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Press Release

Product Briefs: RTI RTiQ; Metra HDMI Discussion; Simply Reliable; Capitol, Russound at CEDIA

CE Pro new products - home automation, audio, video, IoT, motorized shades, lighting control, energy management, home theater, networking and more.


Product Briefs: RTI RTiQ; Metra HDMI Discussion; Simply Reliable; Capitol, Russound at CEDIA
CE Pro Editors · August 16, 2018

So many product news items come across the CE Pro desks, and we don't want to miss them. Neither do our readers. This is the place where we tell you what's now shipping, which reps and distributors picked up what new products, which products are newly compatible, how public companies are faring, and other briefs in custom electronics.


SEE MORE NEW-PRODUCT BRIEFS, PAST & PRESENT

Aug. 16

 

RTI, a global control and automation manufacturer for residential and commercial settings, has announced that its RTiQ intelligent remote monitoring solution is now available for free to RTI dealers. A complete remote management solution for RTI systems, the cloud-based RTiQ makes it simple for dealers to monitor their clients' AV installations, get real-time notifications of failures, and quickly resolve issues with the touch of a button.

RTiQ can be configured to monitor RTI control ecosystem and components controlled by an RTI XP control processor. Dealers can monitor the status of these devices via a dashboard from anywhere in the world and receive email and text notifications that alert them if a failure occurs. Once alerted, the dashboard helps them identify the cause of the issue and allows custom actions to be triggered to restore the failed system or component. Customizable actions include anything the control system is capable of, whether it's rebooting devices, running macros, or sending commands.

"RTI dealers are activating systems at a fast pace. After being live for only a few weeks, we have more than 1,500 systems currently reporting into RTiQ," says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales, RTI. "RTiQ is enabling dealers to take customer service to the next level. The bottom line is lower costs and happy customers."


Aug. 14

Metra Home Theater Group MHTG) has announced it will sponsor an HDMI roundtable discussion featuring three top industry trainers from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday September 7 th at its Booth # 1715 at the 2018 CEDIA Expo being held at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.

Participants are Andrew Turner, technical sales manager with Sony Electronics
and Sony ES Home Premium, Philip Lamar Jones, director of training for the Americas at Sound
United and Brent McCall, trainer and product developer for Metra Home Theater Group. The open
forum discussion will include topics covering real life problems, issues and solutions for HDMI installations.

Registration to attend this event is not required, but seating is limited to first-come-first-served.
However, you don’t have to have a seat at the table to participate, and ‘standing room only’
attendance is welcomed space permitting.


Simply Reliable, a developer of cloud-based business process management, has announced three new, key features in its smartOFFICE software that are designed to transform online business process workflow. The new features include proposal sharing, automated zero setup, and data exporting. smartOFFICE, created specifically for the custom integration industry, offers simple proposal generation and approval with e-commerce for client payment collection, project management, logistic support and business intelligence to integrators.  

Through smartOFFICE, manufacturer tech support and system designers can utilize Simply Reliable’s proposal sharing features to create a proposal and instantly, with the press of a button, share the proposal to the custom installer’s database. Manufacturers can create a system and share it instantly with their approved dealer. Then, the dealer can access the completed proposal by the manufacturer and implement it into the sale, create purchase orders, work orders, and client invoices to complete the project. 

“We’re thrilled to release three robust, time-saving features to smartOFFICE ahead of CEDIA 2018,” says Tom Coffin, president and chief executive officer of Simply Reliable. “With proposal sharing, zeroSETUP, and data exporting, integrators can eliminate extraneous business processes and spend more time growing their business. We invite those attending CEDIA 2018 to visit our booth, check out a demo and take advantage of our at-show subscription savings.”


Capitol, a national distributor for residential and light commercial markets, will feature two new Russound products in its CEDIA Expo 2018 booth, #4715, September 4 – 8 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.

Originally previewed at the 2017 CEDIA Expo, the MBX-AMP and MBX-PRE are single-box solutions that are easy to install and configure as a streaming audio system for residential installations, while access to SiriusXM for Business makes it a smart and reliable solution in light commercial projects. Russound designed the MBX-AMP to be a decentralized, amplified streaming solution for installers who want to offer the most up-to-date streaming media options to their clients. The MBX-PRE is similar to the MBX-AMP, minus the amplifier section.

“Few companies are as in tune with custom specialists’ needs as Russound,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “Nearly every model in their arsenal is based on dealer feedback, which is especially true of the new MBX models. Their simplicity and flexibility make them the perfect add-on for any job that requires a simple, smart streaming solution.”


Aug. 10

D-Tools, Inc., a developer data-driven system integration software, has announced that it has completed an integration with Salesforce through the D-Tools Connector powered by Ennube Solutions. Now, commercial AV and IT professionals will be able to use the combined features of Salesforce and D-Tools System Integrator (SI) in a seamless workflow from initial lead tracking and opportunity management – via D-Tools’ SI Connector powered by Ennube – through project proposal, design, installation, and on-going service management.

Commercial AV and IT professionals face a multitude of challenges associated with properly managing leads and opportunities, quickly and accurately guiding them through budgeting and estimation, sales, system design, purchasing, and project management. Poor or ineffective communication, along with missing or incomplete information, can often mean the difference between success and failure. To avoid such risks, D-Tools and Ennube Solutions have partnered to develop a Salesforce integration to ensure that client, product, and project information is efficiently, seamlessly, and accurately managed from the initial lead capturing and client opportunity through purchase, design, installation, and on-going service.


Aug. 9

DISH added EPIX’s full catalog of 4K UHD movies to its on-demand programming lineup, becoming the first pay-TV provider to roll out this new offering.

DISH customers with a Hopper 3 or 4K Joey, 4K television, and subscription to EPIX can now access select movies in 4K, including ArrivalThe Magnificent SevenStar Trek Beyond and Transformers: The Last Knight.

“EPIX is committed to embracing new technologies to provide subscribers with the best viewing experience of our premium original programming and movies,” says Monty Sarhan, executive vice president and general manager of EPIX. “We are pleased to partner with DISH and Layer3 TV to deliver this advanced offering to a wider audience, and look forward to working with more distributors to include 4K Ultra HD as part of their entertainment packages.”


Aug. 8

A report from Bloomberg states that Comcast has prevailed in a U.S. Patent Office ruling over TiVo.

According to the report, on July 25 The office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled a TiVo Corp. patent on technology that lets viewers search television content invalid. 

Temporarily the decision is a win for Comcast, which has filed dozens of patent challenges over the past couple of years, but other rulings still loom related to a district court infringement lawsuit by TiVo over patents. 

The Bloomberg reports adds: "TiVo’s district court infringement lawsuit seeking damages from Comcast isn’t affected by the U.S. patent office’s decision invalidating U.S. Patent ‘696 [8,433,696] , Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matt Larson said."  


FIBARO, a global manufacturer of wireless intelligent home automation and control devices, is growing its installer base in the U.S. and has built out an aggressive training program to provided skilled professionals — including residential and commercial AV installers, electricians and practitioners within the construction industry — with the practical knowledge and expertise required to specify and install Fibaro systems in today’s dramatically developing smart home market.

The certified Fibaro system installer training can be completed in one day and has been designed to provide attendees with practical knowledge of the design, configuration and implementation of the Fibaro smart home system. The program begins with a 101 training and evolves into hands-on training provided directly from Fibaro or by a specialized Fibaro Distributor.

“Fibaro’s installer training provided the perfect mix of product training and a detailed introduction to the smart home, as well as the Z-Wave platform,” says Justin Lee, a recently certified Fibaro Installer from Ergo Structures Inc. located in Toronto, Canada. 


Aug. 7

Capitol, a distribution source for residential and light commercial systems, is partnering with TCL, one of America’s fastest-growing television brands, at the upcoming CEDIA Expo 2018, Sept. 4 – 8 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.

One of TCL’s most popular models will be featured in Capitol’s booth #4715, which will be the exclusive display of TCL televisions at the expo. The 65-inch 6-Series 4K UHD TCL Roku TV with Dolby Vision HDR is considered to be the custom professional’s best friend for its innovation and over-the-top value.

“Custom professionals turn to TCL every time they need a foolproof video solution for home theaters of nearly every size,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “It makes perfect sense, considering how a line like the 6-Series combines a wide mix of outstanding picture performance with Roku, and a brushed metal design that matches any décor.”


Onkyo USA, has announced it has acquired exclusive distribution rights to market and distribute TEAC’s home entertainment products in the U.S. and Latin America.  As a result of the agreement, TEAC now has access to one of the industry’s strongest marketing and distribution networks that spans the full retail spectrum, and joins Onkyo USA’s roster of acclaimed consumer electronics brands, including Onkyo, Pioneer, Pioneer ELITE, Integra and Esoteric.

“TEAC is a world-renowned brand with high-quality offerings across a variety of price points that give the line retail flexibility as well as access to a wide audience – from the professional recording studio right down to the casual listener,” says Jason Sausto, CEO of Onkyo USA.  “Onkyo USA has built its reputation on excellent customer service and channel expertise, and TEAC’s newly refreshed and diverse lineup should benefit from both.”


Movies Anywhere and Microsoft Movies & TV have joined forces to make it easier for film fans to access and grow their movie collections. Users simply sync their Microsoft account with Movies Anywhere to centralize their favorite digital movies purchased from Microsoft alongside their movies purchased from other Movies Anywhere retailers. Movies Anywhere allows consumers to access their digital movie collection at home or on the go in one simple cross-platform app that also features over 7,500 digital movies for purchase, including the new “The Deadpool 2 Super Duper $@%!#& Cut” with 15 minutes of brand-new action and jokes.

Using the Movies Anywhere app and website, Microsoft customers can access their eligible digital movies from Hollywood’s major film studios, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (encompassing Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), and Warner Bros. Upon connecting their Microsoft account with Movies Anywhere, users can watch their favorite redeemed and purchased digital movies from participating digital retailers on an array of platforms, including Xbox and Windows 10 devices; Amazon Fire devices; Android devices and Android TV; Chromecast; iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; Roku devices and popular browsers.

“We are thrilled that Microsoft now supports Movies Anywhere,” says Pedro Gutierrez, director, movies & TV, Microsoft. “With Movies Anywhere, all of your eligible movies from Microsoft can be enjoyed across your favorite screens at no extra cost. Microsoft Movies & TV allows you to watch the newest movies across your favorite devices — like Xbox — before streaming services or disc, and without subscription or membership fees.”
 


Klipsch, a global audio company, has announced its exclusive home audio partnership for the home entertainment release of the movie Deadpool 2 in Digital HD download (Aug. 7), and Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD (August 21). 

Deadpool 2 stars Ryan Reynold, who also co-wrote the script with Rhett Rees and Paul Wernick, and was directed by David Leitch. In the film, Deadpool forms the team X-Force to protect a young mutant from the time-traveling soldier Cable.

The movie was released in the United States on May 18, 2018. It has grossed $729 million worldwide, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2018, as well as the third highest-grossing R-rated movie. 

Klipsch audio/video retail and online partners benefit from the partnership by using Klipsch and Deadpool 2 branded in-store point of purchase materials, the movie trailer, as well as digital and social media assets. Additionally, the “Klipsch Deadpool 2 Sweepstakes” runs August 1-September 30, 2018 in the United States. Entrants can sign up at Klipsch.com for the chance to win a grand prize package consisting of a Klipsch Reference Dolby Atmos® 7.2.4 speaker system, a four-disc Deadpool 24K Ultra HD DVD package, and other Deadpool 2 merchandise (valued at U.S. MSRP of $4,085).


Aug. 6

IntelliVision Technologies Corp., a manufacturer of AI/deep learning video analytics software for smart cameras, and now part of Nortek Security & Control LLC(NSC), has announced that the latest version of its facial recognition technology now runs as a cloud-based service as well as on edge devices and on-premise servers.

“Face recognition is becoming a must-have security feature for smart homes and buildings, smart retail, transportation, access control and the gaming industry,” saysKrishna Khadloya, vice president of engineering and products, IntelliVision. “Our face recognition now gives system integrators the flexibility to implement facial detection and recognition in the cloud, on servers, or at the edge, providing real-time results, and reducing bandwidth usage.”

The latest version of IntelliVision’s facial recognition technology is optimized for in-camera processing and is capable of detecting at least ten faces in less than one second with only 25 percent CPU usage on an Ambarella S5L-based camera. As many as twenty faces can be recognized in a single frame. In the cloud-based Face Recognition as a Service (FRaaS), recognition time is sub-second and allows for additional analytics in the overall workflow where camera processing capacity is limited.


Aug. 1

Roon Labs has teamed up with T+A to expand the company's Roon Ready end points to include the MP 8 Multi Source Player. 

“Previously we had the T+A DAC 8 DSD as Roon Tested. We are excited to add the MP 8 as Roon Ready network player to expand the Roon ecosystem," says Enno Vandermeet, CEO of Roon.

The T+A MP 8 multi-source player houses a CD mechanism, a high-performance digital tuner offering FM, FM-HD and DAB+ reproduction, a Bluetooth streaming module, a streaming client with Internet radio and music services for connection to the home network via LAN and WLAN

“We are pleased that with the MP 8 we now have the first T+A product with Roon Ready certification in our portfolio. All other T+A streaming products that have been introduced since 2016 are currently undergoing the certification process and will follow in due time," adds Siegfried Amft, owner and managing director of T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co. KG



VIZIO, Inc., has announced the rollout of WatchFree, an all-new streaming service designed with cord-cutters in mind. Now available on nearly all VIZIO SmartCast TVs, WatchFree, in partnership with Pluto TV, takes the entertainment experience one step further by providing free, direct streaming access to more than 100 live and linear channels. WatchFree has all of the attributes associated with traditional cable TV minus boxes, antennas, cords, and most importantly, the cost. 

"With the TV landscape continuously evolving, we're excited to offer consumers a comprehensive entertainment solution packed with free and unlimited content offerings." says Bill Baxter, chief technology officer, VIZIO. "Powered by Pluto TV, WatchFree is a next-generation streaming service with an easy-to-navigate, cable-like interface that delivers creative and thoughtful content selections."


July 31


Portrait Displays, Inc. has developed CalMAN auto calibration capability for Sony’s 2018 MASTER Series A9F and Z9F BRAVIA 4K HDR televisions being unveiled this week at a press event in New York City.

Calibration is the process of fine-tuning a display to ensure that it closely matches an industry standard. Manual calibration can require an hour’s work by a trained professional. The auto calibration provided by Portrait Displays’ CalMAN software accelerates the process for professional calibrators, along with enabling new users the ability to perform professional quality calibrations.

"You simply connect CalMAN on your computer to the Sony BRAVIA and let CalMAN’s AutoCal make your picture perfect," says Martin Fishman, co-CEO of Portrait Displays.
 


The CEDIA Expo has announced Control4 as the sponsor for the debut Design Connection tour series. The Design Connection tours will take place during CEDIA Expo, September 6 to 8, at the San Diego Convention Center. Control4 Senior Vice President of Marketing Susan Cashen expresses the company’s enthusiasm for connecting integrated technology experts with design and construction professionals at CEDIA Expo.

“Architects, builders, and developers have the same goal as technology integrators: to finish each project with a satisfied client,” says Cashen.

CEDIA Expo’s Design Connection tours will be led by David VanWert, principal of VanWert Technology Design and Joe Whitaker, president of Thoughtful Home Design and member of the CEDIA Board of Directors. The two industry leaders will guide 10 to 15 certified designers to selected exhibitor booths for product overviews and Q&A’s with brand representatives.


The Bird Home Automation Group, manufacturer of DoorBird IP video intercoms, and the PropTech company KIWI.KI GmbH announced a collaboration. The DoorBird D301, the IP Upgrade for analog door intercoms, is now compatible with the KIWI locking system. The companies have partnered to create an integration solution ideal for businesses requiring the ability to access clients’ residences to perform contracted services. Businesses providing home and elder care as well as cleaning and grounds keeping services can now flexibly manage and open authorized doors using the KIWI keyless access control platform.

The DoorBird D301 enables tenants in apartment buildings to convert their existing analog door intercoms into app-based, smart door intercoms. When a visitor rings at the entrance door, the user receives a push notification on their smart device. The user can then speak with the visitor and open the house or apartment door using the DoorBird App. This allows for secure keyless access to the entrance area of the apartment building and, optionally, to the apartment.

With KIWI doors can also be opened keylessly. The PropTech (Property Technology) company offers a digital locking system for doors of apartment buildings. The KIWI transponder, app, and portal allow users to open doors and manage access privileges digitally. This way, KIWI digitizes key management for the housing industry and, moreover, serves as a platform for services that require access to buildings and apartments, such as parcel services or garbage collection companies.


Atlona is bringing IP-based AV control to customers of Zoom Video Communications’ popular Zoom Rooms solution worldwide to enable scalability and ease of use through its Velocity platform. Atlona’s native, software-level integration of the Zoom Rooms API will simplify and accelerate deployments from single meeting spaces to enterprise-wide collaborative environments and empower end users to seamlessly control Zoom Rooms and third-party components over the network with a unified user interface.

“Velocity will allow Zoom Rooms customers to seamlessly transition AV control to the network, and quicklypopulate collaborative environments across campus- and enterprise-wide systems,” says Michael Crisci, business development manager, AV/IP and strategic alliance, Atlona. “Velocity’s ease of use ensures that all devices can be integrated with minimal configuration, and with a direct IP connection to any Zoom Room to simplify integration of Zoom Rooms components. This is a problem-solving approach to simplifying control and integration of third-party elements across a collaborative ecosystem of any scale.”

In a typical Zoom Rooms configuration, Velocity integrations will support unified control of third-party cameras, microphones, and audio systems; as well as environmental controls and other general room control over the network. Atlona also anticipates certification of its AT-HDVS-CAM PTZ camera for Zoom Room environments in the near future.


July 30

Wilson Electronics, home of WilsonPro, weBoost and zBoost and a manufacturer of wireless communications infrastructure, has announced the release of the Wilson Portal app for iOS and Android. The app’s features are designed to provide improved dealer communication, ensuring quality service and support for Wilson Electronics’ valued partners.

According to Wilson Electronics, the Wilson Portal app allows dealers to access everything they need for a cellular signal booster install, even when they’re on the go. Whether they need training and install tips, information on new products or direct access to customer support, the new app ensures they can easily access the essentials from their smartphone.

The app includes the option to turn on push notifications for content specialized to each dealer. Features of the app include:

  • Immediate access to the latest products and company news
  • Registration for upcoming webinars and events
  • Exclusive offers and promotions
  • Install resources such as install guides, building recommendation forms, tips and training videos
  • Product catalogs, spec sheets and registration
  • Detailed case studies
  • Contact information for sales and customer support teams

July 26

Intrinsic Group, an AV industry driver developer, has launched Intrinsic
Connected, 
which is a new, quality standard that will allow both manufacturers and installers to identify
quickly and easily where a certified Intrinsic solution is available.

“Anyone can write code,” says Will Hopkins, CEO, Intrinsic Group. “But, writing effective drivers for
smart home integration products and applications demands real installation knowledge, controls
know-how and practical experience. All Intrinsic engineers have spent a minimum of five years in the
field as product installers and system integrators. This experience is critical in how we create and
build Intrinsic Connected driver solutions. It’s why we’re acknowledged as the company behind the
most reliable, best functioning and optimised drivers for AV integration on the market.”

A growing number of certified Intrinsic Connected drivers are now available for fast and reliable
integration and control by Crestron, Control 4, Elan, RTI and other control platforms. These cover
integration for Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Philips Hue, Sky+ and SkyQ alongside products from leading
industry brands, such as, HDAnywhere, Heatmiser, Meridian, Naim, Sonos, Speakercraft and more.
Manufacturers will be able to display the Integrated by Intrinsic badge on products where an
Intrinsic driver exists, giving added confidence to installers that they can easily integrate the best-
performing technology from their favoured brands into any system.


Meridian’s Design and Specification Service has been created to give integrators increased customer possibilities when specifying Meridian products.  This complimentary service helps integrators working on a range of jobs that range from whole home and superyacht, to cinema room projects.

“We created the Design and Specification Service to support our integrators when designing cinemas
or distributed audio systems for their clients” comments Barry Sheldrick, director of sales, Meridian
Audio. “This service makes it quicker and easier for them to select and specify the best products for the job, freeing up valuable time to concentrate on other aspects of the installation. With over 40 years of audio experience, integrators can reply on Meridian and our design service to deliver high-resolution, high-performance systems around their client’s home.”

To begin the proposal process, integrators simply need to provide Meridian with a plan of the room,
house, or room dimensions, and email it to Meridian’s dedicated Design and Specification Service
team at design@meridian-america.com. Meridian’s experts will then provide CEDIA-approved
designs and drawings of the proposed system layout within 48 hours, which includes room
layout and loudspeaker positioning diagrams, detailed wiring diagrams, and comprehensive product
information. In most cases, proposals include three Meridian system options, providing a project
price spread tailored to the client’s budget.


The Texas-based manufacturer Screen Innovations (SI) has announced that it is shipping its Zero-G motorized screen product. 

Housed in a two-piece tube that is suspended from Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE) cables, where it deploys at a preset location and unrolls itself to display the viewing surface with up to 15.8-feet of drop.

SI’s ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen materials such as Slate, which are also available on Zero-G provides a solution in which integrators can offer an image in hard-to-reach locations without sacrificing image quality. An added benefit, is that the area above the Zero-G viewing surface is acoustically transparent and does not negatively impact the viewing experience like a standard motorized screen with black masking material would. Because it’s completely open above, art-deco walls, large windows like what you will find in a house of worship, speakers, or even lighting systems all remain visible, not covered by a large black mask such as you would find in traditional motorized screen systems.

 In addition to the newly added long drop option, SI has also reengineered many of the internals of the Zero-G chassis, including mechanics such as a new end-cap design that is milled entirely from one block of aluminum, and improved consistencies for internal mounting points by using barrel mounts instead of a pulley system.

SI has produced a video that explains the product in greater detail.  


July 24

 AVAD LLC, a national provider of solutions to the residential and commercial custom installation markets, has announced a strategic partnership with Savant to showcase a range of smart home products based on Savant Studio and Savant Central Management. For this initiative, AVAD will provide sales, logistics, and award-winning support services to their network of dealers in the United States and Canada beginning on August 1st.

Savant has selected AVAD as an exclusive distribution partner for Savant Central Management and Savant Studio, a new cloud-based configuration and management software that will enable AVAD dealers to deliver smart home systems to a range of consumers. This  technology simplifies system configuration, which can be deployed remotely from an iPad, and proactively alerts integrators to service opportunities before a problem arises. The AVAD/Savant partnership will also provide existing Savant dealers with regional access to hardware as well as technical support and customer service thanks to AVAD’s physical presence in major markets. 

“Savant Central Management and Savant Studio are transformative innovations that greatly simplify the configuration and deployment process for control and automation systems,” explains JC Murphy, executive vice president at Savant.


July 23

 DTS, a global audio company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced a partnership between DTS Play-Fi and SoundMachine’s subscription-based service. The partnership gives business owners the ability to play commercial background music in their stores, restaurants, hotels, spas, or other locations through DTS Play-Fi-enabled products. Commercial users will receive a free 30-day trial through the DTS Play-Fi app.

SoundMachine features more than 250 curated music stations and the ability to mix and schedule music for the perfect sound directly through the DTS Play-Fi app. Features include:

  • Curated Music Selection: Hundreds of stations regularly updated and comprehensive playlists of hand selected music, covering a wide variety of genres.
  • Custom Music Stations: Easily create an algorithmically generated artist based station by simply entering an artist name or song from a catalog of over 35 million tracks.
  • Day Parting: Schedule your music for the perfect atmosphere throughout the day, whether it's upbeat music for the busy hours or mellow tunes for more relaxed moments.
  • Multiple Locations: If you own more than one establishment, you can link them to your account and manage their music content from one interface.
  • All Licenses Included: Playing music in a business environment requires a set of licenses that SoundMachine covers. Using unlicensed music services can potentially lead to big fines.

July 20

Dish customers can now start a conversation with DISH the same way they would text message friends and family. DISH has joined Apple Business Chat, enabling customers to chat directly with live customer service representatives through Messages on their iPhone and iPad.

Dish is one of the first pay-TV providers to turn on Apple Business Chat, which launched earlier this year.

“TV should be simple, so we’ve made reaching our live customer service representatives as easy as sending a text,” says John Swieringa, chief operating officer, Dish. “Adding messaging with Apple Business Chat is a powerful way to connect with us, giving another choice so you can pick what fits with your life.”

Dish customers can use Apple Business Chat to contact a live agent to ask questions, make account changes, schedule an appointment and more. They can also use their credit card on file to order a pay-per-view movie or sporting event and watch it within minutes of confirming the purchase. Apple Business Chat does not display customer contact information to an agent, so customers are in complete control of whether they want to share any contact information and can authenticate their account to make changes or purchases.


July 19

Savant, a manufacturer smart home technology, has announced seamless compatibility between Savant’s smart home ecosystem and the Google Home Assistant speech-recognition engine. Savant has been a leader in the use of voice control as part of the connected home by introducing the Savant Pro Remote, enabling homeowners to activate a Savant Scene, choose a favorite channel or select a source within their entertainment system. Now with the unveiling of Google Home integration, this new functionality represents the next step in voice command and gives users enhanced interaction with their Savant home.

The new Savant/Google compatibility will give consumers the ultimate smart home experience. Users can activate Savant Scenes to control any and all of their smart home features quickly and easily, adjusting entertainment, lighting, climate controls, TVs, shading and much more with a single voice command. Setup is intuitive—users can create a Savant Scene, enable the Savant Action with the Google Assistant or Google Home App and link their account. Google will discover Savant as an Action that can be easily accessed via voice command. Interfacing with Savant’s groundbreaking scene engine that captures personalized automation events, consumers can initiate, schedule, edit or delete a Savant Scene while retaining seamless Google voice functionality.  Savant’s Google interface is based upon cloud-to-cloud communication between the two services, leveraging the power of Savant’s robust, secure, redundant cloud infrastructure.

“Our objective is to deliver the best smart home experience along with leading edge innovations that bring added value for our network of integrators and their clients,” states Robert Madonna, CEO, Savant. “Working with Google and bringing their voice technology to Savant homes accomplishes both without question.”  

 


July 18

RTI, a global control and automation manufacturer for residential and commercial settings, has announced the availability of a new two-way driver for AquaLink RS swimming pool and spa automation systems from Jandy. With the new driver, developed by RTI, integrators can easily incorporate iAquaLink-connected pool equipment into RTI control and automation systems without any additional equipment or serial adapters. This allows customers to manage their backyard experience from their RTI control interfaces.

"The Jandy two-way driver makes an exciting addition to our library, allowing our dealers to integrate AquaLink pool automation into the RTI ecosystem and further unify the control experience across the home — inside and out," says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales, RTI. "For AquaLink owners, complete control over all aspects of their pools and spas is just a touch away on an RTI interface, whether they're poolside at home or halfway around the world."


July 12

Luxul, a provider of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, has announced that drivers for all major control and automation systems are now available for the company's PDU-2, PDU-8, and PDU-16 intelligent network power distribution units (PDU). The new drivers enable seamless integration of the PDUs into Control4, Crestron, RTI, Savant, and URC systems, allowing any programmable capability to include power control over connected devices.

Developed by RTI, Savant, and Luxul in partnership with Middle Atlantic Products, the drivers allow devices plugged into the PDU-2, PDU-8, and PDU-16 to be powered up or down as part of scheduled and triggered events. In addition, they provide users with convenient outlet control to power-cycle locked-up components locally using hand-held remotes, touch panels, and other controllers or remotely via control-system apps on mobile devices.

"There is a high demand for control over all home and office electronics through one unified system, and with these new drivers, integrators can easily meet this demand by seamlessly integrating our PDU-2, PDU-8, and PDU-16 into the control system of their choice," says Mike Grubb, vice president of marketing with Luxul. "Now, any programmable capability can include power-cycle control over connected components, whether it's automatically resetting an Apple TV or scheduling the satellite/cable box to power-cycle on a regular basis."


OneVision Resources, a provider of a home technology industry service platform, has launched a new program that allows manufacturers’ reps to generate recurring monthly revenue (RMR) by providing OneVision’s service platform to their dealers.

According to the company, like integrators, manufacturers’ reps struggle with decreasing margins on hardware and the challenge of building long-term, sustainable value for their customers. The company explains that since its launch, OneVision Resources has given home technology professionals the opportunity to generate RMR in a turnkey manner through the sale of premium service memberships, a process which is fully set up and managed by OneVision’s team of service experts. Now, OneVision’s new program brings the same turnkey RMR opportunity to reps. OneVision’s rep program provides a new compensation model that helps reps empower their dealers to solve the service problem, while also creating an entirely new revenue stream independent of profit margins on equipment.

Participating reps offer OneVision managed services the same way they offer products to their dealers, but continue to earn commissions each month for the service package. In addition to their current model of selling equipment, the program gives reps the opportunity to elevate the ownership experience for consumers in their local market, driving increased demand through repeat business and referrals. The program also empowers reps to help their dealers run more profitable and sustainable businesses while generating RMR for their own firms.


July 11

AirPlay 2 is now available on Sonos. The popular audio manufacturer says the addition of AirPlay 2 means the sounds from any app on iOS devices can now be streamed directly to Sonos, and this content includes music, podcasts, radio, video, audiobooks, and more. 

Explaining in greater detail, Sonos states with AirPlay 2, homeowners can play music and podcasts from iOS devices directly to Sonos speakers such as the Sonos Beam, Sonos One, Playbase, and the second generation Play:5. And, with a single supported speaker, AirPlay content can be streamed to other Sonos speakers in the system.

In Addition, those using AirPlay 2 on Sonos will also gain a new voice experience with the addition of Siri. Homeowners can ask Siri to play any track, album, or playlist on Apple Music by using an iOS device to start playing on Sonos.


Nativ has launched remote control apps for its Nativ Vita High-Resolution Music Server. The new apps give customers convenient control and playback functionality from their iOS or Android Smartphone or Tablet.

 “The Nativ Vita features an innovative User Interface, which can be accessed through its beautiful 11.6” Touchscreen or any TV with HDMI interface.” says Michael Li, CEO and co-founder of Nativ. “With the launch of our Smartphone apps you can now also browse your music from the comfort of your couch.”

The Nativ Vita Music Server can be controlled in various ways:

  • Nativ apps: Available through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The apps replicate the User Interface experience from the Nativ Vita Music Player.
  • UPnP/DLNAapps: Designed as an open system the Nativ Vita provides access to its Digital Media Renderer (DMR) and Digital Media Server (DMS). Customers can use UPnP/DLNA applications such as BubbleUPnP (Android) and 8Player (iOS) to browse and play their digital music libraries.
  • ROON Remote apps: A popular music interface among audiophiles the Vita can also be controlled through ROON’s Remote apps for Android or iOS.
  • Music streaming apps: Many popular music streaming apps such as Spotify, Tidal, Pandora or TuneIn allow direct streaming from inside their apps to Spotify Connect or Google Cast enabled devices such as the Nativ Vita Music Player.

July 10

Capitol, a national consumer electronics distribution source for residential and light commercial systems, has announced lower prices on three of Peerless-AV’s top-performing outdoor televisions.

The three models: the UV652 (65 inch), the UV552 (55 inch) and the UV492 (49 inch) are part of Peerless-AV’s UltraView UHD Outdoor TV series of all-season outdoor entertainment solutions.

“Every year, our customers install higher numbers of outdoor entertainment systems,” says Curt Hayes, president and CFO, Capitol. “A big, bright display is the heart of any high-performance outdoor theater, and none have a better reputation for performance and reliability than UltraView UHD models from Peerless-AV.”

Peerless-AV’s UltraView series is comprised of products that are specifically designed for dependability in all types of weather, and temperatures ranging from -22 degrees  to 122 degrees. Capitol says the products are engineered to provide exceptional color and video quality from any viewing angle, as well as direct sunlight readability, and DC power ports for safe storage and power for small video equipment, including consumer-grade Blu-ray players and streaming devices.


Thorens GmbH, a manufacturer of automatic and manual turntables, phono preamplifiers, tone arms and accessories, has appointed American Audio & Video (a division of JAM Industries USA, LLC) as its exclusive U.S. distributor effective July 1, 2018.

Founded in Sainte-Croix Switzerland in 1883, Thorens is said to be the world’s oldest producer of stereo electronics still in production today. After acquiring Thorens, the new company owner, Gunter Kürten is moving consumer electronics company back to the Cologne/Bonn region of Germany.

Currently Thorens' product line includes the entry level automatic TD 158, as well as the vintage-like fully automatic TD 240, and the flagship TD 550 and TD 900 Series products.

“We are very excited to partner with one of the world’s great turntable brands”, says Enzo Morelli, vice president, American Audio & Video. “We look forward to providing these wonderful products to music lovers across the country."


July 9

DISH has just launched new integration with the Google Assistant. According to the Colo.-based company, DISH is the first pay-TV provider to offer direct compatibility with the Assistant.

DISH customers with a Hopper, Hopper Duo, Joey and Wally set-top box (STB) can control their TVs hands free via any Google Assistant-enabled device. Here are some examples of what homeowners can ask the Assistant: 

  • “Turn on my Hopper”
  • “Change the channel to ESPN”
  • “Tune to channel 140"
  • “Record Game of Thrones on Hopper”
  • “Rewind 30 seconds”

The whole-house audio company Roon Labs has announced the ability to stream to all Chromecast products with its new release.

Through the latest Roon Labs release music can now be streamed to Chromecast Audio, Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max. Audio with cover art and artist photos can be streamed to Chromecast Gen 1, Gen 2, and Ultra.

With Roon users can now stream high-resolution gapless music (up to 96kHz/24-bit) and apply Roon’s DSP options, including EQ, room correction, headphone cross feed, and more.

Roon supports grouped playback on Chromecast devices via the Google Home app. Using the Google Home app, users can set up groups of Chromecast devices, which then appear as “zones” in Roon alongside other supported hardware products.

“We are excited to expand the ecosystem of audio devices that work with Roon to include all
Chromecast devices. Streaming high-resolution music to devices throughout your home has never been easier or more cost-effective," says  Enno Vandermeer, CEO of Roon Labs.

Chromecast sits alongside current Roon offerings like Sonos, Airplay, Roon Ready, and Roon Tested
products. Chromecast will be applied through a Roon update to version 1.5 build 333.


June 28

The networking manufacturer Luxul has introduced firmware update 6.2.4 for its ABR-4500 and XBR-4500 routers.

Luxul states the new firmware provides Domotz VLAN support, along with a few other improvements. 

Moreover, the company explains Domotz is a third-party control feature that enables dealers to remotely monitor and manage devices connected to their clients' networks. With Domotz integrators have the power to turn connected devices on/off, reboot, and receive alerts when devices fall offline. Save on truck rolls with the ability to manage lighting systems, control systems, IP cameras, routers, and anything else that supports web access from anywhere.


Radial Engineering has updated its website. The newly redesigned site now features several improvements to the user experience, and it provides important information content that users have come to expect and rely upon on when researching the company's products.
 
'Personas' on the Home page include: Acoustic, Electric, Bass, Keyboard, Pro Audio and Recording. Once a persona is selected, all of the applicable products are revealed. A 'quick view' of each product allows users to glean product features before choosing to dive deeper into the associated information. This will be particularly helpful for Radial dealers and media who are seeking part numbers, high-resolution images and other resources. A convenient search feature with an auto complete makes it easy to immediately find products.
 
An improved artist section features individual artist profile pages, which includes quotes, videos, photos and a list of owned Radial gear.
 


RTI, a control and automation manufacturer for residential and commercial settings, has announced a two-way driver for Luxul's PDU-8 and PDU-16 intelligent network power distribution units (PDU). Developed by RTI, the new driver allows integrators to integrate the units seamlessly into RTI automation and control systems, providing their customers with convenient outlet control, scheduling, reporting, and customization capabilities.

"Luxul is well-known for network products tailored to A/V integrators' needs, and its recently introduced intelligent PDUs are another great addition to their lineup," says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales for RTI. "This driver makes it easy to incorporate these devices as an extension of the RTI control system and provides convenient outlet control to power cycle devices on demand or even on a schedule."


June 26

One Firefly, LLC has added DirectTV to its UI University video library collection. The DirectTV library features 14 videos of custom-branded content that seamlessly guides users through the various aspects and functionality of operating the latest DirectTV interface.

”The DirectTV video library was far and away the most requested video library from our customers,” says Ron Callis, Jr., CEO of One Firefly, “This content is going to prove invaluable for all DirectTV dealers who would like to enhance their customer service and user experience post-sale."

UI University enables integrators to educate both prospects and clients using HD videos that depict how to operate their iPad or similar controlled home technology systems. Each video features the integrator’s logo prominently featured in the opening and closing sequences, while a watermark of that same logo is displayed throughout the duration of the video, creating a consistent branding opportunity.

The videos may be embedded on the integrator’s website, shared in their email marketing or posted to their social media.

“We want to make it easier for our clients to provide a better customer experience to the end-users of the technology in their homes,” remarks Callis.

The addition of DirectTV marks the eighth manufacturer to be featured in the training video series, joining Nest, Savant, Sonos, Control4, Lutron, Alarm.com and Lutron Connect.


June 25

OneVision Resources, a provider of service and support solutions for home technology professionals (HTPs), now supports OvrC remote systems management (RSM) solution. 

In today's market RSM solutions are of the most important trends in the home technology channel. The remote troubleshooting and management features provided by these solutions allow HTPs to lower support costs and an improve their client experience.

“We know that RSM is a vital part of any effective service strategy and a key component of this industry’s future so we have watched with excitement as SnapAV has continued to invest significantly in OvrC,” says Joseph Kolchinsky, CEO, OneVision.

“We are thrilled to incorporate it into our full suite of solutions and know it will play an important role in helping us transform our partners into the Technology Managers of the future.”


DTS, a developer of high-definition audio solutions, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced its DTS Play-Fi Headphones app

The new app is available on iOS and it is coming to Android in early July as a companion app to select DTS Play-Fi audio products. The free app enables users to stream content over Wi-Fi that is playing on any DTS Play-Fi-supported product to any pair of headphones connected to a phone or tablet* for a private listening experience. With DTS Play-Fi’s A/V synchronization technology, audio stays in line with the video content being played on the TV. Users enjoy the benefits of full Wi-Fi range within their home, eliminating the in-room limitations of Bluetooth solutions.

The DTS Play-Fi Headphones app will stream audio from any of the compatible inputs (HDMI, optical, etc.) on the compatible products listed below. Up to four listeners can join the audio streaming session for a private listening party without disturbing others around them. When used in conjunction with DTS Play-Fi’s new whole-home TV audio streaming feature, the app allows a user to join an ongoing TV audio multiroom session and enjoy it at a different volume for themselves, while still being part of the group.

“We are excited to announce the new DTS Play-Fi Headphones app, bringing a private listening experience to the whole-home audio ecosystem,” said Dannie Lau, general manager, DTS Play-Fi, at Xperi. “Whether it’s enjoying shared content at a higher volume, or multiple users enjoying the same content through individual headphones so they won’t disturb others, the DTS Play-Fi Headphones app delivers high quality audio and performance over Wi-Fi.”


NSCA, a not-for-profit association representing the commercial low-voltage electronic systems industry, has released updated Labor Installation Standard guidelines for 2018, providing information that systems integrators can use to accurately estimate labor units – the biggest factor impacting project profitability.

As the result of a thorough, months-long peer review by a team of experts from around the country, the new guidelines detail the amount of time it takes to complete project-related tasks, factoring in time spent on material handling, examining drawings/layouts, and equipment installation. The guidelines include labor units required for installation of specific systems, which are divided into categories like:

  • Access control
  • Cabling
  • Digital signage
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Healthcare communications
  • Security/life safety systems

For each technology system, labor units are provided in three different levels – normal, difficult, and challenging – so they can be adjusted based on project difficulty (higher ceiling heights, for example), installer experience, and/or site conditions.

The 2018 report also includes installation data on new technology platforms and systems prevalent in the market since the last report update, and adjusts labor hours for existing technology systems based on current installation methods and efficiencies. 

“Interestingly, the time it takes to install low-voltage technology systems has not necessarily improved over the years,” says Chuck Wilson, executive director, NSCA. “Even with the many labor-saving devices we use today, installation hours are the same – or, in some cases, longer. It’s important that integrators know and understand this, and use the Labor Installation Standard guidelines accordingly. Project labor estimates are vital to get right to ensure profitability.”


June 20

The CEDIA Expo has announced Design Connection, which is a program designed unite technology integrators with design and construction professionals. The new platform will feature multiple programs and networking opportunities throughout CEDIA Expo 2018, which will take place September 6-8 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Design and technology collaboration opportunities include viewing products in the Design Connection Pavilion, participation in the Design Connection Tour Series and the Bourbon and Brownies networking event.

Endorsed by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), the Design Connection Pavilion is an is an area on the show floor designed to showcase kitchen and bath brands using connected technology in their products. The 30 foot x 30 foot space is a gallery concept located in Hall C and will feature technology products specifically suited to compliment design and construction integration.

“Having an area on the show floor dedicated to technology and design integration will spark needed conversations between the two professional groups,” says Suzie Williford, NKBA’s executive vice president of industry relations & CSO. “Kitchen and bath designers are hungry for products that will move the needle on technology integration in intelligently built environments.”


Klipsch, has announced Klipsch Fest, a day-long celebration of its premium sound at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 11 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST. Punk rock legends Social Distortion will headline the Rock Hall Live! event, which includes live performances, DJ sets, demos and giveaways on the PNC Rock Hall Live! stage. Social Distortion will take the stage at 9 p.m. ET.

Klipsch Fest is free with the purchase of a general admission ticket to the Rock Hall and is on sale now at ticketing.rockhall.com.

A VIP ticket, priced at $75, includes access to an exclusive Mike Ness “Under The Influences” event on Saturday, August 11 at 3 PM. Social Distortion front man Mike Ness will discuss his career as a songwriter and musician, share stories behind some of the biggest Social Distortion songs ever written and chat about the influential vinyl releases that influenced him as an artist. VIP tickets also include Museum admission and access to premium viewing and a private cash bar during the concert.

Klipsch partners with the Rock Hall to preserve and celebrate the live music experience. Klipsch is the presenting sponsor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Museum in Cleveland features the world’s largest installation of Klipsch professional and commercial loudspeakers and headphones. New exhibits such as the Power of Rock Experience, a redesigned outdoor plaza, and an interactive outdoor sound experience boast Klipsch speakers. The Klipsch Audio Stage, inside the Rock Hall, continues to host some of the most buzzed about bands in the world in addition to hundreds of performances each year.


June 19

Philips TV and the British audio engineering company Bowers & Wilkins have agreed a new multi-year exclusive partnership to create products that "set new reference visual and audio performance standards in the TV market."  

The new partnership will combine the technologies and expertise of the two companies and will uniquely share the internal engineering resources that have allowed each to design and develop a long series of respective products.

Our new partnership with Philips TV presents a fantastic opportunity to help redefine the parameters of sound quality & performance on a TV," says Richard Campbell, chief revenue officer, Bowers & Wilkins. "The superb new Philips TVs will introduce our well-known audio performance to a new consumer audience who will be able to enjoy first-hand, the incredible experience only we can provide, ‘Sound by Bowers and Wilkins." 


Elite Distributor Alliance (EDA), a leading U.S. 12-V distributor has signed


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