Home automation. The Internet of Things. Seamless integration. Nowadays, nearly every industry has embraced technology to bring to their customers the best version of its service. Home automation is one of these industries, whose transformation is mostly happening in the fields of audio-visual and network security. What are the real trends driving today’s audio-visual market? What does a national technology leader see as the wave of the future? We asked these and other questions to Travis Ferger, senior technology consultant at Scottsdale-based CCS Presentation Systems HOME division. What is the factor that is driving the industry right now?
What is the biggest thing driving today’s home audio-visual marketplace?
It’s all about customization. Today’s high-end homeowner wants simplicity and reliability. We sit with each client and truly understand how they will be using their technology and build their systems from there. We determine what they do and do not like and who will be using their technology. From there, it’s a completely customized approach.
What are some big trends right now?
Voice control has taken over. Many companies are taking the lead from technology leaders like Google and Amazon and all things are now integrated and voice controlled. More and more, people are using voice commands to power and control their integrated systems.
Another trend we are seeing right now is robust interest in “4K TV and Ultra High-Definition.” These systems go well beyond the industry standard 1,080 pixels and are now at 4,320 pixels – nearly four times more. Still, people need to keep in mind that few broadcasters are filming and delivering content to be viewed in 4K, but that’s where the industry is heading. The color depth and true color representation of 4K is truly amazing. 8K is also on the horizon.
That’s interesting about picture quality. What about sound? What’s driving audio today?
In working with clients to customize their home technology, we place a huge emphasis on sound. Since so much of today’s music is streamed with low digital quality, many streaming services – and users – are realizing that if music isn’t streamed correctly, the sound quality is poor. This lack of quality is amplified greatly when we are using high-end speakers and woofers. We take great care to make the audio experience as rewarding as possible. And it’s not just indoor sound quality – many of our clients enjoy the outside of their homes and so these systems are much more high-end. Sounds are spread out through landscapes and are blended into the environment with better quality for outdoor enjoyment.
What about indoor home theater systems – are these still a popular room choice in high-end homes?
No, not at all. In fact, dedicated media rooms – with multi-use options – are now the norm and home theaters are largely a thing of the past as utilization was historically low. Today, we are incorporating a large screen theater system with multiple screens, gaming technology, golf simulators, poker rooms and more. These rooms are much more multi-faceted today and used increasingly by additional family members. We spend a lot of time understanding how homeowners will use their technology and make their systems customized to those uses. These multi-purpose rooms are a perfect example of that.
What about connectivity?
Wi-fi is the most important thing in homes right now. We spend a lot of time on the engineering side getting wi-fi right and making sure that wi-fi is highly-functional throughout the home and estate. The engineering literally comes in with the many peaks and valleys of home designs. We design and implement numerous wi-fi antennas. Much like cell towers around town, we make sure homeowners are getting a reliable and constant user experience throughout the home.
What about security and Wi-Fi? Is it safe?
I tell clients all the time: the truth is that anybody can hack into your system. We apply robust controls and precautions and guide clients through best practices to keep their systems as safe as possible. Simply put, you must understand that as long as there is an internet, people will try and beat it.
If someone is building a custom home, at what point should they consult with their audio-visual technology team?
As soon as possible. We really want to talk about it from the very beginning. It helps us plan for things without spending time and resources down the road to re-engineer what should be done from the get-go. The earlier we are in on the project, the smoother it goes. We should be dialoging with interior designers and architects from day-one and ongoing with the build and various subcontracting teams.
What should people look for when choosing an audio-visual consultant?
You need to trust that they are there for you and are watching out for your needs. Items with the biggest price tag and all the bells and whistles are not necessarily the best choices. You need to be able to trust them to advise you through the process. It’s a long journey to bring projects like this to life so you have to trust the team you are working with. Also, make sure they will be there once the job is done.
What are some other considerations in creating the dream audio-visual home?
Lighting is huge and is one of the most beneficial things we do. It’s a big deal for us – optimizing the layout, architecture and designing systems that are customized are so very important in today’s open and airy home designs. Lighting can make or break any design.
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on?
That’s like picking your favorite child and is impossible to narrow down. All are different notable for their own reasons. However, I like the hidden technology and the automated features that we create. Often, those kinds of designs and elements create the biggest wow factor.
Any final thoughts?
The biggest challenge in this industry is educating everyone involved in the project to make it successful. Everyone in the process needs to be on the same page. We over communicate everything. It is all in the details and will pay off in the end result. If you choose the right team, make smart choices and trust your experts, your dream home will become a reality.