CEDIA 2016: A Show of Partnerships

Big Name Brands, Technologies Team Up
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CEDIA certainly was all about adding Alexa voice control to custom-centric control systems and once-combative brands playing nice with the now more inclusive Sonos wireless audio system, but there were other collaborative arrangements that caught my eye at the energy-filled Dallas convention last month.

Perhaps most notable was Origin Acoustics, which celebrated its two-year anniversary with a significant product line upgrade and also signed on as U.S. distributor for iRoom’s iPad mounting products and partnered with Bang & Olufsen to introduce a full line of high-end designer architectural speakers. Engineered, designed, and built by Origin Acoustics, the new B&O portfolio of passive in-wall and in-ceiling speakers will provide several options for design and performance and a range of premium-style grills and covers (including one that retails for $500).

Origin Acoustics, along with James Loudspeaker, Triad Speakers, and Stealth Acoustics also joined amplifier and receiver manufacturer AudioControl’s Sound Partners Program. The loudspeaker brands provided performance measurements to AudioControl, enabling tailored profiles to be created and stored in software form, to deliver better-calibrated audio systems to their clients.

But of course the biggest news at CEDIA was the integration of Amazon’s Alexa voice control into major custom control brands.

Lutron, which previously offered Alexa integration only with its consumer-centric Caseta Wireless system, announced integration with its HomeWorks QS and RadioRA 2 lighting control systems, providing voice-activated control of lights, shades, and temperature.

Crestron dealers can now leverage Alexa Voice Services to build voice-controlled scenes and settings that are fully customized to their clients’ lifestyles. Integration is not limited to basic functions such as lighting and temperature; homeowners can choose from an unlimited range of voice control options for their homes, according to the company.

URC was relatively understated in its Alexa announcements, providing some clever custom command demos (four custom question-and-response selections) at its CEDIA booth and plans for an official announcement later in the quarter. Denon Electronics plans an Alexa collaboration for Q1 2017 to voice enable the HEOS wireless multi-room sound platform. The biggest splash, however, came from Control4, which sent out complimentary Echo units to trade press during the show. In fact, the company says that Alexa is the first device that homeowners can add to their home without requiring a truck roll. It uses C4’s new Alexa Smart Home Skill, and setup takes about five minutes, only requiring a 4Site subscription. Auto discovery finds lights, lighting scenes, and thermostats. At the site customer. control4.com, end users can customize the names of the devices.

In an age where acquisitions and rollups can sometimes dilute once independent brands, it was refreshing to see big-name technologies playing nice, and the custom industry staying in the game with consumer-facing brand cooperation.