What a long, strange trip 2020 has been. At the end of each year, Residential Systems looks back on the industry successes during the past 12 months with an eye toward the push those achievements give us into the new year. It seems particularly important this year, where we went from survival mode to crazy busy with not much time between the two.
Here is our look back at our almost impossibly successful 2020, and what it means for 2021.
abode: abode’s iota and smart security systems offer out-of-the-box support for virtually any smart home device on the market, including HomeKit, Amazon Echo, Google Assist, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. In late 2020, abode announced the availability of the new Outdoor Smart Camera and new video services, updating performance across the entire abode ecosystem. abode looks forward to continuing to innovate in 2021 providing homeowners with the best way to easily secure their home and keep families safe.
Access Networks: Catering to one of the hottest categories in the business and facilitating the future needs of the integration community and consumers alike, Access Networks was the first to deliver residential Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points to the CI channel. With a comprehensive lineup now available, the company is paving the way for integrators and consumers to reap the rewards of faster, more reliable, residential networking solutions for work-from-home, e-learning, entertainment, and more. Newly enhanced client services and consumer marketing assets provide authorized dealers the support they need to sell and support enterprise-grade solutions.
What a difference a year makes! Check out last year’s Companies to Watch 2020!
Amber Solutions: Amber Solutions entered 2020 with the goal of, quite simply, disrupting global electricity. Backed by six patents secured this year, they have crafted a method for integrating advanced artificial intelligence and Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity directly into the architecture of buildings. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that leading global electronics manufacturers took notice. In 2020 alone, the company signed nine memorandums of understanding, including six during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Arlington: Arlington’s TVBU810 TV Box is designed for installations of wall-mounted TVs in new work or retrofit projects — like home theater systems — where several connections are needed for sound systems, satellite TV, cable TV, DVRs, and more. It is UL/CSA listed, and there’s lots of room in the box for multiple low voltage connections, and it installs horizontally or vertically.
Atlona: Atlona’s new Opus series of HDBaseT matrix switchers starred in a recent luxury home AV installation for the Singleton family in the Huntington Beach, CA. Installed by Long Beach-based Digital Installers, the project delivered a multi-room system with a centralized AV core. The AV is distributed to a large and diverse group of spaces over two stories. The Atlona AT-OPUS-810M matrix switcher is the heart of the system, with an 8×10 capacity. The matrix switcher feeds Atlona AT-OPUS-RX receivers in rooms with new 4K UHD displays. HDBaseT connectivity eliminated the need to integrate Apple TVs or DirectTV Boxes in each space.
Audinate: Audinate’s Dante AV-over-IP platform is increasingly headed into the residential space. Dante is licensed to manufacturers of professional audio equipment the world over and utilizes the Ethernet network that already exists in the home, eliminating the need for more bulky, bespoke point-to-point AV connections throughout the property. Dante delivers uncompressed digital audio, eliminating the noise of analog and the lossy artifacts of compression that plague so many homes today.
AudioControl: AudioControl’s Director 2.0 firmware adds new features and an easier-to-navigate graphical user interface (GUI) for the company’s complete line of Director Series and RS Series DSP amplifiers. The new 2.0 firmware adds important functionality and improves efficiency for integrators.
Azione Unlimited: In a year of uncertainty, new normals, and volatility, Azione Unlimited supported members with proactive business navigation, digital conferences, and timely vendor communication. As the organization continues to see record-setting revenue months, it is preparing for 2021 with stronger programs, industry-specific education, and cutting-edge initiatives.
Bowers & Wilkins: 2020 was an event-filled year for the 54-year-old British audio brand. Bowers & Wilkins entered into the Sound United family of brands, celebrated the 25th Anniversary — and over a million sales — of its 600 Series, and expanded its headphone portfolio with the PX7 Carbon Edition. The company also launched two special edition models in the floor-standing 702 Signature and bookshelf 705 Signature — both based off of the successful 700 Series and finished with a unique Datuk Gloss veneer. The brand attributes much of its 2020 success to strong relationship equity built over decades with its dealer community, and promises big things in 2021.
Brilliant AV: Integration firm Brilliant AV (BAV) developed and executed a highly successful client care membership program in response to the pandemic. The program included a remote diagnostic approach called Virtual Service. BAV technicians engage with clients remotely using a combination of networking tools, remote reset devices, and video chats to diagnose and resolve issues before sending a tech on-site. The membership program has already paid for two full-time support technicians. 2021 promises more service and support capabilities as BAV continues to lead its growth with service.
Catalyst AV: Building on double digit growth in 2020, Catalyst AV embraces strategic partnerships and works to form alliances such as the achievement in 2020 with the The Edge Group, which has more than $1.2 billion in annual buying power. Also, the Catalyst AV initiative with HTSA, which was started with manufacturers AVPro and Cleerline, has proven to be a great success. The idea is to service the members of HTSA and provide local inventory and profitability to the dealers.
Chief: The Fusion Extra-Large Pull Out Accessory allows users to extend displays 11.54 inches from the wall while maintaining the same depth as previous Fusion pull-out mounts. The unit is compatible with Fusion Extra-Large Micro-Adjustable Static and Tilt Mounts for installation of 80-inch+ displays up to 250 pounds.
Control4: Bringing the power of a Smart Home OS to the front door, SnapAV has unveiled the Control4 Chime Video Doorbell — the first video doorbell solution designed to leverage all of the capabilities of Control4 OS 3.
Crestron: 2020 has brought many changes to the smart home as homeowners shifted work and other activities into their homes full-time. Crestron quickly adapted to support their new smart home needs, releasing Crestron HomeTime followed by an entire portfolio of home conferencing solutions to suit a wide range of office needs. Crestron also returned to CEDIA Expo virtually, and introduced a new integration with Delos to support the growing demand for wellness experiences.
D-Tools: The labor shortage has been a topic of conversation among the home systems industry for some time, and it shows no signs of improvement. Streamlining business operations, therefore, is imperative to the livelihood of an organization. Through several advancements of its business software, including both on-prem and cloud-based services, D-Tools helps integration firms around the world maximize workflow efficiency and thrive during uncertain times.
Da-Lite: The new Screen Surface Selection Calculator provides an intuitive user interface that makes navigating the Da-Lite screen surface technology portfolio and choosing the right surface for the environment a painless process.
Denon: Denon announced four new products in honor of the brand’s 110-year anniversary. These include the Denon AVR-A110 AV receiver, PMA-A110 integrated amplifier, DCD-A110 SACD player, and DL-A110 MC phono cartridge. Each new anniversary edition product features an exclusive silver-graphite colorway, 110 Anniversary logos on the front panel, and were tuned by Denon Sound Masters to set them apart from their standard counterparts.
DISH: In 2020, DISH continued to lead the industry in technology innovation, particularly through the addition of several new video and smart-home apps. The Amazon Prime Video app is now fully integrated on Hopper 3, joining Netflix and YouTube to the Hopper platform. DISH launched native integration with Google Nest, offering customers the ability to monitor their indoor and outdoor camera feeds directly from their TV, building on the Nest Hello video doorbell integration launched last year. The company also launched Gallery by DISH scapes, a collection of HD and 4K nature scenes, fine art, and original DISH scapes. Control partners Crestron, URC, and Logitech also upgraded their Hopper integration modules in 2020. Finally, over the past 12 months, dealer participation in DISH’s Custom Integration Program increased by more than 40 percent.
DMF Lighting: The DID Series is a lighting system that offers enhanced LED capabilities such as 93+ CRI, high performance dimming to 1 percent, and compatibility with most lighting control systems. The DID Series includes integrated power systems for simplified installation and maintenance, and the modular design offers field-changeable optics and accessories.
Eleven Engineering: SKAA is the new wireless Hi-Fi audio standard developed by Eleven Engineering, Inc. SKAA transmitters work with iOS and Android mobile devices, Mac and Windows computers, televisions, and just about any product with a line output or a headphone jack. SKAA is also available as a built-in technology not requiring an external transmitter in purpose-designed partner products, which are featured at SKAA.com. In environments laden with heavy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth traffic, SKAA navigates through these hostile environments with high reliability. SKAA also allows for uninterrupted audio signals that are delivered to all speakers without the latency that is inherent in some other wireless solutions.
Elite Screens: The Elite Screens Yard Master Electric Tension Series is an electric screen with 2-way projection material that is IP33 rated for wind/rain penetration for outdoor applications. The tab-tension design supports a front/rear projection surface with perfect uniform flatness. This allows you to use either standard, short throw, or UST projectors. The WraithVeil Dual material provides image clarity from in-front or behind. The screen comes with a RF remote control that doubles as a wireless 12-volt projector trigger that coordinates the screen’s drop and rise with the projector’s power cycle.
Enclave Audio: Enclave Audio designs, engineers, and manufactures immersive wireless audio solutions for single-room, high-performance home entertainment systems. Now featuring Roku TV Ready certification, the Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1-channel surround sound systems provide users with an audio experience across a 360-degree field of sound. As consumers continue to upgrade their at-home setups, Enclave Audio provides a streamlined audio system that allows users to bring the best movie watching and streaming experience to their home.
Epson America, Inc.: As families nationwide looked for new ways to stay entertained at home in 2020, Epson was committed to delivering complete entertainment solutions with its new EpiqVision line. The new solutions include options with built-in Android TV and custom sound by Yamaha combined with Epson’s advanced laser-array projection technology.
Exertis (Stampede): The AV distributor started the year as Stampede, but ended it rebranded as Exertis, aligning with other DCC Technology-owned companies around the world. The process began with Exertis ProAV, which operates a series of specialist Exertis brands focused on the ProAV and Mobile Living channels. Look for more to come in 2021.
Flex Automation: A Brazilian company that for 17 years innovated bringing Z-Wave to Brazil. Present in more than 10 countries, Flex has open cross-platform solutions that enable integrations with the most well-known systems in the world and solutions that fit any size of project.
Harman: Harman Luxury Audio launched the new JBL Synthesis Certified System and Certified Elite System certification programs in 2020. The programs certify five JBL Synthesis system templates ranging in scale from $35,500 to $180,000, and mandate specified calibration services and processes with a prospective expansion that would include dealer marketing initiatives and online assets. The JBL Synthesis Certified System program is for less complex systems, and the JBL Synthesis Certified Elite program is for more challenging room environments and more expansive and complex system setups.
Home Technology Association: Integrators have long struggled with being brought onto construction and remodeling projects too late but, sadly, when tech is addressed too late, technology and aesthetic compromise are an unfortunate result. Therefore, creating a meaningful connection with the design-build community is critical to integration firms, and the HTA (Home Technology Association) is actively on the case. Developing programs for HTA Certified integration pros and the brands who support the community to align designers, architects, and builders have been noted as the organization’s #1 priority in 2021 and efforts are already well underway with several successes soon to be reported.
HTSA: HTSA has created a centralized resource for all group-created and vendor-created training and educational resources called The Vault. The Vault makes one easily accessed resource where members can find all materials from all sources, including videos, e-learnings, webinars, sales videos, and more. Members no longer need to chase vendors looking for needed training materials — they now simply go to The Vault and it is all there on demand. The Vault also includes a simplified and consistent graphical user interface, tracks users’ progress, and provides HTSA with data on program completion and accomplishment levels.
Hunter Douglas: Dealers and integrators are leaning into the opportunity to grow their business and profits with automated shading. In 2020, Hunter Douglas added new technologies for dealers to offer homeowners through their Custom Integrator Program, which gives dealers access to the portfolio of over 20 customizable shade styles. They introduced PowerView+, the new hardwired control solution ideal for new construction projects, and the new Rechargeable Battery Wand for convenient, long-lasting shade power in retrofit projects.
IOOOTA Srl: Jarvis is a plug-and-play IoT Z-Wave solution for smart buildings that enables energy efficiency, comfort, safety, and automation with a single point of control and management, even remotely. A smart solution not only for the management of multiple objects and HVAC systems, but which dynamically regulates and automates the execution of rules and scenarios based on events and third-party services (e.g., weather, the presence of people, data from sensors), with the main objective of reducing waste and consumption, CO2 emissions, time for repetitive operations, and increase the comfort of the environments, environmental sustainability, and economic savings.
iRoom iO: iRoom iO unveiled its newly redesigned touch Dock in-wall iPad docking and antitheft system with motorized release mechanism for all iPads with a 10.2-inch screen or larger. The built-in control processor and the touch keypad connect to all major third-party control systems. Plus, the new iO Smart Control relay interfaces turn any light or shade switch into a smart switch.
Josh.ai: Josh.ai announced that it had raised $11 million in funding back in April, and followed up with a series of announcements featuring new partnerships and integrations, but its biggest news came at the end of the year. After announcing its new Fiji OS at CEDIA Expo, the company held its first keynote event in November where it introduced the industry to Josh Nano, an architectural microphone, and Josh Core, the rack-based processor that lets the Josh Nano be practically invisible.
Just Add Power: Over the last few years, Just Add Power focused on enhancing its Ultra HD over IP platform with audio functionality to simplify installations. It began with the introduction of the 3G+ 767 Dante Enhanced Sound System transmitter in 2019. This was followed by another solution in 2020: the 3G 708POE transmitter, which allows installers to cost-effectively add a stereo analog audio output to its Ultra HD over IP systems. Looking ahead, the company is committed to turning the dial up to 11 on unmatched audio functionality in 2021.
Legrand BCS: Legrand Business Control Systems (BCS) continues to promote its commitment to the benefits of human-centric lighting (HCL) by pairing its Vantage EasyTouch Glass modular keypad station with its QMotion line of fabric shades. Not only does EasyTouch Glass add a touch of elegance to any smart home, but it also allows users to control the lighting, automated shades, garage doors, and more with one touch. QMotion has introduced 80 new fabrics in a variety of colors and textures for complete light blockage, minimal lighting filtering, and glare control.
Lutron: Lutron announced several new integrations this year with the likes of Josh.ai, Crestron, URC, and Ring, as well as its new Alisse wall control for use with its HomeWorks whole-home automation system.
Leon Speakers: In 2021, Leon Speakers will continue the expansion of its audio and technology concealment offerings through several new partnerships with top tech collaboration companies like Logitech and others. As a manufacturer of design-forward resimercial solutions, Leon wants to make concealing technology even easier for the integration community. This builds from their successful partnership with Sonos, and comes at a particularly opportune moment as consumers and business owners seek ways to implement a wide variety of technologies that facilitate e-learning, work-from-home, and digital entertainment lifestyles. Likewise, the Leon lineup caters to the design-build community’s needs by bringing stylish options to the forefront.
LG: Although the company deservedly gets a lot of attention for its OLED 8K televisions, LG also focused on audio this year, with a whole line of well-received soundbars that had several models featuring Dolby Atmos.
Luxul: With the pandemic, the network became a key player in ensuring a successful work-from-home environment. Luxul released its highly anticipated Epic Mesh, the first wireless mesh solution designed for the integration channel. Additionally, the ProWatch cloud management solution was introduced, allowing integrators to monitor and manage every device on a client’s home network and proactively respond to issues while avoiding truck rolls for simple system management tasks.
Marantz: The new Marantz SR-Series AV receivers take advantage of the latest HDMI technologies, including a dedicated “8K” HDMI input that enables 8K/60 Hz and 4K/120 Hz video pass-through, new HDR format support, including HDR10+ and Dynamic HDR, and a new HDMI feature called Quick Media Switching (QMS), which allows a source to instantly switch frame rate to eliminate screen blackout. The latest SR Series models still support HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), and Dolby Vision, as well as 4:4:4 Pure Color subsampling and BT.2020 pass-through.
Middle Atlantic Products: Middle Atlantic has extended the C3 Credenza Series to now include a “Frame-to-Furniture” offering featuring optional integrated display mounts co-developed with Chief. Next, Forward is designed around an rackrail and Middle Atlantic’s patented universal mounting pattern for quick, tool-less installation. Forward includes cable management solutions; blank and vent panels; and more.
Modus VR: In 2020, the Modus VR team focused heavily on enabling integrators to rapidly create high-impact client deliverables. While projects are still built using Modus’ in-VR tools, integrators can now export line drawings, renders, and even panoramic images in seconds using three new tools launched this year.
MSE Audio: In 2021, MSE Audio foresees tremendous growth in home theater. The pandemic closed theaters and the industry is already seeing an increase in loudspeaker demand for quality theaters and multi-use rooms. MSE’s Phase Technology speaker line continues to offer speakers designed for clients’ needs and lifestyles with new models such as the CI140 in-ceiling angled speakers for optimizing front channels. dARTS Theater all-digital products ensure that installed speakers perform in the real world as they were designed in the lab.
NAD: NAD Electronics launched the T 758 V3i, a performance update to the T 758 AV surround sound receiver, in August. The affordable surround sound receiver ($1499 U.S. MSRP) will now come ready with Dolby Atmos, DTS Master Audio, BluOS high-res multi-room audio, Dirac Live, 4K UHD Video, and Apple AirPlay 2 all built-in.
Nationwide: Retail was hit especially hard by the pandemic, and Nationwide’s ShopSafe Promise was designed to help them get back to business. Provided at no cost as a service to the independent retail channel, the ShopSafe Promise makes shopping safer and more convenient for consumers of appliances, electronics, furniture, bedding, and outdoor entertainment products. By taking the ShopSafe Promise pledge, dealers agree to adhere to recommended Covid-19 safeguards designed to make the shopping and delivery experiences as safe, convenient, and professional as possible for consumers.
Nice Group: Nice is an international leader in smart home and building automation with the aim of combining functionality and design to simplify people’s daily gestures. Nice solutions are used worldwide and include abode, Elero, Fibaro, and HySecurity brands in its portfolio. Headquartered in Oderzo, TV, Italy, Nice distributes its products in over 100 countries worldwide, with 24 branches on five continents, 14 production facilities and 13 research and development centers.
Nortek Control: Fueled by a focus on technology and analytics, Nortek Control intuitively met the unique needs of a challenging 2020 marketplace with its brands, including ELAN (launch of IP-controlled multi-zone audio distribution platform with Dante audio networking) and Panamax (BlueBOLT-enabled power conditioner), both ideally timed as the world situation forced more people to remain home. Nortek Control continues its march toward an evolutionary rebrand as their business groups evolve from a manufacturing-focused company to delivering connected technology solutions for all customers.
Nuvo: Nuvo P600 DIN rail player is the first streaming audio player designed specifically for DIN rail installations. The P600 provides any room with instant access to endless music options — from networked collections to a variety of internet radio and streaming services. Nuvo is also now offering Apple AirPlay 2 support for select Player Portfolio models running software version 2020.2.
On-Q: The new On-Q Dual-Purpose In-Wall Enclosures are designed for use behind a TV to bring power and store small devices. Available in 9- and 17-inch form factors, the solutions are made with Wi-Fi transparent ABS plastic to support routers and switches, including a flush, Wi-Fi transparent, removable cover with venting and cable access.
OneVision Resources: OneVision’s team of business experts sees a bright future for those in the industry who are willing to expand their business model to profit from projects and service. OneVision works closely with integrators to modernize their operations and fully capitalize on the growing demand for exceptional client service. OneVision’s comprehensive platform covers everything from hiring to organization design, accounting to systems, and marketing to service operations. Each operational pillar is re-engineered from the ground up to take the business to the next level.
Parasol: This fast-growing company is well on the way to fulfilling its mission of powering the “happiest integrators on the planet.” The surge of 24/7/365 support is sure to continue into 2021, and Parasol is leading the way with the debut of its AllCall product, which enables integrators to send all their service calls to Parasol. Other big moves include growing its dealer base to nearly 300 integrators globally and the recent announcement of its exclusive 24/7 support partnership with Bravas.
Platinum Tools: Platinum Tools has been adding NSi Industries’ products to its own product offerings, including the complete WarriorWrap line of electrical tape and complete RHINO Safety Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) line. The Platinum Tools product portfolio is entirely complementary to NSi electrical solutions and adds category depth. Platinum Tools’ portfolio includes cable management solutions, structured wiring products, tester kits, cutters, crimpers, and other products for electrical, industrial, security, audio/video, commercial, residential, datacom, and telecom applications, which expands NSi’s market reach.
Portal: Throughout all of 2020, despite the pandemic and economic downturn, Portal.io has continued to experience month-over-month user growth and record proposal activity. Portal.io has been focused on adding the most requested features to its web-based proposal tool for dealers. This summer Portal launched “Payments,” allowing dealers to collect ACH and credit cards from customers the moment they sign and accept their proposal.
PowerHouse Alliance: The industry has been presented with many challenges this year, but, through it all, PowerHouse Alliance distributor members across the country continued to provide dealers and integrators with customer support and safe access to over 250 AV, networking, smart home, and security brands whenever they needed it. As a group, the PowerHouse Alliance has adapted and grown, adding seven new distribution warehouse locations, increasing access and pick-up options for dealers and integrators across the country.
Pro Audio Technology: In 2020, Pro Audio Technology had the best year in the high-end loudspeaker company’s 16-year history. Across the globe, people have been encouraged to stay inside, and as a result, homeowners are more willing than ever to invest in more satisfying ways to entertain and to be entertained within their homes — PRO is making this a reality for them. By installing high-channel count Dolby Atmos (Dolby Certification available) surround sound systems, PRO’s group of integrators around the world are recreating the sheer size, scale, and quality of audio only experienced in a movie theater within their clients’ dedicated home theaters and media rooms.
ProSource: As the industry is experiencing unprecedented growth due to current conditions, ProSource University (PSU) is needed to help facilitate this expansion by providing the industry’s first platform that offers exclusive ProSource training and a comprehensive repository of vendor trainings, as well as access to CEDIA educational content. ProSource recently announced that free access to members has been extended through September 2021. PSU recently released an exclusive Lighting Technology Certification Program and a Project Management Certification Program and will continue to develop additional content, including courses covering sales, leadership development, operations, and more.
Rayva: Integrators have been presented with new opportunities to cater to consumers as they work, learn, exercise, and entertain at home. Rayva reacted by developing acoustical paneling packages that help integrators convert basements, bedrooms, dens — practically any space in a home — into a home theater, home office, home gym, meditation studio, or to enhance the health and wellness benefits in a bedroom. Rayva claims its design and acoustical packages create an environment that minimizes audible distractions to promote greater productivity, enhance the performance of a digital audio system, foster greater concentration and relaxation, and ensure a better night’s sleep.
RoseWater Energy Group: RoseWater Energy is excited about 2021. As awareness of power quality issues increases, RoseWater is seeing substantial growth in its HUB Energy Management solution for luxury homes and commercial applications. RoseWater works closely with dealers to help properly spec the product, close the sale, and manage the installation to ensure everything works properly. Once installed, clients will only know that power anomalies occurred from viewing the event log.
RTI: In February, RTI announced that Joe Roberts was joining the company as CEO. Roberts amplified the successful focus on resimercial solutions that were added to the company’s expanding portfolio in 2019. Most recently, RTI introduced the VXP-82 all-in-one control processor and presentation switcher, a single-box presentation solution ideal for conference rooms, meeting spaces, classrooms, and lecture halls. Roberts brought in new sales and marketing leadership and relaunched the Pro Control brand, focused on its single-room solution.
Salamander Designs: Salamander Designs significantly expanded its AV furniture and global footprint in 2020, supporting integrators in residential and commercial markets. In 2020, new products included Unifi Conference Tables with social distancing configurations and antimicrobial surfaces, new [email protected] video conferencing work/learn from home systems, Zoom, Microsoft, and Cisco Certifications, and Integrated Cabinets for Epson’s LS500 UST Laser Projection TV.
Samsung: Samsung turned heads this year with the introduction of its first outdoor television. The Terrace is an outdoor 4K QLED TV and accompanying soundbar. It is a Samsung Smart TV that’s specifically designed to bring the full indoor entertainment experience outside. Available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models, The Terrace is designed with weather in mind — with an IP55 rating, the Terrace’s display boasts weather-resistant durability against water and dust.
SANUS: SANUS released the Soundbar TV Mount and Extendable Wall Mount for the Sonos Arc. Whether attaching the soundbar to a TV mount or directly to the wall, the flexible solutions allow you to fine-tune their height and depth to ensure optimal performance for the Arc’s Dolby Atmos capabilities. Compatible with most displays from 50 inches to 90 inches, the mount attaches directly to TV mounts, allowing the sound of the Arc to move with the display.
Savant: Savant received a lot of attention for its acquisition of GE Lighting this past summer. It was the third lighting acquisition for the company, first with LiteTouch in 2012, then NOON in January 2020. “The thinking behind [the GE Lighting acquisition] was because we needed a large catalyst to move the industry to this idea of smart, healthy living, and the need to build a company that could provide that from all aspects of the ecosystem,” says Savant president JC Murphy.
Screen Innovations: SI’s ongoing development of new U.S.-made products, designs, and technologies are not only redefining what’s possible and simplifying the installation and integration of both motorized and manual screen and shade offerings, but establishing them as a valuable enhancement to home and business interiors in a way the integration community is now rapidly capitalizing on. SI has developed solutions that integrate global standards like Zigbee 3.0 protocols and mesh networking topologies. In 2020, SI added smart outlets and deepened its corporate commitment to reduce waste through the implementation of lithium battery-powered solutions.
Severtson Screens: Severtson Screens partnered with CES+ to provide projection screens for CES+’s new InstaCinema inflatable outdoor cinema screen, just in tome for families sheltering at home. Now InstaCinema has been designed as a high-quality viewing experience that is to be used in large open outdoor venues, such as fields, parking lots, etc. as well as in larger outdoor residential applications. The InstaCinema inflatable outdoor cinema screen is designed using durable PVC material and is available in 20- and 40-foot standard widths with larger sizes to become available in the near future.
Slayman Design Associates and Slayman Cinema: Slayman Design Associates and Slayman Cinema’s Lisa Slayman (ASID, IIDA) shares that while home theater interior design has never been more at the forefront than it is today, it’s not for the obvious reasons — reasons that offer integrators new opportunities. While some homeowners are investing big bucks to make their home feel like an escape from the world, others are focused on the pursuit of better lighting, seating, more luxurious materials, and the latest technology to enjoy movies, concerts, gaming/e-sports, and more. Acoustics are a critical element now, too, as people recognize the benefits of good acoustics to daily living.
SnapAV: This year SnapAV decided to hold its own event, Snap Pro Live!, which featured a forward-looking, state-of-the industry keynote, 35+ training and panel sessions, and 2-1/2 weeks of post-event on-demand content.
Sonos: Shortly after the pandemic shut down most of the country, Sonos introduced its new Sonos Radio — a free, ad-supported streaming radio service, exclusively available to customers in more than 10 million homes globally. Then, shortly after that, came the big news — Sonos Arc, which was the company’s first soundbar with Dolby Atmos.
Sonus faber: Sonus faber is an Italian manufacturer of handcrafted speakers, and other high-end audio equipment. The brand most recently launched the Lumina Collection, a group of luxury speakers conceived on the notion that it is important to savor time for ourselves and celebrate life’s precious moments. Lumina collection comprises the core values of Sonus faber and its materials, such as real multilayer wood, leather, and the natural composition of drivers.
Sony: Each year, Sony has a spate of products for the CI channel, and this year was no different, with several new projectors, soundbars, and displays making the scene. But perhaps the biggest news of 2020 was the return of Jeff Goldstein to Sony, this time as head of sales to the custom integrator channel. Look for more of Goldstein’s impact throughout 2021.
Stewart Filmscreen: Stewart Filmscreen released the latest evolution in its Director’s Choice screen system — the Director’s Choice EVO. Now with a smaller 6.5-inch border and a 30 percent bigger image, EVO is available in a choice of reference screen materials, including SnoMatte 100, StudioTek 100, StudioTek 130 G4, and FireHawk G5. EVO is available in sizes up to 96×192 inches (up to 215 inches diagonal). Additionally, all masking is completely hidden behind the 6.5-inch fascia.
SurgeX: SurgeX is disrupting the power management status quo with Squid, a solution that packs an array of power quality features into a single compact chassis to fulfill the unique power management and monitoring needs of the growing number of tight AV installs, like home theaters and home offices and corporate meeting spaces.
Theory Audio Design: Theory started shipping its first seven products in 2020 with the mission to elevate the performance of residential surround and distributed audio systems. As families look for more satisfying ways to experience movies, TV shows, gaming, and back and foreground music, they are upgrading their AV technology. Offering soundbars, subwoofers, in-wall, in-ceiling loudspeakers, and companion Dante-enabled network audio mixing amplifiers, Theory defines a new category of audio components for residential installed sound, both indoors and out.
Torus Power: Torus Power has emerged as a leader in clean power delivery for high-performance audio video and control systems with the launch of its new Torus Power ELITE series. Monitoring, control, and power reporting are all handled through the Torus Power Connect cloud control server while the Torus Power unit provides the protection and reliability.
Vanco International: The entire team at Vanco International worked hard to continue to innovate and introduce new products and solutions for AV dealers under each of Vanco‚’s four brands: Vanco, Evolution, PulseAudio, and Beale Street Audio, despite challenging market conditions in 2020. The company also launched an online training center for distributors, reps, dealers, and integrators, providing access to its library of training resources.
Video Mount Products: Video Mount Products (VMP) recently celebrated its 25th anniversary as a provider of mounting solutions for the AV, communications, and security industries. VMP’s product offering continues to grow by adding mounting systems to address growing segments across many markets.
Wall-Smart: As many people stay at home due to Covid-19, homeowners became even more conscious of their home interior design. Considering this, Wall-Smart continues to support the residential and custom install markets to ensure each new device has a custom flush mount. In 2020, Wall-Smart launched many new products. Among them are flush mounts for Control4 T4 touch panels, Crestron new TSW-X70 touch screens, Savant Echo keypads, IC Realtime cameras, Honeywell 6290W touchcenter, Legrand Adorne receptacles, iPad Air 4, new iPad Pros, and Araknis APs.
WhyReboot: WhyReboot has many reasons to celebrate in 2020. Named HTSA’s 2020 Growth Partner of the Year, WhyReboot has had a strong year with the increased demand for networking and WFH applications. WhyReboot supports the custom installation industry with partnerships with D-Tools, Jetbuilt, Portal, and BlueDog Group. WhyReboot manufactures the Paramount access point mount designed for integrators to ensure networks are not only technically set up, they also meet the clients’ aesthetic needs.
Wilson Electronics: Wilson Electronics’ latest cellular signal booster product, weBoost Installed Home Complete, features professional installation through OnTech by DISH. weBoost Installed Home Complete delivers the strongest indoor cellular signal for all cell phones, tablets, hotspots, and cellular-connected devices on all U.S. carrier networks.
Zappiti: When home systems integrators started exploring new ways to provide engaging entertainment experiences to families sheltering at home, Zappiti delivered with a suite of products that combine the best of past and present technologies. Zappiti media servers offer integrators a unique opportunity to integrate customers’ physical media into a digital 4K entertainment platform that’s ISF-certified. The digitally stored optical discs are presented in 4K; a library of up to to 3000 Blu-ray discs can be navigated on Zappiti players via a menu system, providing integrators and consumers an entertainment solution that efficiently resurrects existing media collections and breathes new life into a media room.
CEDIA: In 2020, the pivot from expositions to industry support and education proved prescient as CEDIA launched a series of global virtual events in response to Covid-19. The CEDIASTRONG series of webinars, roundtables, and event has engaged thousands of CEDIA members since April 2020 and resulted in a wealth of new resources for the residential custom integration community, including the new CEDIASTRONG Scholarship Fund. Recently, the association announced CEDIA Propel, an affinity program designed to connect members to new brands and products in emerging categories. CEDIA’s integrator members will receive preferential pricing and product training across all brands enrolled in Propel. The program launched with four partners: Amazon, Ring, Bryte, and Immersive Gym.
CEDIA Expo: The CEDIA Expo virtual experience, held in September, propelled the industry forward with one of the CI channel’s first virtual trade shows for 2020. The show featured 7600 trade attendees with 1000 being international attendees from 100 different countries. Exhibitors, 110 in total — including Sony, Crestron, Delos, ADI, and more — launched new products and took advantage of a largely new audience of integrators, dealers, builders, and designers. All virtual programming and exhibitor booths will be available on cediaexpovritual.com until December 31, 2020. The next CEDIA Expo is scheduled for September 1–3 in Indianapolis, IN, home to CEDIA the association.
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