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Devices in the household are getting smarter, and that trend will increase in 2015, as more consumers test connected devices away from TVs and set-top boxes, analysts believe. There are high expectations for security systems to enjoy strong smart growth, with the ability to arm systems from mobile devices, access live video streams remotely, and have systems learn behavior patterns.
However, manufacturers need to be careful not to add connectivity just for the sake of adding internet and other features simply because they can.
"It's one thing if [the technology] seamlessly fits in and there's a benefit, it's another if you're asking people to get out the screwdriver and pliers or change the way they do things," said Robert Brunner, founder of the Ammunition design firm that helped create the Beats headphones, in a statement published by NBC News. "Do you really need a smart can opener that texts you when the can is open?"
LG are looking to show off a full new series of gear at the upcoming world-class technology exhibition, CES 2015. Their new range of Wi-Fi units will be out in force - including products such as speakers, Sound Bars and Blu-ray players.
Their first foray into the battery-powered Wi-Fi speaker market will be displayed, seeing their Model H4 Portable speaker being showcased, alongside their HS7 and HS9 Sound Bars and an interesting wireless Blu-ray player called the BP550. All of the speakers on display have been announced as compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
These new LG units will be able to connect to one another wireless or work independently, meaning you can setup a wide network of speakers across your house, room or establishment without the need for wiring. As their H4 potable is battery powered, this is great for setups in public areas and small gatherings of friends as you can simply pick them up when you leave.
Google teased earlier in the year that it was expanding its Fiber service into 34 new cities in nine metro areas, but the Mountain View-based search giant has now delayed these plans.
The company has said that it will update everyone in 2015, adding "While we were hoping to have an update for cities before the holidays, we have a bit more work to wrap up; we'll be back in touch sometime early next year." The metro areas that have been placed on hold for Fiber include Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte in North Carolina, Atlanta, San Antonio, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Portland (Oregon), and San Jose (California).
Shipments of connected wearables will reach 19 million by the end of the year, impressive growth from 5.9 million devices in 2013, according to Berg Insight. Smartwatches, smart glasses, fitness & activity trackers, people monitoring and safety devices will see a 54.7 percent compound annual growth rate and reach 168.2 million units in 2019.
Bluetooth will be the No. 1 connectivity option, but embedded cellular connectivity will increase, largely in part to smartwatches and people monitoring and safety products. Smart wearables are going to greatly increase as the Apple Watch hits the market in 2015, introducing new consumers to the booming market.
"This product category is now facing fierce competition from smartwatches that have activity tracking features," said Johan Svanberg, Berg Insight Senior Analyst, in a press statement. "Decreasing prices and new form factors will still enable dedicated fitness & activity trackers to reach shipments of 42 million units in 2019."
Connected technologies should have a major presence during CES 2015 next month in Las Vegas, as the Internet of Things (IoT) provides a great variety of different smart products. The wide adoption of smartphones and tablets, controlling these connected services, will make it even easier to control a slew of potential new devices.
Currently, 16 percent of online households have at least one connected home device, however, it will take some time to show connected tech is more than a gimmick. To that extend, most current spending on connected home devices and services is saved for households with "high-disposable-income," according to the Gartner research group.
"I think we will see the trend of more household/standard brands in the connected home space," said Hendrik Bartel, Gartner research director, in a Gartner statement. "This will be [a] huge step towards democratization of such services and devices. Certainly Apple HomeKit will bear the first fruits, and we should see products taking advantage of deep iOS integration at CES 2015. I am also really hoping for new innovative ways to control existing connected home devices."
Google has already teamed up with the leading telecommunications company in Australia on its Internet balloon technology, but now its teaming up with France's space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
The search giant has said that it has been working with the semi-secret lab for 12 months now, in order to take Project Loon to the next level. CNES has been helping Google analyze data from its ongoing tests, as well as getting the design of its next-gen Project Loon technology into the air. Google will help CNES work on long-haul balloon flights into the stratosphere.
Google's VP in charge of the project, Mike Cassidy, said: "No single solution can solve such a big, complex problem. That's why we're working with experts from all over the world, such as CNES, to invest in new technologies like Project Loon that can use the winds to provide Internet to rural and remote areas". CNES' Toulouse Space Center director Mark Pircher admitted that when Google first approached the space agency and told them their plans, he didn't think Project Loon was that realistic.
T-Mobile users will be happy with the news that the company has just announced new Simple Choice family plan that goes live today, December 10, which offers up everyone on the plan unlimited data.
The new plan starts at $100 per month for two lines, both of which include unlimited voice and text, as well as 5GB of data tethering per line. T-Mobile also offers another plan for four people, where 10GB of data is provided (2.5GB each person) from December 10 going into 2015. If you have many people in your house that are all on various plans and use chunks of data when you're away from the confines of your Wi-Fi network, the new T-Mobile Simple Choice family plan could be your next move.
Google has announced they will make a 1Gbps internet package available in Austin, Texas, for only $70 per month. Users will pay a one-time construction fee of $300, but that fee can be waived if customers sign up for a one-year contract. The plan also includes a massive 1TB of free cloud storage with other Google services, such as Gmail, Google+ photos, and Google Drive.
There is no announced release date of the new plan, as Google is still installing the 1000 miles of fiber for their new network. Google Fiber is already available in several ares, and there are plans for more expansion as the year progresses.
One of Google's more interesting initiatives, is Project Loon; giant, helium-filled balloons that fly through the stratosphere providing Internet access to those below. Since Google has been flying Project Loon in our skies, they've learned quite a bit about running them more efficiently, and how to keep the balloons in the air for extended periods of time.
Over the last 12 or so months, Project Loon balloons have travelled over 3 million kilometers, which is the same as going around the world around 75 times. The problem is, they could only stay in the air for a certain period of time before Google needed to bring them back down to the ground to be re-deployed. Loon balloons are now capable of staying in the air for up to 10 times as long as they could last year, and stay there for around 100 days, or just over three months.
The current record Google has for Project Loon staying in the air, is 130 days, with the extended fly-time due to "hundreds of discoveries" that have helped the company prevent leaks, and assisted with automating the manufacturing process. Google has new auto-fill equipment that drops fill times to just under five minutes, as well as the ability to launch some 20 balloons a day as the company improves its "ability to launch consistently at scale".
Just when you thought your GbE, or Gigabit Ethernet connection was fast with 1Gbps, and its lame, old wires - light-based communications are now coming into play and could blow away current physical line speeds.
Harald Haas, Chair of Mobile Communications at the University of Edinburgh said that the potential for wider bandwidth and quicker response time than Wi-Fi, is with light-based communications. He said: "All the components, all the mechanisms exist already. You just have to put them together and make them work". Haas is working with researchers from many different universities, which are currently half way through an expensive $9 million project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, in the United Kingdom.
The researchers are looking into ultraparallel visible light communication, which uses "multiple colors of light to provide high-bandwidth linkages over distances of a few meters", as the Spectrum IEEE site reports. This system has the team using commercially-made red, green and blue LEDs as both emitters, and as photodiodes to detect light. Using this simple technology has speeds of 110Mbps, and when transmitting data in one direction only, they reached 155Mb/s.