Legrand Showcases Wireless Audio in NYC Penthouse

Senior executives and product developers for Legrand , Vantage, and Bticino hosted an intimate press gathering Tuesday for a tour of an exclusive luxury residence in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood that showcases whole-house AV and lighting control, as well as a demo of Legrand’s airQast wireless speaker system.
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Senior executives and product developers for Legrand, Vantage, and Bticino hosted an intimate press gathering Tuesday for a tour of an exclusive luxury residence in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood that showcases whole-house AV and lighting control, as well as a demo of Legrand’s airQast wireless speaker system.

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Legrand demonstrated its airQast wireless speaker system at a luxury penthouse in Manhattan's Tribeca district.

In addition to overviewing products from all three brands and showing how they look together in action, airQast was demonstrated most prominently. Executives were very enthusiastic about the Wi-Fi speaker system, which provides a mobile interface for users to choose music, adjust volume, create playlists, and stream IP radio from their smartphones and tablets.

The CEDIA channel had an initial glimpse of airQast recently at EXPO in Indianapolis, but the demo was much more impactful without the tradeshow buzz soaking up the sound. Consisting of two speakers with 40 watts per channel, the sound quality exhibited a strong range in volume and came across without any noticeable distortion on the high end. The speakers are equipped for subwoofer capabilities sold separately.

“This is our first real step into single-room solutions, and it can be turned into a whole-home solution,” said David Hanchette, Legrand VP of marketing, home systems division.

The plug-and-play airQast system “piggy backs” on the home network and is capable of up to six zones.

“We’re really excited about this and where it is going,” said Brian Bianca, Legrand marketing communications specialist.

The flexible software solution is primed for future technology applications, like being able to access PC files remotely from a mobile application.

“This is the most exciting new product we’ve come out with in 10 years,” Hanchette noted.

Part of the presentation included Legrand market research that helped its brands determine current product and marketing strategies. These trends include the “astonishing” rate of technological change and innovation in the world today, homeowners using products for various different means, and the growth of the residential networking category. As a result, “In 2012, you will see more On-Q products enhancing the value of the IP backbone,” Hanchette said.

The first representation of this effort is airQast, but by June 2012, a wireless door-entry system will be introduced, allowing users to see who is at the door from a mobile phone or tablet—informing the UPS delivery to leave a package, or ignoring unwanted door-to-door visitors. Legrand was surprised with how well this product tested, with an especially strong interest from Chicago-area residents.

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David Hanchette, Legrand's vice president of marketing for the home systems division was highly enthused about the airQast speakers and their potential for future technology.

Beyond the product specifics, Legrand hosted the event mainly to allow integrators, specifiers, and other partners to learn about the Vantage systems’ capabilities in a 16.5 million dollar, 5,900 square-foot penthouse that spans two floors and stretches between two blocks. Ironically, the space was not far from where demonstrators have been camped out for three weeks to protest the 1 percent of Americans whose income levels can afford this type of luxury home. The penthouse was wired already when Legrand came in, though much of this was replaced, making it an example of an extensively remodeled home, a market Legrand is actively pursuing in lieu of its traditional new construction-focused clientele.

“We’re prolific among the builder community,” Hanchette said. But part of this event was to expand beyond the shrunken new-homebuilding economy.

Another emphasis Vantage VP of marketing Andrew Wale made was the simplicity and scalability in a home. “You should be able to walk into a space and know what to do,” he said.

Wale went on to explain Vantage’s belief in hybrid control system management, through both fixed, in-wall controllers, and mobile solutions. Vantage’s automation systems are designed for relatively simple setup for less advanced installers, but scalable, so more advanced programmers “can put their stamp on the system.”

According to Wale, a new range of GUIs will be part of Vantage’s big release for CEDIA 2012.

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