Inaugural Luxury Technology Show Reflected Indulgences New and Old

3/6/2014 5:14:00 PM
The Luxury Technology Show launched this week in Manhattan, a new exhibition targeting the upper echelon of consumers. Of course, audio and video manufacturers had a strong presence.
By all accounts the young show was a great success, judging by the engaged attendee turnout. Personally, I found it to be an excellent opportunity to spend some closer time with companies I know well and those that I want to know better. I also learned about a few new ones—some of which, while outside the realm of AV, were still fascinating to see.
Here’s a rundown of my experience in photos:
Krell launched a brand new set of stereo preamps, the Illusion and Illusion 2, creating “the perfect system for high end stereo,” according to Krell president Bill McKiegan. Read more about the new components here.
I finally got my first demo of the Prima Cinema first-run movie system. Co-founder and SVP of business development Shawn Yeager ran down the basics of the user interface, which was easy to navigate. I was surprised to learn that Los Angeles is only the second largest market for Prima. New York comes up on top, followed by vacation home centric areas like Florida and Colorado. Prima is readying an international launch in UAE.
I also got my first look at Waterfall Audio’s stunning glass tower speakers on display with the Prima system. The sound impressively shook the furniture to the extent that I thought I might be sitting on a D-Box enabled couch.
Crestron partnered with interior designer Jon Call of Mr. Call Designs to highlight the aesthetic beauty that’s possible with home technology. Simple yet beautiful home automation was the theme there.
I had my first experience with Wren Sound and its unique solid wood cabinet wireless speakers, using Bluetooth, Airplay, and DTS PlayFi technology for multiroom application. While Wren started out as a direct-to-consumer brand, last August they started working with distributors like ProSource to expand. CEO Mike Giffin is a veteran from Harman, so a presence with custom integration professionals is a definite possibility for the young brand. In fact, some integrators have found Wren on their own, Giffin said.
Libratone was another sharp looking wireless speaker brand. The wool and cashmere surfaced speakers—quirkily named Zip, Loop, Live, and Lounge—use Airplay, DLNA, and PlayDirect (a hybrid of the former two technologies) to connect up to six speakers in multiple rooms. Libratone will be exhibiting at CEDIA for the first time this year.
In terms of eccentric wireless speakers, Stellé Audio Couture was perhaps the most interesting aesthetically. The fashion-centric brand features chic forms for its speakers, including one that doubles as a clutch for that fashionista on the go.
Some of the other exhibitors I visited briefly include Vutec with Sim2, Audeze, Sony, Honeywell—with the debut of a voice-activated thermostat—and Control4.
The LTS was especially useful for discovering brands that I would not have stumbled upon in the usual AV circles.
Two renditions of the ergonomic workspace were particularly intriguing.
Stir is a smart connected kinetic standing desk, complete with a built-in touchscreen to monitor use and quantify health metrics for the standing worker. The desk can even learn your habits and remind you it might be time to sit or stand.
Even more futuristic was the Emperor LX, an evolved workspace created by MWE Labs of Quebec. Coupling a custom recliner with temperature controls and massage capabilities with six monitors (five in front and one to the side), LED lights to catch up on that Vitamin D you miss while sitting in front of six screens, and built-in speakers, the Emperor workstation looks more like a virtual reality pod. I could easily imagine spending eight-plus hours in it a day with no complaints.
And it wouldn’t be a luxury show without some shocking price tags. Here I am on a $15,000 bicycle.
And here’s a McLaren coupe, which retails for upwards of $200,000.


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