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Banking on Boca Tech

Boca Tech and Automation launch a major upgrade to its sprawling 8600-square-foot former bank-turned-experience center.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then a great home technology demo is probably worth around 10,000. That presents a challenge when it comes to writing an article about the jam-packed, 8600-square-foot Boca Tech and Automation experience center located in Boca Raton, Fla., but here we go…

Boc Tech - Ketra Showroom

Boca Tech owner Jeff Galea bought the building, which used to be a bank, in 2015. Not only did its former life give the Boca team a drive-up window and vault to play with, but it also sits on an acre of land with its own parking lot. And the flat roof on the single-story building made it perfect for placing solar panels, which Galea combined with the world’s first installed RoseWater Energy Group HUB power management system (serial number #0001).

With the facility closing in on its tenth anniversary, HTA Certified Boca Tech recently completed its third major technology update, including a complete redesign of the luxury home theater that is located in the former vault. The other bank attribute, the drive-up window area, has been enclosed to create a large garage where trucks can be loaded unaffected by Florida’s temperamental weather.

Showroom Showcase 2024

“This is the first building we owned, but we have built showrooms many times,” Galea says. “We approach the market in more of an R&D way than I think some of our peers do. I like to build out what we’re giving to our clients and live with it here so that when we have a problem, we have firsthand experience on how to fix it. We can see the problems before the clients see them.

Boca Tech - Showroom - Entrance
The putting green and entrance to Boca Tech & Automation.

“We built this space with three things in mind, the first being the R&D aspect of it,” he adds. “The second thing is to have the entire staff comfortable with the solutions. Every single employee desk has a touchpanel on it, and everybody has their own television as well as a RoseWater-backed-up workstation. When someone comes to the front door, we can answer the doorbell and open doors just like you would do in a house. Number three is we wanted a showroom where each area looks like a place in your own home. Other than a bedroom, we have every room in the house — including a luxury kitchen and bathrooms.”

Welcome to Boca Tech and Automation

At the front entrance to the showroom, located next to the putting green and outdoor hurricane screen demo, is the first of four ballistic doors, which are all handmade and designed to match the aesthetics of the space while being able to withstand rounds from assault rifles (a fact we hope remains untested). As visitors approach the door, a voice welcomes them and, if unlocked, the heavy door opens with a slight push. If it is locked, the visitor can ring the Control4 video doorbell, which can be answered from any desk.

Stepping into the lobby, to the immediate right is the awards-and-news room, which features the company’s many accolades and feature stories. It also is the sitting room for the men’s and women’s bathrooms. The bathroom doors feature Lutron Ketra lights above them that remain green when the rooms are unoccupied and automatically turn red when the door is opened and someone enters. Inside, each bathroom features a touchpanel on the wall, a Séura Mirror TV with LED backlight, and subtle Trufig design touches throughout.

Boca Tech - Showroom - Awards and News Room
The bathroom doors feature Lutron Ketra lights above them that remain green when the rooms are unoccupied and automatically turn red when the door is opened and someone enters.

To the left of the entrance is the library, which features books that detail the company’s larger projects and show an example of the MegaMan, which is a completely sealed, air-conditioned equipment rack that Boca Tech has invented.

“It can go in a garage, it can go outside,” says Galea. “It’s completely sealed but completely accessible. We don’t have basements here to put racks in, so this solves the problem by letting us put them in the garage or outside.”

Next to the MegaMan is the equipment closet, part of which has gear that is tastefully exposed into the lobby area while the rest is tucked away behind the second ballistic door, this one with a fingerprint reader. That is where the facility’s 40×40 AVPro Edge MXnet 10G video matrix lives, as well as all the gear for “The Vault,” Boca Tech’s reference theater, which is located on the other side of the building across from the front door.

“The farthest speakers from the equipment rack are just over 100 feet away, and that’s to prove you can build a luxury theater with reference-level equipment where the equipment doesn’t have to be right next to it,” says Galea. “All the noise, heat, and ventilation are far away from the actual space.”

Stepping further into the open space, the next area is the kitchen, which has a waterproof Séura Hydra TV on the wall near the sink and a pop-up Planar TV hidden in the island. Above this area are skylights that let natural light in, which, combined with the long, flat surface of the island, make it the ideal area for designers to see furniture and shade fabrics.

Boca Tech - Showroom - Kitchen
The kitchen area with the Séura Hydra TV in the wall and the Planar pop-up TV on the island.

Just beyond the kitchen is the family room that, like all the other areas in the showroom, features Stressless Furniture that Boca Tech distributes. It also includes a 77-inch Sony Master Series OLED TV and a floating SoundWhere Ensemble cabinet that includes a 3.1 speaker system, backlighting, and local storage. The artwork hanging on the walls was created by Boca Tech and doubles as acoustic paneling. Next to the artwork is a large framed Séura mirror TV running a slideshow of SoundWhere cabinet installations.

Across the way is the conference room, which features an automatic door imported from Italy that opens and closes like an elevator. Once you are inside the room and the leather-wrapped door closes, the room gets very quiet, allowing its occupants to focus on the task at hand, which is typically working with clients or hosting educational sessions.

The conference room features a Cisco telepresence system, and any source in the building can be demoed on the screen. Anything being shown in the room can also be sent to any screen in the facility — or even all of them, as was done during the recent open house Boca Tech held for its clients and partners.

Outside the conference room is another media room area with a unique vapor fireplace that burns water to create a stunning visual effect, and a large SoundWhere Symphony cabinet with unique metal finishes that include a 3.1 sound system and a 98-inch Sony TV.

Boca Tech - Showroom - Media Room
The media room area with the vapor fireplace, a SoundWhere Symphony cabinet that includes a 3.1 sound system, and a 98-inch Sony TV.

The Vault reference theater is nearby, but Galea usually leaves that as the big finale of the tour, so we will do the same.

Around Back

Like most places in the showroom, the hallway leading to the back area is packed with tech for clients to experience; on the left is the Lutron keypad display. “We’re really proud of this display because I can’t tell you how much of a pain it was to try and figure out what every single combination of keypads can do,” says Galea. “We have it set up so that people can see every style and they can experience what the feedback looks like on each model.”

Boca Tech - Showroom - The Lutron keypad display
The Lutron keypad display.

On the opposite wall is Boca Tech’s 17-foot smart home simulator that covers pretty much everything the company can do all in one space. It is a fully functional model that the team uses as a training tool, as well as a way to explain to clients the services that they provide.

“This simulator has four video zones, a controlled thermostat, 18 zones of lighting, and eight zones of audio,” says Galea. “We also have motorized shades going on in there. We can demonstrate the video doorbell so that when someone rings it, we can answer it on the touchpanel adjacent to the simulator.”

Boca Tech - Showroom - Smart Home Simulator
Boca Tech’s 17-foot smart home simulator that covers pretty much everything the company can do all in one space.

Walking beyond the hallway, clients experience the Lutron Ketra and Control4 certified showrooms. The large open space features Ketra lighting shown over a dining room area and in a media room space. Windows across the back of the room are covered by Lutron automated shades.

Before heading to the media room, clients can experience a Steinway-Lyngdorf demo in an alcove off the dining room setup and a 2-channel listening room off to the side. The 2-channel space has an Octave tube amplifier as well as KEF, Moon Audio, Vandersteen, and Dynaudio components.

The media room features a unique SoundWhere Short Throw cabinet that has a built-in compartment for the Samsung short-throw projector, which sits in front of a 120-inch Stewart Filmscreen Balon Edge screen. “This was engineered by us,” says Galea. “All of the projector’s optics are set for the right distances, so there is no adjustment being made to the picture. That’s why it is so unusually bright — even with the blinds open — and there is no fade when you move to the side.

Boc Tech - Showroom - C4 and Lutron Space
The Lutron Ketra and Control4 certified showrooms — the large open space features Ketra lighting shown over a dining room area and in a media room space.

“This is a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos system — three in the front, two in the back, four speakers in the ceiling, and a subwoofer. We don’t have side speakers because in normal family rooms you have a kitchen on one side and you might have sliding doors out to your backyard on the other, but you do not have a left and right wall. We made this operate like a real-world room.

“I’ve sold this exact room with all the furniture as a package several times. The only thing we change is the color of the furniture.”

Past the back room is the third ballistic door that Boca Tech has — the employee entrance. It has its own video doorbell as well as remote locking/unlocking capability. Every employee has their own security card used to unlock the triple steel rods that secure the door when they arrive at work.

A few steps past that door is a room dedicated to the RoseWater system. “We have blueprints hanging on the wall that show how we designed the power system for the building,” says Galea. “We use green on the blueprints to show all the RoseWater feeds, red to show surge-only, and black is what we call ‘dirty power.’ We have digital signage with a video explaining the system, as well. They can see our batteries, and then on the back wall we show them pictures of the solar panels that are on our roof.”

Boca Tech - Showroom - RoseWater
The world’s first installed RoseWater Energy Group HUB power management system.

The back area also includes spaces for rack assembly, warehousing, and workspaces for Boca Tech’s team of on-staff engineers with a very large Planar 3×2 video wall that displays project calendars and key performance indicators, but those are not part of the client tours, so we’ll skip this area. This leads us back toward The Vault.

Locking It Down at the Vault

The Vault still has the sturdy door it used when the building was a bank, but it is strictly decorative now. It is propped open against the wall and bolted to the ground with the old mechanism visible through a Plexiglas front that Boca Tech retrofitted onto it. It still does play a part in security, however, as there is now a facial recognition screen embedded in it. Once it scans a face that is recognized, it slides open the fourth and final ballistic door to allow entry into The Vault.

Once you enter and the door closes behind you, the room is completely silent and sealed off from the world behind 18 inches of solid poured concrete — even the projector is completely isolated from the room in its own projection booth. If there were a hurricane outside, the people inside wouldn’t know it. With the RoseWater system, along with its own wireless access point, there would be no disruptions in power or connectivity.

“The seating is all Stressless with motorized recliners in the back row and a motorized sofa in the front,” says Galea. “We did eight layers of light in here, including focused lighting on the acoustic panels and recessed LED linears in the columns; but nothing gets onto the screen, which is very important in any theater, let alone a high-end reference theater.”

The room features a Barco Njord Cinemascope 5K UHD projector paired with a Stewart Filmscreen 200-inch Pure White matte reference screen. A Kaleidescape 4K UHD lossless movie player, a madVR Envy MK2 Extreme video processor, and the Njord’s DCI/P3 color space are responsible for the high-fidelity motion pictures available in The Vault. Audio is handled by a Trinnov AL32 audio processor, Dynaudio Studio speakers, and four 13-inch JL Audio Fathom subwoofers, culminating in a 11.4.13 Dolby Atmos setup.

Boca Tech - Showroom - Vault Theater - Speaker Lights Off
View from the front of The Vault with the lights showing the placement of the invisible speaker turned off.

The sound system is discreetly hidden from view, but Galea can press a button to turn on the lighted silhouettes of the speakers so the clients can see where they are located even if they can’t see the components themselves. “The demo in here is outstanding,” he says. “We spent a solid eight months on the renovation in this room alone, rebuilding it, making it bigger — and even making it ADA-compliant! This is truly a reference theater in every sense. It’s got the absolute best that we’re able to offer.”

Boca Tech - Showroom - Vault Theater - Speaker Lights On
Inside The Vault reference home theater with the lights showing the placement of the invisible speaker on.

What’s Next?

Though this upgrade was only just completed, showrooms can’t stay static for long, a fact Galea is well aware of. “We’ve developed a streamlined process on how to be able to change a system throughout a long lifetime,” he explains. “Technology is going to evolve. You don’t need to replace everything, every time, but you’ve got to understand how it all works and set it up properly so that you won’t be stuck in the past.

“Upgrading our facility also helps with training. After all, no one starts from a clean slate — people are always bringing something with them from another house. You never get to make every single decision, so, you’ve got to figure out how to work in that world and be successful.”

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