With the speed at which time flies past, each December here at Residential Systems we like to take a moment and celebrate the victories of the year gone by — whether they be impressive product introductions, thoughtful mergers and acquisitions, or service done right. These are the moments that moved the industry along and gives us the momentum we need to launch into 2020.
We asked our audience what they thought the best moment of 2019 was for their company, and here are their responses.
abode: abode is a simple DIY home security system with the smart home features consumers desire. The wireless security system is designed so homeowners or renters can install and monitor their abode system all on their own, without having to pay installation fees or getting locked into monthly contracts. The latest addition to abode’s product lineup, iota, is a new all-in-one DIY home security system designed to give customers the freedom and flexibility to build out and monitor their smart home their way. In the coming year, customers can expect several new and exciting product announcements and integrations for iota.
AudioControl: Wesley Palmer, owner of Sound Effects in Mesa, AZ, decided to renovate his smart home/commercial technology showroom. The new facility boasted many exciting features, and Palmer wanted the new showroom to excite his clients about home cinema. Every aspect of the new theater was carefully planned, featuring a laser projector and ISF certified screen. In order to achieve the ultimate surround experience from the theater, Palmer chose an AudioControl Maestro M9 preamp/processor along with a Savoy G3 7-channel amplifier and a Pantages G3 5-channel amplifier driving a system set up for immersive format playback such as Dolby Atmos.
Catalyst AV: A 15 percent growth in sales year over 2018, with the business surging upwards, doesn’t just happen by chance. Catalyst AV held two back-to-back yearlong trainings during its “Great North American Training Tour” in 2019. This ensured 1500 Catalyst AV dealer members received the finest training on AVPro Edge’s matrixes, extenders, streaming devices, and Canvass Control for the design of complex systems. This was immediately followed up with another coast-to-coast training tour, including Techlogix and Cleerline.
Control4: As the smart home platform for SnapAV following the company merger, Control4 has expanded products, services, and tools to support dealers and homeowners. In 2019, new products included the CA-10 controller and integration with Google Assistant, as well as Control4 Smart Home OS 3. Control4 OS is the operating system for home, unifying and orchestrating all devices in the home and can be customized by the homeowner on the app, touchscreens, mobile devices, remotes, and more. Combined with training, resources, and the Certified Showroom program, dealers can expand their current customer base and grow existing systems in the new year with Control4.
Cortex VIP Cinemas: This 2019 highlight project presented a different challenge to Cortex VIP Cinemas than a normal home cinema. The client is much more of a multichannel music aficionado, but still has very high standards for movie-watching. The following is a quote from the client: “The combination of the professional Dolby CP850-C Atmos processor and expert sound calibration by Cortex VIP Cinemas has resulted in a level of cinema audio that is the finest I have heard. The imaging is precise, the dialog is clear and articulate, there are wide dynamics, and, most of all, it creates an immersive soundfield that envelops you and brings you into the movie scene. Simply breathtaking! Bravo Cortex VIP!”
Crestron: Back in September, Crestron announced the release of Crestron Home OS 3, the update to its operating system for the Crestron smart home. Crestron Home OS 3 includes hundreds of new features and an interface that’s both attractive and easy to navigate on mobile devices and Crestron TSW touch screens. It has spent the past few months educating integrators on how to make the most of the new operating system.
D-Tools: In 2019, D-Tools added new capabilities to its business software platforms that were designed to increase operational efficiency and profitability for system integrators. D-Tools Cloud — an easy-to-use platform that guides integrators from managing sales prospects through quoting, system design, and procurement — adds capabilities such as intelligent system design features and visual drag-and-drop quoting, while powerful new features have been added to its flagship, on-premises System Integrator (SI) solution, including service plan management, supplier pricing, and AVaaS (through an integration with Great American Financial).
Remember when? Click here to see the 2019 Companies to Watch.
DISH: In 2019, DISH led the industry in voice control by rolling out its new integration with the Google Assistant on Hopper, giving customers the ability to control their TV and manage smart-home devices using the DISH voice remote. DISH also became the first company to bring TV capabilities to the Josh.ai voice-controlled home automation platform. AirTV (a DISH subsidiary) introduced a new 4K HDR compatible streaming stick powered by Android TV called AirTV Mini, which seamlessly integrates Sling TV, Netflix, and OTA channels into one user experience when paired with an OTA antenna and AirTV Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner. Finally, DISH doubled its business in the CI channel for the second year in a row, leveraging its award-winning Concierge Dealer Support Service.
Enclave Audio: Enclave Audio recently launched two 5.1 wireless surround sound speaker systems: CineHome II and CineHome PRO (the latter being the world’s first THX-certified wireless home theater system, according to the company), powered by WiSA’s low latency 24-bit/96 kHz wireless technology. Both systems can be set up within minutes without wires to hide, cost less than the leading soundbar, and deliver an immersive 360-degree field of sound.
EPV Screens: For 2019 EPV Screens has launched a new tricolor logo in conjunction with the new products and programs introduced over the past 12 months. It represents the company’s renewed focus on the changing conditions of the projection screen market and the needs of custom installers. The new logo marks the launch of a whole new series of motorized “roll-up” screens either wall/ceiling mounted or free-standing that use materials that reject the washout effects of ambient light. These will be compatible for either standard “long-throw” or UST (ultra-short-throw) projectors.
Home Technology Association: The Home Technology Association (HTA) is approaching its 200th member, meaning nearly 200 firms have decided that becoming HTA Certified is something that allows them to stand out in a sea of integration firms that vary wildly in quality. Through a rigid set of more than 60 standards, HTA certification identifies and classifies the best home technology companies while weeding out the bad apples. Additionally, HTA executed two very successful HTA Client Experience Summits, one in L.A. and one in New York, that were emblematic of the types of education HTA provides to its members.
Hunter Douglas: The smart home is converging with design as homeowners seek beautiful connected systems. Hunter Douglas is supporting the industry in advancing smart shade application and installation with its new Custom Integrator Program, which was introduced at CEDIA Expo. The program supports integrators in adding smart shading to their repertoire, including training, quoting tools, and demo materials, as well as measuring and installation support through Hunter Douglas Installation Services. With PowerView Motorization Hunter Douglas offers window treatments for almost any project, with over 20 customizable styles that work with almost any smart home system.
Intellithings Ltd.: Intellithings is changing the smart home landscape with RoomMe — the first-ever smart home Personal Location Sensor (PLS) that leverages patented presence-sensing technology to make room-to-room, person-specific smart home automations a reality. With just a smartphone application and a user’s unique smartphone Bluetooth signature, RoomMe adds a layer of intelligence that is lacking in existing smart home devices — the ability to sense who has entered a room to trigger personalized scenes for lighting, music, comfort, and lifestyle simplicity. An upgrade to a user’s existing smart home technology, RoomMe’s potential is limited only by the imagination of homeowners and integrators alike.
Josh.ai: Josh continues to grow at an impressive rate, getting to nearly 400 dealers at the end of 2019. Earlier this year, it announced the first multi-room/multi-zone voice control capability, as well as added many high-profile partners, including Sony, Samsung, Comcast, and Sonance. Josh also made huge strides in data privacy and security, which is an increasingly important feature for end-clients.
Legrand | AV – Vantage Controls: The wellness category took off this year. Vantage introduced end-to-end human-centric lighting (HCL) solutions featuring load controls, user interfaces such as the new EasyTouch Glass, and programming software. Our internal clocks — or circadian rhythms — are daily cycles of biological activity based on a 24-hour period and influenced by regular variations in the environment, primarily the Earth’s natural lighting cycle. Vantage HCL systems render these conditions indoors by combining intelligent lighting control with tunable LED lamps and fixtures that have the ability to change their color tone or intensity to match the dynamic range of light.
Leon Speakers: Leon had another strong year of innovation with a focus on design-driven products and key partnerships. The company continues to work with Sonos and deepened its relationship with the launch of the Ente Series. The top-product from the series, the Ente SoundTile, conceals audio with art, and launched with a series of fine art photography in partnership with famous music and fashion photographer Roberto Rabanne. Mixing art with audio has always been at the core of Leon’s vision and the company continues to find new ways to push the boundaries of design and technology.
Lutron Electronics: It’s now simpler than ever for integrators to design, install, activate, program, and service Lutron’s HomeWorks lighting and shading control system. Lutron recently announced the new, next-generation HomeWorks QSX processor that brings HomeWorks QS wired, wireless, and Ketra together into a single system. Lutron also announced Native Ketra integration using the new Clear Connect Gateway – Type X, which streamlines the design, activation, programming, and support of Ketra products into a HomeWorks system. The new Clear Connect Gateway incorporates up to 200 Ketra devices into a HomeWorks system using Clear Connect – Type X wireless technology.
Luxul: Luxul’s Epic Mesh combines a mesh node acting as a router and additional satellite nodes that require no wired link between them. Each node in the network can talk to all the others, forming a point-to-point mesh for fast, reliable, truly wireless internet. A tri-band (2×2, 2×2, 4×4) antenna array enables two 2×2 bands for client connectivity and a third 4×4 5 GHz dedicated backhaul channel to ensure strong connectivity back to the router, so homeowners get fast internet anywhere in the home.
Modus VR: 2019 was the first full calendar year Modus VR was in the market, and it was a big one. Working closely with integrators, the design and sales platform released six major updates in the year, accelerating the workflow, adding more features, onboarding new manufacturing partners, and even entering the commercial space. Modus VR’s customers have reported higher project values, shorter times to close, and increased client satisfaction. In 2020, integrators can expect to see even more ways to be ahead of the competition using Modus VR, both in their showroom and on the road.
MuxLab: MuxLab’s MuxControl App gives mobile control of every aspect of AV systems from iOS or Android devices. It is intuitively designed, offering color-coded graphical interfaces for an exceptional user experience. Programmable remote-controls are created with unique layouts. Multiple commands are assigned to turn on/off, volume up/down, play/pause, etc. Remotes can be created for rooms with common commands across an entire residence. Individual rooms can be used in the app; users take a picture of the room and upload it as a backdrop. Connected displays automatically take on the color of the source they are connected to for easier identification.
Neocontrol: Originally from Brazil, Neocontrol has expanded its operations to different continents and established a solid network of certified dealers across these countries. In 2016, Neocontrol opened a branch in Orlando, FL, to serve as a hub to distribute products to the U.S. and other countries. Since 2016, it has established four distributors in the U.S. and also distributors in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Canada, and Mexico. Its most recent success case is a development of 35 townhomes, all automated by Neocontrol, in Windermere, FL.
OneVision Resources: Maitland Fritzley at Infinite HT in Idaho had long wanted to spend more time working on the business and less time in it. He partnered with OneVision, and within one month he succeeded! The OneVision Platform has given him precious time back to focus on growing his company. Similarly, before joining OneVision, Hermary’s in San Francisco had its own service and RMR program, but they found the demand impossible to keep up with. Since joining OneVision, they’ve been able to double their service team, drive 100 percent client adoption, and provide better service.
Optoma: The Optoma CinemaX P1 integrates 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD), Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant voice control capabilities, an ultra short throw distance, and an integrated NuForce soundbar with Dolby Digital 2.0 support. It delivers a 3000-lumen, 8.3-million-pixel image on screen, allowing viewers to project up to a 120-inch image with four times the details of a Full HD display from just inches away. HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) color compatibility guarantees life-like color performance, with bright whites and deep black levels.
Platinum Tools: In the first quarter of 2019, Platinum Tools announced a merger with NSI Industries, LLC, a provider of electrical and control products. The merger expands their products to electricians, while continuing to support the residential market with their existing line-up and new products such as the Unloaded Patch Panels the company displayed at CEDIA Expo.
PowerHouse Alliance: The PowerHouse Alliance has been on an upward trajectory, expanding its product offerings through new vendors as well as its house brand, A2V. With new products from vendors PowerShades, LeakSmart, KLH, and others, the PowerHouse Alliance makes the top products and brands available to dealers with will-call, pickup, and fast shipping from over 800,000 square feet of warehouse space with 41 locations nationwide. Heading into 2020, the PowerHouse Alliance distributor members will continue supporting dealers and their growth in capturing the home technology opportunity through trainings, new and more convenient locations, and the products needed for any job.
Pro Audio Technology: In 2019, Pro Audio Technology (PRO) revolutionized the brand with the introduction of six new loudspeakers and the ALC-3316, the company’s first Amplified Loudspeaker Controller. PRO thrilled the crowds at CEDIA Expo with a 21-channel Dolby Atmos system featuring an exclusive demo of Dolby’s CP850-C Cinema Processor. PRO has since renovated its gorgeous Experience Center in Southern California to include the same demo system so that distributors, reps, and dealers can continue to win over their potential clients in 2020.
Pro Video Instruments: Pro Video Instruments (PVI) had a spectacular year with the release of the VeCOAX BROADCAST, an all-in-one solution for broadcast equipment. PVI also won “Product of the Year” at NAB while being a key developer of an all-inclusive app for its VuMATRIX FX system. PVI is at the forefront when it comes to the development and implementation of new technology such as RF to IP converters. However, this is not the only growth they are known for. Since the addition of 5 Robotic Remstar lifts for tracking of inventory, PVI has had a substantial increase in revenue and customer satisfaction.
Rayva: Rayva takes integrators beyond home theater to explore different solutions technology designers can offer their clients to accommodate entertainment spaces of all sizes, catering to the way people live today while applying technology to exceed their vision and extend the benefits of their investment. Whether a home theater, a media room, a space designed for gaming, or one that facilitates wellness — an industry expected to reach upwards of $72 billion by 2023 — Rayva is thinking differently about technology spaces in the home.
RTI: 2019 proved to be the right time for resimercial and RTI introduced a range of custom solutions well beyond control. RTI offers dealers the flexibility and growth potential to compete at every level, spanning from residential to commercial projects of every size. Products introduced over the course of 2019 included new controllers with sleek designs and capabilities, debut of the next generation of Alexa voice control, and AV distribution solutions like the new CP-16i Cool Power amplifier and X-Series HDBaseT video distribution solutions.
Samsung: The Samsung 82-inch Q900, which won one of Residential System’s Best of Show Awards at CEDIA, delivers super-big-screen clarity and a cinematic viewing experience with 8K resolution, AI upscaling, and cutting-edge lifestyle capabilities. 8K AI upscaling technology transforms lower resolution content, whether 480, 720p, 1080p, and even 4K, so users experience a true-to-life image in 8K. Samsung’s upscaling technology uses AI-based machine learning to create thousands of algorithms that are then embedded on the Q900’s Quantum Processor 8K and updated as needed.
Savant: The BBD Lifestyle showroom in Saint Petersburg, FL, is a fully operational retail store and residential space controlled by the Savant Pro Remote (and Savant Pro App), giving the BBD team opportunity to show their clients the lifestyle-enhancing world of home automation. The showroom has been carefully designed with superb lighting schemes all controlled for maximum efficiency. Savant, also seamlessly controls the audio, video, and security cameras throughout the facility. The store lighting scenes for opening, hours of operation, and closing are all automated to perfect brightness by the Savant control ecosystem.
SnapAV: It has been a very busy year for SnapAV, with the biggest news being the acquisition of Control4 in May, but the company also acquired MRI, a regional distributor in the Northeast United States, and announced distribution deals with Yamaha, Klipsch Audio, Sonos, and Kef. Plus they had numerous product introductions from Episode, Pakedge, and others.
Sonos: Sonos has continued to elevate its portfolio dedicated to professional installers, recently launching Port, the streaming component for traditional home audio equipment. The successor to the original Connect, Port features an updated digital-to-analog converter for even clearer sound, a 12V trigger to get the music playing more reliably, and a new versatile design that fits seamlessly in an AV rack. Building on its recent introduction of Amp, Sonos Architectural by Sonance, and an open developer platform, Sonos is dedicated to giving home installers a modern, integrated, and seamless platform of products and services for their clients.
Sonus faber: Sonus faber has experienced a revolution during the past 18 months. Starting with the Sonetto collection, the brand returned to its Italian roots and continued this tradition through the Gravis line of subwoofers, Electa Amator III, Minima Amator II, and Heritage collections. Finally, Sonus faber ventured into the custom installation sector with the launch of the Palladio collection. Olympica Nova, the newest project from the brand’s Vicenza factory, takes from the years of experience while embracing Sonus faber’s authentic values, adding technology such as new drivers and crossovers, new cabinet structure, and internal volume tuning, with an updated design.
Sony: Another Residential Systems Best of Show at CEDIA winner, the A9G is Sony’s new flagship 4K OLED TV available in 77-, 65-, and 55-inch classes, all in a slim form factor. Images come to life with the super-wide viewing angle, precise contrast, and absolute blacks of OLED technology, and over 8 million self-illuminating pixels are individually controlled by Sony’s Picture Processor X1 Ultimate. In addition to the processor, the A9G has Pixel Contrast Booster for more color and contrast in bright areas. The processor improves SD and HD content to near 4K HDR quality and shows 4K content in stunning clarity.
StellarSky Systems: StellarSky Systems is addressing the issues integrators face head on by creating flexibility with installation schedules and cash flow by providing standard-size Star Panels ready to ship within 3-5 business days. It has engineered a true magnetic mounting system that reduces the installation time of the acoustical star panels. Its Ambience RGBW LED controller allows integrators to save custom colors and recall with a command. The product line can be fully controlled by its app or through a third-party system. StellarSky Systems has expanded internationally in its first year in business by securing a distributor in Canada and dealers in Peru.
SurgeX, AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection: Over the last year, SurgeX has continued growing steadily with new product introductions, programs, and dealer support. In addition to expanding into the commercial market, the SurgeX Defender Series line is now available globally, and, at CEDIA Expo, new large-format UPS models were added with the Security Plus II line to provide backup generator power using isolation transformer and double-conversion technology. With growing product line diversity, SurgeX supports dealers with power protection, conditioning, and surge elimination equipment, as well as the analytical tools and education they need for any project — from a one-room theater installation, to whole-home projects, and more.
Theory Audio Design: Theory made its official launch at CEDIA Expo 2019, introducing seven models including the sb25 on-wall loudspeaker, three soundbars, two subwoofers, and the ALC-1809 amplified loudspeakers controller. Show attendees lined up at the Theory sound room to experience Theory’s 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos demo, and walked away in awe of the reference-level acoustic capabilities that the small and sleek enclosures offered. Watch for additional models and product categories to be added in 2020.
Torus Power: Torus Power unveiled the new Torus Power AVR ELITE, with the new TorusConnect cloud-based system, at CEDIA. The AVR ELITE isolates connected equipment from the electrical grid, ensuring clean power delivery to sensitive electronic components. It features enhanced voltage regulation, Series Mode Surge Suppression, a 32-bit processor, and the all-new TorusConnect power control system — a cloud-based system for control, programming, data logging, and reporting that allows installers to remotely monitor and respond to power control issues.
Vanco International: In 2019 alone, Vanco launched approximately 200 new product introductions across its four brands: Vanco, Evolution, PulseAudio, and Beale Street Audio. In 2020, integrators across the globe can expect many more product introductions, which can be found in even more locations thanks to their four new rep groups and international expansion plan. To keep up with the company’s growth, Vanco is also renovating its headquarters to include an additional conference room and expanded office space, plus larger tech support area, featuring Beale Street speakers and EVO-IP HDMI-over-IP systems throughout.
Wilson Electronics: The weBoost Home Complete is Wilson Electronics’ most powerful residential cell signal booster. With 72 dB max gain, it delivers the strongest cell signal possible for large homes; up to 7500 sq. ft. Boasting up to 24 dBm in uplink-output power, the Home Complete easily reaches cell towers at distances up to 26 percent farther with up to 46 percent more coverage area than Wilson’s next most powerful booster — Home MultiRoom. Compatible with all mobile devices and wireless carriers in North America, the boosters allow users to enjoy better voice quality, fewer dropped calls, uninterrupted texts, and faster streaming throughout their homes.
Zappiti: While Zappiti was new to CEDIA Expo this year, it is no stranger to the custom home electronics market. With media players designed by integrators for integrators, the company differentiates its offerings through the inclusion of sound and video processing that’s able to re-create cinematic presentations the way filmmakers intended. Designed for 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos, Zappiti media players offer home theater enthusiasts movie-viewing realism. Its Pro 4K HDR high-end player is one of the first ISF-certified media players available to integrators.
Integrator Success Stories
Brilliant AV: Brilliant AV, HTA Certified at the Luxury Level and Rayva Premier Partner, had a great 2019. The integration firm just opened up an experience center to showcase the different smart home and AV options ranging from IoT to custom. The company also recently launched an IoT division for turnkey connected smart home systems utilizing the best-in-class products in 10 categories. The focus is on professional installation and support to the “DIFY — Do It For You” market. Finally, Brilliant launched a trade partner program to the interior design community with the goal of being an easily accessible resource for this critical relationship with the client.
SH Acoustics: The intersection of technology and design is a hot topic, but Steve Haas of SH Acoustics has been actively aligning with the AIA and its members for years, helping them to better understand residential acoustics and ways to improve the design process to tame noise and enhance sound quality. SH Acoustics has been working closely with integrators as an outsourced resource for acoustical engineering and related projects, enhancing showrooms and projects all over the world. Steve is active in education, as well, offering courses via AIA such as those at The Acoustic Symposium, where he spoke on residential acoustics for architects.
Slayman Cinema: Slayman Cinema is an AV-centric interior design firm that specializes in private cinemas and is helmed by Lisa Slayman ASID, IIDA. A 20-year veteran with deep industry roots, Lisa is bridging the gap between the integration and design communities. A panelist on Kaleidescape’s “Best Practices in Home Cinema Design and Implementation” during this year’s CEDIA Expo, Lisa works hand-in-hand with integrators and their clientele to achieve technology and design nirvana.
CEDIA Success Stories
CEDIA: CEDIA’s number one strategic objective is to deliver the industry’s best and most compelling education, whether online or in-person, delivered as a lecture or lab. Its charge is providing career pathways that lead to certification and, most importantly, individual successes, which in turn leads to industry success. To date, CEDIA has offered face-to-face training in nine countries and trained 7725 people, and 1757 online classes have been taken by professionals across 26 countries. In 2020, CEDIA will expand online education offerings and continue to provide multiple face-to-face training opportunities throughout the year.
CEDIA Expo: CEDIA Expo 2019 connected nearly 20,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors during the 2019 show, held September 12–14 at the Colorado Convention Center. The over 200,000 NSF show floor space was filled with technology integrators, manufacturers, and design professionals and saw a debut of show floor programming that highlighted new-to-market brands, trending discussions within the industry, and business development for the ever-evolving custom integration and residential design channels.