When it comes to crafting today’s living spaces, the integral role played by home technology is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Whether you’re looking for enhanced security, greater convenience, or the most impactful ways to entertain family and friends, there are no shortage of solutions to choose from. This abundance of options was clearly illustrated recently at the home technology industry’s largest annual trade show. Known as CEDIA (the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association), the 2016 show took place in Dallas just a few short weeks ago.
After spending three days scouring a floor comprised of over 500 exhibitors we thought it would be fun to share with you 5 of the coolest home technology stories we saw at the show. Whether you’re designing, building, or remodeling your home, if integrating technology into your living space is part of the plan, then these 5 products deserve a place on your short list…
Sony Z-Series TV’s
Sony has long been regarded as one of the top TV makers in the world. This year they outdid themselves. Their new flagship 4K Z-Series TV’s drew a consistent crowd on the show floor, and left a strong impression. Featuring a new technology the company is calling “Backlight Master Drive” these displays can create amazingly deep black levels alongside the brightness levels their TV’s have long been known for.
This exciting technology comes alongside Sony’s long-held reputation for being one of the best in the business when it comes to 4K / HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology. If you want a media room experience that leaves your neighbors talking then look no further. The Z-Series lineup will consist of 3 sizes, a 65”, 75” and 100”, which will retail initially for $6,000, $9,000, and $60,000 respectively.
The Voice-Controlled Smart Home has Arrived
Voice control was one of the biggest stories at CEDIA. Long discussed as the stuff of possibility, 2016 marked the year that the voice-controlled smart home finally started to look a reality. Leading the charge on this front is the Amazon Echo. These inexpensive countertop devices can be plugged in throughout the home to provide an “always-listening” voice-enabled user interface.
Amazon has encouraged smart home manufacturers to make their devices compatible with the Echo. This has paid dividends with dozens of different manufacturers showing their Echo integrations on the show floor. One of my favorites is Lutron’s lighting and shade control solutions. Whether you have an existing shade and lighting control system from Lutron, or are just considering one, the simple addition of an Echo to the home will now allow you to fully control your environment with a simple voice command. The future has arrived.
Veranda Outdoor TV’s
Winter may be nearly upon us, but before you know it, it will be Spring again! With our beautiful climate here in Colorado, there couldn’t be a better place to enjoy a show or sporting event than in your own backyard. The challenge here has traditionally been two-fold. Putting any old TV outside with our climate fluctuations is far from ideal. But, specialized outdoor TV’s have been cost prohibitive. Not any longer. At the show Sunbrite introduced the new Veranda series of outdoor TV’s. Fully weatherproof and designed to operate safely at temperatures ranging from -24° – 104°F, these TV’s are significantly less expensive than previous outdoor models. Available in 43”, 55” and 65”, these displays will retail for $1,500, $2,000, and $3,500 respectively. If you’re even thinking about incorporating tech into your outdoor entertaining space, these TV’s are a no-brainer.
House Audio Done with Style
The ability to enjoy music throughout the home is one of the easiest ways to leverage technology to enrich your living space. However, if you’re very concerned about the look of in-wall or in-ceiling speakers throughout your home compromising the aesthetic, then your options have traditionally been limited. Thankfully many speaker makers are realizing that in a residential environment the way an in-ceiling speaker looks is every bit as important as how it sounds.
One of the best examples of this is James Loudspeaker’s “Small Aperture” lineup. Using a patented full-range 3-way driver system, these speakers provide simply amazing sound. The best part? All you see is a 3” – 4” opening in the ceiling. Trim kits are available in either circle or square and blend in seamlessly with modern LED can lights. Given this tiny opening and sleek appearance, you simply have to hear these speakers to believe them. For the best in audio performance without compromising the design intent, James Small Aperture lineup can’t be beat.
Lutron Shading Solutions
When most people consider home technology they think of A/V solutions such as house audio and home theater first. While these are an important part of any home technology business, it’s also key to remember that technology solutions go well beyond that. Automated shades, for example, have a consistently strong presence on the CEDIA show floor. This year was no exception.
Arguably the top solution provider in this category is Lutron. The company provides a huge array of shading solutions. Their traditional “QS” hardwired products are still the best choice for new construction projects. But it’s also worth noting that great strides are being made in the realm of battery-operated retrofit solutions. Great for remodels or historic renovations when pulling wire is not an option, Lutron’s Triathlon wireless automated shades provide a fantastic option to enrich the environment. Advances in battery power technology have increased the lifespan by up to 80%, often allowing 3-5 years of average use between changes. Incredibly, the company’s WIDR series of Triathlon wireless shades can be purchased in sizes up to 144”W x 144”H. For the ultimate in automated window treatment solutions, the search ends with Lutron.
While these were the 5 technologies we picked to highlight, this was just the beginning. As is typically the case, CEDIA 2016 was proof (if we needed any) that the field of home technology is advancing at a dizzying pace. We firmly believe that technology plays a role of ever-increasing importance in today’s home. Consulting with a specialist early in the design phase is a great way to make sure you know your options. Understanding the latest technologies is key to getting the most from your home technology investment.
About the Author:
Jason Griffing is the Director of Business Development at Harrison Home Systems. Founded in 2002, the team at HHS has demonstrated a level of technical expertise and customer service that has made them the preferred technology partner for many of the building industry’s most demanding projects. Call their office at (303) 526-0403 to set up a free consultation, and see how they can help craft a customized technology package for your home.