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Spotlight on CES
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CES 2012: The Good, The Bad, The Dubious

Avi Rosenthal muses about Motorola 4Home, strange cloud thermostats, faux tubes on Samsung's "tube amp" and more from CES 2012.


Allure Energy’s proximity-enabled cloud-based thermostat. Hmmm.

Nutty thermostats

Avi, who is intimately familiar with energy management, smart thermostats and all the utility initiatives, is a little confused by a couple of the cloud-enabled solutions at CES.

First is NEST, that iPod-looking cloud-communicating thermostat that learns your temperature habits – because you change your thermostat so often throughout the day – and then auto-adjusts so you don’t have to over-exert yourself in the future.

Really? How difficult is it to adjust your thermostat via a billion different interfaces, including iOS and Android devices and, um, the thermostat itself?

The other small thing? The NEST thermostat is round, so you can do a real clean replacement of, say, an old Honeywell thermostat that people stopped using a decade ago. If you have a newer-fangled rectangular stat, you’ll have to patch and paint.

And here’s an interesting factoid intimated by Avi: The thermostat has a ZigBee radio inside, but currently does nothing with it.

“How do you know such a thing,” the NEST rep asks?

NEST Thermostat“I bought one and I opened it up,” Avi says.

“Why would you do that,” the NEST rep asks.

“Because that’s what I do," Avi replies.

Allure Energy
Then there’s the proximity-detecting, cloud-enabled thermostat from Allure Energy demonstrated at the NRG (Reliant Energy booth). I'm not quite sure why anyone would want to tie their thermostat to their phone’s GPS so that the temperature can start ramping up when you’re one hour from home.

It’s much easier to just tell your phone or in-car dash: “Set thermostat to 'HOME' mode." Or just press a button.

Avi is skeptical as well. Good to know I’m not the only one.

The Head-Scratchers

NXP Wireless Protocol Bridging
Avi is intrigued with NXP, the big silicon vendor that is trying to bridge the wireless protocol gap between Z-Wave, ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth. But, like me, he is slightly confused by the initiative.

Speaking of protocol gaps, Avi would like to see something more substantial for home health, which is “all over the place,” he says. Continua is trying to establish some standards and device definitions for home health technology, but we’re not there yet.

What's Next for Microsoft?
Avi wants to know: Who’s going to get the coveted booth space vacated by Microsoft at CES 2013, and how many years before Microsoft returns?

Spotlight on CES
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Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Energy Management · Events · CES · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

3 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by John Nemesh  on  01/16  at  12:04 PM

Microsoft really was NEVER a good fit for CES.  They have tried and tried to make a splash in CE, but they fail EVERY single time.  WebTV, the ill fated “UltimateTV”, and even the original Windows Mobile platform.  All have been HUGE failures in the consumer space (although Windows Mobile DID have traction for a while with business customers).  Lots of hype has been dished out this CES on their underperforming Windows Phone 7 platform for cell phones, and yet…no one is buying!  Sprint has even gone on to say that the number one reason they have WP7 phones returned is the “user experience”!

The CES keynote is supposed to be more than just a showcase for new Microsoft products.  It was intended to be given by a VISIONARY in the industry that would tell us all where technology is headed.  Bill Gates would give us the “big picture”, and then maybe tell us how Microsoft was looking to fit into this picture.  Steve Ballmer on the other hand, has NEVER been a visionary!  He is the polar opposite of Bill Gates, and he should NEVER have been given the honor of giving the keynote address!

All in all, I dont think Microsoft will be missed at CES.  Microsoft today reminds me of IBM in the mid to late 80s.  They are a behemoth of a company, but they are relying almost totally on inertia.  They are literally too big to innovate!  Any good ideas that are born on the Redmond campus are quickly squashed by the politics and bean counting of the corporate machine. 

Bad ideas (Metro UI, I am looking at YOU!) are pushed past any resistance at retail…shoved down the throats of any who use their products, whether you like it or not.  They missed the boat on computing’s shift onto the Internet, they missed it with social media, they missed it with search, and now they are missing it with mobile! 

A tablet computer introduced THREE YEARS after the iPad has almost no chance of success (even more so with the recent news that the Intel based tablets will be hard pressed to stay under $600!), and their phones are DYING at retail!  Their biggest play in mobile is the (ahem!) “partnership” with Nokia, and THAT flagship phone (the Lumia 900) wont even ship in the US until MARCH!  By the time the Lumia 900 gets going, you are going to have a FLOOD of Android 4.0 devices to compete with and oh yeah, probably the iPhone 5 as well!  Good luck with that!

So yeah, Microsoft is basically toast…but they dont even realize it themselves!  Good bye Microsoft…you wont be missed!

Posted by Xanthia  on  01/17  at  05:30 PM

I agree with John about visionaries. They are crucial when giving keynotes because they set the stage and momentum for how their company is going to be a part of the future of technology. As for the Hopper from DISH, I think it would be a great addition for me especially since I already subscribe to DISH. My ordeal is that I love several TV shows that are on network TV and cable TV that air at the same time. With the built-in 6 tuners I would never have to pick and choose which episodes I can record because I’ll be able to DVR them all. I also will not have to worry about my DVR filling up too quickly because the Hopper has the capacity to record up to 250 HD hours without me having to free up any memory. I have been doing my research on the Hopper and DISH’s Joeys because I work in their tech department. With the added abilities of getting Sirius/XM and picture in picture with the Hopper, I know that there are thousands of TV lovers who could benefit from this new technology. The MOTOACTV is also something that I could use to improve my workouts! Not many people understand that creating the perfect workout playlist from warming up all the way to cooling down is time consuming. I have made several of these playlists only to get bored with them and in turn, bored with my workout. I am hoping that when I get my hands on one of these I will be better motivated to workout harder.

Posted by tvsmartshelf  on  01/18  at  10:02 AM

Microsoft will be much better off NOT being at CES. I walked the entire floor and all I remember are the cars. Should have just went to the auto show. Really, it is all too overwhelming, walking into a TV booth and having 10000 monitors blaring at you. Microsoft will do much better having its own show and product launches - just like Apple. That way the spotlight it solely on them.

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