SmarthomeShow 2005

The first ever Smart Home show ran from 14th to the 17th April 2005 in Hall 9 of Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre – the NEC.




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Plasma and MCE were everywhere




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Hall 9 of the NEC- SmartHome Show 2005

On arrival you could be forgiven for thinking the show was disappointingly small, indeed if you wanted to you could have probably walked all the isles and been out again in under 15 minutes. However, on closer inspection there was plenty to keep you occupied. We spent six hours there on the Friday, plus several more hours on the Saturday.

The show did have a strong bias towards AV so there were plasmas, LCDs and projectors everywhere. Microsoft’s Windows Media Centre Edition 2005 (MCE2005) was, as might be expected, featured on many stands too.

Several people commented to me that there was a lack of “integration” at the event. I suppose that’s up to the installation companies to provide though. It’s understandable that the exhibitors that were manufacturers or distributors would only be interested in promoting their wares. With the exception of WebBrick and Comfort the more “techy” side of home automation was pretty much absent at this show




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Seminars were very well attended

The seminars seemed very busy, especially on the Friday. The seminar theatre in the middle of the hall was usually full, showing that the exhibition was not just being visited by the casual lookers,
wandering in from the Renovation and building show next door. These visitors were focused on smart home technologies and were there to learn. Indeed one exhibitor we talked to said he expected the first hour or two to be quiet on the Thursday morning. However there was a queue of people waiting to get into the hall before opening time. Several exhibitors told me they had given out their entire stock of marketing leaflets etc within the first day of the four day event.

The one word I heard more that any other as I toured the stands was of course “Cat5”. Bus lighting, IR Distribution, Security, CCTV, Whole House Audio are all products that, for the main part use Cat5e as their common wiring standard.  Despite the continued onslaught of wireless products, it seems the need for a
structured wiring system is still very real. While wireless can be a great help in certain circumstances, especially retrofits, it still makes enormous sense to flood wire a new build, whether a bespoke self build or a home in a development.




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55 Glorious Inches of HD Plasma

The Hitachi stand was my first introduction to high definition TV. Having read lots on HDTV it was good to see it “in the flesh”. The 55” plasma and its smaller siblings were running an HD demo from a PC source. It had the usual boosted colours and images specially produced to show it off, but it was damn impressive! We considered creating a diversion and trying to make off with it, but we didn’t think we could outrun security.




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Touch Switch Development

On the WebBrick stand Andy showed us an interesting touch switch system they are working with to develop a custom switch plate. They hope to use it to trigger WebBrick’s functions and provide custom colours on the switch.

A stand in the main hall that caught our eye was the EIS with a large poster proclaiming multi-room audio at a cost of just £179 per room. On our initial
inspection it seems to require a bespoke 12 core cable.




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Opus Multi-room

Ben Geach from Simply Automate showed us a few of the new products they are now offering. The Opus Octopus whole house audio system requires only a Cat5 cable from the source to each bedroom/zone. It then attaches to a keypad in the wall which has an integrated amplifier. The ceiling speakers are then wired back to the wall keypad. Also on show was the new touch screen for the Harmony system. It’s expected this will be released in the coming weeks.




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LCD Photo Frames

The LCD picture frame stand was one of those you just had to stop and stare at. The frames featured a 1024×768 panel with a media card reader for the most popular 7 types of flash card. An IR remote allowed control of the device, setting the time intervals, and the transition type. The single panel frame was around £550 while the impressive 3 image one was around £1,500.

Siemens were there with the Siemens Bus that took part in our UKHA2004 Show at Hatfield.

Several integrators showed small displays of Clipsal products. However Clipsal themselves were conspicuous by their absence. It was disappointing that they hadn’t made the effort to be there, especially as they put on such a great display at our own UKHA2004 Show last year in Hatfield. Perhaps they will make
it next year?




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Spread the Word!

Thanks to all the stands that helped “spread the word” by taking some of our leaflets. We hope to welcome some new visitors to the site and our mailing list and forums over the coming weeks.




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Next Years Event

As this year, next years Smarthome event will
be on at the same time as the Homebuilding & Renovation Show. The dates are the 2nd to the 5th of March 2006. The organizers tell us there were around 50 stands at this years show and plans are already well underway for the next show with 120 stands, representing more than a doubling in size!

So all in all a very enjoyable and worthwhile show. We look forward to next year!




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Abitana’s Interesting Mini Rack System.




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Affordable Multiroom




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42″ Plasmas on Sale at £699+vat




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Rako Lighting on the konnect2.net Stand




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Ben Geach from Simply chats to Keith Doxey




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Flat Screens in Every Conceivable location, including
Showers!




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AMX Touchscreen – 3Tb Video
Server anyone?




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Another AMX Touchscreen




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WebBrick in Action




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The New Harmony Touchscreen

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