By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Architectural audio company Sonance planned November shipments of the industry's first in-wall docking station for the Apple iPod.
The $598-suggested iPort will be the first in-wall iPod dock for custom-installed distributed-audio systems. The iPort connects an iPod to any suppliers' distributed-audio system to distribute iPod-stored music throughout the house through the system's in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. The docking station also recharges the iPod's battery.
Users select songs either directly through the iPod itself or from any of the distributed-audio system's in-wall keypads and touch screens. For now, however, the only song-selection capabilities available through the keypads and touch screens are track forward/back. The keypads and touch screens will also control the iPod's pause, play and stop functions.
Future versions of the iPort will feature the ability to access the iPod's song metadata for greater keypad control over song selection. Sonance is working with Apple to obtain a license to access the metadata.
“We can — and will — reproduce all the graphics on the iPod's screen on one of our control panels,” said Scott Sylvester, director of product strategy, The company is also working on solutions for distributing stored digital images from an iPod Photo to home displays.
Because of the iPod's HDD limitations, the iPort will distribute only one song at a time throughout the house when connected to the iPort. The iPod does not support multizone capability.
The in-wall dock works with both the full-sized iPod and the slimmed down iPod Mini. The unit's chassis employs Sonance's RotoLock mounting system, and each iPort is shipped with a custom install accessory kit that contains all the hardware and cables required for a complete installation.
As new iPod models are introduced, the company will develop accessories enabling them to fit into the iPort. Sonance will also develop a complete line of iPorts, including a model that will sit next to a distributed-audio system's central electronics stack.
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