Excitement is building with EXPO 2015 just weeks away, so Residential Systems sat down with several of the industry’s most high-profile manufacturers to find out what they will be showcasing in Dallas, how they see the future, and just what dealer support they truly do offer.
So what product solutions and/or services are you bringing to EXPO this year?
Evan Ackmann, Technology Manager, Lighting, Crestron:
There are a lot of new developments with Pyng that will be launched at CEDIA EXPO 2015. Pyng brings ease of installation to our dealers and ease of use to the end user. We’re focusing on expanding that platform and its capabilities. You’ll see a lot more products and functionality added.
Tim Troast, Director Product Management, Middle Atlantic:
Middle Atlantic will be bringing the Essex collection of racks, power, and accessories. This innovative collection includes the QAR Series rack, a knockdown solution with patent-pending, snap-together assembly in minutes; the MMR Series Enclosure, a rack that can go from floor to wall; and accessory bundles that make it easy for the integrator to get everything he or she needs for basic installs in a single box. Originally launched last year, these products are now stocked and available at leading national distributors including AVAD, ADI, and Powerhouse Alliance Members.
We also are debuting a revitalized CEDIA Hall of Fame favorite. This classic solution is seeing an incredible resurgence as the residential market continues to climb, giving integrators an opportunity to capitalize on the middle market with upsells like this product that highlight their craftsmanship, all while promoting a reliable system.
Itai Ben-Gal, CEO, On Controls:
On Controls will be exhibiting an array of new offerings, including an all-new lineup of hardware gateways that have been engineered by On Controls to address the needs of integrators in the field. We will also be showing IP-based control of Apple TV that enables users to control functionality and cover art, metadata, and leverage gesture control (when interfacing with iOS devices). On Controls will also be showing a brand-new graphic theme, as well as a host of enhanced new features.
Tim McInerney, Director of Product Marketing, Savant:
In addition to our current product line, Savant will be showcasing some revolutionary new products in smart home and automation at EXPO this year…can’t give it all away yet!
Michael Bridwell, Vice President, Marketing and Home Entertainment, Digital Projection:
Awe-inspiring, custom-focused, wide-screen projection solutions, of course! Attendees will see truly distinct projection solutions for elite home entertainment, some of which have yet to be seen by our residential partners. Rest assured, we’ll reveal inspiring imagery solutions that are sure to reinvigorate the elite entertainment category, as well as increasing profitability for our integrators.
Alex Camara, CEO, AudioControl:
We have been providing great audio solutions into the CI channel for nearly 40 years. This year is no different, and at CEDIA EXPO we will be launching our largest lineup of new products ever. Our theme at CEDIA EXPO is focused and comes directly from our customers–more power, less space, make it sound great! Leading the charge will be the Bijou 600, our 1U, two-channel, 100-watt integrated zone amplifier that provides a total amp and DAC solution. It features high power, digital and analog inputs, and at just 8 inches by 5 inches, it fits behind any TV setup, provides extra zone amplification, and can go in a rack or almost anywhere where compact high-power amplification is required. The Bijou 600 is also the prestigious winner of the CEA audio product of the year at this years’ CES. We are also launching a new lineup of state-of-the-art multi-channel amplifiers with higher power levels and more compact designs. This will include new high-power Architect power amplifiers and the latest models in our successful series of network Director amplifiers. Our new Dolby Atmos Home Theater platform will be among the greatest sounding home theater AVRs and Pre-Pros on the market today. As well as the latest in Dolby Atmos and DTS-X, the new models will be fully equipped with HDMI 2.2 and HDCP 2.0, and the latest in DIRAC room correction software.
Frank DeFilippis, Product Manager Channel Programs, DISH:
We’re featuring our new 4K Joey, which is designed to easily integrate with the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR system. At CEDIA EXPO, we’ll conduct demos so the custom installer community can see firsthand how the Hopper integrates with leading control systems, learn more about 4K Joey, and experience all of Hopper’s award-winning features that optimize the TV entertainment experience.
Savant Smart Host controller boasts multiple I/Os for home automation and faster processor.
How are you going to help your dealers even further with support policies as we move into the last part of 2015 and into 2016?
Crestron has long been recognized for its exceptional, industry leading support. We offer 24/7 support on the phone and online. We offer expedited service and delivery, advanced replacements, onsite visits, extended warranties, and more. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority.
Middle Atlantic Products is going to continue to invest in the customer experience–bringing to market key tools and services that make it easier to build great systems. MiddleAtlantic.com, today, offers information for each of its more than 5,000 products including technical specifications, drawings, images, pricing, and manuals. The configurator on the website allows dealers to design, share, and order racks, all online, 24/7. Middle Atlantic will even assemble the rack for free–shipping the products exactly as designed, saving integrators time and money. Throughout 2015 and into next year, new features and services will continue to be released. Users who register online will receive all the updates!
On Controls has added to its roster of highly qualified support staff as it has grown, giving us the capacity to offer support and training that is exceptional.
Support, both pre-sale and post-sale, is a critical reason to become a Digital Projection dealer. A key component in that success has been our in-house Application Support team, that exists primarily to guide integrators through installation, specification, and source combination questions, before a PO is even received. Then, post-sale, we have both robust in-house technical and client support teams, and a multi-capable group of field technicians that travel wherever needed on a full-time basis. Issues arise, and when they do, integrators need a fair, pragmatic, and proactive partner. Digital Projection strives to support every dealer that insists on selling and installing our precision projectors.
Earlier this year we launched our new website designed as a support tool for both the CI sales teams, as well as a technical resource to installers in the field. We still answer the phone with “real people” here in Seattle, and provide a ton of specification support for existing and new dealers working on products and using our solutions in their projects. We also recognize the importance of offering great value products in our market, and also providing a solid margin opportunity for our dealers to allow our CI community to invest in our products and their markets. In addition, we retain a five-year warranty on our products and work directly with dealers on training, videos, webinars, and “Train In The Rain” seminars nationwide!
We’re making several changes to DISH’s Local Retailer program to better accommodate the custom install community. These changes include a custom installer “concierge” program for those who want to include DISH in their offerings, but don’t want to get too involved with set-top box fulfillment or satellite antenna installs.
Can you provide a broad perspective of where you feel the custom integration industry is headed in the next four to five years?
Everything is controlled from apps now, so there will be more features added to control systems to help control these apps. For other devices, such as wearables, the opportunity to integrate with the apps and customize will be even more cutting edge and innovative. In the next few years, we should see more development of controlling things from a centralized, portable device.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to drive demand for the custom integrator. The fragmentation of apps across work, life, and play will amplify the need for centralized control–especially at the middle market. App overload and millennial expectations will be catalysts that make easy integration more critical than ever before. As it stands today, system reliability is key to delivering on those customer expectations, and the infrastructure is the foundation to a successful install.
We anticipate that integrators will need to focus more on personalized solutions–just as PC users now sign into Windows individually, personalizing their interfaces with the computer, IoT systems need to accommodate individual users in a similar fashion. The way we consume media, virtual reality technologies, user interface preferences–these are areas where we anticipate seeing innovation. We also anticipate more consumers seeking out solutions that will empower them to live a more energy-efficient lifestyle to achieve cost savings and a lower carbon footprint.
Consumers expect more from their technology today than ever before, and in the future that trend will continue. Look for the proliferation of connected devices needing to be integrated into a system to grow dramatically. Mobile devices will continue the trend to become the interface of choice everywhere but on the couch, in front of the TV, where button remotes will remain popular. Custom integrators need to be ready to provide other value-added technology services to consumers, especially networking and IT services that will continue the trend to becoming the backbone of most custom integration installations.
First and foremost, I hope that the integration network that serves the residential AV market has learned a good deal from the past seven years. We certainly have as a high-end manufacturer. Many integrators seem to be feeling bullish at the moment, so I hope they focus on products that deliver high profitability and high experience. Strike while the iron is hot, give the client an experience, not a product, and separate yourselves from the pack by forging a specialized reputation.
Certainly today, we continue to hear loud and clear: more power, less space, plus great sound quality, and this continues to be where much of our engineering is focused. Our customers expect great value for their clients, strong margins, and the best and most reliable solutions. This, combined with a stronger focus on Hi-Res audio solutions, network access in all our products, zone amplification, the ability to provide amplification that can be “tuned and calibrated” into a room through the amplifier design, and room correction are just a few of the trends we are focused upon. In our “skunk works,” we have a secret room to which our engineers escape on an ever more frequent basis, and are working on the future of audio and our role in the wired and wireless world of audio.
The proliferation of low-cost, app-enabled devices has created a heightened demand for home automation in the mass market. As a result, we’ve seen increased confusion among consumers who need help navigating their many technology options. This opens new markets for the custom install community, which will help a larger set of customers install reliable systems at lower price points. DISH will support the custom installer with compelling products and a variety of options for installation and post-sale support to ensure customer satisfaction.
On Controls iOS and Android solutions.
What other product categories are you developing or exploring to meet the needs of residential and commercial integrators, both short- and long-term? Any sneak peeks into 2016?
We have a lot of new applications leveraging Crestron PinPoint technology, which we debuted at CEDIA last year, and continuing to for this year. We’re aggressively expanding proximity detection technology, and we debuted our commercial version of PinPoint at InfoComm15. The best thing is to wait and see what we have coming for 2016.
The control demand driven by IoT ripples through the system. Middle Atlantic plans to further invest in developing intelligent solutions that provide integrators the visibility and control to better manage and understand the AV ecosystem requirements.
In addition, Middle Atlantic is closely monitoring hardware trends. As components continue to be “consumerized,” shrinking in size, an integrator is always looking for alternatives to adding rack units. Plan to see more unique mounting options for small components from Middle Atlantic.
For residential applications, we anticipate interface with wearable technologies, and voice activation will be sought after by consumers. We plan to present solutions in these categories looking ahead. In the commercial sector, we will enhance our integration with unique devices such as media room collaboration, videoconferencing, and DSP-based AV systems.
As always, Savant will continue to push the envelope with new technology and raise the bar across the CEDIA industry. That’s all we can reveal at this time.
Today, Digital Projection is focused on differentiated projection solutions. Higher light output, wider color gamuts, alternative illumination options, higher resolutions, and more are included in this focus. However, our commitment is to delivering an awesome visual experience. With that in mind, any solution that can offer our integrators a Digital Projection-caliber experience is something that we would investigate.
The work for 2016 has already started. We have been the leader in equalization, measurement, and correction in our markets and we are working behind the scenes on a new calibration room correction software that will turn upside down the way rooms are calibrated through our amplification platform. We cannot say too much on this yet, but the new launch of AudioControl’s measurement platform with Apple iOS devices, alongside us being one of the few audio-approved Apple design and manufacturers in the U.S., offers us a very interesting way to continue to focus on our expertise in room measurement and correction.
We will continue pushing the pay-TV industry by offering incredibly powerful set-top boxes loaded with features. Ease of use, personalization, and mobility of entertainment will continue to be a focus for DISH.