Its not often that a 50-inch touchpanel is featured in an integrated residential system, but thats exactly what youll find at the heart of Media Design Associates recent project in North Miami Beach, Florida.
The installation, located in the sales center for the St. Regis luxury condo and resort community, stands out from the typical home project because its actually a commercial project disguised as a home installation.
Condominium sales centers are kind of interesting because they are commercial applications that are set up to look like a demonstrations of residential applications, explained Media Design Associates (MDA) system designer, David Arnold.
Arnolds company, which is no stranger to these types of installations, tackled this particular project because of a lucrative and ongoing relationship with The Related Group of South Florida, one of the largest real-estate developers in the U.S. The sales center business really developed as a result of our Community Division selling into condos, noted MDAs engineer, Curt Hayes. A lot of times you think youre going in to do high-volume stuff in the condominium residences then invariably there are 10 houses that have to be done as a high-level custom residence. In this particular case, however, the sales center was the only guaranteed portion of the contract for MDA.
We have several other communities under contract with The Related Group, so we were willing to design the sales center without the follow-up sales, Arnold added.
The concept for the project began a few years ago when The Related Group, in a partnership with St. Regis Hotels, bought an old Hilton hotel and its land on North Miami Beach. During the three-year project, which began a year ago, the old hotel was to be razed and a brand-new condo community and resort to be built. To help pre-sell the condos, the developer built a 4,000-square-foot model home and hired MDA, a five-year-old residential systems integrator owned by Michael Wohl, to incorporate all amenities, including two tiers of technology. The first tier was to distribute high-definition video and audio throughout, utilizing the best control technology available, showcasing their propertys promotional video. The second directive was to deliver a high-impact, 7 x 22-foot multimedia presentation wall to be used during special events and daily as an electronic billboard during regular sales center office hours.
MDAs technology goal was to incorporate Crestron controls via the TPMC-10 and a large 50-inch touch screen. The 50-inch touch screen is used to demo standard multimedia presentations via a Crestron processor and also acts as a control point for multimedia floor plans and to control the main theater area during events presentations. MDA engineered and designed a Smart Technologies KLX-350 touch screen overlay, which provided hands-on control for the 50-inch Sony FWD-50PX1/S plasma TV. With the touchscreen overlay, there are little infrared sensors that shoot down from the corners so anywhere where you put your finger, youre not actually touching it, youre setting up X and Y coordinances, Hayes explained.
The coordinances are sent via R232 back to the Crestron processor. Were using a C2N-DVP4DI which allows us to run up to four high-def images simultaneously on one screen, Hayes said. Our programmers wrote code to control the sales center and also allowed for creating sales tools for the sales people to use their finger as a mouse to pull up the condos website, or floor plans.
One of the goals for the sales center was to show a variety of different means of control. Therefore, MDA seamlessly integrated a Crestron system for lighting and drapery control, along with HVAC control, fireplace control in the master bedroom and audio/video control throughout. In addition to the 50-inch plasma and Crestron TPMC-10 10-inch touchscreens, a CRESTRON TPMC-10-DSW wall-mount docking/charging station and CRESTRON C2N-DB12W 12-button wall mounted keypad are utilized to demonstrate total control for audio and video functions in all the sales centers kitchen, living room, den, and bathroom. Additional AV functionality included an Escient media server and Dataton multimedia servers. The sales centers media wall incorporates two Digital Projection D-Vision HD projectors.
We have this wall that is eight feet tall and 24 feet wide, and we wanted to fill it with video, Hayes said. We tried to do it with one projector and one projector wouldnt go wide enough, so using the Datacon software, we were able to use two projectors and they actually overlap about 20 percent in the middle. The software will blend them so it looks like one seamless image.
A benchmark design element, according to Hayes, was that all video in the sales center would be in high def. Many sales centers have been putting video everywhere, but everything was composite video, Hayes said. One of the items that they wanted was to have everything in high-def. Thats why we went with the Crestron PVID (CNX-PVID8x3) system instead of doing a matrix switcher. Their promo was to made in high-def, and they wanted to show that on all of the video displays in the facility. We used component-level switching for all of the video and all the video displays are high-def ready, including the 50-inch touchscreen. It was the first sales center to have its promotional video played in high def.
The only complication for MDA was designing, programming, and installing the video wall, which was not part of the original project. They were getting moved into the sales center and I guess the sales manager got together with George Perez, the CEO of the Related Group, and decided that they we want to put video up where only painting were originally meant to be, Hayes said. Thats when we had to go back to the drawing board and say, OK whats going to be the best way to do this. We went with the best that there is.
But that, Arnold added, wasnt the hardest part. They only gave us about a week to pull that off, he said. That was definitely the biggest challenge for us.
Jeremy J. Glowcki is the editor of Residential Systems in New York City.