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  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: A very special edition of The Money Pit Radio Show coming to you today from the floor of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    You know, CES is like the legendary birthplace of many of the household electronics that we take totally for granted today – I mean everything from VCRs, Blu-ray players, tablet computers, HDTVs and more – were all unveiled at a past Consumer Electronics Show. It’s amazing.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? The size of this thing has grown exponentially as technology really infiltrates more and more into our lives and into our homes.

    Now, this week, you are going to get a sneak peek at what the smart homes of the very near future will look like and you’ll get to hear about new products for your home first. Plus, we’ll talk about the latest trends in high-tech home improvement.

    TOM: And when you think high-tech, you probably think high price tag but many of the products we’re going to tell you about on today’s show can actually save you money and keep your house humming and you know what? Even keep you safe.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the more we look around, the more we realize that maybe the Jetsons were not at all that far off. Well, maybe except for those flying cars, which I swore I was going to have by the time I was in my whatever-how-old-I-am.

    TOM: It’s coming.

    LESLIE: So, coming up on the program, we’re going to learn about a smart outlet that can monitor electricity use and tell you how to cut down on your usage. And also ahead, we’re going to find out how to remotely operate your home’s major systems like your heat, your air conditioning and even door looks. And we’ve even got a version of the Jetsons’ maid, Rosey, represented: robots that do everything from mop your floors to clean your gutters. I love it.

    TOM: First up, though, as many of us extend our electronics and our living space to the exteriors of our homes, we’re going to learn about an outdoor living innovation that can let you even watch television outside without the glare of sun affecting viewing.

    Joining us to talk about that is Tom Dixon, VP of Sales and Marketing for SunBrite Televisions – SunBrite TV, I should say.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM DIXON: Hey. Welcome, Tom and Leslie. Great to be here.

    TOM: As parents, we always tell kids to get off the TV and go outside.

    TOM DIXON: Right.

    TOM: And now we can tell them to get off the TV and go outside and watch TV.

    TOM DIXON: Right, right, right.

    TOM: It’s not exactly what we had in mind but it’s possible.

    TOM DIXON: Right, no.

    TOM: So tell us about this product.

    TOM DIXON: We are the world’s only manufacturer of a true outdoor television. So we specifically designed and engineered these TVs to be played outside. They are impervious to rain, snow, salt spray, dust, bugs, you name it. You can mount these things in your outdoor living area.

    LESLIE: In full exposure. I don’t need to put anything over it.

    TOM DIXON: In full exposure. No, you don’t. These things can play for you and give you a great focal point for your entertainment outside. It’s super.

    TOM: And the glare of the sun is overcome by some technology? Because it’s hard to see those screens when it’s a bright, sunny day.

    TOM DIXON: Right. We have extra brightness circuitry built into our TVs, as well as some special filters that kind of take your glare that you’re going to have in the outside viewing environment.

    TOM: OK. Now, do you guys see an opportunity here because of the willingness of folks to really extend living space through the recession? Typically, even before you might pack up and move but today, you’re really trying to get every ounce of living area out of your house and the outside is such a terrific, available area to all of us that have a single-family home. Is that a market that you clearly see growing and tying into?

    TOM DIXON: Well, Tom, you’re exactly right. From the research we’ve been looking at, with housing prices down, people are starting to invest more in their homes, especially in outdoor living spaces. Because they’re saying, “Hey, look, I’m not going to be selling my house. I was looking at a three- or four-year window. I’m looking seven or eight years. While I’m at it, I’m going to have this great outdoor space in my sanctuary. And I’m going to make an entertainment center and I’m going to get that extra utility out of the space I’m living in.”

    TOM: We’re talking to Tom Dixon. He’s the vice-president of sales and marketing for SunBrite TV.

    Now, the television is the quintessential thing you see the burglar walking out the door with, right?

    TOM DIXON: Right.

    TOM: So, you can’t …

    LESLIE: And now you’re putting it outside.

    TOM: Now you’re putting it outside, curbside. It’s a little bit easier. Is it easy to move it in and out to actually reposition it? Do people – would you expect people to put it out for the day while they’re using it and then take it back?

    TOM DIXON: The whole idea of this – to have it permanently installated (ph). We have just a variety of different mounting solutions, articulating mounts.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM DIXON: You can mount this from a ceiling, you can mount it from a wall.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM DIXON: Most popular thing is what’s a planter pole, which is lag-bolted into your stonework or concrete.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM DIXON: And we have very heavy nuts and bolts. It’s going to be very difficult for a thief to go in and unhook this in your wall.

    TOM: Can you tie your security cameras in it so as he walks up to the house, all he can see – the image that’s being recorded of the burglar?

    TOM DIXON: Sure. Sure. Sure, sure. I think most of the homes we’re in are probably on the more upscale, so usually there’s some security thing.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM DIXON: There’s gates around it, if they’re not in a gated community so – in the residential area, we haven’t had a real issue with it.

    LESLIE: Now, Tom, I mean you just said the price point of the families that you’re in are in better neighborhoods and gated communities. Is this something that’s sort of out of reach for the average homeowner or are there a variety of TVs available at different prices?

    TOM DIXON: Well, it has been more pointed towards the affluent consumer but we just introduced a new, more-affordable line of signature-line products.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM DIXON: So, we have a 46-inch TV that we came down from a $4,700 price point to $2,995 MSRP. We have a 55-inch coming out in that same line and also a 32-inch is going to be extremely affordable. So we’re really excited about making this available to a broader range of consumers.

    TOM: Very cool. Tom Dixon from SunBrite TV, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit here at CES.

    TOM DIXON: Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com, coming to you direct from the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    TOM: Still to come, the downside of increased technology in your home: wires and cords. We’re going to learn about a product that can help you get rid of those, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you from the floor of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Now, the Consumer Electronics Show is really an exciting place full of high-tech gadgets to make your life easier and to save you money. And this is especially true when it comes to our homes. In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average American household has 25 consumer-electronic products and that adds up to 29 billion devices nationwide.

    TOM: And that adds up to a lot of plugs and wires in our homes, a problem which our next guest can help you totally avoid and in particular, in your kitchen.

    Dave Baarman is the director of advanced technologies for Fulton Innovations, a company that’s developed a wireless technology to power everything from your blender to your frying pan.

    Welcome, Dave.

    DAVE: Good morning.

    TOM: Now, I saw a video on this that you guys had online and it was fascinating. I saw a countertop, on top of which you put a pan and were frying up bacon or something like that. Is that correct?

    DAVE: That’s correct.

    TOM: Now, that’s really amazing because typically, when we see an induction range, it is a range-looking device. It looks like you’ve figured out a way to kind of build it right into the surfaces.

    DAVE: Well, what we really want to do is we really want to take a granite surface that’s a pristine, beautiful building material and we really want to put the range underneath that.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVE: So, in other words, we can transfer the power and/or cook through that surface with the same amount of energy that you’re using today – at the same efficiencies, et cetera – but power and cook through those surfaces.

    TOM: And it really declutters the kitchen in a way, doesn’t it?

    LESLIE: And think of all that counter space.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DAVE: Yeah. Well and it just makes it so easy to clean up. If you can imagine how beautiful that gets, now you’ve got this pristine, beautiful material that you can look at instead of having the range.

    TOM: How are you guys actually able to get the induction to work through the surface? How does that actually happen?

    DAVE: So our technology is an intelligent, wireless power, so it’s adjusting dynamically for those distances.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVE: And we can do that charging wireless devices like your cell phone, your laptop, your tablets all through tabletop surfaces, whether it’s a conference table or it’s your countertop. We can transfer the power through and we can cook through that surface.

    Now, for cooking, you might have to put a trivet down where the burner would normally be.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    DAVE: And then that acts as an insulator for your countertop but it also transfers the remaining power to the pan.

    TOM: That’s so cool. Yeah.

    DAVE: The really cool thing is we made the pan smart now. So you might have your smartphone sitting on the countertop next to you and it becomes the control for your range.

    TOM: Right. Oh, that’s crazy.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DAVE: You can see the temperatures, you can download recipes.

    TOM: So where would the control panels – so, you use your smartphone, I mean.

    DAVE: So it can be your smartphone. You could have it …

    TOM: Does it …?

    DAVE: We’ve worked with having the controls actually projected onto your granite counter from above.

    TOM: I swear, the Jetsons are here.

    DAVE: It is neat.

    TOM: I mean really, it’s really, really cool the way you guys have been able to figure this out.

    Now, this sounds pretty expensive. Where does it start?

    DAVE: So, the interesting thing is it’s the same materials that you’d be using in your present range. But now imagine if it can just be a hunk of steel that gets mounted underneath your countertop.

    TOM: Right.

    DAVE: It can actually be less expensive, believe it or not. Because the intelligence is built into that power supply, now your blender, your toaster, et cetera can have a lot more of intelligence to it – have memory, have all these additional things – but not the cost built into the appliance.

    TOM: Right. Now, here’s a question: what happens if you take the pan, you set it in one location, you slide it to another location. Does the power setting that you’ve identified move with it?

    DAVE: It’s intelligent enough to know that that pan, in that identification of that pan, just moved to a different burner.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: Imagine, Leslie, as you’re getting into the meal and you have more and more pots and pans that you have to squeeze in, depending on what part of the preparation you’re at, you can move them around to make room and have them all remember where they’re supposed to be: what’s on low, what’s on high, perhaps what’s on a timer.

    DAVE: Well and I’ll go the next step. I think the pots and pans really go away. You end up having dishware. So now, what you’re going to serve in, you can actually cook in.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: Really cool stuff. Dave, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on this. So what’s the next thing that you guys are going to develop for your company? What are we going to see in CES 2013?

    DAVE: So we’re working on printed electronics where you actually have text that can light up just by putting it on a surface, like your menu and things like that.

    TOM: The company is called Fulton Innovation for a very good reason. Dave Baarman, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    DAVE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Well, you know, the cool thing about this show is that you can look around these enormous exhibit halls and know that the next big thing that will change the way we live every day is probably on display right now.

    TOM: This show has played a huge role in shaping not just electronics but really all of technology. Here to tell us about that is the Digital Answer Guy and spokesperson for the Consumer Electronics Show, Jim Barry.

    Welcome, Jim.

    JIM: Nice to be with you. Thank you (inaudible at 0:12:13).

    TOM: Well, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. How long has this show been around?

    JIM: Well, this show started in 1967. It’s been in Las Vegas since 1978 and it is – every January, Las Vegas becomes the center of the digital universe.

    TOM: And let’s just look at a history of some of the innovations that have been released here: 1970, video cassette recorder, right; 1974, laser disc; popular video game, Pong, in 1975; the compact disc – the CD – was born right here.

    JIM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Born and died at CES.

    TOM: Right, exactly. That’s right. Cradle to grave. CD came, CD left here at CES.

    JIM: Well, that’s a representation, really, of how quickly things change in consumer electronics.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JIM: The biggest change I’ve seen in the over 30 years I’ve been writing about this stuff is the accelerated pace of change. And you’re absolutely right. So all of those products that you’ve described debuted at CES and then several years later, or maybe just that year, show up on store shelves and then in more and more of our homes.

    TOM: Now, what have been sort of the – some of the big highlights of this particular CES?

    JIM: Well, this show, first big highlight is it’s probably going to be the biggest show ever. We have 3,100 exhibitors, 37 football fields of exhibits and we may have record attendance.

    TOM: Right. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    JIM: Last year, we had 149,000. Thin is in at this show, whether it’s the thinnest television sets you would see – OLED: Organic Light-Emitting Diode – 55-inch TV with a 1-inch-thick screen, bright picture, very much energy-efficient.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: Or thin laptop computers: Ultrabooks that are a ½-inch thick with a genuine touch keyboard, touch screen and they boot up right away, which is much better than a lot of our older laptops.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: And you know, considering the recession that we’re coming out of, this is just so inspiring. Because people here have so much energy, so much excitement. I have never been in a press conference that had media lines that were hundreds long. Hundreds. Just phenomenal.

    JIM: Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s something like 7,000 members of the media here.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JIM: There’s more media here than go to the World Cup and the Super Bowl.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JIM: But you think about electronics …

    TOM: This is the Super Bowl of electronics, though.

    JIM: Well, it really is. Electronics are in everybody’s life. This is the place where the new stuff is debuted. And for folks who can’t be here because it’s a trade show, go to CESWeb.o-r-g – C-E-S-W-e-b.o-r-g – and you can get a virtual show.

    TOM: Jim Barry, the Digital Answer Guy and spokesperson for the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    JIM: Thanks. Nice to be with you.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler coming to you from the floor of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And this event showcases the best of technology that’s coming to a location near you very soon. And many of the innovations have to do with how you live at home.

    TOM: For example, automatic garage-door openers are great but have you ever been on vacation and suddenly thought, “Oh, no. Did I hit the switch? Is it closed?”

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, Craftsman is introducing a way you can actually operate your garage door from your smartphone. To find out all about it, we’re joined by Craftsman Vice-President and GM, Kris Malkoski.

    Welcome, Kris.

    KRIS: Thanks. I’m excited to be here.

    TOM: Now, this is a very high-tech garage-door opener and you have been getting rave reviews on this here at the Consumer Electronics Show. Tell us how it works.

    KRIS: OK. So, what happens is you’re driving down the road, you go, “Did I remember to close my garage door?” You can pull over, you can look at your smartphone, iPad. Even if you’re in your office, you can look at your laptop computer and you literally touch the app, key in your own code – so you’re the only one who knows how to open and close your garage door – and then you look at it and you say – it’ll tell you, literally, your garage door’s been open for the last 3 hours or your garage door has been closed for the last 10 minutes, because you did remember to close it as you were going down the road.

    TOM: And imagine how scary it is if you expected it to be closed for eight hours and it was only closed for like an hour. That means why was it opened, right?

    KRIS: That’s right, that’s right. It’s also a good device to track your teenage children who are coming and going.

    But what’s important is we’ve created the ability, through this garage door, to be interactive with your wireless internet in your house. You take the box that talks to the garage-door opener with an Ethernet cable, hook it up to your router and then you’re good to go.


    KRIS: You just go to Craftsman.com/AssureLink to set up the code – the special code that’s on your garage-door opener – when you receive it and then you’re good to go.

    What we like about it is it tells you, literally, that it will close when you hit “close.” You have an 8-second delay, so if there’s anybody in the garage or anybody who needs to get out, they can.

    TOM: And you also have an alert, right? An audio alert.

    KRIS: It’s an audio alert. And then there’s also safety mechanisms, so it couldn’t close on a cat or a child or a dog or anything else like that.

    TOM: Built-in, right. Yeah and it’s also going to be tied into lighting, as well. Actually, this is some – can expand a bit, can’t it?

    KRIS: Yes. So we’re also launching two lighting platforms here under AssureLink. One is a box light that you just plug into an electrical outlet and then plug the light into that. The other is if you’re hardwiring a light, such as you’re setting up exterior lighting, the light switch then can talk to the cloud and allow you to turn your lights on and off. And that’s kind of cool because – did you ever see the movie Home Alone?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. Right.

    LESLIE: Yes.

    KRIS: And the burglars are sitting, they’re counting down to when the security lights go on?

    TOM: Right.

    KRIS: Well, now, you are in control of when your outdoor and your indoor lights go on.

    TOM: Total control.

    KRIS: Yeah.

    TOM: And you really changed the dynamic. I mean it used to be you’d point the remote at the door and the door would work. Now, it really goes from your remote, which can be your iPhone, up to the cloud and then down to the door.

    KRIS: That’s right.

    TOM: But I just want to make a point: you still have control of having the actual physical remote, for example, in your car or into the visor system of most cars.

    KRIS: Absolutely.

    TOM: You’re not giving up that freedom.

    KRIS: You’re not giving that up. You can also do the keyless entry and we have battery backup. So if the electricity goes out, you can still come and go from your garage.

    LESLIE: And does it use a lot of energy or does it automatically shut down when you’re not there?

    KRIS: It automatically – if you’re not using it, there’s no energy drain.

    LESLIE: That’s great.

    TOM: Perfect. Kris Malkoski from Craftsman, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    You’ve got to head out to Craftsman, check this out. I told Kris yesterday I need not one but two new garage-door openers and this is the best technology in garage-door openers I have ever seen, so I’m in.

    KRIS: Well, thank you.

    TOM: Still ahead, your phone can do everything from send messages to track your schedule. And now you can use it to monitor your entire house.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Learn about a smartphone service that will allow you to check in on things when you’re not at home, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are broadcasting a very special Money Pit show today from the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is the site of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.

    TOM: And it’s been quite an experience. This is the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show and the birthplace for some of the coolest gizmos and gadgets we take for granted today.

    For example, HDTV, now common in so many households, was first unveiled here several years ago. So chances are pretty good that the next big thing in consumer electronics is here today.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And thankfully, we’re seeing a lot of new products at the show aimed at making our modern, hectic lives a little easier. And that’s what Verizon is doing here with a brand-new service called Home Monitoring and Control.

    TOM: It’s a smart-home service that really lets you check in on things when you’re not home. Ann Shaub, Verizon’s Director of Product Management, is here to tell us all about it.

    Welcome, Ann. This must be your intro music. We’re across from the JL Audio booth and they’re testing every new audio appliance available, I think.

    ANN: I think that’s great.

    TOM: It’s just for you.

    ANN: I love that.

    TOM: So tell us about this new service. It’s nothing that I don’t associate Verizon with, typically.

    ANN: Yeah. You know what? It’s a great new service. We launched it in October of this year and it’s available to all of our broadband customers.

    TOM: OK.

    ANN: And the intent is really about taking those lifestyle things that we do every day – turning on lights, turning off lights, setting the thermostat in your house, answering the door – and finding a way to give you a way to do that, whether you’re at home or whether you’re away from home. And so with a combination of devices, you can check on your house, monitor your house and manage your house, whether you’re there or away.

    LESLIE: Now, how much of this, Ann, is based on items you might already have? I mean I know you’re saying you can lock/unlock doors, you can check in on the kids. Are there additional items that we then need to add to these components of our home to sort of make all this work?

    ANN: Yeah, that’s right. So part of this, if you think about a smart home and the things you have to enable with it in your home to do that, this assumes that you’ve got a broadband connection.

    And what we insert in your home, right behind your broadband gateway, is a little service gateway that’s filled with the technology that talks to the devices that we would then offer to you to put into your home. So, it’s a smart thermostat from Trane, it’s door locks from Schlage.

    And they have to have this Z-Wave technology, which is a pretty robust, pretty well-known – you can find it for sure on the shelves at a lot of big-box retailers today.

    TOM: So is that the common thing? Like let’s say we have this gateway installed and then we’re trying to select devices. We look for devices that have the Z-Wave technology and then if it does, in fact, have that, it will, in fact, work with this Verizon system?

    ANN: That’s right.

    TOM: OK.

    ANN: So the way that we got started is we have a catalog of devices that will work with your home. So we have the door locks, window sensors, light modules and thermostats and other things, as well. But by the end of this first quarter, if you happen to be out shopping, we’re going to open up that interface so you can go to Lowe’s or Home Depot or wherever you may shop and buy a GE dimmer switch that you might see on the shelf that is marked as Z-Wave compatible.

    TOM: See, I think this is fantastic because this is more of sort of an open-marketplace approach. Early on with these home-control systems, you had to pretty much buy into the whole thing, right?

    ANN: That’s right.

    TOM: And if the company decided to stop making a product or change the technology, you were kind of stuck. This way, you’re basically providing the interface that lives behind this and consumers can really shop and those manufacturers can compete as long as they’re including this particular type of platform in their device, correct?

    ANN: That’s right. And the great thing is these devices, it’s not about who makes the device. It’s the intelligence of the platform that we’ve built that allows you to interface with these. So whether you have your smartphone or if you have FiOS TV or from any internet-connected device, you can go in and you can look at what’s going on in your house and have your house talk to you about what’s going on, which is also great. Send you a text message if the door is open.

    TOM: So is this a DIY system?

    ANN: We’ve spent a lot of time making sure that customers can install it themselves and so we have a lot of video vignettes. In fact, most of our customers are self-installing. If not, we have partnered with a company, InstallerNet, that has a general-contractor franchise group that will actually come in and install your services for you. So, we allow for both.

    TOM: Cost?

    ANN: We have three different starter kits that you can buy into. They range from $69 to $219. The 219 kit has a thermostat, an energy reader, an appliance switch-light module, a camera and a gateway.

    TOM: Terrific.

    ANN: And it’s 9.99 a month for a recurring fee so that you can manage all your services.

    TOM: Ann Shaub from Verizon. The system is called Verizon’s Home Monitoring and Control.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Ann.

    ANN: Thank you so much. It was great to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. That sounds super-cool.

    Well, one of the most popular themes at the Consumer Electronics Show every year is advances in television.

    TOM: That’s right. They get bigger, they get clearer, they get louder and now, they get smarter. We’re going to tell you about how your TV can get to know you a little better, when The Money Pit continues our special broadcast from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be back with all of that and much more, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Broadcasting today from the floor of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas Convention Center. This is the granddaddy of all consumer-electronics shows, backed by the Consumer Electronics Association whose members have sold $190 billion – that’s billion with a B – worth of electronics last year.

    LESLIE: Whew. What recession?

    Well, one of the trends that we are seeing over the last five years is improving electronics that you already own by personalizing them. And I’m talking about those things like music players and smartphone apps that let you choose what you want to see and hear.

    TOM: Well, now a company called PrimeSense is creating a technology that can personalize your television experience, including knowing what programs you like to watch and when you like to watch them. With us to explain is Adi Berenson, the vice-president of business development.

    Welcome, Adi.

    ADI: Hey. Hi, Leslie. Hi, Tom.

    TOM: Since the invention of the remote control, there have been many advances in technology that really improve the viewing experience. This seems like the latest and the greatest. Tell us about it.

    ADI: Yeah. So, thanks for the introduction, because our theme for the show is, indeed, “TV Gets Personal.” We are talking about making TVs connected and we’re talking about over-the-top and we’re talking about all of the smart TVs and so forth for quite some years now. But we forgot that people are essentially lazy when they’re in their living room; they just want to sit down and be entertained.

    TOM: It is the one room where you’re allowed to be lazy in your house.

    ADI: Exactly, exactly.

    LESLIE: It is.

    ADI: And I’m very good at that and that’s why I’m doing my job.

    TOM: Yes.

    ADI: And the idea is that we will give people access to the infinite choices of the online world while keeping it relaxed and in lazy-mode. And one of the ways to do it is to make it personalized. So what we are showing in this household here is that when you sit down in front of your TV, the TV recognizes you the minute you raise your hand and grab control over that TV.

    And it prepares a kind of a folder for you that presents to you the TV series that you are watching, the kind of games that you like to play and so on. So, the idea is that you will not need to search so much; you will get propositions that are spot-on.

    TOM: Alright. Now, let me throw this at you. In my house, that’s me: I’m sitting down with the DVR and I’ve got total control of my TV. Kids come in the room; they want to take over. What happens then?

    ADI: So it’s a brilliant question because, essentially, TV is different than cell phone and PCs, essentially, because it’s a social device.

    TOM: And it’s a shared device.

    ADI: It’s a shared device, exactly. So how do you personally share a device?

    TOM: Right. Right.

    ADI: And we worked a lot on that and the idea is that the overall TV experience is always the same. It’s a shared experience but when you are in control, the second you are in control, the special folder that is for you is really for you.

    TOM: OK.

    ADI: When you let your arm down and your kid is grabbing control, it will be for him.

    TOM: Right.

    ADI: So for example, even the rated-R content will not be offered to him or so on. So you switch between personal experiences from one user to the other in real time.

    TOM: Yeah, I was actually watching a video on your website and it was like kind of conducting music. But there’s a lot you can do with this, huh?

    ADI: Yeah. I was very proud about the laziness aspect but the nice thing about it is that you can switch from being lazy to being active very fast. So we have training programs, like interactive training programs, while you really have a virtual training that is following your movements and correcting you. You can play active games, you can stand up and punch and do boxing. You can conduct music, you can paint.

    TOM: Wow.

    ADI: You can do all kinds of stuff and you can do it single-player, multi-player, everything. So we turned the TV from a silly display to a genuinely smart device here.

    TOM: Adi Berenson from PrimeSense, thanks so much for sharing your technology with us.

    ADI: Great pleasure. Thanks a lot.

    LESLIE: Well, did you know that many of your appliances draw power even when you’re not using them? And that means that your electric bill is climbing, even when you’re asleep or at work.

    TOM: That’s right. ThinkEco is introducing a modern electric outlet called the Modlet that automatically turns off power to your appliances and cuts that bill. Annette Bellafiore, the senior manager of communications and marketing for ThinkEco, joins us to explain.

    Welcome, Annette.

    ANNETTE: Hi. I’m so happy to be here.

    TOM: We are all trying desperately to reduce the amount of electricity we use. And it sounds like this is a product that simply helps us do that. Monitoring systems are complicated; this sounds pretty straightforward.

    ANNETTE: Yes. The Modlet was designed to be very easy to use, easy to install. Basically, it is a retrofit device that just plugs right into your existing wall outlet.

    LESLIE: So there’s no rewiring?

    ANNETTE: Correct. You don’t need any electrician, any type of specialist to come in and set this up for you; you can do it yourself. In addition to just plugging the Modlet in, you just have to install some software on your computer that’s downloaded right from the web. And through the software, you can see how much energy your devices use and you can also set schedules for turning those devices on or off.

    TOM: And how does the Modlet actually communicate with your internet connection in your house?

    ANNETTE: The Modlet uses ZigBee, which is a type of wireless communication. And there’s a USB receiver that you plug into your computer, so that way the Modlet can communicate directly with your computer. All that information is sent up to our cloud server, so you can actually access it from anywhere. So you can be at work, you can log in to your account, see what your appliances are doing at home.

    LESLIE: Do you need an individual USB receiver for every Modlet that you put to work in your home? Or can one USB receiver sort of read each Modlet?

    ANNETTE: You just need one USB receiver to create a network. The ZigBee protocol actually creates a mesh network, so you can have 5 or 10 Modlets in your house all communicating together and all talking back to just that one receiver.

    TOM: Now, based on your customers, where are the most popular places they’re using this Modlet?

    ANNETTE: The best place to use the Modlet is areas where you have appliances that use energy, that have a high standby power when you’re not actually using your appliances. So that would be areas like your home-entertainment center or your home office.

    TOM: OK.

    ANNETTE: Also, some kitchen devices like water coolers or coffee makers.

    TOM: And what does it cost?

    ANNETTE: The Modlet has the wallet-friendly price of $50 for a starter kit that includes one Modlet, the USB receiver and access to our software.

    TOM: And I see you’re holding one there. It’s very attractive. It covers the entire sort of ugly outlet you have in your wall and it’s got a nice style to it. And it lights up, I guess, when it’s talking to the Z-Wave device?

    ANNETTE: Yes, it does have an LED light that lets you know if you override your schedule. Like if you come home and you want to turn your devices on and they’re off, you just press the button and it’ll light up to let you know you’ve overridden your schedule.

    TOM: Terrific. Annette Bellafiore from Modlet, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ANNETTE: Thanks.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, we are noticing plenty of trends coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show. And some even allow you to virtually be several places at one time?

    TOM: Up next, find out about an affordable way to keep an electronic eye and ear on your home from wherever you are.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Broadcasting a special edition of the program today, the site of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here we are on the floor and this is where the big names in technology gather to unveil their latest products for you, the consumer.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And you know, home camera systems, they’ve really been gaining popularity recently but they can be expensive. And they’re often out of reach for the average homeowner but that’s where Y-cam comes in. Now you can keep an eye on your teenagers, your parents, even your pets.

    TOM: And you can do it easily, inexpensively and it’s a DIY project. Here to tell us about it is Simon Carr from Y-cam.

    Hey, Simon.

    SIMON: Thanks for having me on the show.

    TOM: Our pleasure.

    Now, pretty cool technology. As I understand it – and correct me if I’m wrong – these devices don’t need to be hardwired.

    SIMON: No. They have Wi-Fi enabled, built into the cameras.

    TOM: Now, that sounds really special. I haven’t heard about this before. So, basically, you need to power these with an outlet and then through a Wi-Fi connection, they will talk to your home network, so to speak?

    SIMON: That’s exactly right. And then you can use any devices, any computers or iPads or iPhones that you have on your home network to view the cameras.

    LESLIE: Are you limited in any way to the amount of cameras that can speak to your home system at one time?

    SIMON: Yeah, there is a bandwidth limitation on a Wi-Fi network. So once you get up to about four or five on a b/g network, then you’re going to start to impact other things.

    TOM: Right. Right. Some other things that you’re doing. It may – can you control them – turn them off, turn them off – from your network control, however that is?

    SIMON: Yeah. They don’t use any bandwidth unless you’re actually watching the video.

    TOM: Oh, OK. So as long as you’re not watching it, they’re kind of silent.

    SIMON: Yeah.

    TOM: Now, can you set these up so that they can record activity, as well?

    SIMON: Absolutely. We have a range of cameras that have memory-card slots in the bottom of them, so they can record onto the camera directly themselves.

    TOM: OK. OK.

    SIMON: Or you can use a computer that you have on your home network, as well.

    TOM: That’s good. Because maybe you get a really smart burglar; he remembers to take your SD card with him after you’ve recorded him coming up to your house.

    SIMON: But if you have any storage on your network – if you have a NAS drive – you could also record video for …

    TOM: And that’s really what makes the most sense. If you just get a stand-alone hard drive – a big, giant, 500-gig drive or something – that you could just jump video to and then it’s always in one place, right?

    SIMON: Exactly.

    TOM: Now, what about motion detection? Can these be triggered to come on and start recording or start projecting when somebody walks up to the house, for example?

    SIMON: You can schedule when the motion detection is going to be on or off.

    TOM: OK.

    SIMON: And you can even set zones on the camera, so you can look at a particular part of the image and say, “Well, when that door opens, that triggers an event, rather than when the cat walks past on the floor.”

    TOM: Now, let me ask you something: you’re visiting us from London, correct?

    SIMON: I am, yeah.

    TOM: Now, how are things different in Europe compared to what you’re seeing here in the electronics-technology business, specifically, in the home-automation side of it? Are the Europeans, you think, farther ahead than the Americans or vice versa?

    SIMON: No, I don’t think so. I think in today’s world, everything is so interconnected that all of the advances are available pretty much for everyone.

    TOM: The same time, right?

    SIMON: Yeah.

    TOM: Rising tide raises all ships.

    SIMON: Indeed.

    TOM: Exactly. Now, where is Y-cam available?

    SIMON: We are currently available on Amazon.com.

    TOM: OK.

    SIMON: So you can go out and buy a product today.

    TOM: Alright. Terrific. Simon Carr from Y-cam Solutions, thanks so much for visiting us here in the good ole U.S. of A., coming over from London to tell us about Y-cam.

    SIMON: Thanks very much, guys.

    TOM: Our pleasure.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online. You’ve been listening to us today from the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show continues online.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2012 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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