Solar Cells Charge Electronics In Our Clothes

Today, almost all of us carry a smartphone or tablet.  The ease of charging it when you are away from your home can be challenging at times.  Pennsylvania State University is working on new technology that will incorporate solar charging capabilities into clothing.  Now that’s convenient!! Below is an excerpt from an article in Discover magazine.

Wearable Solar Cells Power Electronics

One day you may be able to recharge your phone by plugging it into your clothes.

By Gregory Mone|Friday, October 11, 2013

A drained smartphone battery often sends us hunting for the nearest outlet, if there even are any. But within a decade, we might be wearing the outlet.

In a world of fabrics infused with the power of the sun, recharging could be as simple as plugging devices in to our clothes. Helping this potential future along, chemist John Badding and his colleagues at Pennsylvania State University recently embedded solar cells within flexible wires that can be woven into fabric.

solar clothing







The potential applications for solar threads include flexible garments that could draw power from the sun and allow people to recharge their phones and other devices on the run, but Badding notes there are some broader applications as well.

Read the complete article in Discover magazine.

Structured Home Solutions Featured with Blansfield Builders in Tech Home Builder Article

An article was just recently published in Tech Home Builder featuring our company and our excellent working relationship with Blansfield Builders of Danbury, Connecticut.  It highlights how the owner, Jim Blansfield, of Blansfield Builders has been incorporating technology and the Elan g! system into the homes he has been building.  He expresses how easy it is to control thermostats, check cameras, adjust lighting and open your garage door all through an iPhone or iPad device.  The ease of control and price point make it appealing to homebuyers.

The Game-Changing Value of Home Control

How two homebuilders use home control systems to add value to their offerings and meet high-tech expectations.

By: Steve Castle, Editor-in-Chief

Courtesy of Blansfield Builders

Jim Blansfield is not your ordinary homebuilder. He builds 3,500-to-11,000-square-foot custom homes in rural Connecticut near Danbury and Westchester County, NY and yet his talk with prospective clients usually includes a very commonplace exchange. He takes out his smartphone and shows them how he can control various systems at his own Vermont home.

“All I have to do is show them a demo of what I can do with my house from my phone,” he says. “I show them the cameras, turn the lights on and open the garage door — and they think it’s amazing.”

The next thing you know, an Elan g! Home Control system is going into the house, allowing homebuyers to operate audio/video, lighting, security, HVAC systems and more from
touchscreens, remote controls and mobile smartphones and tablets.

The Elan system installed in Blansfield’s homes can typically cost the homebuyer an additional $10,000 to $20,000. The systems are installed by Structured Home Solutions of Sherman, Connecticut.

After Blansfield shows his potential clients and architects how he can operate the systems in his own home, he brings in Structured Home Solutions to work with those who want to have a full system installed while the house is being constructed. Others may opt for a prewire or a base system and add to it later. Structured Home Solutions works as a subcontractor with Blansfield through the closing, after which the custom electronics integration firm performs upgrades independently.

“Jim’s our best salesman. He absolutely loves the system, and putting the system in his hands is one of the best things we can do,” says David Febbraio, owner of Structured Home Systems. “When you put it in [the homebuyers’] hands and they see how easy it is to use, they see how they can use it in their own homes.”

Read the complete article in Tech Home Builder.

The New iPhone 5S and Fingerprint Technology

There is some buzz that when Apple releases the new iPhone 5S there will be fingerprint technology incorporated into the home button.  It seems like an interesting concept and the way future technology is leading us.  Below are some excerpts from an article in Forbes written by Anthony Wing Kosner.

“Most accounts have indicated that initially the sensor will be able to authenticate a user on the device, as the lock screen passcode does now, but not yet be capable of secure payments. The payment piece will obviously be a really big deal, and many companies are pursuing that grail, but fingerprint authentication, if it works reliably, will be a big boon to Apple in winning over enterprise IT departments.”

iPhone 5S Fingerprint

“Everyone is looking at what this new phone can do, and one of the key things is fingerprint authentication,” Um told USA Today. “People are underestimating what this technology can do.” Indeed, the authentication feature has been the one genuinely new aspect of the 5S that has surfaced,leading me to speculate that the “S” will stand for “security.” In combination with iOS 7′s iCloud Keychain, the fingerprint scanner could make the use of the new iPhones both more spontaneous and more secure.

“Apple will not be alone, particularly in the pursuit of biometric authentication for payments. PayPal president David Marcus predicts that, ”Within the next two years the vast majority of high-end smartphones will have biometrics and mainly fingerprint logins. It’s going to be very useful for payments.”

Read the complete article in Forbes.

Going Green in Your Home with Lighting Control

Today, more and more people are concerned about our environment and are looking to do their share to help conserve energy and protect our resources.  Installing lighting control in the home allows homeowners the opportunity to control the amount of energy being used.  Lights no longer need to be left on when leaving the home so that homeowners don’t return to a dark house, lights can be dimmed to help conserve energy and lighting control can be easily integrated into a home automation system.  This allows easy remote access through phones, ipads and laptops.  This is a great way to help the environment and implement a green aspect into the home.


How to Add Lighting Control to Your Home

by Steven Castle

Want to freshen up the appearance of your house, enjoy greater convenience and save some energy to boot? Then you should look into a lighting control system.

A lighting control system can automatically dim your lights, enact preset “scenes” so only the fixtures you need come on, automatically turn on and off lights so you don’t have to run around the house to do so- and interact with other home systems such as motorized window shades, security systems, thermostats and whole-house control and automation systems.

lutron 6 button



Whole-house lighting control systems are available from companies including Lutron,LevitonVantage and CentraLite – as well as home control companies Crestron,Control4 and Savant (which recently purchased lighting control company LiteTouch). Also available are a variety of lighting control products that employ wireless Z-Wave and ZigBee technologies.


Read the complete article in Electronic House.

Waterproof Cases for iPhones,iPads and Remotes are Great for Outdoor Entertaining

No need to worry that controlling your outdoor speakers and televisions will be an issue around water any longer.  There are cases to protect them from the water splashing that comes with enjoying your outdoor space during the summer.  Below is an excerpt from an article sharing the different options available.


Outdoor Remotes and Smartphones Need Extra Protection

Outdoor remotes or waterproof cases for backyard control.

July 08, 2013 by Grant Clauser

In addition to the home theater or media room, the backyard is one of the most popular places for audio/video and control system installations. We’ve featured many impressive outdoor integration systems, from huge patio theaters to extensive speaker and lighting systems, but one thing they all have in common is the need for remote control in an environment that’s not always conducive to the remotes or interfaces we use indoors.

But there are options. Just as speakers, subwoofers and HDTVs now come in waterproof/weatherproof outdoor versions, so do some remotes controls. With the right remote, you don’t have to worry that a poolside accident or surprise thundershower is going to ruin your precious electronics. A few of the outdoor remotes (shown in the accompanying slideshow) actually float, so you can use them in your pool, not just poolside.



But what if your main control system interface is actually your iPhone or iPad? This is an increasingly common situation. While many homes will have in-wall touchpanels and keypads, the in-hand remotes are often mobile devices. A great solution for those users is a waterproof case. Some waterproof cases are bulky and look more like sandwich bags than something for your elegant smart phone, but a few are slim and stylish enough to stay on your phone full-time. In fact there are even floating options, so your device won’t sink when accidentally kicked in the drink (by the way, these are also great options for boaters).



Read the complete article in Electronic House.

Custom Installations versus Big Box Companies

Below you can read a portion of an article from Electronic House that discusses Verizon and custom install companies. Here is an example why custom installation companies are the choice for companies such as Elan, Control 4 and Savant.  These companies spend a great deal of time developing their products and know that custom installers are the way to go.

Verizon Automation and Monitoring Not Smooth Sailing
Verizon’s problem or user error?


“The home control and automation market can breathe a little easier because it looks like Verizon won’t be taking over that business.”

Verizon phone photo


“Over the past several months Verizon has been rolling out its basic home control and monitoring service to FiOS users across the country (not available in all locations yet). When Verizon announced the service as an affordable, DIY, alternative to professionally-installed control and security systems, some people the in the control and installation business were concerned. Well, we’ve seen these off-the-shelf systems come and go over the years and for the most part they remained a small niche for people who knew what they were doing and were willing to live with a few glitches. However, when you buy a system and a service plan from a huge company like Verizon you expect it to work, right?”


Read the complete article at Electronic House.