Retrofit Multi-Room-Audio System Combines Lights And Speakers

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Here’s a “convergence” idea that seems to make sense: combining an amplified speaker and a lighting fixture into one surface- or flush-mount fixture whose audio and control signals are delivered over a home’s existing powerlines.

Lighting supplier Checkolite International teamed up with powerline-network chipmaker Arkados at International CES to demonstrate the concept, which includes a floor lamp, a flush-mount fixture, a recessed ceiling can, a track lighting system, outdoor flood lights and wall sconces. Floor lamps could be plugged into an electrical outlet, and wall- and ceiling-mounted products could be hardwired into existing electrical lines.

The recessed ceiling lights and surface-mount ceiling lights in homes like mine could easily be swapped out for Checkolite models, which would be sold under the iHome brand licensed from SDI Technologies. I’ve replaced ceiling fans and ceiling lights, so I could probably do this job myself.

A touch-pad controller, like the one that I currently use to turn off various lamps throughout the house, would let me select a variety music sources, including iPods and Internet radios, for playback from anywhere in the house. The controller also controls lights throughout the house. Included Mac/PC software would also let me control lighting and music from the PC and arrange lighting themes for each room. The software also lets me transmit PC-stored music throughout the house as well as Internet radio services.

For do-it-yourselfers, the converged lighting-music concept offers potential for many applications, such as replacing existing recessed in-ceiling lights, on-ceiling hallway lights and outdoor on-wall spotlights. Some applications would likely require an electrical contractor or A/V installer to snake new powerlines behind walls and ceilings to tap into existing wall outlets from behind the wall.

The concept would also reduce the number of polka dots cluttering up the ceiling. Homeowners with in-ceiling lights could simply replace one or two per room to deliver a stereo image to a preferred location within the room.

The powerline system won’t likely deliver high-performance audio, but for its intended background listening, it could do the job. The final design and price will also determine market acceptance. Details on proposed prices weren’t available.


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