Vision Security Barred From Selling Service in Florida

The Utah-based security firm has settled a claim with the Florida Attorney General’s Office for allegedly misleading elderly consumers.
By SSI Staff · March 10, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida attorney general’s office has banned Vision Security from conducting business in the state for two years as a result of misleading consumers.

In August, news station 8 On Your Side discovered that Orem, Utah-based Vision Security representatives were using deceptive sales practices to get elderly consumers to sign a contract with their firm.

Customers claim that Vision Security sales representatives pretended to work for their current security system provider, and said the reps stated they were just upgrading equipment. Some sales reps allegedly told customers that their current companies were out of business and Vision was taking over.

Reporters at the station then contacted Attorney General Pam Bondi, who promised to investigate the case, WFLA.com reports.

RELATED: ADT Accuses Vision Security of Lying to Make Sales

Bondi recently reached a settlement with Vision Security, which prohibits the firm from selling service in Florida for two years. Additionally, the door-to-door alarm sales company and must pay $18,000 to the state, as well as settle complaints with at least 40 customers who claim the company mislead them into signing up for contracts they didn’t need or want.

This isn’t the first time Vision Security has been in hot water for allegedly using deceptive sales practices.

RELATED: Door-to-Door Alarm Firm Faces Lawsuit for Misleading Ohio Consumers

ADT has filed several lawsuits against the firm, claiming that Vision Security used misleading sales tactics to dupe ADT customers.

And last July, Vision Security settled a claim with the Idaho Attorney General’s Office for misrepresenting the terms of the firm’s security system contracts.

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Police: Bogus Door-to-Door Alarm Sales Reps May Be Burglars

Police  have received reports that men are pretending to be alarm technicians to scan homes for possible burglaries.
By SSI Staff · January 14, 2015

ANDERSON, Calif. — The Anderson Police Department has warned residents to look out for individuals posing as door-to-door alarm salesmen, who are actually casing out homes for a burglary.

The department has received several calls from residents reporting suspicious activity from men claiming to represent security alarm companies, Record Searchlight reports.

In one incident, a woman reported that a man, claiming to be a representative from Hue and Cry Security showed up to her door unannounced at 7 p.m. The man claimed that he was there to evaluate her home’s security cameras.

The woman told him she was busy and to come back later, and immediately contacted police. Officials later determined that the man was not an employee of any security company and may have been a potential burglar.

Another woman in the area reported a similar incident. In her case, two men arrived at her home around 7 in the evening, claiming that they were employees of a security company and wanted to check out her alarm system. Neither man had credentials on them to prove they worked for a security company.

Police have cautioned residents to ask for a business card and identification from solicitors, and do not allow them inside. Legitimate sales representatives should also allow residents to contact the company to verify the rep’s identity.

Additionally, residents are encouraged to take note of the vehicle make, model, color and license plate when a solicitor leaves the premises.

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My-Alarm Launches an Industry 1st Again with the New “Lead Link” Program

Welcome to the My-Alarm “Lead Link” Program

You can earn over $500.00 per lead submitted and sold for our security, automation or camera systems based on the sale of the system. The minimum most basic system will still reward you over $75.00

You have the option of submitting the leads anonymously, you will still receive full payment when the lead is sold by our representatives.

We require only the name and telephone number of your lead. We take it from there.

You may submit as many leads as you wish. Each lead is tracked and rewarded separately. You are kept in the loop of progress during the entire process. From your submission, thru the sales and installation period, right until you are paid.

Your payment will be made in the form of a pre-paid VISA card within 3 days of the completion of installation.

My-Alarm is fully licensed and insured. We have over 30 years experience in residential and commercial security, automation and video systems. We sell and install the very latest technology in these fields, in fact we are one of the most innovative designers of systems in the market today while still remaining competitive in our endeavors. You may rest assured that your prospect will receive courteous, fair and professional treatment in all aspects of our operations.

“SUBMIT LEAD”

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14 Smart Door Locks at CES 2015, 4 Big No-Shows, 0 Wi-Fi

CE Pro has scoured the CES 2015 show floor and found 14 manufacturers of automated door locks that employ Z-Wave, ZigBee and/or Bluetooth (BLE). Plus, we found some notable no-shows like Goji.
image

Okidokeys smart locks triggered with wearable device.

View this slideshow

By Julie Jacobson, December 31, 2014

This whole smart lock business was just a blip only a couple of years ago and now there are about a couple dozen makers in the category. I did a thorough review of the CES 2015 exhibitor roster and found at least 14 makers of digital locks that employ ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE) plus home automation hubs for integration and remote access. 

No, I didn’t forget about Wi-Fi.

As far as I can tell, no makers of Wi-Fi locks are (formally) exhibiting at the show, although I have received invitations to meet with a couple of them separately, which I’m not doing.

To date, I believe only Lockitron (not shipping) and LockState (shipping) have promoted Wi-Fi door locks. While LockState has an interesting method for stretching battery life on its locks, Wi-Fi is a power-sucking technology generally unfit for door locks. Both Lockitron and LockState are no-shows this year at CES.

So too are two darlings of the press, August and Goji (which I kind of made fun of here).

So where does that leave us for CES 2015? Here’s what I found, along with booth numbers. Highlights are below, or simply flip through the slideshow below for images and details of all products (working).

Okidokeys (75108)
BLE
Shipping except for the Internet gateway
Details & images

Kwikset (71021)
ZigBee, Z-Wave
Shipping
Details & images of new SecureScreen technology

image
One of the more interesting products – cell-based OEM product from M2M Key Corp. SEE ALL PICS IN GALLERY BELOW

M2M Key Corp. (70232)
OEM manufacturer offering M2M cellular locks – a very interesting approach
Details & images

Yale Real Living (21000 – Z-Wave Alliance booth in South Hall 1)
Z-Wave and ZigBee
Shipping
Details & images

Danalock, Poly-control (21000)
Just added BLE to Z-Wave locks
Shipping
Details & images

Strattec/Nextlock (21000)
Not a very pretty thing, but some very interesting features on this Z-Wave access-control ecosystem (details in the slideshow)
Not shipping
Details & images

Vision (21000)
Z-Wave OEM
Shipping under multiple brands
Details & images

Schlage/Allegion
(21000 and Nexia booth 20135)
Z-Wave
Details & images

SecuRam (71428)
Very smart and novel BLE locks primarily for safes … for now!
Details & images

SimpliciKey (74235)
RF technology unclear (presumably BLE) but SimpliciKey has its own cloud service called KeyCloud that requires a hub
Some electronic door locks with point-to-point keyfobs are shipping, but not the Internet-connected version with KeyCloud service
Details & images

Unikey (70334)
OEM for Kwikset Kevo, a BLE device
Details & images

Glue (70450)
Startup with a BLE lock
Not shipping
Details & images

Monoprice (21024)
Just started offering Z-Wave products including inexpensive $100 lock
Shipping
Details & images

Chamberlain??? (Venetian)
Maker of MyQ Wi-Fi garage door controllers, Chamberlain is taking “innovations from the garage door to the front door – shown for the first time ….” according to a press teaser. Perhaps a lock?
Not shipping
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
JULIE JACOBSON

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Burglar Disables Home Alarm System By Unplugging Phone Jack

The security company tells police it was not aware the alarm system had been compromised.

By SSI Staff · July 15, 2014

SAUSALITO, Calif. — Police in this Northern California community near San Francisco are warning homeowners their security systems may not be as secure as they think. A recent burglary exposed a weak link in the communication systems of some security companies, KTVU.com reports.

The residence that was burglarized had a home security system, but the burglar or burglars were able access the utility box outside the home and unplug the phone jack for the security system, without the security company being aware the system was disabled, according to the news report.

Sausalito Police Officer Nick White investigated the burglary and contacted the security company to find out what time the burglary occurred.

“And they told me there was no record of it, and they don’t keep records of the hard line disconnects,” White told KTVU-TV. “I was very surprised and I was more surprised they didn’t have a record at all, or a time stamp of when the disconnection would have occurred.”

Police aren’t revealing the name of the security company while officers investigate the crime.

“The fact that an alarm can be disarmed from the outside and not notify the police station or not notify the protection company is something I think we all have to be aware of,” Mark Grace, a Sausalito resident, told KTVU-TV. “I actually did have a small break-in and fortunately my alarm did go off. It actually scared the perpetrator out of the house right away, so I was glad that I did have an alarm.”

Police say they want homeowners to know how the recent burglary happened so they can arm themselves with information by asking their utility and security companies how secure their utility boxes and security systems are, and consider a wireless security system if it works for their households, according to the report.

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Duo Posing as ADT Reps Arrested for Deceptive Sales Practices

Grandview Police arrested two Security Networks salespeople for impersonating ADT representatives and misleading an elderly woman into updating her security system.

 By SSI Staff · March 13, 2014
 

 
 

GRANDVIEW, Mo. — The Grandview Police Department has charged two Security Networks door-to-door alarm salespeople with deceptive business practices after they misled an elderly woman into updating her ADT security system.

Police arrested Colton Halladay, 22, and Steena Berry, 21, on March 11 after an elderly woman contacted on police and told them that two people dressed in ADT uniforms and wearing badges told her that she needed to convert her current security solution to a wireless system. The duo allegedly claimed that her system could be compromised if someone cut the phone line if she didn’t make the switch, Fox 4 KC reports.

During the conversation, Halladay mentioned that the pair actually worked for Security Networks, but were still affiliated with ADT. The woman then signed paperwork that authorized the update and monthly charge of $40.99 over a period of 60 months, which, if the term had been fulfilled, would have cost the woman $2,459 for the update.

While the two were going door-to-door, an officer approached Halladay and Berry and asked what the couple was doing. Halladay told the officer that he was working for Vision Security of Utah and selling security updates. The officer arrested the pair when they admitted they had sold a security system to an elderly woman.

During the interrogation, Halladay told a detective that he told the woman “I’m here in regards to your ADT system on behalf of Security Networks.”

Last year, Security Networks and its affiliate Vision Security agreed to pay ADT $2.2 million in damages for misleading consumers to believe the companies were affiliated with ADT and financial exploitation of the elderly after they posed as ADT, Brinks and Honeywell representatives.

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Verizon Drops DIY Security/Home Automation Initiative

Verizon Home Monitoring and Control, a $10/month home automation and security offering for DIYs, has been discontinued; platform partner 4Home by Motorola is gone.

 

By Julie Jacobson · February 10, 2014

 

 

 
 

Verizon has dropped its Home Monitoring and Control solution two years after launching the DIY home security and automation service. Of all the new mass-market smart home providers – ADT Pulse, Comcast/Xfinity, AT&T Digital Life, Time Warner Cable, Cox and more – Verizon was the only one to launch as a DIY platform that was not attached to a professional security monitoring contract.

“We are revisiting the service to more accurately reflect our vision for the connected home,” Verizon spokesperson Jarryd Gonzales tells CE Pro. “As technology and consumer expectations evolve, so must our offerings.”

The Verizon home-control Web site went dark several months ago, and while customers can no longer shop for additional products and services, Verizon will “continue to provide service and support for current Home Monitoring customers,” Gonzales says.

Platform Provider 4Home Dissolves

While Verizon would not provide more insights into the cancellation of its program at this time, one of the reasons for its demise might have been the dissolution of 4Home, the platform provider for the initiative.

We are revisiting the service to more accurately reflect our vision for the connected home — Jarryd Gonzales

4Home was acquired by Motorola Mobility in 2010, which was in turn sold to Google in 2012. Shortly thereafter, the Motorola Home division that included 4Home was sold to Arris, a cable infrastructure giant.

Last year, Arris dissolved the 4Home business, we are told, eliminating most if not the entire team.

Oddly, at CES in January 2013, Verizon was demonstrating the Lowe’s Iris DIY home control solution at its booth, indicating that it might sell the solution in its stores. That apparently hasn’t happened. What Else Went Wrong?

Besides the collapse of 4Home, Verizon had some other challenges with its program.

First, it was attempting to become the first successful provider of a DIY security/automation system that had a monthly fee separate from a professionally monitored security system.

At that time, providers could (and do) charge premiums of $10 or more for automation and self-monitored security as an attachment to professional monitoring, but not as a standalone service.

Since its launch, however, other DIY programs have emerged, such as Lowe’s Iris, which provides a similar service at a similar price. Schlage’s Nexia service – again, very similar – also is showing some signs of life among homebuilders. And recently, Comcast/Xfinity, using the new Touchstone platform from iControl, launched a me-too DIY solution to complement its existing pro-installed and -monitored security/automation system.

Of all of the services, Verizon has been perhaps the least media-savvy, losing out on much of the buzz that has elevated its competitors.

There was little or no outreach to the press and the company declined to provide products and service for review … at a time when so many press-worthy DIY home automation products were hitting the market.

The big question, though, remains: Will consumers spend $10 per month for a standalone do-it-yourself system that lets them remotely monitor cameras, adjust the thermostats, arm the security system or unlock the doors?

To be sure, odds are stronger today than they were when Motorola/Arris/Verizon probably started to wind down their DIY offerings last year, but only time will tell.

According to FierceCable, a new Verizon patent application describes an “advertisement platform” for delivering such services as subscriber discounts on home automation services, free PPV movies and HBO trial subscriptions in exchange for their accepting advertisements on their mobile devices.

Elsewhere, Columbus Business First describes a new Verizon Wireless “Smart Store” concept that “changes the shopping experience from a product-driven model to a lifestyle-driven design.”

The store is divided into zones: Have Fun, for game players and gadget fiends; Amplify It, for the music and entertainment user; Get Fit, for health-related applications and accessories; and Home and on the Go, for managing home automation. … In the For the Home section, there is a built-to-scale house with which shoppers can interact.

“You can open the doors, turn on the lights, turn on the heat,” [Jay] Highland [of store designer Chute Gerdeman] said.

So it does appear that Verizon will be back in the home automation business. We just don’t know what shape it will take

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Credit card thieves use aluminum foil to rip off mom-and-pop businesses

The Kansas City Police Department is warning small mom-and-pop business owners and credit card holders about a fiendish way criminals have found to steal.

 

By DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager – email
By Heather Staggers, Reporter – bio | email

Courtesy of Kansas City Police DepartmentCourtesy of Kansas City Police Department

Courtesy of Kansas City Police DepartmentCourtesy of Kansas City Police Department

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -It’s a crime that has occurred in other parts of the country but hit Kansas City this weekend.

“We hadn’t heard of it in Kansas City until obviously this weekend,” said Kansas City Police Department Sgt. Rob Rickett. “It is something we want to hurry up and get a jump out in front of.”

Stores use satellite dishes to transmit credit card information after a purchase is made, but for smaller businesses the transaction may not be processed immediately. Thieves are climbing onto rooftops and covering up the satellite dish with aluminum foil.

This prevents the transactions from being transmitted to the credit card company. Police say this allows thieves to use counterfeit, maxed-out or even stolen credit cards.

The thieves are long gone before the retailer realizes the transaction is being rejected.

Kansas City police say this occurred at least three times over the weekend and possibly a fourth time. Some retailers could be victims and not even know it yet because the machine will show the purchases to go through.

The department is warning businesses that transmit credit card information to lottery transactions by satellite to be aware of this scam. Owners and managers should be on the lookout for anyone climbing on store roofs.

Rickett said police are working to determine if the crooks are using a fence, ladder or the roof of a vehicle to gain access to the roofs.

The three thefts this weekend were in the 6200 block of St. John Avenue, 8700 block of Northwest 112th Street and the 2100 block of East 39th Street. In the St. John Avenue theft, the suspect used a fraudulent credit card to purchase $1,665 worth of cigarettes.

If a satellite is covered with foil, contact police immediately and do not remove the foil. Officers will need to process the area as a crime scene.

“If they use any type of technology like that [satellite dish to transmit credit card transactions] and they have an unsecured rooftop, it’s probably a good idea to check their communications,” Rickett said.

He suggests checking the equipment at least every other day.

Police did question three about the repeated transactions at one business but did not have enough evidence to hold them. They are also reviewing store surveillance video.

If you have any information that would help solve these crimes, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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Growing copper theft ‘like an epidemic’ sweeping US

Mark Koba

There's copper in them there power plants. This April 28, 2010 file photo shows a power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Copper theft from homes, power statio...

Matt Brown / AP
There’s copper in them there power plants. This April 28, 2010 file photo shows a power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Copper theft from homes, power stations and construction sites is rising in US.

Copper is such a hot commodity that thieves are going after the metal  anywhere they can find it: an electrical power station in Wichita, Kan., or half  a dozen middle-class homes in Morris Township, N.J. Even on a Utah highway construction site, crooks  managed to abscond with six miles of copper wire.

Those are just a handful of recent targets across the U.S. in the $1 billion  business of copper theft.

“There’s no question the theft has gotten much, much worse,” said Mike  Adelizzi, president of the American Supply Association, a  nonprofit group representing distributors and suppliers in the plumbing,  heating, cooling and industrial pipe industries.

“There was a perception that copper theft slowed down after the recession,  and the rise in commodity prices seemed to ease off,” he said. “But that’s not  the case. The theft has only been growing.”

Stolen copper is valuable as scrap because the metal is used for so many  items—from fiber optics to plumbing to anything electrical—and the profits are  tempting.

(Read more: Copper near three-week low on China growth  worries)

“Copper prices have leveled since the recession, but they’re still high  enough to have people steal it,” said Michael Gurka, managing director of  Spectrum Asset Management, a Chicago investment firm.

“It’s also a very tangible asset and hard to trace, and reselling it can  bring in lots of money,” he added.

Ten years ago, copper futures traded at 80 cents a pound on the Chicago  Mercantile Exchange. By 2006, they were at $4 a pound. They are now trading at about $3 a pound, lower than  seven years ago but still 375 percent higher than 2003.

According to the latest statistics from the National  Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks incidents of metal theft, 25,083 claims  were filed from 2009 to 2012, compared with 13,861 from 2006 to 2008. Nearly 96  percent of the claims in the more recent period were for copper theft.

The five leading states for the thefts are Ohio, Texas, Georgia, California  and Illinois, the NICB said.

The problem has been left largely to local law enforcement agencies, though  the FBI has stepped in and arrested dozens of people over the last  five years.

On its website, the FBI says copper theft is  “threatening U.S. critical infrastructure by targeting electrical substations,  cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction  sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits.”

In May, the agency arrested seven people in  northwest Ohio for allegedly taking copper from utility power substations  and selling it for $15,000.

Authorities often go to the places where the copper burglars might attempt to  unload their metal, including scrap yards.

“The local police used to come maybe once a month, but now it’s three or four  times a month, looking for stolen copper,” said Tom Buechel, owner of Rockaway Recycling, a scrap metal outlet in  Rockaway, N.J.

“But we only buy from licensed contractors, and we take pictures of what we  buy and keep good records on sellers,” he said. “We work with the police and  make sure all our buys are legal.”

Even then, “we can’t get enough copper,” Buechel said. “It has incredible  demand.”

A major target for robbers has been the copper wiring in electrical power  substations and utility poles.

“The typical theft is usually around 200 to 300 feet of copper wire,” said  Kristine Snodgrass, a spokeswoman for PSE&G, an energy  company in northern New Jersey. “That’s about $500 in a scrap yard.”

In March, someone took off with $68,000 worth of  copper from a PSE&G substation under construction in Montgomery  Township, N.J., making off with several 1,000-pound spools of wire.

“We now have our own dedicated investigator working with police,” Snodgrass  said. “Arrests have gone up in recent weeks, and we’re seeing fewer thefts.”

Copper wire was stolen from a substation of  Kansas-based Westar Energy  in April, knocking out power in south Wichita and causing more than a $150,000  in damage. Westar officials said there have been more than 50 copper thefts at  area substations this year, versus four in 2012.

“It’s been like an epidemic this spring, and we couldn’t keep up with the  thefts,” said Pat VanSyoc, director of substation maintenance for Westar.

“The damage can be quite extensive,” he said. “It costs anywhere from $3,000  to $5,000 for us to repair the substations, plus there’s the loss of energy for  our customers.”

VanSyoc said thieves have no idea of the danger —for themselves and the  company’s repair crews—when they try to steal copper from power outlets.

“They can easily get electrocuted trying to steal copper wiring, and if we  have to dig deep to find what they’ve stolen, it puts our repair people in  danger as well,” he said.

Police in some states, including West Virginia and Kansas,  have reported deaths from suspected copper heists gone wrong, finding  electrocuted victims carrying flashlights and bolt cutters next to power lines.

To stem the the overwhelming tide of thefts, some utility companies like  Westar are making power stations more physically secure, as well as taking other  steps to make them less attractive to thieves even if they do break in.

“We’re using copperweld wiring now instead of just copper,” said VanSyoc.

“It has a steel core and copper on the outside,” he explained. “It costs us a  lot to put in but It doesn’t have the same value as straight copper wiring so we  expect this to cut back on thefts.”

States including California, Nevada, Kansas  and Washington have passed laws recently to crack down on copper theft by  mandating that recycling yards keep exact customer records on copper purchases,  codifying copper materials with serial numbers for tracking, while also calling  for stricter penalties for convicted thieves.

A national anti-copper theft bill  cleared a Senate panel in June. But full passage seems unlikely, said the ASA’s  Adelizzi.

“With the mood Congress is in, I don’t think they are likely to pass a  nationwide law on this right now,” he said. “And that’s a problem because most  penalties for copper theft are a slap on the wrist.”

(Read more: China slowdown digs a hole for US industrials)

“This is not a victimless crime,” he added. “People can die from trying to  steal it, and what about a hospital full of patients that has its power shut off  because a power station was broken into. This is more dangerous than people  think.”

The Department of Energy says copper theft  causes nearly $1 billion in losses to U.S. businesses each year.

And as long as the price of copper remains high enough for thieves to take  their chances, the problem is not going away, said Spectrum Asset Management’s  Gurka.

“The overseas market for copper is growing, and even if the price goes down,  people are going to try to steal it,” he said. “I don’t see this going away.”

 

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Report: Home Automation, Home Security Integration Starting to Gain Traction

July 10, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — With the residential market accounting for nearly 41% of the $2.7 billion intrusion alarm market in 2012, IMS Research, now part of IHS, forecasts it to have five-year compound annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2012 to 2017.

In the report, “The World Maker for Intruder Alarms – 2013 Edition,” the research firm notes that the residential space will become one of the fastest-growing verticals. Research analysts attribute the increase with the growing trend to combine home automation and home security systems on a single platform.

“The increase in new entrants attempting to penetrate the North American and European markets for home security is evidence of how successful this trend is becoming,” says Adi Pavlovic, analyst for access control, fire and security at IHS “Home management integration is gaining the most popularity in North America, which will increase the penetration rate of intruder alarm products into the residential sector.”

Pavlovic observes that Europe is at a close second, as more consumers are adding energy management features into their homes every year. Due to its large multifamily apartment culture and lack of professional monitoring services, researchers expect the deployment to intrusion alarms in Asia to be the slowest.

While intrusion alarm integration is popular in the residential space, progress in the commercial sector continues to be slow. There the trend has not gained traction because of a lack of unified legislation across each technology platform, according to the study. Regions with more lenient regulations, such as the Middle East, benefit from having the opportunity to integrate multiple systems into a single solution. Such an approach is more convenient, saves time and lowers costs by working with just one installer.

Momentum toward integration within homes is driven by increased investments in end-user education from new entrants hoping to successfully penetrate the market. This suggests that growth of integrated systems will continue to develop in the residential sector during the short to medium term. Manufacturers interested in integrated solutions should continue to focus on the residential market while integration in commercial applications remains sluggish, as the industry as a whole awaits standardization, according to the report.

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