Q&A: Pete Baker, RTI VP of Sales & Marketing

Baker talks RTiPanel app, new two-way drivers for Alloysoft's Signal software and Squeezebox integration, and other dealer-centric initiatives.

Pete Baker, RTI's VP of sales and marketing, says RTI views the iPad as an added benefit to a primary control system, not as a replacement for a dedicated panel in the home.
CE Pro Editors · November 11, 2010

At CEDIA Expo 2010, Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) showed how much it has embraced Apple‘s products. It demonstrated how it’s integrating these products’ control and entertainment capabilities into its current and future products.

After the show, VP of sales & marketing Pete Baker talked with CE Pro senior editor Robert Archer about its RTiPanel app, new two-way drivers for Alloysoft’s Signal software and Squeezebox integration, and other dealer-centric initiatives.

What product were you most excited to show at CEDIA Expo?
We were most excited to introduce RTI’s distributed audio solutions and to showcase our new RTiDock. The device provides a number of benefits that you won’t find on other iPod docks, such as the ability to sync with iTunes over the network through Virtual Sync technology, which means users don’t need to undock their devices and connect them to their PCs to sync their libraries. The sync process occurs over the homeowner’s WiFi network.

We have also designed the RTiDock to be rack-mountable or standalone, and its component video output allows for navigation through any video display device with full support from an onscreen graphical user interface (GUI).

Can you explain RTI’s online app store?
Although not really an online app store type environment, it’s a path for dealers to create their own two-way drivers for the integration of third-party devices with RTI’s control solutions.

On our website, dealers complete an online application process to request access to our software development kit (SDK), which gives them the ability to design the drivers. They can receive support through a development community on the RTI Integration Zone Forum, and also share drivers if they so choose.

What does RTI’s AD-8 bring to the market that other products don’t?
RTI offers a broad range of in-wall controllers. In fact, we have more in-wall controllers now than handhelds. Taking that into account, it was a natural progression to develop audio products to complement our in-wall portfolio.

We wanted to develop an entry-level, four-zone product (AD-4) and an expanded eight-zone solution (AD-8) for larger installations. The AD-8 is very straightforward, but offers excellent music quality with its built-in Cool Power class D amplifier and bass and treble control for each zone. And it offers all this at $1,799.

How has the iPad contributed to RTI’s upcoming two-way iPod/iPhone dock?
Our RTiDock is an extremely important product for us. The iPod is the hottest audio source component since the CD player and it is essential to provide our dealers with proper support for it. Furthermore, the feature set of the RTiDock really helps set it apart in the market as an iPod accessory for professionally installed distributed audio systems.

The iPad is also a wildly popular product and more consumers are incorporating it into their lifestyles. We have embraced this device with our RTiPanel app and other solutions, and we will continue to offer integration for this and other Apple products in the future. We do, however, view the iPad as an added benefit to the primary control system and interfaces, and not as a replacement for a dedicated panel in the home.

We take this view for a number of reasons: First, the iPad is primarily used for games, reading, web surfing, etc.; therefore it can easily wander off and not be readily available and convenient for use as a controller when needed. In addition, it does not have the physical design of a professional control device, such as hard buttons for tactile control. As a controller, the power of the iPad lies in giving consumers remote access to their electronic systems from a mobile device and we are pleased that our customers can take advantage of this feature.

When will the ST-7 touchpanel ship? What specifications can you provide?
The ST-7 is sexy and elegant with stunning graphics on its 7-inch widescreen LCD display and a trackball for navigation.

For installers, the ST-7’s dual RF technology allows both 2.4-GHz ZigBee for powerful two-way communication and 433MHz for one-way control applications.

Finally, it has optional premium docks for wireless, tabletop or in-wall configurations. With all these features, the ST-7 is an extremely sophisticated controller, which has presented some delays along the way. However, development is in its final stages and we expect to be shipping by the end of the year or shortly thereafter.

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