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Lowe’s showcases ‘smart home’ solutions

BY Brae Canlen

Lowe’s sponsored a networking reception this week at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, giving the home improvement retailer a chance to showcase its new offerings in the “connected home” product category. The Jan. 8 event was in partnership with Parks Associates, an international research firm that hosts the annual Connections Summit at CES.

"Lowe’s entrance into the smart home market is an important and potentially game-changing step," said Stuart Sikes, president of Parks Associates. "The retail channel allows consumers to touch and test these solutions, an important step toward broader adoption.”

Parks Associates research shows U.S. consumers are reluctant to take on new service fees, with only 15% of U.S. broadband households willing to adopt subscription controls packages. However, the percentages increase dramatically for individual controls components: 56% would buy door/window sensors, 53% would buy door locks, and 44% would purchase lighting controls. This indicates a strong potential for selling equipment with security and control features through a retail channel that consumers can expand over time to incorporate additional features.

Lowe’s “Iris” system allows consumers to monitor and control their home from their computer, tablet or smartphone. The retailer designed these products and services to appeal to mainstream consumers who may want to purchase simple and affordable bundles.

Kevin Meagher, VP and general manager of Smart Home at Lowe’s, also presented at a session entitled "Convergence in the Connected Home: Partnership Opportunities." Speakers from IBM, Verizon Telecom, Hitachi, EcoFactor and Qualcomm also participated in the session.

During CES, Lowe’s exhibited in the San Polo room at the Venetian hotel.

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Orgill signs distribution deal with BMC

BY Ken Clark

Las Vegas — Memphis, Tenn.-based distributor Orgill recently signed a distribution agreement with BMC, supplying hardlines to the Boise, Idaho-based pro dealer.

The distribution and services deal was signed late last year, and replaces BMC’s similar distribution agreement with True Value Corp. The transition is in its early stages, according to both Orgill and BMC.

Orgill is making its first appearance at the BMC National Meeting and trade show in Las Vegas Jan. 8-11.

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Regulations may tighten on battery shipments

BY Brae Canlen

U.S. manufacturers of devices that use lithium batteries may face stricter regulations this year because of safety concerns over the shipment of damaged and overheated batteries. According to some air safety experts, lithium batteries can combust while aboard cargo planes and have already caused a number of incidents, including plane crashes. Pilot unions are calling for tighter shipping controls that include protective packaging, flame-resistant containers and warning labels. But these regulations could substantially raise costs for tool companies and others that make or use lithium batteries, according to the Rechargeable Battery Association, a trade group.

A rule change in January by the International Civil Aviation Organization has implemented new global safety standards for shipping lithium batteries. The U.S. Department of Transportation is now considering a proposal that could also affect domestic shipments. A 60-day comment period opened on Jan. 7.

 

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