Product Briefs

January 15, 2021 · Stardraw Hits Milestones

 Stardraw.com has achieved two significant milestones during the 20th anniversary year of its incorporation: first, in 2020, for the first time in the company’s history, more than 250,000 user sessions for Stardraw Design 7 were logged. Secondly, as a result of new processes and practices introduced in 2019 to streamline the Product Request Service, the queue of approved Product Requests was reduced to zero for the first time ever.

“While we may not have felt like celebrating our 20th anniversary and, like so many others, our business has been impacted by the pandemic, we’re thrilled to have achieved two landmark milestones during what was inevitably a difficult year,” says Stardraw CEO, Rob Robinson.

“A ‘user session’ is defined as someone starting and successfully logging into the Stardraw Design 7.3 application. Since Cloud-based licensing was introduced in 2014, we’ve seen steady and constant growth in session counts each year, but to surpass the quarter-million milestone is remarkable. It’s possible of course that this is partially due to many of our users being unable to get to offices, workshops or jobsites as normal, and therefore found themselves with more time in front of a computer. Whatever the case, we’re proud to have helped our users remain productive and a big thank you goes to our loyal user-base.”

The second milestone concerns Stardraw.com’s Product Request Service which enables users to request the product symbols they’d like to see included in Stardraw.com’s symbols library. Nearly 120,000 symbols from 1,130 manufacturers currently comprise the largest, high-quality line-art library available to the professional AV industry from a single source.

At the end of 2019, Stardraw.com implemented a number of measures aimed at streamlining the Product Request Service in an effort to democratize the process and reduce unnecessary backlog. These measures have proved extremely effective with the result that in August 2020, for the very first time, the queue of approved Product Requests was reduced to zero.

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January 14, 2021 · Samsung SmartThings partners with Google

Samsung SmartThings, a global smart home automation brand, has announced a partnership with Google, bringing the company’s portfolio of Nest products into SmartThings, one of the largest IoT ecosystems.

Through the integration, Google Nest devices, including thermostats, cameras and doorbells, will be “Works With SmartThings” (WWST) certified, allowing users to seamlessly control their smart homes through SmartThings. 

For the first time, SmartThings users will be able to adjust a Nest thermostat, view live camera feeds from outdoor Nest cameras and hear who is at the door with Nest Hello, all through their smart devices.  SmartThings users can also incorporate Nest devices into their current WWST-certified devices to create Scenes and automated experiences, controlling the functions with simple voice commands or through the SmartThings app. Soon, users will be able to stream right from their Nest devices directly to their Samsung TV or Family Hub fridge.  

SmartThings technology powers a range of activities. Scenes can seamlessly adjust the lighting. Automations can signal to a Nest thermostat when it’s time to adjust the temperature or if a window is open. It can set the optimal temperature for a baby’s nap or even a home alone pet, taking into consideration details such as its fur length. Users can also activate outdoor and indoor lights ahead of arriving home.

“SmartThings technology continues to enhance and improve the way we experience smart living. We’re pleased to further strengthen our partnership with Google and integrate Nest into our portfolio to offer users more ways to control and automate their home,” says Ralf Elias, global vice president IOT/ business development & partnerships at Samsung Electronics.

“We are committed to creating a universal system where all smart home devices can work cohesively together.”

Following the recent SmartThings IoT integration with Mercedes-Benz, this partnership with Google represents the next step in SmartThings’ commitment to technology innovation and to working with third parties to create a universal smart home standard. The company is focused on simplifying smart technology development for manufacturers and increasing compatibility for consumers.

SmartThings is an open platform that brings together devices, developers, and services to offer one of the largest integrated ecosystems. With more than 180 certified brands and more than 63 million active users on the platform, SmartThings facilitates innovations in connected living across multiple use cases.

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January 13, 2021 · Leviton Launches 2nd-Generation B2B Portal

Leviton has announced the availability of its second generation eBusiness platform: the Leviton B2B portal. The new online ordering system is designed with several enhanced features to simplify the critical needs of distributor procurement and sales professionals around the world. 

“We are proud to introduce the next-generation eBusiness platform that further enables the productivity of Leviton employees and partners globally,” says Daryoush Larizadeh, president and chief operating officer of Leviton.

“Led by Leviton’s chief technology officer, Scott Hunter, and his team, Leviton’s second-generation system is designed to put the customer first, hitting the mark as a high-performance partner portal.”

When designing the improved platform, Leviton asserts it took into account many customer-requested features and needs to ensure it was truly a valuable tool for the partner community. 

  • Simplified Interface: The Leviton B2B system is intuitive and simple to use, helping to ensure that users can quickly find the information they need when and where they want it. 
  • Streamlined Ordering + Customer Support: The system not only simplifies all facets of quoting, ordering, and returns, but it also serves as a support system by providing real-time inventory access, product details and a customer sharing functionality.  
  • Archived Order History: Customers can search their order history for specific details and for convenient reordering, including updates on pricing and availability at the time of the reorder.

“Whether they are reviewing pricing and availability or tracking and placing orders, Leviton’s distribution partners are able to move faster and more efficiently than ever before through the new Leviton B2B partner portal,” adds Randy Mortensen, senior vice president of global distribution sales and marketing at Leviton.

“The system was developed with our distribution partners’ operational needs in mind, so doing business with Leviton has never been easier.”

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January 13, 2021 · Kanopy Study Finds COVID-19 Fuels Streaming Video Explosion

In what may be the most unsurprising study released following 2020, newly announced data from Kanopy finds that streaming video usage increased significantly because of the coronavirus.

Polling more than 730 librarians, Kanopy’s research found people streamed video for a variety of reasons, and this trend is expected to continue through 2023 as consumers shift their preferences from physical media to streaming content. 

“During the pandemic we experience a sharp spike in streaming video usage and this increase has continued even though we reopened for in-person service over the summer,” comments Kay Cahill, director, collections & technology, Vancouver Public Library. 

“We saw a strong appetite for educational streaming video content in 2020 and a significant increase in recreational and educational use.”

Kanopy is a company that partners with libraries and filmmakers to give users free access to films. Content from these filmmakers includes movies from A23, Criterion Collection, Paramount, PBS and Kino Lorber.

The company has an app that is available to Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple iOS and Android platform users. 

Moving into the new year survey participant Marco Daniels, a library associate with Oak Bluffs Public Library, Oak Bluffs, MA, notes this shift in media consumption will continue for the foreseeable future. 

“Our FY20 [fiscal year 2020] streaming budget saw a significant increase due to closure from the pandemic,” adds Daniels. 

“We expect to continue this trend in FY21 [fiscal year 2021], but it is important to note the increase in our streaming budget comes from the decrease in our DVD budget.”

Other Findings from the Kanopy Streaming Video Study

  • More than 47% of the study’s participants stated their video budgets will increase in 2021, and over 71% stated an increase over the next three years. 
  • Another 9% of study participants said their DVD budgets will increase in 2021, and another 15% said their DVD budgets will increase over the next three years. 
  • Approximately 55% of public libraries offer multiple streaming services. Training patrons to use these platforms is a challenge. 

To see the entire study click here.

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January 13, 2021 · Smart Sleep Company Bryte Receives $24 Million in Funding

Bryte, a manufacturer of AI-powered restorative sleep technology, has announced $24 million in Series A funding led by ARCHina Capital.

The smart-sleep company has also added ARCHina’s Co-Founder Amy Huang to the board. Huang is best known for investments in Luminar (LAZR), the platform leading the autonomous vehicle industry, and Carbon, the 3D printing platform transforming the smart manufacturing industry.  Additional investors include John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe and Dave Mooring, former President of Rambus.

Bryte, best known for its robotics-powered bed, recently launched its platform to license its patented restorative sleep technology as a turnkey solution to accelerate widespread adoption across mattress manufacturers at scale. Bryte is now engaged with multiple global mattress manufacturers, and funding will go towards R&D and expansion across markets and price points.  

“We believe that the Bryte platform will accelerate the restorative sleep tech revolution for the entire $432 billion sleep industry, much as Luminar is accelerating autonomous driving adoption across automakers and Carbon is accelerating mass customization in the manufacturing industry,” says Huang. 

“Bryte is poised to become the Android of sleep.”

The Bryte team, led by CEO Ely Tsern PhD, is comprised of leaders in licensing, AI, software, robotics, and sleep science.  Its sleep advisory board includes doctors from Stanford University and is led by Bryte’s Lead Sleep Science Advisor, Dr. Matthew Walker, Founder and Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Human Sleep Science, and best-selling author of “Why We Sleep.” 

According to Bryte, its in-bed technology measures, learns, tests, and applies what each sleeper needs to optimize their restorative sleep through real-time control of temperature, pressure points, and room environment. The success of Bryte’s flagship product—The Restorative Bed demonstrates the capability of the platform to improve restorative sleep by increasing total sleep time, improving sleep efficiency (reducing night-time wake events) and optimizing the balance of Light, Deep and REM sleep for each individual sleeper. 

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Sonos Battery Replacement Kit

January 12, 2021 · Sonos Offers Sonos Move Battery Replacement Kit

Sonos is introduce a battery replacement kit for Sonos Move. This soon-to-be-available option offers integrators an easy way to install a new battery to support their clients’ use of the speaker after years of extended use.

According to Sonos, its first battery-powered smart speaker continues to be a customer favorite for its sound and versatility whether it is used indoors, outdoors, or on the go. Sonos points out the Move speaker provides up to 11 hours of uninterrupted playback on a single charge. 

While the lifetime of Move’s battery will vary based on usage, customers can expect their battery to last around three years or 900 charges. The new replacement battery kit was designed so customers can continue to enjoy extended battery life for their speaker even after years of use, without needing to replace the speaker altogether. 

The replacement battery kit comes with everything needed for easy installation, including the new battery, tools, and replacement screws. Customers can purchase the replacement battery kit in Lunar White or Shadow Black on Sonos.com for $69.

Sonos Offers Spanish Language Content

In addition to its new battery replacement kit, Sonos has also announced that users will be able to listen to more than 6,000 hours of programs and podcasts available through Convoy Network, the largest independent platform for Spanish-language audio content in Latin America, beginning January 12, 2021.

To celebrate the partnership, Convoy Network has made its entire range of content, including the popular Tristekorno, Poderoso, and Olallo Rubio Podcast, available for free to Sonos users worldwide for a limited time. To listen, simply add the Convoy Network service to the Sonos app.

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January 8, 2021 · D-Tools Releases System Integrator (SI) Software Version 15

D-Tools, Inc. recently announced the availability of System Integrator version 15, which includes powerful new capabilities for its end-to-end, estimation, design, installation and service management software solution. 

“This latest release of SI allows system contractors to accurately estimate and bid large, enterprise-scale commercial projects in a fraction of the time,” says Randy Stearns, CEO of D-Tools. “This new functionality is in direct response to customer requests. We are pleased to be able to help our customers kick off the new year with a tool that enables them to win more six and seven-figure projects.”

The latest release, SI version 15, provides new performance-enhancing capabilities that include:

  • Solutions – A combination of products and multiple packages can now be created to present in a solutions-based sales approach. Often referred to as “room types”, integrators can go beyond packages, which enables significantly faster estimation and a better presentation to the client for medium to large-scale projects;
  • Mass Update function added in the SI Project Explorer facilitates changes across projects;
  • New Project Wizard settings allow users to set required fields, helping enforce standardization;
  • Custom fields for products and projects can be re-ordered and filtered to only show fields in use, reducing clutter and possibility of error; 
  • Twenty additional list-type custom fields are available in projects for greater flexibility;
  • Ability for multiple purchase orders, tasks, service orders, and service plans to be open for editing at one time enables users to work more efficiently;
  • Improved color-coding capabilities for owner furnished equipment (OFE) and non-billable items throughout the SI interface, enabling users to quickly identify these items;
  • Additional product identification in Mobile Install, including OFE and non-billable products, improves efficiency for field technicians;
  • Task and Service Order reports now have options to display actual resource hours and/or timesheets from Mobile Install for more accurate project reporting;
  • Re-designed ribbons improve the user experience throughout the application;

Today, D-Tools says more than 7,000 residential, commercial, and security system integration companies in over 90 countries use System Integrator to improve operating efficiencies by streamlining the entire project workflow – from estimating and proposals, through system design and documentation, procurement, project management, installation, and on-going service

To share details of its latest major release, D-Tools will be hosting a free, “What’s New in System Integrator v15” webinar taking place Wednesday, January 13, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Pacific. Those interested in experiencing live demonstrations of SI v15 and the Q&A session to follow are invited to register here.

McIntosh Jeep

January 7, 2021 · Jeep Upgrades Audio Systems with McIntosh

The new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee, now with three rows of seating, will debut with the auto industry’s only sound system made by McIntosh Laboratory.

Available first in the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, the MX950 McIntosh Entertainment System is available in Overland and Summit models and comes standard when equipped with the Summit Reserve Package.

“We understand that customers don’t just want great sound,” says Charlie Randall, president of McIntosh Laboratory, Inc

“They want to get a full sensory experience.  And that’s why it was so important that we left no stone unturned to deliver a true McIntosh Entertainment System for the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. We’re thrilled to bring our brand to a whole new group of people who may never have experienced McIntosh before.”

The collaboration between McIntosh and the Jeep brand has been a match made in America McIntosh emphasizes. The Jeep brand understands McIntosh’s goal is to carry its high standards for sound into vehicles in an authentic way. That said, this partnership didn’t happen overnight. 

According to McIntosh, work on the MX950 Entertainment System for the Jeep Grand Cherokee began four years ago when engineers from both organizations collaborated on the Grand Wagoneer concept vehicle revealed this past September.  Now with the Jeep Grand Cherokee L McIntosh continues, customers will soon be able to experience what it is like having a McIntosh Entertainment System with them on-the-go.  It is sure to be “Legendary Performance in Motion.”

The MX950 McIntosh Entertainment System boasts 19 speakers in 12 optimal locations to deliver precision sound through every inch of the vehicle and a 17-channel amplifier delivers up to 950 watts of power. The system has LD/HP speaker design to lower distortion and McIntosh Power Guard for clarity even at very high-volume levels.

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January 7, 2021 · ClearOne now Available from ADI Global Distribution

Strengthening its commitment to make its entire line of professional audio, video, collaboration and AV Networking solutions available to the widest possible customer base, ClearOne, a global provider of audio and visual communications solutions, has announced the appointment of ADI Global Distribution to serve as a distribution partner in the United States.

“The United States market for professional grade audio, video and collaboration solutions is growing and expanding at a dramatic rate,” states Zee Hakimoglu, chair and CEO, ClearOne.  

“Professionals in all fields are adjusting to the permanent reality of a distributed/hybrid work and learning environment and they are demanding the tools that will put them in the best possible light when communicating and collaborating with their peers.  ADI has the deep reach across all verticals to help us present our solutions to the largest possible audience of corporations and professionals.”

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HDR10+ ADAPTIVE

January 5, 2021 · HDR10+ Consortium Announces HDR10+ ADAPTIVE Feature

HDR10+ Technologies, LLC, a consortium led by Panasonic Corporation and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., has announced the specifications for a new feature called HDR10+ ADAPTIVE, which has been specifically designed to optimize HDR10+ content for a more consistent viewing experience in various environments.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) reference material is typically produced in dark rooms at mastering houses or production studios, while content viewing conditions at home range from well-lit family rooms to totally dark home theatres. As a result, ambient and stray light can affect the amount of image detail and contrast the human eye perceives.

HDR10+ ADAPTIVE using HDR10+ dynamic metadata, in conjunction with real-time ambient light information, allows compatible displays to automatically optimize brightness levels, on a scene-by-scene basis, to insure that the creator’s intent is fully realized, under a variety of viewing conditions. It is expected that televisions with HDR10+ ADAPTIVE capability will be introduced this year by companies like Panasonic, Samsung and others.

The consortium emphasizes that HDR10+is built upon the HDR10 profile—the defacto standard for HDR technology across the industry. During the past year, the use of advanced HDR10+ has grown exponentially, enabling more consumers than ever to enjoy a premium HDR viewing experience. A number of companies have recently released products that support HDR10+. Some of those companies include:

  • Qualcomm, who announced that its latest flagship smartphone processor (SnapdragonTM 888) now incorporates HDR10+ as part of its 5G Mobile Platform.
  • Realtek Semiconductor Corporation also debuted a series of HDR10+ compatible SOC’s (System On Chips), for use in 4K UHD set-top boxes from Android TV and RDK.
  • Denon and Marantz have introduced 13 HDR10+ compatible AV receivers to date, which provide state-of-the-art home theater performance to discerning consumers around the world.
  • In addition, a number of Blu-ray Discs are available that utilize HDR10+ technology, including the Academy Award winning Best Picture “Parasite,” which is distributed by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
  • HDR10+ content distribution has also increased globally, thanks to launches by Magenta TV in Germany and Watcha in Korea, which now deliver HDR10+ programming in their respective regions.

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