CES 2023 was alive and well: It was clear from the moment I deplaned and made my way to the CES 2023 badge pickup at the Harry Reid International Airport. After being absent from this particular trade show for the past eight years or so, the upbeat vibe was a nice surprise. The line to pick up my media badge, although long, was ridiculously fast. The CES organizers were ready! It was the same quick and easy experience, despite a fairly packed crowd of eager attendees, getting onto the show floor. Even more impressive, especially coming off a rough couple of years, people were polite, friendly, and patient—even in the unbelievably frustrating taxi queue. The vibe was positive, the energy invigorating, the trade show traffic intense but rarely congested, and the organization, and management stellar.
Given that I had only one day to explore CES 2023, I choose to focus on the exhibits at the Venetian, where smart home technologies dominated. I’m glad I did! It was a treasure trove of technologies that simply make sense. Sure, there was plenty of CES’s standard fare of conceptual, pie-in-the-sky products that likely won’t go mainstream. The level of design and engineering that go into them were enough to warrant a “drive-by,” as we journalists like to call it. You stop long enough at the booth to get the basic gist and quickly move on to the meat, which for me are technologies that provide real tangible benefits, are within the financial reach of most people (with a few exceptions), and the real clincher—are available NOW or very soon. These were the technologies that gave me pause as I envisioned how they could make my own life simpler and safer. Here are a few of my favorites:
Rachio Smart Hose Timer
I was lucky. When I bought my old farmhouse four years ago, the landscape around it was fed water from a drip irrigation system. Unfortunately, this modern convenience didn’t last long. In my haste to rip out overgrown bushes, I destroyed the line and was back to old-fashioned hand-watering with a hose and messing with finicky sprinkler attachments. Rachio’s Smart Hose Timer takes the tedium out of lawn and landscape maintenance for folks like me who don’t want to invest in a traditional irrigation system. The Rachio Smart Hose is super easy to install, super affordable at $99, and does a far better job of keeping the vegetation green than other options. Even better, it curbs water usage, sending a drink only when plants need it, saving money. The Smart Hose Timer attaches to an outdoor faucet where it receives instructions via Wi-Fi from the free Rachio mobile app. The app carries out customized watering schedules; when it rains, the Smart Hose Time skips the watering cycle. Learn more here: rachio.com.
Masonite M-Pwr Smart Door
I love it when “everything is included.” Masonite tapped into my mindset by developing a smart door equipped with all the appropriate technology—a Ring Video Doorbell, Yale Door Lock, and LED welcome lights. A turnkey solution, the first-of-its-kind M-Pwr Smart Door installs like any other door except that you’ll need an electrician to wire it in. At first, this extra step might be a turn-off to some people, but it’s actually a great benefit. The doorbell, lock, and lights are all powered via electricity, so there are no batteries to worry about. Even if the power goes out, the M-Pwr Smart Door remains operational; an emergency backup battery can sustain system power for up to 24 hours. A companion app lets you program and control the motion-activated LED lights and confirm whether the door is open or closed. Masonite made sure to combine beauty with the M-Pwr’s brains. It’s a premium beautifully built and designed door that comes in a variety of styles, colors, and finishes. If you’re building or in the market for a new exterior door, be sure to check out the M-Pwr Smart Door at The Home Depot. Learn more here: residential.masonite.com/product/exterior-doors/smart.
Kohler Sprig Shower Infusion System
I love to treat myself to a spa day, but rarely do I have the time to indulge. The Sprig from Kohler lets anyone in need of a little pampering, to bring some of the spa experience into their homes with ease, without busting the budget or eating into a busy schedule. In the time it takes to shower, the Sprig, which retrofits onto an existing showerhead, infuses the water stream with a scent of your choice. A variety of infusion pods are available; you simply place a pod in the integrated basket, turn on the water, and breathe in. At $139, the Sprig is a small price to pay to enjoy a spa-like atmosphere every time you step into the shower. Learn more here: http://stepintosprig.com/.
Capitalizing on New Concepts
Rachio wasn’t the only manufacturer focused on trouble-free, efficient lawn maintenance at CES 2023; nor was Masonite the only company debuting technology gears toward exterior doors. Kohler, too, wasn’t the only health-and-wellness game in town with its spa-like technologies. The market trends in 2023 seemed to be leaning toward security, conservation, and plumbing. For systems integrators looking to expand and broaden their offerings, these three categories would be great places to start. For brands in the CI space, CES should be on your radar as, in my opinion, it’s more relevant now, than ever.
Looking Forward: The Home Tech Expo in SoCal, October 2023
As I returned home I learned that Mark Cichowski—who created and grew the popular Technology & Business Summits that CEDIA acquired in 2018—is announcing a new event designed for consumers, The Home Tech Expo, happening Friday, October 20, and Saturday, October 21, 2023, at the Orange County Fairgrounds & Event Center in Southern California. While not on the same level as CES, by any means,The Home Tech Expo “will showcase real-world home technology in an in-person format that allows consumers to see, touch, and experience technology like traditional, custom integration AV as well as lighting, smart appliances, electric vehicles, wellness, outdoor entertainment, fitness tech, and more firsthand.” The consumer-facing approach of this new event will certainly help bridge the gap between mainstream technology and the specialty work done in the custom installation channel. I can’t wait to check it out! Learn more here: thehometechexpo.com.
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Full-service communications agency helps Kordz drive greater awareness and adoption of its innovative cabling solutions within the systems integration community worldwide.
Red Lodge, Montana (January 16, 2023) —KMB Communications, a leading full-service public relations and marketing agency, announces that it has been named agency of record by Kordz, a designer and manufacturer of high-performance, installation-friendly residential and commercial professional cabling and networking solutions. Per the arrangement, KMB Communications will draw from its vast communications experience, deep understanding of the systems integration market and strong strategic alliances to bring greater awareness to the Kordz brand globally by executing a full suite of brand messaging, go-to-market strategies, and creative, insightful digital and social media programs.
“KMB Communications provides everything we need to build our brand communications and broaden our presence as a leading provider of professional cabling solutions,” says James Chen, Kordz Managing Director. “A one-stop communication resource, they can help us develop and deliver clear, concise, impactful messaging through all forms of outreach, including digital marketing, public relations, custom content and podcasting. Their full suite of services is exactly what we were looking for in an agency. We look forward to our partnership with the team at KMB Communications to expose more of the market to our unique, innovative professional cabling solutions and how they help integrators get a professional edge.”
Quickly approaching its 20th anniversary, Kordz kicks off its partnership with KMB Communications with a host of major product announcements, events, and business initiatives. KMB will develop a comprehensive communications program around the celebration, leading with Kordz’s knack for staying ahead of the technological curve by providing systems integrators a host of innovative cabling solutions to ensure reliable, high-performance connectivity for a wide range of applications.
“We are excited to be chosen by the team at Kordz to amplify and accelerate awareness of this unique brand as the systems integration industry looks for ways to achieve better performance and installation ease when deploying networks in homes and businesses,” says Katye McGregor Bennett, CEO of KMB Communications. “For the past 20 years, Kordz has solved the problems and catered to the needs of systems integrators, evolving their product line to keep pace with new standards, new technologies and new expectations from end-users. They are a pioneer in an industry that often gets overlooked yet is the very backbone on which all smart systems connect. We’re thrilled to help share their story and their passion for developing systems that make a real difference to integrators’ bottom line.”
Kordz’s professional-grade products are designed, engineered and constructed to enable industry partners to focus on the big picture, not the little hurdles. The company’s extensive line of robust, fast and effective cabling and networking components deliver the seamless interoperability and digital experiences today’s tech-savvy end-users expect and dramatically simplify deployment for systems integrators. By offering a wide range of professional cabling solutions backed by expert technical support, Kordz helps systems integrators around the globe meet the evolving cabling requirements of a wide range of residential and commercial environments. For more information about Kordz, please visit kordz.com and follow the company @kordzglobal on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
About KMB Communications
KMB Communications is a full-service global communications agency focused on leveraging awareness and adoption of brands within the systems integration industry through strategic marketing, custom content creation, professional podcasting, creative video production and well-executed social media campaigns. With more than a decade of experience delivering engaging, insightful content for manufacturers, distributors, integrators and designers, KMB Communications has helped dozens of companies build brand awareness and broaden their presence within key target markets. For more information about KMB Communications, please visit www.kmbcommunications.com and follow the company on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
To incorporate today’s hottest technology and stunning design is both a challenge and a delicate balance. Nobody understands this better than those in the tech integration or design-build communities. For years, these two fundamentally different industries have tried to create cohesive home environments that are functionally and aesthetically on point yet also have technology integrated in such a way as to complement or enhance one’s lifestyle. Despite the best of intentions, though, challenges persist: Designers and integrators speak two very different languages, approach projects from different perspectives, and often have different agendas. It doesn’t need to be a disjointed relationship. By bridging the communications gaps between the design and integration communities, critical collaboration can occur, resulting in well-designed smart home projects that are efficiently deployed and satisfy customers’ appetites for dwellings that are comfortable, convenient, and beautiful.
In the Design UnCut panel session, “Hidden In Plain Sight: How to Conceal Tech or Make a Statement With It,” TriPhase Technologies shares a project in which Leon Speakers were customized to function as a decorative accent in a bookshelf while filling the space with music.
But how do designers and integrators build a mutually beneficial business strategy? Finding common ground and committing to transparent, open communication is a good first step. Control4 and Leon Speakers, along with Veronika Miller, founder of Modenus Media, and Katye McGregor Bennett, founder of KMB Communications, get the conversation started during the CEDIA Expo Virtual Experience, Sept. 16 and 17, during two informative Design UnCut live panel sessions.
Sponsored by Control4, “Home Tech Top 10: Products Designers Need to Know About,” provides designers with recommendations from leading home technology integrators and manufacturers on specific smart products and systems that can blend in, disappear within, or complement a home design. Loudspeakers from Leon, for example, not only sound great but resemble stunning pieces of art. Similarly, voice control capabilities built-into automation systems such as those from Control4 can reduce the need for the handheld remote controls that typically clutter coffee tables. Experts on the panel, held live online, Sept. 16, 10-10:45 a.m. ET, include Jamie Briesemeister, CEO and sales and marketing director at Integration Controls, Brad Hintze, senior director of product marketing at Control4, and Ed Gilmore, owner of Gilmore’s Sound Advice.
After learning about the many design-forward smart home solutions available today, CEDIA attendees can go a step further and uncover in a second Design Uncut session innovative home tech concealment techniques practiced by integrators. Co-sponsored by Leon Speakers, “Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Conceal Tech or Make a Statement With It” goes undercover and in the field to explore creative ways to completely hide technology, as well as ways to showcase technology artistically as stunning visual components of the room design. During the session, held Sept. 17, 4-4:55 ET, experienced integrators from around the country share techniques employed on specific projects, such as TRIPhase Technologies’ unique implementation of custom-designed, octagon-shaped Leon speakers as accent pieces in a large built-in bookshelf. In addition to TRIPhase Technologies’ integrator/designer team of Rocky Settecasi and Shanna Haecker, panelists include Noah Kaplan, president of Leon Speakers, Ed Gilmore, owner of Gilmore’s Sound Advice, and Alexandra Centeno and Angel Centeno of SDI Boston.
Produced as part of an ongoing series of Design UnCut webcasts, the two CEDIA Expo panel sessions each wrap up with a Q&A for audience members to pose questions and gain deeper insights. Pre-registration is required: Go here to register for Home Tech Top 10: Products Designers Need to Know About and here for Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Conceal Tech or Make a Statement With It.
Thanks to COVID-19 the world is facing a crisis unlike any other and try as we might, there’s little anyone can do to change its course. Rather than get bogged down in the exhausting negative narrative, focus on what CAN be done now, at a time like this. As the world slows and all are in a similar position, things you never felt you had time for or that have gotten de-prioritized because other, more pressing issues take the lead are prime for resolution.
Here are 5 things you can do now to stay actively involved, engaged, and, quite frankly, sane:
#1 Opportunity: Buff up your website
Get website updates & enhancement done. It’s not often we get the gift of lower website traffic around the globe. Take advantage of this by handling updates, enhancements, and make sure all plug-ins and security updates are done. Be sure you’re sharing data or access with only those who are deemed critical to your site’s operation.
Look at the language and images your site uses. Is it up to date and using the same language, tone, and approach as you and your team? If not, update it. Ask your team what they’d suggest and if you can, also as your closest clientele to share thoughts on how your brand presents itself to the outside world. Start a punch list and work from easiest to hardest so you don’t overwhelm yourself or those you’re asking for input.
Take a look at SEO and how you might be able to attract new prospects or trades to your brand, start a list of keywords, phrases, and competitors you want to monitor closely. SEO MOZ offers a host of free tools and more if you want to pay. https://moz.com/free-seo-tools.
#2 Update your Social Media profiles
Now’s a very, very good time to invest in a wholesale review of you and your company’s social media profiles and overall presence. Are your profiles, contact info, hashtags, URL, and related information still current? Are the images used for the Cover and Profile sections as high-quality and on-point as they should be and do they reflect you and your company’s current offering? Is the language being used appropriate, effective, and targeting your intended audience? Update passwords and initiate 2-step verification where it’s offered.
Do a thorough review of who you follow and who follows you, and eliminate all that aren’t relevant to you, your company, or its offering. High follower counts do not equal a high-performing feed or following, period.
Check other connections. Look at the platforms and who they or you are sharing your information with. If you don’t recognize any that you see, delete or disconnect them.
#3 Introduce yourself to “adjacent trades”
“Adjacent trades” are those who you or your company may interact with on projects and would include architects, designers, specifiers, etc. Now is a great time to reach out to them with a brief introduction of your services and offering and ways you and your company could be beneficial to them in the future. Don’t pitch or sell, just share and seek a connection down the road.
Offer to do a short 30-minute webinar for the adjacent trades or the contacts you’ve made within them, specifically. Give them the knowledge and resources they need to make you and your firm part of the future work and follow up in 30-days.
If you’ve got an AIA or other course that offers CEU make that content available to them online, on-demand, etc.
#4 Start a genuine conversation and stay present
As COVID-19 spreads and state and local mandates are evolving rapidly, people are understandably going a little crazy. Take 30-minutes every day to reach out to your team members, clientele, partners, and peers to see how they are, what they need, and how you might be able to help them. Send a text, an email, a DM, or just make a call. Just be genuine, no matter what you do.
Share the services you and your company are able to provide during these times. Now, more than ever, people need strong internet, access to entertainment, and the ability to communicate with loved ones. Don’t be pitchy, but do let people know what’s possible, now. If you offer remote services to troubleshooting, support, etc., share how that works and consider making it free for all during this time. Be the resource your community needs, now.
Find and share funny memes, sayings, etc., to introduce levity into people’s lives and give them something else to focus on. Make sure whatever you share is appropriate for your audience and if you happen to slip-up, be quick to delete (then move on, don’t hold onto that mental baggage).
#5 Take a break
Turn off the TV and step away from your news sources for at least a few hours every day or for as long as you can stand it. Do NOT let the news be your day-long background noise or narrative.
Bodies in motion stay in motion. Start or get back into a workout routine, just get your body in motion. Go for a walk, take the dog out, or just sit in the open air.
Learn a new skill or take care of honey-do’s. YouTube is full of insightful, educational content and you’ll be amazed by what you can learn in a day, hour, or even 5 minutes. Likewise, you undoubtedly have a list of things to get done around the house. Take the time to get those done and give yourself the gift of time, later.
Last but not least, just breathe. This too shall pass!
The clock is ticking people! KMB has been coming to ISE for years now, and we only have one left in Amsterdam before the show moves to Barcelona in 2021. While we won’t miss the winter weather in Venice of the North, we will miss the food, drinks, and overall rockin’ good time to be had in this amazing city. So we’re making this year one to remember and will hit all our fave spots, along with some new ones we’ve been longing to try. Allow us to recommend a few. And don’t forget to make reservations, these places can get busy!
Eats & Treats
Mayur Indian Restaurant – Conceived by New Delhi native Pramod Sharma with his son now at the helm, you can trust that the food at Mayur is authentic. Authentic doesn’t always mean delicious, but Mayur does both exceptionally well and at a reasonable price with great service and personable staff. Traditional North-Indian dishes in a warm atmosphere make you feel like you are dining in someone’s home. We love this place.
Balthazar’s Keuken – We are very excited to hit this spot at Elandsgracht 108 (in old town) with Mark Cichowski, Kevin Main, Steve Haas, and Lisa Slayman. It is a tiny place and the kitchen is literally at the end of the room where the seating is located. It’s a fixed menu so come with a flexible pallet. Wine pairing as well. Mark dined here a few years ago and said “it was exceptional, with a quaint ambiance.”
Casa de Sergio (Italian) – This is a cozy spot with Italian spirit on the Korte Leidsedwarsstraat near the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. You’ll find traditional Italian dishes like homemade Margherita pizza, Risotto ai funghi porcini (yum!), meat and fish, plus delish Italian desserts. Good, solid food, but sometimes service can be inconsistent (gotta keep it real).
Midtown Grill (Steakhouse) – Sometimes after a long day at the RAI you need a little red meat! This steakhouse opened in 2010 and is now known as one of the best in Amsterdam. Add a meticulously curated wine list, craft cocktails, exceptional service, and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable evening. They’ve even scratch-made us chicken noodle soup when we / our clients were been sick! (Tim at D-Tools can attest to this.)
Oriental City (Chinese) – We always wrap up our ISE experience with a dinner here with friends. Near the Royal Palace, the red-light district, and Chinatown, the restaurant specializes in authentic Cantonese dishes with chefs hired from Hong Kong. Dimsums, roasted meats, and fresh seafood all totally to die for. It’s off the charts.
Restaurant de Utrechtsedwarstafel – Mark Cichowski introduced us to this place in 2019, and we’re going back in 2020. Within strolling distance from Theatre Carré this is the stage of culinary artists Hans Verbeek and Esther van Meerten. Their performance is a ballet of wine and food. Indulge yourself with the culinary compositions by Esther the Chef and the wines of Sommelier Winemaster Hans.
De Vier Pilaren(Dutch Pancakes) – Poffertjes. You have no idea. These pancakes are so, so good. I mean, c’mon, a thin, European butter-and-powdered-sugar-topped circle of happiness? You can get savory ones as well. Either way, these babies make any trip to Amsterdam a little more special.
More KMB Foodie Tips
FEBO – Walk up to the counter for fast treats like french fries and hamburgers, or get a Dutch snack out of the automated vending machines, like krokets, frikandellen (a sort of minced meat hot dog), and Kaassoufflés, which are basically cheese, wrapped in dough, and deep fried. Add fries—order those at the counter first—and you’re set.
We love the OJ in Amsterdam. Stop and get a juice at least once during your visit. After all the wear and tear of ISE, the Vitamin C immunity boost will do you good! The food at the RAI is also very good and fresh, try the smoothies for a healthy boost or the high-quality hand-pressed burgers.
Recommendations from KMB Friends
Mike Blackman’s Picks Mike Blackman, friend and Executive Director of ISE himself, recommends these amazing culinary experiences:
• Izakaya – Avant garde and exquisite. Just look how beautiful their sushi is below to get an idea of the artistry that goes into this fare.
• 212 – Fewer rules, more adventure. During lunch and dinner, former Michelin chef Richard van Oostenbrugge and Thomas Groot create a gastronomic spectacle. Amsterdam’s first no-table-restaurant, get cozy with your neighbors and enjoy!
• MOMO – MOMO is still one of the city’s hotspots, offering fusion cuisine in a very fun, fashionable setting. Bento (Japanese lunchboxes) are served at lunchtime, followed by a menu designed for sharing in the evening. Can’t wait to try it.
• Pesca – Aka, “Theatre of Fish” offers fish and only fish near the RAI. Their goal is to “make fish accessible again!” A place where can you find good quality fish for a good price in a cozy environment. We don’t often go out for fish, but based on Mike’s rec and the fun video on their site (watch it), we’re gonna try it!
• The Harbour Club – Mike also recommends the Harbor Club, and while KMB has not been there, the look of the wine cellar and funky art is enough for us to get our reservations on! Definitely a must for KMB.
David Hiltner’s Picks From friend, artist, and Executive Director of the Red Lodge Clay Center David Hiltner: “Ciel Bleu (pictured below) was by far the best meal I have ever had… ever! It’s very pricey, but amazing! The Bluespoon was the restaurant in the Hotel Andaz and very good as well. A lot of creative culinary experiments on the menus. On the hand written list shown below are all favorite recommendations of the Hotel Andaz’s bar manager, who is an amazing foodie. Bussia Italian very high-end Italian. Those are my top three.”—David Hiltner
Do & See
Markets (Citywide) – On Saturdays, you’ll find large street markets peppered throughout Amsterdam. There are many treasures to be found here. We like Albert Cuyp Markt, which runs through the middle of de Pijp, known for its 19th-Century architecture and culinary scene. Noordermarkt is really three markets in one. On the left side is Boerenmarkt farmers market, to the right, antiques, books, vintage clothing, jewelry, fairtrade bags, etc, and around the corner, Lindengrachtmarkt, one of the best food markets in the city. Nieumarkt still holds a daily market as well as an organic fare market on Saturdays, but we like to go there for the cafés and restaurants, too. On the must-try list is the Ijhallen, a gigantic (700 stalls!) monthly flea market filled with vintage bargains that, we hear, is very worthy of a day trip.
Take a Canal Boat Tour – We never get tired of eating at KMB, but if you are looking for something to do during your time away from RAI outside of grub, you must do a canal cruise at least once in your life. Amsterdam’s history is so deeply intertwined with the canals, it’s a great learning experience and also incredibly fun!
The Anne Frank House– On July 6, 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in the building at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. You can visit it here and learn her story through quotes, photos, and videos in an authentic and subdued environment. Definitely an experience.
Rijkmuseum – Located in Amsterdam’s Museum Square, the Rijksmuseum is renowned for its world-class Dutch masterpieces that illustrate the story of The Netherlands, with highlights like Vermeer’s “Milkmaid,” Van Gogh’s self-portrait, and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch.” Get a little culture shot while you are here and see some true masterpieces! Of course, there are many other museums worth checking out, if you’ve got the time….
L&B Whiskey Cafe – This smooth whiskey bar has a collection of more than 2100 whiskeys! Scottish malt whiskeys, Irish, American, Canadian, and Japanese bottlings are all on the list, as well as 100 bottles from all European corners. Single malt, blend, bourbon, cask strength, single cask—all types, sizes, ripening and ages can be tasted here. Bartenders will advise you if you get lost and are also up to snuff on all the new bottlings that haven’t made the menu yet.
CEDIA Expo has historically been the time and place manufacturers choose to “Wow” home systems integrators and the media with innovative new products, systems, and technologies. This year was no exception. From amazingly vivid displays and smart lighting solutions to motorized window fashions and user-friendly home automation systems, all the “regulars” came out to play during CEDIA Expo 2109, held recently in Denver, with cool new features, functionality, and form factors. This year’s show also served as the coming out party for a few exciting new trends for the home systems industry. KMB Communications was on hand to witness these promising new market disruptors, and many of its clients are leading the charge:
Health and Wellness: In the past when people thought about healthy homes, indoor air quality came to mind. While this is still an important component of healthy living, the ability to create a home environment that’s more serene and peaceful and establishes a closer connection with nature is the current focus. Lighting that simulates sunrise and sunset and syncs with our circadian rhythms is a good first step. Taking the concept further is Rayva. The company’s collection of turnkey home cinemas are engineered and designed with all the best technology and accouterments to deliver a stellar movie viewing experience, but as demonstrated at CEDIA Expo 2019, they can also function as a wellness retreat. With a shift in colored lighting, video, and audio, the room can transport viewers to a forest, beach, or yoga studio. “Wellscapes” are a huge initiative of Rayva’s, offering home systems integrators another avenue of differentiation and end users an exciting new way to utilize technology.
Home Cinemas Outdo Commercial Theaters? As technology advances, it’s possible for the performance of home cinemas to match if not surpassed the AV quality delivered by commercial theaters. Demonstrating this trend at CEDIA Expo 2019 was Zappiti and Cortex VIP Cinemas. A newcomer to CEDIA, Zappiti draws from years of tech experience designing high-end media servers for the European marketplace, and for its U.S. debut demonstrated the AV industry’s first ISF-certified media player. The certification ensures that the color reproduction and fidelity of content delivered by the Zappiti is accurate and engaging.
When it comes to the ultimate cinema experience, nothing outdoes a commercial Dolby Cinema theater … unless you consider Cortex VIP Cinemas. The company is bringing a Dolby Cinema experience to home theaters via a groundbreaking new product, the Dolby CP850-C Audio Processor. Demonstrated as a component of Pro Audio Technologies’ Sound Room, the processor paired with specially engineered Pro Audio Dolby Atmos speakers. The audio improvement over residential Dolby home cinemas was clear … literally, as sound room theater goers could hear Lady Gaga’s footsteps as she walked onto the stage during a clip of “A Star is Born.” Without a doubt, this represents a completely new performance standard for home cinema.
Artistry in Audio: Speakers are going through a major cosmetic makeover. Models that can be recessed into the wall and ceiling surface are being joined by speakers that double as pieces of artwork. Leading this trend is Leon Speakers, which showcased a remarkable assortment of eye-catching loudspeakers designed to be admired just as much for their visual appeal as their audio performance. Grabbing attention at the booth were wall-mounted speakers covered with grilles customized with images from celebrity photographer Roberto Rabanne and custom metal artwork from Gabriel Urist. The Ente SoundTiles represent a completely new way of looking at loudspeakers—as an art form not just a piece of technology. When speakers weren’t masquerading as fine art at the CEDIA Expo, some were functioning as useful pieces of furniture. Leon’s Horizon Denza Modular Credenza, for example, sounds like a soundbar but looks like the perfect spot to display framed photos, vases of flowers and other decorative items.
Residential and Commercial Crossover: Home technology products and systems have become so reliable, powerful, and sophisticated, that many of the solutions initially intended for home use are finding their way into restaurants, bars, offices, retail shops, and other light commercial environments. AltasIED is making it easier for residential integrators to transition into commercial through its new line of EZSYS solutions. All of the necessary parts for sound masking, paging, and music distribution arepackaged together in a single carton to simplify installation and configuration.
Networking is another area that’s inspiring manufacturers and integrators to span residential and commercial sectors. As homes become increasingly more reliant on Wi-Fi, networking systems that support bigger bandwidth—the kind historically found in businesses—are making huge inroads in the residential marketplace. Delivering enterprise-grade wireless networking solutions is Access Networks. At CEDIA Expo the company displayed its entire range of products designed for both businesses and homes. The focus, however, was on products designed for the custom residential market, including a new entry-level wireless access point for homes, the A320, and a new line of switches powered by Ruckus.
Behind-the-Scenes Systems Share the Limelight: It’s easy to get swept away by bright, vivid displays; amazing audio systems, and elegant, smart lighting when scouring the CEDIA Expo show floor, but systems that work behind the scenes to ensure the reliability, stability and optimal performance of these products are crucial to the livelihood of the home systems marketplace. D-Tools, for example, has refined its Cloud platform to streamline the development and management of projects for integrators; Torus Power debuted its AVR Elite, a power control system for high-performance A/V systems; while OneVision Resources promoted its tools and programs designed to help integrators step up their level of customer service.
In Store for CEDIA 2020: From the front of the house with solutions like decorative speakers and high-end home theater systems to back of the house technologies like power control systems, plus business management tools and software, KMB clients at CEDIA Expo 2019 has every inch of the home systems marketplace covered. With a continued emphasis on the unification of design and technology, plus momentum in the kitchen and bath, there’s sure to be even greater diversity and opportunity for integrators to explore at next year’s conference and trade show.