with the copper pipe produce quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), the process behind the wireless power transfer technology.

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MIT Plans Chip For Speech Recognition

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Voice-based control is becoming increasingly important in connected devices-- leading MIT researchers to develop a low-power chip designed specifically for automatic speech recognition.

voice recognition chipAccording to the researchers, a smartphone running speech-recognition software uses around 1W of power. In comparison, the chip requires between 0.2 and 10 milliwatts, depending on the number of words it has to recognise, leading to power savings of 90-99%. This means it can bring about voice-based control in wearables, as well as the power-constrained devices making the Internet of Things (IoT).

The chip uses a simple "voice activation detection" circuit to monitor ambient noise and determine whether it is speech. If the answer is yes, the chip fires up a more complex speech-recognition circuit. It also can compress data and evaluate a small audio section within onboard memory in order to keep energy consumption low.

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Biggest ISE Yet in 2017

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Integrated Systems Events states ISE 2017 is the biggest edition of the show yet, with 1192 AV equipment vendors and suppliers showcasing the latest in digital signage, unified communications, audio, smart building, residential and education technology.

ISE 2017“ISE 2017 has been the biggest and best year yet for CEDIA. We expanded our education offering and doubled bookings to more than 800,” CEDIA CEO Vin Bruno says. “ISE 2017 also gave us a great opportunity to connect with so many of our members from around the globe. Our booth was continuously busy especially during the CEDIA Talks. The show was a huge success and we can’t wait for next year.”

Registered attendees were also at an all-time high at 73413, an 11.% increase over 2016. Visitors came from 150 different countries, while almost 600 registered attendees came from the press and media. The actual show took place over 14 halls in the RAI Amsterdam, and involved four days of product launches, press briefings, awards, seminars and networking events.

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