By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Universal Electronics and Jasco rode the Z-Wave home-automation trend into International CES.
Universal expanded its OEM selection of Z-Wave-equipped handheld remotes with its first three models designed to control home systems such as lighting and thermostats.
For its part, Jasco unveiled the first in a planned line of Z-Wave-based accessories, starting with a GE-branded remote.
The wireless-RF mesh-network Z-Wave standard, developed by Zensys, is incorporated in about 100 consumer products in such markets as lighting control and HVAC. The low-power, 9.6kbps technology delivers two-way wireless-remote control over lighting, appliances, garage door openers, thermostats and other home systems from handheld or tabletop remotes located anywhere in the house. The technology also makes it possible to integrate the control of Z-Wave home systems. Pressing a garage door remote, for example, could also turn on select indoor and outdoor lights.
Jasco's GE-branded remote ships to dealers in March at a suggested $59.95 with two-row LCD screen to provide feedback via user-friendly phrases. It features a group function allowing control of more than one Z-Wave-equipped device and scene programming allowing users to include timing and light-dimming features into one programmed sequence. Advanced dim-rate adjustments allow users to time the steps of light dimming.
The remote can be programmed with up to 18 devices, 18 groups and 18 scenes. It includes a timer and calendar functions to set modes, groups or scenes to a specific schedule. For example, a home theater setting scene could be programmed to turn off all the lights in the kitchen and dim overhead lighting in the home theater room to a predetermined level over a time span of several minutes. The calendar and timing features allow a user to set lighting to gradually brighten in the bedroom on Monday through Friday, for example, but stay dark on the weekends, or turn on outdoor lighting each night at 7 p.m.
Universal's OEM products control Z-Wave-equipped home systems as well as up to four infrared-controlled consumer A/V devices. "A single device can control the television, home theater preferences, DVD playback, lighting and climate control settings," a spokeswoman said. "Consumers can control their entire environment from one handheld device, doing away with multiple remote devices and allowing the user to quickly and easily manage everything from the comfort of their sofa or lounge chair."
Universal's Halo, Halo LCD and Helix feature LEDs or LCD screens to provide with an intuitive interface. All are "timed remotes" that enable consumers to program them to turn lights on and off and adjust temperature settings while they're away from home. "You can program your remote to turn on certain lights in your house at specific times everyday and change the temperatures at different times of the day," she said.
"Z-Wave is one of the most consumer-friendly wireless technology protocols on the market," states Paul Arling, Universal's chairman and CEO.
Universal Electronics of Cypress, Calif., develops firmware and turnkey solutions as well as software to enable wireless control of home systems. The company's primary markets include OEMs in consumer electronics and persoal computing as well as cable and satellite system operators. In addition, UEI sells its universal wireless control products under the All For One brand in other countries.
Universal is the OEM of the Z-Wave for Sirius Satellite Radio. The Z-Wave was unveiled at last September's CEDIA Expo. The handheld RF/IR preprogrammed/learning remote, which controls a bundled Sirius tuner and connected other-brand A/V receivers, streams Sirius metadata to its display screen.
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