Rookie Row is where the manufacturer newbies at CEDIA EXPO introduce their companies to the custom installation world. This year there were fourteen manufacturers on The Row and I talked to them all, finding out how long they've been in business, why they decided to come to EXPO and what they are all about. So, let's meet the Rookies!
Founded about three years ago, the company has been doing business for the past two years in Europe. SmartThings makes wall-mountable iPad docking solutions. The docking station can be locked to secure the iPad and holds a variety of iPad models and sizes. When the iPad is removed, a photo frame can hold a picture. The company's brand new sDock Mini will be coming soon for the iPad Mini. They came to CEDIA EXPO because they felt it housed the “right people to sell and install” their product.
SpringDeck launched in May 2014 by a team that runs a custom integration business in Oklahoma. In that business, they learned that dealers have a hard time presenting to clients and need a more professional and visually impressive way to present manufacturer information. Now, the SpringDeck app allows dealers to do just that. It quickly and easily shares proposal information to clients on a jobsite with vital information like dimensions, colors, videos, and even product demonstrations. Dealers can also share information via email from the app, and then track which, if any, information the client looked at, enabling an easier way to follow-up on a proposal.
Motix has been working on its technology for the past two years. When they heard about the opportunity to participate in Rookie Row at CEDIA, the team saw it as a way of getting word-of-mouth advertising out to a wider audience. Motix is focused on accelerating PC control, and considers its product the newest rendition of the computer mouse. The technology allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard while having full mouse control from a motion tracking sensor. They expect to start shipping in December.
LincEdge has been involved in the custom installation industry for the past 22 years and has the motto, “Old guys helping guys.” From their time in the industry, they noticed that smaller companies in the 1-5 employee range often suffer from a lot of chaos and they are looking to help them become more efficient. LincEdge is currently in proof of concept, working on a product that will have a three part roll-out of scheduler, resource sharing, and business driving. The scheduler part is set to launch in Q1 2015 and will help dealers to track time on jobs and coordinate between crews. The program can even automatically send notices to clients if an earlier job is running behind schedule. The resource sharing should be like an Angie's List for helping installers find local industry help on projects.
Having been in business for two years, the company is a Control4 strategic partner looking to leverage its extensive knowledge of driver development. Their offering Homeation will allow app developers to connect to dealers and consumers, making sure that the best products are always available to the end user. Homeation will be a place for people who write drivers to find a marketplace, and allows apps to auto-update for improvements and bug fixes, saving a dealer truck roll. Even cooler, the service will be free to dealers, with a subscription model for some premium apps and services such as advanced analytics.
Having launched at CES this year, the company is looking to be a disruptive force in the cord cutter movement by giving end-users all of the DVR and rich-guide functionality of a traditional cable or satellite STB, but from free OTA signals. Tablo started shipping its 2-tuner model in April and 4-tuner model in June. They are at CEDIA to check out the market and see what custom installers think about their product and see if it is a mesh. Having lived with Tablo personally for several months, I can say it is a terrific alternative to cord cutters and is worth checking out!
Webee is two years old, born from an Indiegogo campaign last year. The founder has been in the home automation business for several years and is looking to make the experience as easy as possible for the end-user. The company's Smart Hub is built on an Android TV platform and is compatible with Zigbee, Z-Wave, and WiFi controlled products. The system also has a Nest-like ability to learn a customer's usage habits and to optimize the home experience. As a new company, they feel they can learn a lot from a venue like CEDIA and are looking to find out what they need to know about their product partners, distributers, and installers.
Having been around since 2011, Allocacoc comes to CEDIA with its Power Cube and thinks it's important to get their company and products out in front of integrators and the CEDIA channel. The Power Cube is a redesign of a traditional power strip, with each side having its own plus, so large AC power packs wont block each other out. The Cube can also be configured with USB charging ports and can “lock” onto a desk or table mounting plate to hold the device in place, allowing you to add power wherever you need it.
This is a home automation company created a few years ago with the desire to bring automation and control to market without requiring any hardware. The company's software communicates with other devices in the home using Zigbee, Z-Wave, WiFi, or IP. It is designed to be both user and integrator friendly with an all graphic-based programming scheme. CEDIA saw Lifedomus at this past CES and invited them to come to the EXPO. The company is here looking for new U.S. dealers and distributors.
This audio tech start-up has been around for five years and is looking to build compelling, high-performing sound systems. They currently have two products: the Relay, a Bluetooth DAC, and the Core, a wireless speaker with several innovative twists. The Core is a single, battery-powered speaker with up to twelve hours of operation off charge, and produces an amazingly wide stereo image from the wave field synthesis technology. The Core also features a control input for both RS-232 and IR allowing integration. MassFidelity is in the process of getting Control4 and Savant certified.
Team Digital Limited
Having been around for approximately one year, this company came to CEDIA to meet with installers and see if there are installation and automation opportunities for its Smart Power Strip. The strip allows app-based control over a power strip, allowing manual or scheduled cycling of power outlets. Additional, the app can report power consumption stats. They are also working on a Control4 driver and expect to have the product available soon.
Nucleus started this past December and comes to CEDIA with one of the most affordable pieces of way-cool technology I've stumbled across yet. The company's full-motion video Internet-connected intercom will allow users to speak within a home or across the world, and they expect to come to market at a price of $150 per station. Nucleus has come to CEDIA looking to talk to people that are already in housed installing intercom systems and to manufacturers about expanding their automation capabilities.
Having attended trade shows like CEDIA for the past twenty years, Infrared Resources started two years ago and is looking to show off its new IR control and WiFi to IR/Zigbee extenders. The company has some new spins on the IR control category, able to carry signals up to 750-feet. The IR/Zigbee extender allows users to control AV systems or Zigbee devices throughout the home using an Android or iOS app.
Revolution Television Mounts
The company has been developing the product over the past six years, which was born out of the owner's personal need to solve a TV mounting issue where the wife wanted to look at a piece of art instead of a TV. The company was founded this year, and came to CEDIA last year just to meet with installers to get design input and rework the product. This year they are showing the updated product and looking to get final input from integrators, and line-up dealer and installation partners (and by in full production) in time for next year's EXPO.
John Sciacca is principal of Custom Theater and Audio in Myrtle Beach, SC.