Not nearly as many Americans are building new homes as they were two years ago. That fact, which has been lamented repeatedly within the pages of Residential Systems magazine, is encouraging many manufacturers and integrators of audio/video technologies to re-think their strategies. Many have begun to focus on products that serve the existing home (retrofit) market much more intuitively, a case in point being NuVo Technologies innovative new idea.
A couple weeks ago, I was given an early preview of the new concept that the savvy team out of Hebron, Kentucky, is developing for a first quarter 2009 release. This new multi-room audio system, called Renovia, is designed to tackle the retrofit market better than anything Ive ever seen. “No new wires” have been a catch-phrase for years, and NuVo is taking that challenge head on, in direct response to the industry’s business woes.
Unlike traditional multi-room audio systems, Renovia will not require home-run Cat-5 wiring, because it will utilize the home’s existing electrical system, via Power Line Communications (PLC) technology, to transmit audio and metadata.
According to NuVo president and COO, David Rodarte, NuVos pitch to its dealers go even further than the technology itself, however. Because the installer will not need to pull Cat-5 wire, the costly and usually unprofitable expense of patching holes in drywall in a retrofit will disappear. Customers will have more money left over to spend on additional equipment and services-and they will be happy that their walls will not be torn up. Renovia will better enable dealers to introduce multi-room audio into a typical home theater/media room scenario. An illustration of Renovia’s likely system architecture
Because the system is still in development, NuvVo is not yet sharing product specs and pricing. That information will be provided when the company officially launches the product in the first quarter of 2009. The manufacturer did, however, reveal the basic architecture of what a six-source, 12-zone Renovia system will look like:
Up to six sources connect to a source hub. The source hub connects to up to 12 zone amplifiers via a PLC interface to the home’s electrical wiring. Speakers are connected to each zone amp. Each zone amp connects to its own PLC interface behind the wall, which in turn connects to a nearby electrical outlet box.
User control will be provided via NuVo’s in-wall Control Pads, its new Wireless Control Pads, or Music Port-enabled PC/Macintosh web browser interfaces.
Any NuVo source that can connect to NuVo’s traditional multi-room audio systems will be able to connect to Renovia: terrestrial and satellite radio tuners, music servers, iPod docks, and PCs via Music Port.
Renovia will reduce multi-room audio system installation times for existing homes significantly. Our expectation is that it will take one day to install a six-zone Renovia system. Installation crews will be able to do more jobs in a typical week.
Renovia’s design, engineering, and development have been and continue to be greatly enhanced by input and feedback from a trusted NuVo Dealer Advisory Board. The Board has worked closely with NuVo engineers from the inception of the Renovia idea to ensure that NuVo will offer a reliable, user-friendly and installer-friendly system that delivers the quality and reliability that NuVo dealers expect. This process is just the latest example of the strong, mutually beneficial relationships that have been forged between NuVo and its dealers.
NuVo is previewing Renovia technology at CEDIA EXPO 2008 in an effort to educate new and prospective dealers about the retrofit market, discuss the opportunities that exist and the technology required for that market, and describe where the upcoming Renovia multi-room audio system will fit into their changing business models.
After CEDIA, Renovia will enter a rigorous field testing phase to ensure that the final product will be one that dealers and installers can confidently stand behind. Renovia, they tell me, will undergo more testing than any NuVo product has ever endured.
As the owner of a 20-year-old home with a cobbled-togther multi-room audio system, I personally cant wait for Renovia to hit the market. This is a game changer for me, indeed, and Im sure one for many integrators and middle-market consumers in the U.S.