Audio/Video

Plenty New at CEDIA 2015: Sonos Surprises, Home Automation, Core Brands, More

CEDIA Expo 2015 promises a host of new products from the home automation ranks, as well as 20-odd business software tools, and pleasant surprises in Sonos gear, architectural solutions and people news.


Plenty of Sonos accessories, including some top-secret surprises will be revealed at CEDIA Expo 2015. Hopefully Distributor American Audio & Video will be showcasing Flexson ColourPlay skins for Sonos speakers.

Photos & Slideshow

Julie Jacobson · September 10, 2015

In a thread about CEDIA Expo 2015 in the installer forum at RemoteCentral.com, an integrator posts: “From what I’m hearing, Not much new info/product will be released at CEDIA this year.”

What?!

For starters, that comment was posted in August, when no one – not even some exhibitors themselves – really knows what will be shown. More importantly, how on earth could there be “not much new” at CEDIA?

Perhaps by “new,” the dealer meant something of Apple-esque proportions like an initiative to integrate custom control systems with HomeKit. Or an announcement by Sonos to not only open up its API but to drop all retail sales. Or the introduction of a viable HDMI field termination kit. Better yet … the elimination of HDCP content protection schemes.

No, I don’t expect anything that interesting at CEDIA Expo 2015, but I have researched the exhibitor list thoroughly and have interviewed several manufacturers that are introducing some pretty exciting things that you won’t want to miss.

Surprises at CEDIA

You’ll see Sonos at the show, but you’ll also see some third-party accessories, as well as prospective competitors.

Leon Speakers already has had great success with its beautiful ToneCase enclosures for Sonos. CE Pro contributor Joe Whitaker will be showing a super-secret Sonos complement tailor-made for the custom channel. And American Audio & Video will have Flexson stands, mounts and super-fun ColourPlay skins fitted for Sonos speakers. Plus, stay tuned for a nifty Sonos accoutrement from the integrators at Dallas-based Honest Install.

As for Sonos competitors, Heos by Denon will be at CEDIA, as will the usual suspects in the custom-electronics world. But you’ll also see one of the most elegant new wireless audio systems I’ve seen in maybe forever from first-time exhibitor Electrocompaniet. Its new EC Living reflects the Scandinavian sensibilities of the Norway-based manufacturer.

In more brand-busting news, new exhibitor Bocci could disrupt Dana Innovations’ Trufig, with its flush-installed outlets and ports, joining newish WallSmart in efforts to conceal electronic acne in the wall.

But even the seemingly boring things at CEDIA can be pretty exciting.

For instance, there are roughly 20 exhibitors – many of them hailing from dealer ranks—offering business tools expressly for integrators.

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Click to view some of the new products and companies at CEDIA Expo 2015

Newcomer Cairnstack provides inventory management and tool-tracking software. Sympl is announcing a sales tool with a refined project-estimate platform. ConnectWise, an increasingly popular maker of design and project software for integrators, will make its CEDIA debut this year. And start-up b3pro is an online membership site offering easy access to business tools, services and group dealers from top service providers in the industry.

We know how dealers love their trucks, and it looks like Expo will have a record number of vehicle-makers at the show—I count four of them—but CEDIA also will welcome first-time exhibitor Locqus, which provides fleet-management software to help business owners keep track of your vehicles and workers.

Upon Further Investigation

We have reported some interesting channel news lately that you’ll want to investigate further at CEDIA. For example:

  • Sony dropped its direct-to-consumer sales operations, closing all but one retail store and eliminating its online shop. What does that mean for the channel?
  • A/V switch-maker HydraConnect halted operations due to some legal entanglements, but they’ll be at the show. How are they faring?
  • The elite buying group HTSA is now collaborating with the less-exclusive dealer group formerly known as Specialty Electronics Nationwide. The newly named Home Technology Specialists Nationwide (HTSN) and HTSA both will exhibit at CEDIA. How will that collaboration work?
  • Nortek’s Core Brands is building a dealer portal that combines its own lines (Elan, SpeakerCraft, Xantech, Niles, Panamax, etc.) with sister brands from Nortek, including 2Gig security and automation, Omnimount racks and mounts, and Broan/NuTone central vac. You won’t want to miss the hands-on demo at Expo.
  • Clare Controls has hired at least three industry heavyweights this year: Delia Hansen from Crestron, Jeff Zemanek from Lutron and g2i, and Chuck Parrelli from Savant. What does that mean for this up-and-coming home automation company?
  • Flir One, an accessory that turns a smart phone into a thermal imaging camera, announced integration with IFTTT, allowing virtually anything that gives off heat – people, pipes and electrical wiring, for example – to trigger events and alerts. What are the implications for professional integration?

And More …

While HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 were just faint buzzes at CEDIA 2014, this year the frustrating standards will rear their ugly heads. Dealers in a rush to assemble end-to-end HDCP 2.2-compliant ecosystems can do that for the first time ever … nowhere else but CEDIA.

As usual, there will be several DIY-oriented security and home automation products on the CEDIA show floor. Some of these just might tickle your imagination and find a way into your future business plans.

Check out DIY smart sockets and bulbs from Emberlight and Illumi; Insteon hubs and ecosystem devices from Insteon; pay-as-you-go security from iSmart Alarm; Smart Bridge hub from Lutron; smart irrigation from Rachio; a dumb-but-smart switch toggle from Switchmate (beyond prototype now); touchscreen-based controllers and video intercoms from Lucis/Nubryte and Nucleus; the ultimate “learning” automation system from WeeBee; and a promising new home-control development platform from WigWag.

Oh, and enjoy the “musical people” this year, as always. We already noted new hires for Clare Controls, but we also have: Origin’s Dave Donald joining Kaleidescape; Klipsch’s Marc Fisher moving to Origin Acoustics; and Sanus rockstars Jim Wohlford and Keith Pribyl joining Roomie Remote and launching the custom-centric business SimpleControl. Plus, just wait until you hear the new appointments at Z-Wave Alliance and Stewart Filmscreen (not announced as of publication deadline).

Who has landed where, and who is at Expo looking for a new gig? Hey, what is CEDIA if not gossip time?

For some relaxation at CEDIA, Visit Inada and first-time exhibitor Infinite Therapeutics, which promises massage chairs “like Inada but half the price.”

After your massage, head to Blue Wave Tech for some Healthmate acupuncture solutions.

Yup, there will be plenty of new things to see at CEDIA Expo 2015. CE Pro will keep you posted ... and we hope you’ll do the same.
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JULIE JACOBSON
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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

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  Article Topics


Audio/Video · Distributed Audio · News · Media · Slideshow · ConnectWise · Lucis · Slateplan · Sympl · All Topics
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