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The Art of Technology
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Working with a pro ensures the best design, reliability, performance and service for your home technology systems
With the myriad innovative smart home technology devices on the market today, how do you know which is best…and which is the best for you? Smart locks and security devices are wonderful to have, but they’re much more valuable if they’re integrated into your home’s control system. Lighting control, motorized window shades and automated garage control are not only convenient, but also a great way to mimic that someone is home while you’re away…particularly if you can access them remotely. So, of all the must-have technologies out there, how do you determine the right solution for you – for now, for tomorrow and beyond?
Tech “Talk”, tools and know-how
Your devices and systems need to talk to one another, and we speak their language. As a CEDIA Professional and Technologist, we have an extensive depth and breadth of knowledge in home technologies and stay current on emerging trends. We know what’s available and, based on your needs and desires, can design a system that will work seamlessly together and be easily controlled. We’ll make sure you’ve got the infrastructure to support it (all those connected devices will be competing for bandwidth!) and that we’ve taken future demands into consideration.
Connected, compatible & scalable
What makes a smart home so smart? It’s a system that works together. It’s an orchestration of elegant, convenient features that control music and lighting throughout your home, secure your entryways, control your climate, access your water features and pool pump, watch over your wine collection, close your shades and light up the fireplace. It’s a scalable system that anticipates growth and an increasing number of devices on your internet of things. It’s a maintenance plan that offers peace of mind. It’s an everyday luxury that puts safety, comfort and entertainment at your fingertips.
Leave the worry and wondering up to us. Give us a call and let’s work together to discover the right solution for you.
It’s a basic expectation really. You want to walk into a meeting room, easily connect your laptop, and make a presentation. And you can. Your conference room or huddle room system can be a simple plug-and-present; a wireless solution or one that is controlled by your smartphone. But, like all good designs, great outcomes depend on great input. While any of those solutions may be an effective presentation system, if it doesn’t suit the needs of the user, it will fall short of expectation. An effective presentation system is not as much about the technology as it is the user experience. A few simple questions will uncover the right solution for you and your team.
Define and Design
The first step in designing a system is to define the desired user experience for all users. The right solution will depend on:
- Who will be using the system? Will it be a defined group or will the room be open to visitors or personnel from other offices?
- What is their experience level?
- What are your company’s workflows?
- Are you wanting teleconferencing, video conferencing, content sharing, whiteboarding?
- Is there a company standard such as Skype for Business?
- What is the desired interface? Minimal interaction, single-button press or plug-n-play? Do you want to avoid the use of small, uninstalled units such as a hand-held remote control that may disappear in a huddle room?
- Will users be mobile – on smart phones or tablets? And how many connections are anticipated?
- Do you want the system to detect user mobile phones, syncing the system based on the room’s scheduled calendar event?
- Are you wanting to create a standardized solution that will be replicated across the enterprise?
Let’s Be Clear
In this era of rapidly evolving technologies, new acronyms and terminologies abound. VC, VTC, VMR and UC, for example, can mean a variety of things depending on who you’re talking to. One person’s definition of video conferencing may mean a traditional conference room setting with dual-screen monitors and sophisticated cameras that track movement, displaying far side participants as well as shared content. Another may be imagining a video call in the cloud with a completely remote or mobile staff. Collaboration is another term that requires a clear definition. To some it means simple screen sharing via Webex or Go-to-Meeting while others imagine a fully interactive experience that allows wireless sharing of multiple PCs or collaborative whiteboarding.
Wired, Wireless and your IT Department
Wireless presentations from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone (Bring Your Own Device) can offer seamless, convenient connectivity to the shared display, but not all IT departments allow this accessibility due to network security. Several solutions on the market today offer point-to-point connectivity, enabling connectivity via a self-contained Wi-Fi without being on your network. Some companies require heightened security measures, restricting wireless and providing only a secure wired solution.
Designed to Scale
Your communications, conferencing and presentation systems are a strategy, not a trend. Be sure your system is based on your needs and desired outcomes and not the latest solution offering by a particular manufacturer. It should take into account your potential for future needs and growth and provide the required scalability. As you add spaces and staff, standardizing on a solution that can be replicated throughout the building or across the campus is a clear cost advantage. Not only will it save in design and installation costs, but users will be more likely to adopt and use the technology in the room if they are already familiar with it. Savings are also realized on employee training.
Scalability needs to support technology needs as well. A well thought out strategy and design will provide IT infrastructure to support growth over the next 5 years or more. Network and data requirements, multiple VLANs and robust Wi-Fi can be implemented now, along with conduit and pre-wire for future expansion.
The solution drives the best possible outcome. Partner with an AV/IT professional to create huddle spaces, meeting rooms and board rooms that are efficient, effective and impactful, for your users and for your bottom line.
PC Magazine’s “The Best Video Conferencing Software of 2017”
I’m often asked, what is it, exactly, that you do”? In some professions, that’s an easy, straightforward answer. For me, well, maybe it’s not so easy. Remember the iconic mid-century “What’s My Line”? How many clues would it take to uncover my role? It might be easier to say what I’m not.
I am CEDIA. As a CEDIA Pro, I’m an Electronics Systems Contractor. Others may refer to me as a Technologies Systems Integrator. I have some specialties such as a Home Theater Designer. And some call me a Residential Systems Integration Firm. Hollywood gives me a bad rap (White House Down , the bad guys pose as AV Installers!) Wow, that’s really not what I do! For what I do, there’s rarely a drop-down selection that comes close because what I do is deliver the life you’ve dreamed of. Really.
I integrate your home’s systems to perfectly operate as one – your climate, audio, video, security, lighting, shading…it’s automated, to your comfort and for your enjoyment. My team and I masterfully make the system work as one – that’s the secret to simplifying everything on your end. Easy, simple, elegant.
As a CEDIA pro, I believe life is best lived at home, simply. And that’s who I am. I craft the personal home experience that delivers the life you’ve dreamed of for yourself and your family. A life lived best at home. So, what do I do? I make the complicated simple. I put the lights on and open the shades. Yes, I do windows. More importantly, I let you know when the kids are home, and I keep you comfortable and entertained.
How do I do it? I listen. If you asked an architect to design a house, what would it look like? What would it be made of, how many rooms would it have, do you want a big kitchen? They’d start with a few questions: tell me about your style, your kids, what you enjoy doing together, do you enjoy cooking? The same holds true for the technologies inside. They complement your lifestyle and make your house your home. And that’s what I do. I am CEDIA and I’m listening.
While we learned that going big with your screen allows for a phenomenal 4K viewing experience, it can only be truly taken in from the proper distance…and there IS a science to it! Let’s consult Wikipedia for the concise, scientific answer. “Optimum HDTV viewing distance is the distance that provides the viewer with the optimum immersive visual HDTV experience. Although opinions vary on the exact screen size to distance relationship, formal research and recommendations suggest closer is preferred to farther, to provide a more immersive experience. How close? ‘As close as you can stand it’. Hmmm, not very scientific…but, it’s not exactly wrong either.
As with any viewed screen, flat panel or projection screen, residential or commercial, we consider content, viewing distance and viewing angles. With HDTV, we understand that the increase in pixels means more details and, hence, a sharper image. Increasing the size of the screen means more details and overall better picture but….only if the increase does not exceed the visual capabilities of the observer. Yes, there really can be too much of a good thing! A key component to the equation is the angular resolution, your eye’s ability to distinguish small details. As explained in How to Calculate the Optimal TV Screen Size Based on Resolution and Distance, “everyone loses the ability to distinguish fine details once they’re a certain distance from the screen, and everyone can see individual pixels if they get too close.” Here are the calculations as shared on tekrevue but, bear in mind, as stated so eloquently by Hector Barbossa, “the code is more like guidelines than actual rules.” Argh! Just call us.
Welcome (almost) spring! Time to store the sweaters, uncover the mower and throw open the windows. And, well…maybe it’s time to update the window coverings. Time to consider integrating motorized shades or drapes?
Automated shades are offered in a stunning array of colors, textures and weaves. They can either block out light (excellent for home theaters or sleeping in on a Saturday morning!) or lightly filter sunlight, allowing for pleasant, unobstructed views free from harsh glare. They come in honeycomb….they can cover skylights and custom sunroom windows and even come in battery operated versions to cover doors. Window shades can be controlled from remotes or incorporated into an automated home’s system and controlled via any touchpanel or control device. As your integrator, we can walk you through your options and, if you’re working with a designer, we’re happy to work together!
Bonus, they offer great heat and UV blocking, saving you money on cooling costs and protecting your upholstery from fading. They’re convenient with one touch programming control of scenes that can control individual window coverings or the whole house. And, for added security, just like you do with your lights, you can control your shades to open and close while you’re away, even remotely!
Enjoy outdoor living at its finest when you combine the conveniences of your home’s interior with the warmth and openness of your home’s patio or deck. Your outdoor grill or pool area can become a welcoming extension of your living room. Just add music!
Technologies for outdoor living have quickly evolved in recent years. All-weather LCDs are now thin and sleek, offering extensive mounting options with excellent viewing angles and anti-glare features. They are rated for grueling weather conditions and will offer years of enjoyment, displaying everything from gruesome thrillers for your teens’ parties to game-day excitement with your friends and sappy romantic comedies for you and your “better-half” around the fire pit on date night.
And don’t forget the background music. Well-placed weather-resistant speakers will provide music without blaring. And for extensive yards, meandering gardens or even boat docks, additional ornamental speakers can provide music evenly throughout. Audio comes disguised in varies forms from the well-known rock and mushroom styles to attractive planters and spotlight styles.
Now is the time to start planning! Maximize your outdoor living this summer. Put down those hedge trimmers and let’s get started!
Alexa, open the shades. Alexa, play music. Alexa, ask fitbit what my resting heart rate is. Ahhhhh.
How smart is your smarthome? Can it order a pizza? If Alexa were your virtual assistant it could! Now THAT’s a SMARTHOME! Alexa lives in the cloud and is automatically updated. She comes with Echo, a far-field enabled device that activates upon hearing a “wake word”. Echo also happens to be a 360° omni-directional speaker. Ok, it’s not whole-house audiophile quality, but it’s a pretty cool way to stream your favorites through a portable device.
So why do we, a systems integrator, love it? We love simplified solutions and Alexa makes control of your home’s systems even easier. She’s compatible with your Crestron home automation system, with Lutron Shades and more. And while all that is convenient, there’s a key life-safety feature not to be ignored. Imagine the peace of mind of having Alexa for those “aging in place” with limited mobility. Voice-activated technology can restore freedom and grant a measure of security.
Alexa, close the shades. Alexa, what’s my heart rate now?
4K, HDR, 3D…There are a lot of choices out there that offer stunning imagery, so how do you know which is the “best” and which one is right for you? There’s more to it than pixels alone!
8,294,400, to be exact.
We’ve heard that 4K is the ultimate in pixel count, but what does that mean to the viewer? More pixels filling the screen means more details, which means a sharper, crisper picture. Imagine 4 times the resolution of full 1080p – over 8 million pixels! That’s a lot of detail!
Ok, but we learned when HD was introduced that the capabilities of the unit didn’t matter if the content wasn’t HD, right? Correct, so let’s fast-forward to 2016’s Super Bowl 50, broadcast in, wait for it…you guessed it, 4K! Now, let’s jet to a rooftop in NYC where Marvel’s Iron Fist is being filmed, one of the first Netflix shows to debut in 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR has taken us beyond Ultra High Definition (UHD) and 4K alone. HDR factors color, contrast, brightness and resolution to produce an uncompromising high dynamic range performance. It seems as though the tides have turned and content is now setting the pace. While not exactly the new “norm” just yet, 4K content is out there, even through some streaming services and, most definitely, gaming. For a terrific breakdown, check out 4K TV: Everything you Need to Know.
So, what do you need to consider when selecting one of these amazing pieces of technology? First is size. In order to fully realize the exceptional difference, the viewing canvas needs to be worthy of the content. Those pixels are meant to be seen so, Go Big! Seriously, we’re talking 65”, 70”, 85”. At that size, the difference between HD & 4K is stunning! And while we’re still working through black levels and lost details in bright areas, audio is often overlooked. An upgraded sound system can help integrate your various home theater components while maximizing your overall experience.
Not Your Father’s Rabbit Ears
These sleek, ultrathin displays are not plug-n-play. They are precision instruments that require meticulous calibrating to ensure the perfect picture – and if you’ve got 4K, watch 4K. Along with proper installation and connectivity, integration of these fine-tuned machines is a bit tricky too. This is where your integration experts are essential. They can guide you through the maze of compatibility and the “does this pass 4K?” query. They’ve got the tools, training and certifications to not only help you select the right model, but get it programmed to work harmoniously with all of your AV components while displaying professionally calibrated picture and sound quality that make it a truly “dynamic” experience!
For more information, check out these articles:
Network infrastructure is the backbone of all of your operating and communication systems, enabling connectivity and management across your enterprise, whether residential or commercial, wired or wireless, or a hybrid. It’s hardware and software and services. As its name implies, infrastructure is the platform that sustains a structure. Now, imagine a major interchange with on ramps and exit ramps, detours and warning signs, roads shooting off to far destinations. Every ounce of concrete and steel beam is carefully designed to carry the load. Ok, so that’s a bit exaggerated, but the point is that each connection point, each pathway, is essential to the seamless operation of your network.
A wireless local-area network (WLAN) uses radio waves rather than ethernet cables to connect devices to the internet and network. When first introduced, wireless connectivity lacked in speed and, most felt, in security. Today’s wireless networks, however, are robust and feature security protections. They are cost-effective in that they save installation and cabling costs. They are also expandable, easy to set up, and offer increased mobility and collaboration as the systems allow for workers to connect from anywhere with ease. The next level of Wi-Fi connectivity is a wireless mesh network, an emerging technology that utilizes a mesh of nodes (small radio transmitters) that talk to each other, creating a network blanket across a large area.
But that’s a bridge that spans across our “interchange”.
A Hybrid Network, on the other hand, can mean one of two things. Yes, it can refer to a wired/wireless combination as it contains two or more communications “standards” in one design, but it can also mean a network design that is comprised of two or more lines of product. Both definitions offer plusses and minuses.
No matter the type, networks are designed and engineered structures providing a freeway of bandwidth and throughput for critical data. We don’t require concrete and steel to meet the performance needs of today’s, and tomorrow’s, connected homes and collaborative offices, but some engineering and ingenuity is a must. Give us a call. We’ll answer your AV/IT/IP questions and make sure your system is built on a solid foundation!
Small Business Partnership Award – La Scala Home Cinema and Integrated Media – November 15, 2013
Since 1960, Vancouver Opera has been providing British Columbians with stimulating and enriching programming that redefines opera and its accessibility. In 2011, it undertook a multi-phase renovation of its new home The O’Brian Centre for Vancouver Opera.
As the culmination of a long held-dream to amalgamate five separate spaces into one location, the project included the installation of multimedia equipment (cameras, screens, and digital and telecasting technologies) to further engage the community.
As a local company with many stakeholders in the arts sector, La Scala Home Cinema and Integrated Media provided $30,000 in leading edge multimedia and communications and equipment at an at-cost rate. With this new equipment in place, La Scala has played a significant role in the opera’s ability to further reach its community engagement programming.
Thanks to their investment and continuing support, their spirit of philanthropy has also attracted and inspired other partners.