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Surprising New Trend in Security and Home Automation: Adding Multiroom Audio

Alarm.com, Honeywell and start-up Huny show whole-house audio integrated with security and home automation – a first for the alarm industry with potential to lure in traditional A/V dealers.

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The security industry for years has embraced home automation as an attachment to traditional alarm panels. But the industry in general has ignored multiroom audio, which doesn’t quite fit into the RMR (recurring monthly revenue) business model that drives the industry.

Surprisingly, at ISC West 2017 this week in Las Vegas, we saw a new theme emerge: the integration of security, IoT and audio.

Purveyors of the new solutions don’t necessarily believe dealers can increase RMR through the integration of audio; however, they seemed to agree that such integration would create stickier customers for their recurring services … while adding some revenue through hardware sales.

Furthermore, adding audio to security could entice traditional A/V dealers to explore new opportunities in the alarm business.

Alarm.com Integrates with Legrand Digital Audio

Brand new to multiroom audio is Alarm.com (Nasdaq: ALRM). At ISC West 2017, the SHaaS (smart home as a service) provider showed integration with Legrand’s OnQ Digital Audio System, a hardwired solution popular with production homebuilders.

“It’s the first and only audio product in the Alarm.com ecosystem,” says Bob Fallert, VP sales for Legrand’s OnQ and NuVo Technologies brands.

Legrand's OnQ Digital Audio System integrated with Alarm.com 

Through Alarm.com’s cloud service, traditional security panels could be used to control multiroom audio systems.

In addition, music could be incorporated into smart-home scenes, which might be activated by a motion sensor, time of day, geo-fencing, button press, voice command or any other trigger.

Previously, a home scene programmed through Alarm.com might disarm the security system and turn on some lights. Now it can also stream some Paul Simon to select rooms.

OnQ is Legrand’s first audio brand supported by Alarm.com; however, Fallert tells CE Pro that eventually Alarm.com will also integrate with NuVo, which offers richer streaming capabilities as well as wireless music distribution.

Integrating with NuVo could attract traditional A/V dealers to Alarm.com’s security and automation platform, providing RMR opportunities to a sector that generally struggles with it.

Start-up Huny Uses Audio as Foundation

And then there’s Huny, a start-up that counts audio as a fundamental component of its security and home-automation system.

“You don’t engage with security or thermostats much. We wanted to add entertainment to increase the engagement.”

— Chad Rasmussen, Huny

The company wants to “bridge the gap” between the two silos, according to founder Chad Rasmussen.

“You don’t engage with security or thermostats much,” he says. “We wanted to add entertainment to increase the engagement.”

Rasmussen should know. He spent many years with Utah-based alarm companies that sell door-to-door, so he understands a few things about RMR. One of the big ones is that you lose customers if they don’t routinely interact with their systems.

Since audio can be one of the most interactive elements of a smart-home solution, he thinks the category could bring stickier customers to alarm dealers.

Huny started life as Hive Connected in 2014, but the company regrouped and plans to launch Huny this year.

The system includes a Z-Wave hub, along with multifunction pods that would be installed throughout the house. They serve as native Amazon Alexa mics for voice control; loudspeakers for music and system feedback; “listening” and repeating devices for fire alarms; and sensors for glass break, presence and temperature.

There are other components to Huny including screw-in speakers/smart bulbs, a subwoofer, IFTTT integration and of course an app.

Honeywell Adopts Denon Heos

At ISC, Honeywell showcased its Tuxedo and Vista alarm panels integrated with Denon Heos, the wireless audio protocol found in a growing number of loudspeakers and other A/V gear.

From the home page of a Honeywell smart-home interface, users can change the volume or mute the audio. They can also pull up rich metadata including cover art with the press of a button.

Heos integration was announced at ISC 2016 and demonstrated again at the 2017 show in April.

Honeywell alarm panels integrated with Denon Heos mulitroom audio.

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