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JOE PERRY Lets The Music Do The Talking


June 2019

Ed Begley Jr.’s Sustainable Abode Lighting Designer David Warfel When The Smart Home Fails Chorebots At Your Service!

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From the Editor I recently switched to a new dental practice after my old dentist retired from the business. Like most people, I don’t look forward to having my teeth and gums poked and prodded, so I was especially anxious as I waited to meet my new dentist and hygienist. It didn’t help matters that the waiting room was less than Zen-like. Not only was the quality of light like a windowless department store circa 1975 (picture bright, bluehued fluorescent tubes), but one of the bulbs or ballasts was on the fritz, creating the type of irritating buzz that one would expect from a miniature golf course bug zapper. When my wait was extended due to an emergency procedure ahead of me, you can only imagine how my state of mind was aggravated further by these less-than-desirable conditions.

Executive Editor Jeremy Glowacki

“First impressions are everything in life, especially when dealing with something stressful like an appointment with a new dentist.”

First impressions are everything in life, especially when dealing with something stressful like an appointment with a new dentist. I couldn’t help but contrast that experience with the Hand and Stone Spa located right across the street from my new dentist. At the spa, natural light filters through the waiting room, and subtle lavender fragrance and soothing meditation music fills the air. As my wait at the dentist grew longer, and the buzz from the light fixture seemed to grow louder, I desperately wanted to blow off my appointment, jog across the street, and treat myself to a deep tissue massage instead. One could argue that dentists have a much more practical role to play in our personal healthcare world than massage therapists. However, I would contend that dentists’ and doctors’ offices could still benefit from the same aesthetic choices as the local, high-end spa. I’m sure that many of our tech professional readers have dabbled in “light commercial” installations such as these, installing background music and TV systems, as well as lighting and shades control systems. And, now, with the custom integration business shifting its focus to lighting fixtures and lighting design, our channel has the opportunity to further affect aesthetic choices of commercial office owners. Through proper lighting design training and a new knowledge of fixture options, you can make sure that your clients choose indirect and decorative lights that mimic a more comforting space like a home or spa. You have the ability to positively influence the world, one dentist office at a time, creating a more subtle and soothing environment for their patients. Eventually, I met my dentist and found out that what he lacked in office aesthetics, he made up for with his charming personality and professional ability. I decided to not be “that guy” and mention how much his waiting room bummed me out. When I go back in six months, however, I may have to give him the name of an integrator or two to help him out.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

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Residential Tech Today | June 2019

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JUNE 2019

contents 44 Joe Perry Rocks the House Cover Photo: Aaron Perry

Departments 10 By the Numbers 12 Quick Bits 14 Smart Devices 16 Inside Installation 18 CEDIA Says 20 Health 22 Design Side 58 Product Revolution 60 Art & Tech 62 Events 63 Coming Up 64 Lighter Side

24 Innovator Profile David Warfel Turns His Visual Sensitivity into a Successful Lighting Design Career

26 Green Design

Green from the Ground Up with Ed Begley Jr.

30 Networked Home

The State of Smart Home Standards

34 Tech Advisor

Which Over-the-Air DVR is Right for You?

38 Issue Focus: The Commercial Crossover

The Blending of Home and Office Tech

42 Industry Relations When DIY Turns to OMG

50 Installation Anchors Aweigh

54 Innovative Tech Here Come the Chorebots!


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


White-Glove Service

Get the Perks and Benefits of a DISH Partnership The Custom Integration Program provides integrators with exclusive benefits like on-site surveys and installations, a dedicated support team, and account management on behalf of customers.


Contributors As a product and marketing executive at Harman International, Michael Heiss was responsible for many breakthrough audio and video products. On the entertainment side of the business he was a promotion manager at NBC and was key to the development of hotel in-room movies and created the first nationwide movie rental service for Beta and VHS cassettes. A part of CEDIA since its founding, he served two terms on the CEDIA Board and headed the Technology Council. He was awarded CEDIA’s “Volunteer of the Year” award and is a CEDIA Fellow. He is also a member of the TV Academy, IEEE, the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and is a Life Member of SMPTE.

At St. Louis-based Integration Controls, Jamie Briesemeister leads sales and marketing and is actively involved in business development, including industry outreach and education. In addition to local, communityfocused CEU sessions and seminars, Jamie also speaks nationally about the smart, connected home at events such as The Remodeling Show/Deck Expo, IBS/KBIS for Design & Construction week, The Remodeling Leadership Conference, and at CEDIA Talks and Expo panels. She is a passionate volunteer for CEDIA and advocate for technology collaboration within the design/build community.

Dennis Burger is a native Alabamian whose passion for AV and home automation technology is matched only by his fascination with the weather and his love of Star Wars. His credits include writing for and/or editing publications ranging from Robb Report Home Entertainment and Digital TV & Sound to Wirecutter and currently Home Theater Review.

Henry Clifford founded Livewire in 2001 to meet the growing demand for technologically integrated homes and businesses. Through hard work, honesty, and quality craftsmanship, Livewire has become the premiere technology integrator in Central Virginia. Livewire’s installation and service techs have years of experience and a wide range of technological, construction, and electronic certifications. In January 2018, he co-founded Parasol, a remote service support company.

Darryl Wilkinson is a veteran freelance writer in the consumer electronics industry, which includes work as editor-at-large for Sound & Vision. He’s written for Audio, Home Theater, Wirecutter, Home Theater Review, and others. He’s currently working on a designing the perfect automated smart chicken coop.

Ed Wenck is content marketing manager for CEDIA. He’s a broadcaster and journalist who’s won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and the Indiana Broadcasters Association.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


(in exabytes per month)

56.80 40.77




4.5 GB/s

1.4 GB/s

Approx. 20 times faster than 4G

of the Globe by 2024


2.61 1.85

0.72 0.04 2020*


the number of connected devices



2025* *projected

Operators will spend $1.7 trillion on equipment upgrades between 2015 and 2020. Japan wants to have a commercial 5G network running by the time Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympic Games






broadband, remote medicine and learning, autonomous vehicles, and a whole range

connectivity. Delivering all of



that and more is what 5G is all about. Here’s a look at some 5G and mobile usage statistics as you contemplate what has been called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”



applications that let data drive

require hard-wired network

Number of Cellular Connected Devices Worldwide from 2016 to 2021 (in billions)


today’s uses but for

of possibilities that now 2022*

the mobile data volume, and support up to


dramatically not only for

8K video, remote access to

Projected Number of 5G Subscriptions Worldwide from 2020 to 2025 (in billions)


Despite the success of 4G, there has been an industry

2022* *projected

Peak Download Speeds Initial Median Speeds

1,000 times 100 times 4


5G Stats push to increase speeds

5G should have around












5G Networks Will Cover

3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0


Global Mobile Data Traffic from 2017 to 2022




80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Phone graphic


Residential Tech Today | June 2019



2021* *projected

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What trend is driving your light commercial technology integration business?

We do a lot of work in MDU projects, and more recently we’ve begun designing and providing the access control portion of these projects. One of these projects can often have 50 or more camera locations, full integration with the elevator control and life safety systems, and often hundreds of additional control points. These systems can be large, often adding $300,000 or more to the overall project revenue for us. While there is a learning curve, commercial access control systems have become a logical and important addition to our overall offering. Richard Millson, Millson Technologies Inc.

I see two main trends in the conference room space: 1) Bring Your Own Device or “BYOD” becoming the default for spaces and what that can mean for audio & video conferencing, sharing of content, delay/lag, etc. 2) Zoom Rooms and other soft codecs becoming ubiquitous and the massive need it creates for competent microphone/speaker/ gating solutions such as the Extron, Crestron, or Polycom. Chris Smith, Cloud9 Smart


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

When we do light commercial, it’s usually huddle rooms, conference rooms, video and audio conferencing. We like them because they’re repeatable. Also, unlike a residence, where the home owner wants to leverage every feature of a control system, typically in a commercial installation we strip out all of that stuff so that anybody who walks into that conference room can run the system without having to be dependent on the IT person. Brian Perreault, Barrett’s Technology Solutions In this age of smaller, lighter laptops, tablets, and units in between, wireless collaboration is a big problem solver. Connect to your screen utilizing the guest or internal network via an IP address instead of finding the right cord and connection. Products like Mersive’s Solstice Pod and Crestron’s AirMedia make sharing simple. I can’t imagine a meeting without one! Heather Sidorowicz, Southtown Audio Video I think the videowall space is super exciting, with what Planar and Samsung are doing in particular. When we did the Kemper Development spaces in Bellevue, WA, we put up a 30-foot-high video wall, and just as an enthusiast, that sort of big, high-definition image still gives me the “wow” factor, even though true commercial integrators might consider that technology old-hat. Mark Ormiston, Definitive Audio

We have a couple of commercial projects right now that are focused on health and wellness technology. In one, we’re trying to help keep people awake through the quality of light and circadian rhythms. Another project is a hotel ballroom, where we were asked for a lighting system that creates just the right mood with big chandeliers and cove lighting, matching whatever event that they’re doing. Mark Hoffenberg, AudioVisions We’re getting a lot of calls for CCTV and access control. Having sold my alarm company, I’m prohibited from selling a monitored alarm system, but I still sell CCTV systems in commercial buildings. So, we’re doing a couple of synagogues right now. I’d like see areas like acoustic treatment become a trend in restaurants, but that’s not happening. I try to influence this work by leaving my card in restaurants that need it, but it hasn’t paid off yet. Brad Smith, Audio Video Design We won’t shy away from a boardroom projects when a client calls, but most of our work with commercial builders is in MDUs, where we do access control (called the “pizza switch”) to let the pizza guy and other deliveries up in common areas. We’re also doing Wi-Fi in the common areas, AV in the fitness room, and cameras in the garage. Jim Sanfemio, Wicked Smart Homes We’re getting activity in access control security camera systems, but we also just did a high-end restaurant in DC called Café Milano where we totally upgraded their audio-video with what we would do in a high-end residence. We have a Future Automation picture lift hiding a large-screen TV, and now at the push of a button, they can turn the space from a fine-dining space to an area that’s been rented for an event and easily controlled by anyone on staff. Tom Wells, Integrated Media Systems


Smart Devices

In Your Face

How Facial Recognition Technology is Infiltrating Intelligent Home Design By Patricia Miller In the last issue of Residential Tech Today, cover profile subject Penn Jillette joked that you know you’re are living the good life when you can’t remember which digital assistant you’re talking to. It’s a problem I’ve run into in my own home, commanding Alexa to turn on the living room lights only to be left standing in darkness as I recall Alexa’s new name is “Computer” and the command to turn on the lights is, “It’s dark.” Now, imagine my grandmother has come over for a visit and walks into my living room. I doubt her first instinct is to shout into the darkness, “Computer, it’s dark!” But, what if when she came to my home, and I instructed her to simply walk up to the illuminated 12-inch panel on my wall? When she approaches, the panel scans her face. Suddenly, the lights come on, the audio system hums to life with the “Best of Elvis,” and the heat turns up by two or three degrees. Make yourself at home, Grandma! That’s the future of home automation, thanks to ELAN’s new intelligent touch control panel with facial recognition. The intuitive user interface acts as a digital concierge, greeting you by name and orchestrating a series of events to facilitate your utmost comfort. Facial recognition software is already in use by several prominent companies. Apple, Snapchat, Facebook, even airports, retail stores, and advertising firms are using face I.D. to improve customer experience, reduce crime, and tailor ad campaigns. Now, home automation companies are following suit, offering a wide range of facial recognition products. For example, many outdoor cameras can tell you who is at the door based on a database of familiar faces that you’ve uploaded to the system. Jeff Shaw, product manager for ELAN, shared the company’s vision: “Everything we do when we design our user interface is to make it easier for people to control their home. You shouldn’t


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

have to learn how to use your touch panel. It should just be easy and intuitive.” Easy and intuitive aren’t often the first words associated with new technology. Perhaps that’s shifting, as biometrics and thoughtful design choices by manufacturers continue to set new precedents for usability.

Designed with Integrators in Mind Better still, these panels ELAN’s new intelligent touch control panel features facial recognition. Jeff were designed to be easy to Shaw, product manager, ELAN install. Their Discovery function auto-discovers the use my touch panel. It should just know who I intelligent touch panels on the am and present me with my settings versus network and configures them with just one having to do an extra thing. Again, making it click. Nortek elaborated on the ease of more intuitive and more seamless.” installation: “Each panel mounts using a As the intelligent home automation market standard 2-gang (U.S.) box, which means no continues to blossom, users will expect more custom bracket is required. The interactive intuitive interfaces to facilitate their transition panels can be powered locally, using a 12VDC from digital assistants to digital homes, and power supply (not included) or power over companies like ELAN are leading the way. x Ethernet to connect the controller over Wi-Fi or using PoE with a single wire hookup.”

An Intuitive Interface for Seamless Control More than just a new product line, ELAN is working to advance the way people interact with their homes, facilitating a more fluid and luxurious user experience. “We want to change the conversation about how we control the home and that’s what we’re doing with these panels,” Shaw continued. “I don’t want to walk up and get a key code every time I want to

The Modulus “Ultimate Remote” Because every great orchestra needs a conductor.

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Inside Installation

The DIY Leak Detector StreamLabs Reduces the Complexity of Detecting Leaking Pipes in a Home By Jay Basen and Gordon Isaac Forty percent of homeowners will suffer from water damage this year. In fact, you are six times more likely to have a water damage incident than a house fire. It only makes sense, therefore, that there has been an emerging trend over the past year in smart water protection products. While each product provides leak detection in a different way, the concepts are fairly similar. RWC-owned StreamLabs, is one such brand looking to reduce the complexity of installing a leak detector in the home. The StreamLabs detector requires 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, a power outlet within 10 feet of where the StreamLabs detector will be located, at least six inches of clean, straight, pipe, access to the water inlet supply, and an Apple or Android smart phone. However, the StreamLabs detector can only be mounted to three-quarteror one-inch copper, CPVC, or PEX pipe. The StreamLabs detector doesn’t require cutting of the water pipe to install it. Instead the detector simply clamps to the pipe using two of the included zip ties. To measure the flow of water in the pipe, the detector beams ultrasonic sound waves both downstream and upstream into the water pipe. It then measures the differences in these signals to determine the rate of flow of water in the pipe. The StreamLabs detector will then automatically determine the type and size of the pipe it is clamped to. Finally, it is calibrated by sensing the water in the pipe first with the water flow turned off and then while a toilet is flushed or a faucet turned on to a high flow. All of this is accomplished through the mobile app. Once setup is complete, major and minor leak alerts can be configured using the app. StreamLabs looks for leaks based on two factors: length of time that water is flowing and amount of water that is flowing. This allows the StreamLabs detector to look for small leaks that occur over a period of time and larger leaks, such as a burst pipe. The settings for the time or the volume of water for a leak to be


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

detected are fully configurable using the mobile app. The device also supports home/away settings. When set to away, any flow of water over 15 seconds will trigger a notification being sent to the homeowner’s mobile phone. In addition, according to Jeff Long, director of marketing and operations, StreamLabs has just released a new leak detection feature called SmartAlerts. This allows homeowners to enroll in a seven-day learning period where the StreamLabs leak detector will monitor a family’s water usage habits. It will then use this knowledge to determine what constitutes a water leak, and what isn’t. For example, if someone in the family takes long showers, SmartAlerts won’t trigger a leak notification. Unfortunately, the ultrasonic detection technology that allows this device to be installed without cutting the water pipe has its limitations. The smallest leak that can be detected is one quarter of a gallon per minute. This will catch a running toilet or a faucet that was left on but a slow leak of only a few drops per minute (which can lead to moisture and mold), cannot be detected. The StreamLabs leak detector also includes a temperature sensor. With this sensor, the area around it can be monitored to make sure it isn’t too cold, which could result in a frozen/ burst pipe. The smart home integration capabilities of the device are limited. The StreamLabs detector can only integrate with Amazon Alexa and Google Nest. In either case, this integration only provides the ability for telling the detector whether the homeowners are home or away. However, StreamLabs does have an open API so more integrations are possible in the future. x For a full comparison of leading leak detection devices currently on the market, check out Jay Basen’s article at

The StreamLabs detector doesn’t require cutting of the water pipe to install it.

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The Spatial Web

How 5G, Blockchain, and Edge Computing May Form a Next-Gen Internet Experience By Ed Wenke


The next generation of the web experience will be utterly revolutionary – and it’s only three years away. Rich Green is excited. “This phenomenon is the single most important development in the history of technology. It will change human evolution,” he said. “It’ll change the human species. It’s right there in front of us. “And what’s really mind blowing is that it’s three years away.” What Green is describing is the concept of the Spatial Web, which is also referred to as Mirrorworld or Web 3.0. Green has been watching the convergence of a number of technologies – from 5G to Blockchain to Edge Computing – that will take the web as we know it now and turn it into the stuff that we’ve heretofore only seen in science fiction.

Web 1.0 and 2.0, Then… First, a bit of background: When Netscape and other browsers started popping up on desktop machines back in the mid-1990s, the web was a

one-way proposition for most people: you read text, looked at still pictures, and so on. That was Web 1.0.

This is crucial, according to Green: “Augmented reality is the key to our visibility into the 3D web.”

“Web 2.0, which is the era we’re in right now, was the dawning of mobile applications, social networking, and interactivity with the web,” Green explained.

But AR is just one part of the equation that makes this advance possible. The speed and low latency of 5G, the ubiquity of the Internet of Things, the power of edge computing, and the distributed ledgers of Blockchain, which can help provide security and “democratization” of the tech, as Green puts it, all converge to create the potential for this next-gen web experience.

Green prefers the term “Spatial Web” for the next iteration of our digital world. “Web 3.0, which is this new era that’s emerging right now, incorporates the spatial web,” he said. “The metaphor goes from a flat, two-dimensional screen, to an experience where you’re actually looking through the screen into a threedimensional world. That 3D world is our real reality, but overlaid on top of it, on a one-to-one match, is a digital reality.” It’s like a digital twin, Green added. “It’s a digital mapping of digital assets, creations of 3D objects and so on, overlaid on top of the real world,” he said. “The way we peek into that is through our cellphones, it’s through our tablets, but most importantly it’s through augmentedreality glasses.”

The Formula

As every part of this string of technologies communicates with its fellows via the AR Cloud, the spatial web creates a one-to-one “Mirrorworld” (as dubbed by Kevin Kelley in Wired magazine) that can mimic – or enhance or distort – the world we’re physically, as opposed to digitally, living in. Add a set of haptic gloves that simulates the sense of touching an object that isn’t actually there in three-dimensional space, and you’ve got an immersive experience that can convincingly rival the “real” experiences that we have every day. “All you need is imagination, and the world changes, the human species changes,” Green said. x

For more on this subject and how to prepare for the “Spatial Web” check out CEDIA Podcast: Episode 108, iTunes no. 1908.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019





Savant’s new lighting and energy modules are engineered to deliver both control and energy management functionality of lighting loads as well as other devices throughout the home.

Savant Shades are designed to complement architectural details rather than conceal them. Savant’s shading solutions are available in both wired and battery motor options making design the first choice even for retrofit installations.

From Tunable White to Infinite Color+, TrueImage to circadian rhythm mode, Savant and USAI Lighting provide the most advanced lighting control options available.



Hands-on with Wellcam Raises Profile of its Activity Monitoring Platform with a New Wi-Fi Camera By Henry Clifford’s Wellcam appears to cede a little ground to the notion that some life safety situations call for more than activity sensors.

The Wellcam is the first piece of hardware introduced in a long time aimed at raising awareness around Wellness,’s activity monitoring platform. Wellness exists between life safety and home automation. The system uses all the sensors in the home (including the Wellcam) to establish a baseline of “normal” routines over the first few weeks of a new installation. After that, Wellness flags anything it considers abnormal and sends out alerts to loved ones. The original concept of Wellness centered around the belief that Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) pendants were ineffective because people often forgot to press the button after a fall. In addition, Wellness seeks to use sensors like bed pressure switches, motion detectors, and door contacts as an alternative to invasive video surveillance. The Wellcam appears


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

to cede a little ground to the notion that some situations call for a camera.

loved one the button’s been pushed and “to view live video, enter the app.”

Wellcam sports a 180-degree Wi-Fi camera, Bluetooth speaker, activity monitoring sensor, two-way calling, and integration with’s existing ecosystem. Audio on the device is twoway and is designed for checking in on a loved one in a “Mom, everything ok?” scenario. There’s also a pinch-to-zoom capability with something calls HD Enhance. A record button in the upper right of the video window makes it easy to capture a short video clip. takes their alerts even further by allowing recording based on numerous scenarios including motion detection during defined times of day or night and down the road will include intelligent object detection (i.e. knowing the difference between a person and an animal) thanks to’s recently announced video analytics features.

On the camera itself, there’s a four-way directional pad on top with volume up/down, a microphone icon for outbound alerts, and a menu button. The microphone button can be configured in the app to generate many different types of notifications. Their serving suggestion is a simple alert which tells a continues to innovate on this platform. Even though Wellness has been on the market for five years, it’s still early days for independent living technology solutions and many opportunities and challenges are to come. x For Henry Clifford’s full review of this product, visit


Design Side

Summoning the Lift Elevators are an Intriguing, Albeit Niche, Market for Luxury Homes By Gordon Isaac While home elevators might seem like a niche market, there were several elevator manufacturers in attendance at the International Builders Show this past March in Las Vegas. Two that stood out were the Garaventa Lift out of Vancouver, B.C., and Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE) from Miami, FL.

Garaventa Lifts include an app for several “smart” features.

While the Garaventa Lift products looked great with all types of custom finishes and options, after inquiring further, company representatives mentioned that an app was available to allow for full control and troubleshooting, including summoning the elevator to a specific floor, knowing what floor the car is on, and knowing if the safety gate is open. They are currently looking at working with third-party control manufacturers and hope to have the ability for this information to be shared with a control system by the end of the year, allowing the elevator to fully integrate with the rest of a home. No machine room is required, making this a popular choice where space is a prime consideration. All of the drive components, including the controller box, can be mounted within the hoist-way. However, it is recommended that the controller, which can be located up to 50 feet away, be located outside of the hoist-way for easier service access. Manual lowering is accomplished either by use of the standard manual lowering hand wheel, or by use of the optional battery powered lowering. Although Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE) doesn’t boast any smart home technology in its elevators, the company has taken a “smart approach” to its designs by making the only line of pneumatic vacuum elevators in the world. PVE, which was founded in 2002, uses air instead of big motors to move people between levels in the home. Their largest model, the PVE52, is wheelchair-accessible and can fit up to three people or up to 525 lbs of weight. This design has expanded the options for where in the home an elevator can be installed while reducing space, installation cost, and being more environmentally friendly. x For more information visit and


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE) don’t boast any smart home technology, but they’re the only line of pneumatic vacuum elevators in the world.

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innovator profile

Sharing the Gift of Light David Warfel Turns His Visual Sensitivity into a Successful Lighting Design Career By Jeremy Glowacki

David Warfel grew up on a farm under the wide prairie skies of Illinois, fascinated by sunsets after storms and the stars in the deep black sky. The lighting designer, author, and educator passionately shares the gift of light, whether blogging at, writing for, or designing residential and entertainment experiences from coast to coast. From the local theater to Carnegie Hall, from his parent’s kitchen to multi-million-dollar homes, from local pizza joints to the Las Vegas Strip, from school cafeterias to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line projects, he is endlessly fascinated by the power of light to reveal and transform space. We caught up with Warfel at the ProSource spring meeting this past March in Nashville, TN, where he fascinated members of the buying group with historical anecdotes about lighting and his take on new opportunities within the lighting business. In his interview with RTT, here’s what he had to say about his career, profession, and natural sensitivity to light. Residential Tech Today: What attracted you to the lighting design profession? I’ve heard that my blue eyes are more sensitive to light than other pigments, and I certainly feel over-sensitive. I love to soak up the sun but hate glare; I dim absolutely everything to just the right level. I had no idea that architectural lighting design existed as a profession, so I channeled my love of beautiful space into an undergraduate degree in architecture, all the while spending countless hours as a hobbyist in theatrical lighting for plays, musicals, operas, dance, and even fraternity parties (I was a terrible DJ but had a great lighting rig). I learned to use light to manipulate emotions in the theater and learned how to work in the building industry in architecture school. My junior year of college I heard a guest lecturer say, “All the


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

best architectural lighting designers come from theater.” That was the first time I realized I might be able to combine my dual interests into a single career. It took a few years to get there – I volunteered building Habitat for Humanity homes for several years, went to graduate school for an MFA in theatrical lighting design, and taught at the university level for over a decade. Along the way I worked for several very strong architectural lighting design firms and opened my own consulting practice. And, more than 15 years after striking out on my own, I still love sharing light with others. RT Today: How long have you been collaborating with the home technology integration channel and how did that change your business process? I knew absolutely nothing about the custom integrator channel until a few years ago when I was introduced to Jonathan Wesco of Allegro [Granger, IN) through a mutual acquaintance. At the time we first met, most of my work was commercial and experiential, like restaurants, churches, schools, theaters, and even shopping mall and cruise ship projects. I did residential lighting design but it was a smaller portion of my business. Jonathan began introducing me to his clients and the CI channel and that began a slow transformation of my business from what you might call “typical high-end residential lighting design,” which can be incredibly timeconsuming and expensive, to what I now call Accelerated Custom Lighting Design. I invested heavily in technologies that would support oldfashioned lighting design expertise and allow me to deliver more lighting designs in less time and for fewer dollars. At the same time, I was reaching a wider audience as a writer and landing projects from New York to California, essentially beta-testing the new design process and hammering out the details before I rolled

out to a wider CI network. My professional mission is simple: I want to share the gift of light with anyone who needs it. That means I have to be affordable and scalable, able to handle a high number of projects annually instead of just a few. Jonathan Wesco has been a major catalyst in my professional transformation. RT Today: How has the evolution of lighting technology and ubiquity of lowvoltage fixtures changed your designs? Technology has changed everything for me and, at some level, nothing. Good lighting is good lighting, but technological advances make creativity possible at an unprecedented scale. The tiny size of LEDs allows me to be artful and selective in locating light just where needed instead of blasting everything from a ceiling fixture with four 75-watt bulbs. Perhaps it is like a Christmas Tree – technology allows me to sprinkle 1,000 lights on the tree instead of lighting it with four 75-watt light bulbs. I’m using less energy and making the space more functional, more beautiful, and even more healthy at the same time. Digital technologies are also transforming the profession, allowing me to do in hours what used to take weeks. And the scientific discoveries in light and health continue to roll out; we’re finding out that light has a huge impact on our wellness, and I am glad that good lighting design can help. RT Today: What would you like professional integrators and homeowners to understand about the lighting design process? I suspect most integrators already know this, but clients often do not understand the difference between lighting and lighting design. Lighting can be an industry or a product, like a chandelier or strip light. Many manufacturers offer free layout services, but that isn’t the same

as lighting design either. Lighting design is the scientific and creative application of the incredible radiant energy that is light. I care about the aesthetics of a fixture, to be sure, but what I really care about are the rays of light that come out of a fixture. Ultimately, I care most about the experience of living in the home. Picking out a chandelier is an important task, but lighting design is so much more. And it takes experience, knowledge, patience, scientific application, and a good dose of creativity to do it well. Many of us really are a cross between an architect and a theatrical lighting designer. We do space, light, and experience. Ah, and low voltage is a big part of the LED revolution. The combination of LEDs and low voltage could revolutionize the industry, even completely doing away with line-voltage lighting. There are still some hurdles to complete adoption, but the direction is clear. Why bother running expensive copper throughout the house and scattering hundreds of tiny failure-prone drivers/transformers in the ceilings if there is a way to use less wire and

fewer, more robust drivers? It makes perfect sense but change in residential lighting does not come quickly. RT Today: What advice would you give professional integrators who are considering adding lighting design and lighting fixtures to their offerings? Be careful! The lighting industry is huge. There are thousands, perhaps millions, of possible fixtures from hundreds (thousands?) of manufacturers, and the lighting industry is changing every single day. Just think about a few of the changes in the last two decades: we went from incandescent to halogen to LED, tape light came into being, color-mixing became readily available, everyone had to learn lumens, color temperature, and CRI, wireless controls exploded, and we can now talk to our light bulbs or get internet signal from them. Here’s some practical advice: leave chandeliers, pendants, lamps, and sconces mostly to the interior designers. They are experts at coordinating decor. The rest of it – recessed downlights, step lights, linear LED tape light, coves, color-

changing lighting, and exterior lighting – need smart professionals like those in CI. Another piece of advice: Keep an on eye on theaters. The big dimming manufacturers are selling fewer and fewer panels every year, and it is now entirely possible to do a huge top-notch theater without them. They have all moved away from the dimming panels that made them wealthy and toward lighting fixtures with onboard controls. It’s coming here, too. RT Today: What’s your favorite thing about your job and what do you find most challenging? I love helping people, and I love light. Getting to help people with light every day is a wonderful experience. When I see spaces transformed, when I see clients more comfortable and relaxed at home, I know I’ve done my job well. I confess to being a bit of a gear geek, too. I love bright shiny toys like the latest LED gadget. I enjoy the fact that my studio lighting system right now is displaying a photograph I took in Sequoia National Park, and that has nothing to do with lighting! x

(Above) David Warfel brings practical experience from the commercial world to his residential designs and vice versa. His designs grace the entrance of an Illinois middle school, an escape/puzzle room on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, a YoYo’s Frozen Yogurt shop, and many private residences. Photos by Conner Steinkamp, DesignDuo, Mike Heiniger, DKWLD and Prairieland Designs

June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



Green from the Ground Up Actor and Sustainability Advocate Ed Begley Jr. Details the Eco-friendly Abode He Built with His Wife By Alex Moersen You may know Ed Begley Jr. from his appearances on hit TV shows such as St. Elsewhere, Arrested Development, Better Call Saul, or Portlandia. However, when speaking with Begley, it would be tough to say if he’s more proud of his prolific acting career or the efforts he has made to live more sustainably. For Begley, the effort started in 1970, just when the public was becoming privy to environmental issues. It was the very first Earth Day. “I asked people at the Earth Day event, ‘What’s going to happen at Earth Day besides gathering?’” he regaled. “They responded, ‘Well, we’re going to clean up the air. We’re going to clean up the water.’ I basically said, ‘Sign me up!’” After living in Los Angeles during that time, Begley was no stranger to air and water pollution, and he would start to do what he could to make a difference. Naturally, he started small and built from there. “I knew I wasn’t going to change it overnight,” he explained. “But I thought that I’d just feel better if I did my small part by riding my bike and taking the bus and recycling and composting and becoming a vegetarian and using biodegradable soaps and detergents.” But he was just getting started. This sustainable lifestyle was so cost-effective that he was able to buy his first electric car later in 1970. Of course, it paled in comparison to modern day Teslas and the like, but it was a significant step, especially in the ‘70s. As he continued this lifestyle, he was able to expand his sustainable arsenal. As he explained, “All the money that I saved on that stuff, I put into some medium ticket items like a solar oven or a rain barrel to collect rainwater. Then pretty soon, I could afford some big-ticket items like solar.” By 1985, he had installed a solar hot water system in his home and purchased a wind turbine. “Not only was I carbon neutral, I was carbon negative.”


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Today, Begley is a leading example for sustainable living and his home is the perfect illustration. In fact, his enthusiasm for sustainability even got him his own reality TV series Living with Ed, which showcased what it was like to live as environmentally friendly as Begley does. Years since that very first Earth Day, Begley’s fervor has only strengthened. The home that he and his wife built from the ground up is decked out with sustainable appliances, energy saving devices, and water conservation technology. From the Ground Up Some of the most sustainable parts of Begley’s abode are not the most apparent. For example, the house has a passive solar design with all of the windows facing south. During the winter, the sun comes through perfectly, hitting the floor and heating up the room. But during the summertime, the house gets less sun, making for a naturally warm or cool climate, depending on the season. Even the materials used to build the house were chosen for sustainability purposes. “All the floors are beautiful oak floors, but we didn’t take down any trees. It’s recycled, reclaimed wood from North Cal Wood. All the paints are no-VOC, non-toxic paints,” Begley explained. Begley opted for a house frame made of steel in order to save some trees. However, since steel conducts heat and cold well, this provided a unique insulation challenge. But, with added insulation foam and spacing in the wall, the home is well insulated, helping save energy and money. Plus, the steel frame has added benefits, such as earthquake and fire protection, two prevalent risks in California. Energy Efficiency Firstly, Begley employs Panasonic solar panels on the roof of his home that provide nine kilowatts of electricity. Coupled with his home’s cost efficient design and his Lutron lighting system, Begley’s home is the pinnacle of energy efficiency. Begley could not speak highly enough of his Lutron system: “All the June 2019 | Residential Tech Today


GREEN DESIGN Green from the Ground Up

lighting controls they supply are incredible bang-for-the-buck … You start with the LEDs, of course, and all the Lutron controls now work wonderfully with today’s LEDs. Then we also have the electric shades all over. You have total lighting control in your house with a flick of a switch. It’s something you can do on your smartphone. There’s tremendous efficiency built in with that system.” Begley then broke down the rest of his home’s energy consumption. There’s electric vehicle charging for two cars in the garage. All appliances are ENERGY STAR appliances, meaning they are certified energy-efficient. However, one of the more unique aspects of the home may be the four heating/cooling zones for their four HVAC units. “We have four separate zones for efficiency; four HVAC units that all have a SEER rating of 20,” Begley explained. The SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is like the miles per gallon of an HVAC unit, measuring the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it consumed in watt-hours. “20 is a very high rating for a SEER number on an HVAC,” Begley continued. “The beauty of having four zones is if my wife wants it hotter than I would require in the winter, or cooler than I would require in the summer, then she can have it in her zone and you save ¾ of the energy by not wasting a bunch


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of heating or cooling energy in your home.” Water and Energy Conservation Whether it’s the pool or the shower, heating water has the potential to waste energy and the water itself. Of course, you can count on Ed Begley to find the most sustainable way to do it. He started by explaining the pool: “My wife wanted the pool warmer than it was … We don’t have any heating element in it like natural gas or electric because that would cost so much money every month, and it’s not the thing I would want to do environmentally … So, what we did was, we ran black tubing on the back side of the [solar panels] … You pump the water up from the pool to that solar array where that black tubing is and you get a hot pool. 94 degrees all from the sun.” Alongside his solar panels on the roof, Begley also has two, 4X10 solar hot water panels. Still, he wanted to avoid the water waste that comes when you’re waiting for the shower, the sink, etc., to heat up. “ACT D’MAND is a system that basically uses a circulating pump,” he began. “Circulating pumps have been around for many, many years. They allow you to get hot water to your tap faster because they circulate that hot water in the pipes … The problem is all those circulating pump technologies are designed so that they’re on all of the time … It’s low wattage, but still, any wattage adds up … ACT D’MAND doesn’t do that. It only comes on

when you’re in the room. It has a motion detector. When you come into the bathroom or the kitchen it goes, “He might want some water while he’s in here. Let me turn on that circulating pump.” The Process However, building a sustainable dream home from the ground up isn’t as easy as Begley may make it seem. Plus, he’s come a long way from his self-installed rain collectors and solar panels. While Begley wanted to build the most sustainable home possible, his wife had certain aesthetic desires that he had to conform to. Thus, the process was driven by Begley and his wife, implemented by various contractors, and full of compromises. “My wife wanted a French-Mediterranean design for our home; I just wanted the green nuts and bolts and the walls. A great contractor, Scott Harris of Building Construction Group, he implemented all these wonderful aesthetic features and green features. And we had wonderful sub-contractors at every turn to help us do it.” And in the end, both Begley and his wife were happy with the house. “She got what she wanted visually; I got what I wanted with the bones and the nuts and bolts … She wanted all the green stuff to be hidden so it’s just a beautiful house and not some George Jetson-looking house. She wanted a traditional looking home and we got it. We made everybody happy.” x

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The State of Smart Home Standards Z-Wave and ZigBee Are Evolving with an Eye Toward the Future By Dennis Burger


ccording to the most recent analysis from Berg Insight, 44 percent of American homes and 35 percent of European homes are projected to be smart homes by 2022. And not that you need a Swedish market research firm to tell you this, but much of the growth in the past few years that has pushed us toward that projected number, the report says, has been driven by digital voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Still, though, a slick plastic box with a speaker built in and a connection to the cloud does not a smart home make. All of the smart lighting dimmers and switches, smart climate control systems, smart locks, smart plugs, and so forth that make a smart home tick are still largely reliant on the sort of connected technologies that have been the mainstays of the market for the better part of two decades. Namely: Z-Wave and ZigBee. At their heart, both technologies seem remarkably similar on paper. Both are designed around low-latency, low-bandwidth, low-power mesh networks engineered to reliably transmit simple signals from one end of a system to the other: lights on, lights off, open blinds, close shades, sand the floor, paint the fence…

and Asia. (The differences between markets boil down to the fact that Z-Wave operates at different frequencies around the world.)

surroundings. And that sort of situational awareness is going to require a lot more sensors in and around the home.

That may not sound all that exciting, but according to Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance, “It’s all about sensors. Anyone you talk to who wants to talk about IoT [The Internet of Things], talks about AI. The thing is, in order for AI to be effective, you need sensors. AI is all about looking at, listening to, and reading a variety of sensor inputs, taking all of that sensory information, and doing something based on it. And 700 is focused on smaller, more efficient, longer-range sensors.”

“We tend to think of motion, temperature, contact – the traditional sensors – but there are so many more kinds of things you can do with sensors,” Klein said. “You’ve got olfactory sensors, so you could stick it in the fridge and it’ll tell you when the cheese is going bad. But that’s really just the beginning.” The driving force of the development of Z-Wave 700, he says, was coin-cell battery operation. “What that means is that you now have a sensor that can last ten-plus years, so in some respects they can be disposable. You can build them into building materials and things like that to detect mold and mildew and humidity.”

To understand the focus on sensors, and indeed AI, think about the way Amazon Alexa works now. Say you’re standing in the dark in the middle of a room. You need some light. You can’t reach the switch. In order to get your digital voice assistant to turn on the light located in the room, you need to remember what it’s called. Is it Living Room Lamp? Sitting Rfoom Dimmer? Gladys? This is important information.

Okay, maybe not those last two. But as smart home technology continues to evolve, who knows? The one thing we can say for certain is that as smart home technology has evolved to its current state, both Z-Wave and ZigBee have evolved in response, and continue to do so with an eye toward the future. For Z-Wave, that evolution presently manifests itself in the form of the new 700 platform. The biggest things setting 700 apart from previous iterations of Z-Wave are its enhanced security, superior energy efficiency, and improved range: an improvement of 150 percent over the 500 series in the U.S., and 250 percent in Europe


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

Add a bit of AI to the mix, though, and it’ll be obvious to your smart home platform of choice that when you say, “Turn on the light,” you mean the light that would immediately illuminate your current

One other important aspect of the 700 platform is that it’s backwards compatible with existing Z-Wave hubs. So, if you have, say, SmartThings, it won’t require ripping out your existing Z-Wave devices and replacing everything with fresh 700 versions. It simply means that SmartThings will need to develop new sensor categories and new command classes. “But you’ve already got a category for humidity sensors,” Klein said. “You’ve already got that command class, so even if someone develops a humidity sensor that’s being dropped into wallboard, that doesn’t require a new gateway. If it’s Z-Wave, it always works.” But what if it’s not Z-Wave? That’s one of the big problems that the ZigBee Alliance has been tackling as of late: a way to make sure that all smart home devices (or at least as many as possible) can speak to one another, irrespective of the antennas built into them. To understand the current state of smart home tech, consider this dubious analogy: Imagine if every smartphone platform only worked with one particular spoken language. You want to use an iPhone? You have to speak Cantonese. You want to call someone on an Android device? Too bad.


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NETWORKED HOME The State of Smart Home Standards

same message saying, ‘You have a light there called Kitchen: turn it to 47 percent.’ And then the hub gets it and says, ‘That happens to be a Wi-Fi device, send this message over Wi-Fi.’ And then the next message it gets is to turn the living room light on, which may be ZigBee, or Thread, or whatever, and it can send exactly the same message.”

there for a long time, Somfy has been using it for blinds, to define how they get full open or full closed, or at 30 percent. That language has been evolving under the ZigBee umbrella for nearly 15 years. Now, with Dotdot, what we’re doing is evolving that language and making it available on top of Thread,” a newer mesh network standard gaining ground in the IoT world. Dotdot over Wi-Fi is also in the works, as is Dotdot over mBIoT (Microchip Bluetooth Internet of Things) and Dotdot over… well, you name it.

They’re speaking French. What Zigbee is doing is trying to establish a “Lingua Franca” of sorts for smart home or IoT devices. And unsurprisingly, that language is ZigBee’s own cluster library of standardized commands, which now goes by the name Dotdot (also represented by an emoticon that looks something like :||, but rotated ninety degrees clockwise). “Since 2006, the ZigBee Cluster Library has defined how numerous devices talk to each other,” explained Zigbee Solutions Architect Chris LaPre. “Control4 was one of the first companies in there, SmartThings has been in


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

“It basically then becomes this transport-agnostic method for some box that might have any number of radios in it to interact with lights or blinds, and they can send exactly the

That would certainly solve one major problem. But problems remain for the burgeoning smart home market. For one thing, Klein says, there’s still the fact that the average consumer expects to be able to buy a smart home hub and smart devices and simply have them work together, whether they speak Z-Wave, Dotdot, IP, or Klingon. “For now, though, you have to do a little checking first. You have to visit the website for your hub and look over the list of compatible devices.” Add in emerging standards like Bluetooth Mesh and Wi-Fi HaLow – should they ever make serious headway in the smart home market – and the waters become even muddier. But Klein envisions a day in the not-toodistant future when that’s a thing of the past. “My crystal ball says you won’t be picking between Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, whatever; you’ll be deciding whether you want the Apple, the Amazon, the Google. That’ll be the decision. And I’d say within three to five years, you’ll pick up a device, scan the QR code, or power it up, and your gateway will say, ‘Ah HA! You’ve got a That Thingy. Okay, you need this [software solution] to make it work,’ and it’ll automatically grab it off of a server, download it, or if it’s on the cloud, include it, and boom, it works. That’s where we’ll be three to five years from now, I think.” x

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Which Over-the-Air DVR is Right for You? Comparing Sling’s AirTV and AirTV Player with Tuner Adapter, Amazon’s Recast, Channel Master’s Stream+, Tablo’s Quad, and TiVo’s Bolt OTA By Michael Heiss For almost 40 years I have used a wide variety of devices to record over-the-air (OTA) television content, starting with the Sony VO-1600, which recorded television on U-Matic cassettes. The lack of a timer and the one-hour time limit on that recorder was a pain, but not much programming ran more than an hour in the early 1970s, anyway. Fast forward to today and “cord-cutting” is generating a resurgence in over-the-air television (OTA) viewership. At the same time it raises new challenges as to how to record/time-shift content in the absence of a carrier-provided DVR. Fortunately, technology has kept up with digital broadcasting, and there are now quite a few products and solutions to consider. There are different product configurations to fit various needs and budgets. To find out which OTA DVR is right for your application, we set up on old-fashioned “bakeoff” between Sling’s AirTV and their AirTV Player with Tuner adapter, Amazon Recast, Channel Master Stream+, Tablo Quad, and TiVo Bolt OTA. Each device records programs from broadcast TV stations, and each one has a program guide that is accessed through either Wi-Fi or a wired ethernet connection. Beyond that, however, there are categorical differences, as well as differences between the products that occupy the same category. Before determining which product is best for you it is important to understand what makes one product different from another. Point of Differentiation #1: Do you want direct connection to a TV via HDMI, connection only through an app or streaming device, or a combination of the two? “Direct-connection” products connect via HDMI, as most other source devices do. That means that they must be co-located with the rest of your home entertainment system, but it also eliminates the need for dependency on reliable and reasonably high-speed wireless connectivity


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for full resolution video delivery. On the other hand, that means that if you want more than one OTA DVR, you may need multiple DVRs. Stream+ is in this category. “App-only” connectivity means that you can’t connect the DVR directly to your system, and you will need a Wi-Fi or wired connection to a Wi-Fi access point. Then, you’ll need a streaming device, laptop or desktop computer, phone app, or smart TV to view live or recorded content. A benefit here is that the device can be located next to any antenna connection and that one antenna/ DVR combination and feed any product with the proper app within, or in some cases outside the house. As a note of caution, while the number of devices connected is typically not restricted, the number of simultaneous streams may be limited, particularly for out-of-home viewing. And, of course, the number of live off-air streams is also tied to the number of tuners onboard. AirTV, Amazon Recast, and Tablo fall into this category.

the aftermarket. The current Mini Vox extends not only OTA but 4K streaming services. Note, however, that both Mini models currently require an HDMI connection and a wired ethernet connection. A TiVo app is available for limited out-of-home viewing, but a newer version will

Tablo’s app, the AirTV app, Sling’s app for the AirTV Player are available through almost any streaming product or device including Roku, FireTV, and AppleTV. Recast, however, is more tightly integrated into the Amazon world, which means that it is only viewable through FireTV products and the FireTV phone app. At some point, a device for other apps may be added, but you can’t use a Roku or Apple TV for Recast viewing today. Products such as the AirTV Player and TiVo OTA Bolt are both “Direct-connect” and “remote-accessible.” In most cases I suspect that the AirTV Player and TiVo OTA Bolt will most frequently be used with direct connection so that you may also view 4K content streamed from apps. (Stream+ does offer 4K streaming, but no remote accessibility.) In rooms other than where the unit is located, however, the AirTV Player connects via the Sling App and TiVo connects via their “Mini” and “Mini Vox” products. The former is out of production but is still available in

(Above) AirTV, Tablo Quad, and Amazon Recast (top to bottom) differ in size, but they share the same “black box” industrial design. (Below) Channel Master Stream+(top) and AirTV Player (bottom) differ from the “black box” look of their app-only competitors in shape and color. TiVo OTA Bolt, not pictured here, has its own distinct curved-top look.


appear this year for use with streaming devices, as will an adaptor for Wi-Fi connection. Point of Differentiation #2: “Pure DVR only” or access to streaming services, as well, from the same device? As AirTV, Amazon Recast, and Tablo require a streaming device, app, or smart TV, it makes sense that they do not deliver any streaming services on their own; you do that through the same streaming device that brings you the DVR’s content. AirTV Player, Stream+, and TiVo provide easy, internal access to streaming; the others do not. As a side note, AirTV Player and Stream+ are Android TV-based, which means that you have the option of downloading select apps, games, music, and movies from Google Play. TiVo’s app collection has many of the major apps, but the list is somewhat fixed. The ability to integrate the OTA channel guide and the current programming, particularly sports streaming apps on the same grid guide, at the same time, is a feature of AirTV Player as it is based on Sling TV as well as Android TV; the Sling App may also be used for OTA/streaming guide integration with AirTV. The FireTV products integrate Recast channels with streaming, though not to the same degree in a traditional grid guide. Point of Differentiation #3: Storage and Number of Tuners This is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of any DVR, be it OTA, cable-centric, or satellitecentric. How much storage is included, if any, determines how much content may be kept on file. Of course, size of storage also impacts pricing. Similarly, the number of tuners tells you how many programs may be viewed and/or recorded at the same time. As to storage, some products are “BYOD.” In other words, you supply your own storage and plug it in to a USB jack on the back of the unit, or in the case of the Tablo Quad, you can install a SATA drive right inside the unit. AirTV, AirTV Player, Stream+, and Tablo are in that camp. Caution: each product has its own storage capacity limit. Some are limited to one or two terabytes, but if you want the most storage for a streamcentric OTA DVR, the Tablo Quad and some other, lower priced, two-tuner Tablo models can accommodate up to 8TB of drive space. In general, regardless of product brand, each 500Gb gives you 75 hours of HD program storage.

(Left) The Sling app. Used in conjunction with an AirTV or AirTV Player unifies pay channels such as ESPN with the available off-air channels in you market.(Right) Depending on your antenna and location, OTA DVRs often capture more than 100 channels, as shown there on a Tablo Quad’s Channel Scan.

The Recast and TiVo products have internal storage as well as the ability to add additional capacity on external drives. Recast offers both a two-tuner model with 500Gb storage onboard and a four-tuner model with 1Tb of storage. The four-tuner TiVo Bolt OTA’s onboard capacity is 1Tb. Cloud storage is a growing trend, and some of the streaming apps already offer it. Look for it now, or soon, on Sling products, and perhaps later this year from Tablo. Ah, and those tuners. The AirTV Player does not come with a tuner; you add an optional single or dual tuner. The AirTV has two tuners, as does the Stream+. As the name implies, the Tablo Quad has four tuners, though there are lower priced Tablo models with two tuners. The tuner counts for the Recast and TiVo are stated above. While “more is better” applies in some cases, that is not always correct when picking an OTA DVR. How many things do you really want to/ need to watch live and record at once? How much do you need to keep? Point of Differentiation #4: Control AirTV, Tablo, and Recast are app-driven only. That means you control them through an app on either a streaming device or a smarthome. Digital natives may not have a problem with that, for those who insist on direct, instant channel selection only a hard remote with a numeric keypad. Only the ChannelMaster Stream+ and TiVo Bolt OTA let you do that while the AirTV Player has channel up/down and volume control, but no direct access.

As for voice control, options vary on these devices. Some have no voice control at all, while TiVo has voice search with its VOX remote and is controllable through Alexa. For more advanced systems, TiVo also may be driven by network controls, and the company is working on If This Then That (IFTTT integration). The AirTV Player has the Google Assistant built into the remote. Finally, as one might expect, search and other functions on the Amazon Recast are part of Recast’s integration with the Alexa ecosystem. Point of Differentiation #5: Other Items As with any product, there are always a few smaller things that, in and of themselves, don’t move the needle one way or another, but when bunched together they may. Also, in any personal product decision, a seemingly insignificant thing to some may be of critical importance to you. Here are some of them. Do you want the ability to skip through commercials? TiVo does that now, and Tablo will offer it some time this year. How important is it to have the ability to extend the start or stop time for a scheduled recording? If you time-shift sports or get annoyed when live events run longer than the program guide predicts, this will be key for you. Some do this; some don’t. Do you need an optical audio output for connection to a soundbar or similar? Stream+, TiVo, and AirTV player have it as they are directconnection products. The app-based products do not, so are dependent on whether the streaming device used has that capability. June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



Which Over-the-Air DVR is Right for You?

“Quick Mode” is a TiVo exclusive that lets you play a recorded program at a 40-percent faster speed. The audio is still very intelligible, and I found this to be a great feature when you want to zip through a news show or sports event.

month, $49.99/year or $149 lifetime. The Quad is Tablo’s newest and most advanced model, but if that price is too rich for your budget they offer 2-tuner models priced as low as $139.99.

Direct Access buttons: in addition to the previously mentioned numeric keypad for channel selection, the “direct connect” products offer things that are just not possible with a streaming device, no matter how good it is. Some have direct access for popular streaming services, and all have volume control via CEC or IR control, direct guide access buttons and play/pause, fast forward and rewind buttons. For the app-controlled devices these require a few presses on the streaming device’s remote to navigate through the menus.

Tivo’s Bolt OTA is $249 for four tuners and 1Tb of storage. The guide service is $6.99/month, $69.99/year or $249.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Point of Differentiation #6: Price A caveat in advance is that these products are often available on promotional prices, so note that the pricing listed here may change at any time. AirTV is $99, and there is no program guide subscription fee. External data storage is needed for full DVR use. Remember that the AirTV phone/ tablet app or a streaming product is needed to view the content. AirTV Player is currently $99 when bundled with a single tuner and $119 with a two-tuner adapter. As with its younger cousin, data storage is needed for full DVR although Cloud Storage will be an option to replace or supplement local storage. Given the Sling-centric integration, a Sling subscription is almost a necessity, but the cost for that varies depending on the content package tier. However, direct HDMI connection means that there is no need to purchase and use a streaming device. Amazon Recast is currently $189 for the twotuner model, with 500Gb of storage and the four-tuner model with 1Tb of storage is $299. There is no program guide charge but a FireTV, FireTV Cube, or Echo Show is needed to view the content. ChannelMaster Stream+ is $149 without a drive; packaged with a 1TB external drive it is currently $199. There is no charge for the 14-day program guide service. Tablo’s new Quad will sell for $199 and an internal or external drive is needed. A basic 24-hour program guide is free, but I strongly recommend subscribing to the 14-day guide service at $4.99/


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

It goes without saying that all of these devices require an antenna, along with the storage drives or streaming devices, as previously stated. Conclusions Now that you know the basics of how these products work, what sets one apart from another? For the best viewing and control experience, the TiVo Bolt OTA sets the bar. However, it is by far the most expensive product in this review. Some may quibble with the selection of streaming services that does not include Sling, DirecTV Now, or PlayStation Vue, but for the easiest unit to use, this is a great choice. If you want a “direct connect” product at a considerably lower price that has the benefits of AndroidTV that has what some consider the essential remote with direct channel buttons, Stream+ is definitely the way to go. If two tuners are all you need, its $199 price with a 1Tb drive makes it a great choice. For a slightly lower price, even with the dualchannel tuner and a 1Tb external drive, AirTV Player has many of the things that commend the Stream+. If Sling is your streaming service of choice, its seamless integration of off-air and streaming content in a single guide will serve you well, as long as you can live with no channel keypad on the remote. For streaming-only devices, the choice is a bit more difficult as it depends on your taste in access device. While its cost when a storage drive is included, as well as the charge for the 14-day program guide, makes the Tablo Quad a bit pricier than the Recast, I think it is worth every cent. The ”Switzerland” approach that makes Tablo compatible with all the major streaming products – iOS and Android, and a PC app – definitely tilt the scale in Tablo’s direction. Add to that the ability to view content out-of-home and the package is

(Top) TiVo Bolt OTA has a wide array of streaming apps that are accessed through their on-screen interface as well as direct access from the remote for Netflix. (Bottom) An advantage of using Google TV as the underlying system of an OTA DVR is the ability to download apps and games and stream music and movies, as shown here on a screen from Channel Master’s Stream+.

complete. I’ve taken advantage of that capability across the globe with great success. If the Quad is just too expensive for you, the lower priced twotuner Tablo models may fit the bill. Recast is an interesting product for the price. It does what you need in terms of DVR functionality, and it even lets me view content on the Echo Show in the kitchen. As with the FireTV streaming devices it requires, if the Amazon world is you oyster, Recast is a good bet. However, until it allows access from the other streamers I prefer Tablo in this category. Finally, AirTV is an interesting choice for those who want OTA DVR capability at the lowest possible price. Particularly with Cloud storage, this is a terrific buy for dorm rooms, vacation homes, and the like. Sometimes, basic is good. AirTV, for some, is more than just good, it may be exactly what is needed for a no-frills installation. There you have it. A “bakeoff” competition with no single winner, not even a tie. Wait, actually, that isn’t true. Armed with a bit of research on your own, as well as the information detailed here, picking the right OTA DVR will make you the winner. x

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The Commercial Crossover

The Blending of Home and Office Tech

Providing Ubiquitous Access to Technology at the Kitchen Counter, in the Car, or Sitting in a Conference Room By Henry Clifford


As residential and commercial technology worlds continue to converge, it’s becoming more common to see traditional residential integrators tackling projects for businesses (including my own company, Livewire). Since most of our clients are C-level executives or business owners themselves, the transition came naturally. We started our business division, Livewire for Business, a couple of years ago and wanted to share our journey to date. We decided to get into the commercial world for several reasons. Many of our clients would ask us if we did commercial work, and for a long time we turned down project opportunities to focus on our residential business. Over the last


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

few years we’ve watched the residential and commercial worlds blend together as policies like “bring your own device” (BYOD) and working from home became more commonplace. Home and work are blending together, with a focus on balancing both and providing ubiquitous access to technology, whether at the kitchen counter, in the car or sitting in a conference room. Where did we fit in that new world? As it turned out, our experience in the home lent itself perfectly to this new dynamic. To help us get serious about pivoting into commercial, we focused on several key areas from the very beginning.

Identifying Our Own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Our high-end residential clients expect an equally high level of customer service at all hours of the day. We’ve been expected to wear booties, interact empathetically with challenging personalities, use drop cloths, and generally deliver a white glove experience. “Be Brief. Be Brilliant. Be Gone” is a common mantra that we use to emphasize the preferences of our well-heeled clientele. They value time as their most precious resource and happily pay a premium for the expertise of a talented home technology professional.

Home and work are blending together, with a focus on balancing both and providing ubiquitous access to technology.


Businesses have been woefully underserved for years by contractors who haven’t adapted to the convergence of residential and commercial technology environments. The market is ripe for disruption, and home technology professionals are well suited to take on incumbent players. Companies closely correlate wasted time with wasted money, opening the door for talented technology integrators to provide efficient solutions. CCTV surveillance is a key part of the fully integrated access control system in both residential and commercial buildings.

When we decided to embrace our residential experience as a strength and competitive differentiator in commercial office projects, opportunities started to land in our lap. Instead of hiding our residential DNA, we flaunted it, touting our home experience as a key reason why clients should choose us. Becoming Part of the Community The commercial AV world has its own trade association, conferences, and certifications. We decided to join the Audio Visual & Experience Association (AVIXA) to speed up the process of getting our sea legs the same way we joined CEDIA to accelerate our residential business. We’re in the process of getting our technicians certified through the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credential program. The CTS credential is widely recognized throughout the commercial AV world as the gold standard and specifiers are encouraged to include the certification requirement as part of their design


June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



The Commercial Crossover | The Blending of Home and Office Tech

process. We’re also planning on attending InfoComm (AVIXA’s annual conference) later this year to learn as much as we can from our new peers. Hiring Dedicated Industry Talent It became apparent to us very quickly that our commercial projects needed their own sales people, system designers, project managers, and installers. We were able to use our existing residential staff to get Livewire for Business off the ground, but in hindsight I wish we would have hired dedicated resources sooner. Our first dedicated commercial hires have been salespeople with project managers following closely behind. Commercial projects have much tighter margins (37-percent average gross profit margins versus 40-plus-percent margins for residential) so having the right people really makes or breaks our P&L. I love that having to engineer our projects to tighter standards forces us to be better professionals in both residential and commercial situations. Cementing Referral Relationships This part has been the most challenging. In the residential world, referrals are fairly straight forward, especially in new construction. We’ve been fortunate enough to gather together dozens of builders under our banner, all of whom send their clients through our design center. The commercial world is completely different. Builders tend to bid out jobs to several contractors, and price plays a huge part in who gets the work. After experiencing a lot of frustration, we’ve found success swimming upstream to the specifier community. Architects, interior designers, and project management firms hold a tremendous amount of sway when it comes to determining who gets the technology work. Not surprisingly, technology is absent from architectural drawings in commercial projects the same as residential. This is nothing new for us; we’re used to fighting for our place at the table. We’ve had success offering Continuing Education Units (CEU) courses on lighting and shading to specifiers who continually accrue CEUs to keep their certifications


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

This access control system was installed by Millson Technologies Inc., for a luxury MDU project in Vancouver.

Office technology installed by New York City’s Cloud9 Smart have provide the familiarity of home tech in an commercial setting.

MDU common areas like this one featuring AV from Indianapolis-based Millennium Sounds, blend residential and commercial design elements.


current. These classes offer an opportunity to canvass a captive audience and position ourselves as a trusted advisor. Other referral sources include IT vendors and, of course, existing clients who “bring us to work” with them. Developing New Product Offerings and Marketing Conference rooms, huddle spaces, and boardrooms have offered the same bland technology solutions for years. With BYOD policies on the rise at work and more employees demanding a seamless experience between home and work, we’ve decided to offer solutions that disrupt the traditional control system offerings. Our solutions feature easy-to-use screen sharing, videoconferencing, and collaboration, which don’t require tech support to use them. As it turns out, office workers hate complexity as much as homeowners, so all our years of engineering user-friendly solutions in homes come in handy as we look at designing new office spaces. We’re shying away from over-automating office spaces in the name of keeping things as simple as possible. Differentiating with Service and Support We began offering 24/7 remote support a few years ago to our residential customers by catering to a common complaint – when they were home, we were closed. Businesses, on the other hand, are usually open 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and only need support during the day. Since we have existing 24/7 support, we are already head and shoulders above the competition. On top of that, purchasing managers view proactive support as a means to transfer risk from their office to ours and happily pay a monthly subscription for the added peace of mind.

These three projects from Millennium Sounds in Indianapolis showcase how residential-style technology can blend seamlessly into an office environment.

Have we figured out the commercial world 100 percent? No way. Are we leaps and bounds beyond where we were a few years ago? You bet. We are always looking for new ways to reinvent ourselves, and I’m sure that the next few years will see us change the way we go to market all over again. x June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



When DIY Turns to OMG

What Happens When Mass-Market Smart Home Products Don’t Work as Advertised or Aren’t Right for an Application? By Jamie Briesemeister



Residential Tech Today | June 2019

My husband and I have been together for 24 years, this year. Throughout the years, we’ve worked on a lot of projects together – renovating houses, building a business, and creating a family (the best project of all). Through all of these projects we’ve had the option to hire a pro or do it ourselves. Early on, we did it ourselves. We were young with tight finances and had a passion for learning everything we could, making our dollars stretch. Initially, we leaned on friends who could teach us. I still remember Lillian and her husband Doug, easily 20 years our senior, who taught us how to tile the kitchen floor of our first home. They kindly overlooked the black tile/white grout design and helped us with underlayment, tile-cutting techniques, tools to buy, and best of all – grouting: the back-breaking and manicure-destroying final stage of the process. To have what we wanted at that time required that we did it ourselves, or we would have had to live with the outdated and poorly designed kitchen. First-world problems, right? As time went on, DIY projects became even easier as information became more plentiful. YouTube opened the door for learning skills that we – or our friends – didn’t have. With enough time, we could figure out almost anything. Then we had a child – a monumental life change that erased downtime. Our business started taking off and required more of us. As our responsibilities grew, free time evaporated. Our values shifted from penny-pinching on projects to trying to figure out how to get that luxurious free time back for our family, for each other, for ourselves. As a typical Type-A personality, it killed me to admit that we couldn’t “do it all” any longer. The value of time now

outweighed the value of our dollar. We have realized that we can always make more money, but we can’t make more time – one of our most precious gifts. Our business is in technology, and many of the solutions that we offer our clients are marketed to consumers in distilled versions, through DIY products. Big-box retail and online e-tail allow prospective clients to purchase their own goods at a low price and – if they know a thing or two about technology – they can typically follow the instructions and make it work. But what happens when it doesn’t work as advertised? Is it broken or is it the wrong product for the project? Perhaps it’s the right product for a small home, but inappropriate for a larger home. Perhaps it works, but it’s ugly and doesn’t fit with the aesthetic of the environment. Or what we commonly see is a network problem. Imagine spending hours of time trying to make a product work, only to find out it is the wrong piece to the puzzle. This is when DIY goes OMG, and it happens all the time. Two months ago, I spoke with a woman who had spent (according to her) two solid weeks trying to figure out her electronic smart locks and a DIY security system. Her door didn’t accept any of the off-the-shelf locks she purchased (at that time, she had purchased three different locks) and the security system (her second one) wouldn’t connect to her phone and kept beeping. She had gone down the DIY road long enough and came to a dead end where she was extremely frustrated with the amount of time and energy already spent, on top of the added chores of returning items that did not work. She wanted a professional solution, which if she hired us, unfortunately meant returning all of the

DIY product she had purchased and saying ‘goodbye’ to the time she had invested. Even though she was fed up, she wasn’t ready to give up and didn’t want to return everything (plus the budget was super tight) so I referred her on to another company and suggested she make a folder on her mobile device for all of the apps she would have. A few weeks after that I received another call from a gentleman who was reluctantly seeking professional home technology services. He was a techie at heart and loved the idea of a smart home. Almost all of the equipment he had purchased were good choices, but even with a love for technology and YouTube at his fingertips, he couldn’t get everything to work as he expected and was tired of getting phone calls from his wife and children when they couldn’t get it to work either. He didn’t want to hire a pro, but at the same time, he did because he realized his time was worth more than his money. He was thrilled to know all of the apps on his mobile device would now be replaced by one. On top of this, he would have the value of professional service anytime he needed it: no more trouble-shooting in the middle of a busy day. A great formula for weighing your time versus that of hiring a professional is simple math with a cross-check of values. What do you charge for your time in your profession? How long will a DIY project take, give or take a few hours of frustration? Once you have an actual dollar amount, is it worth it? Perhaps it is either for the love of the project or the challenge of the task. Or, perhaps it’s not worth the time investment, the uncertainty, or the frustration, and in that case, call a professional! x

FINDING A PROFESSIONAL In the smart home technology world, finding a reliable residential tech professional could be as easy as asking your neighbors, builder, architect, or interior designer for a recommendation. Also, consider visiting, using the Find a CEDIA Professional listing at or locating a Home Tech Certified company in your area at

June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



Cover Story


e s u o H e h t s k c o R y r r e P

Photo: Jim Donnelly, Courtesy of Gibson


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


A look at the evolution of rock, recording, and tech with Aerosmith and Hollywood Vampires guitarist Joe Perry. By Anthony Elio The key to a great rock song is more often than not its iconic guitar riff. With songs such as “Purple Haze,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Seven Nation Army,” not only can you immediately hear the riff in your head, but you can also imagine the iconic rocker behind the tune strumming along. This definitely applies to Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, who’s work on “Walk This Way” earned the song a spot on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” alongside the aforementioned rock anthems. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Perry’s extremely memorable tunes. “Same Old Song and Dance,” “Back in the Saddle,” “Sweet Emotion,” and “Dream On” are just a handful of the songs that not only propelled Aerosmith to Hall of Fame status, but also solidified Joe Perry as one of rock n’ roll’s premier rock gods. And, taking the past few years as an example, the legendary guitarist refuses to slow down. 2015 saw Perry form the supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp. The three released their selftitled debut album the very same year, featuring a mix of newly penned songs and classic rock homages. In 2018, Perry released Sweetzerland Manifesto, his sixth solo album. Additionally, Perry has embraced the modern tech landscape, as shown with his collaboration on specialized Monster Audio speakers and headphones.

residency throughout the year and a new Hollywood Vampires album, Rise, releasing June 21, Perry is rocking harder than ever before. In this exclusive feature, the legendary rocker discusses the tech behind his live shows and recording, the new Hollywood Vampires record, and how audio technology has evolved over the decades. Residential Tech Today: Aerosmith has recently been doing a residency in Las Vegas. Could you tell me a bit about the video and audio tech the band has used? Joe Perry: Well, I can’t speak so much to the video, because it’s probably the biggest back screen that I’ve ever seen. And the quality is incredible. All I know is that it’s the latest video equipment. We wanted it to be up to the standards of what some of the other shows are in Vegas, so we wanted to put the best stuff up we could. As far as the audio goes, the sound system is licensed by THX. It’s got that logo up on the screen before we go on; it’s got that huge descending orchestra sound that they do from way up top, all the way down to the bottom. It shakes the place. It’s been licensed by THX so it’s definitely got that quality of sound. And the average concert, say in an arena or a small festival, uses usually like 50 speakers, you know, 25 or 30 to each side. But this show, it’s a

2019 looks to continue Perry’s nonstop schedule. With Aerosmith playing a Las Vegas In his decade-spanning career, Joe Perry’s signature sound has been heard on 70s albums such as Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings, Rocks, and Toys in the Attic (bottom), and modern records as seen with his solo release Sweetzerland Manifesto (middle) and the Hollywood Vampires’ self-titled debut and its follow-up Rise (top). Photos: Hollywood Vampires/Hollywood Vampires, Sweetzerland Manifesto/, Toys in the Attic/ Get Your Wings/ Rocks

June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



Cover Story // Joe Perry Rocks the House

5,000-seat arena with 320 speakers all around. It’s complete 360-degree surround sound, so when you’re in the audience, you feel like you’re literally sitting on the stage with the band. There’s one part of the show where I have to go up front and have to use those in-ear monitors, and another part of the show where I’m kind of a long ways from the front, and the sound is almost like a full second away. So when [Aerosmith band member Joey Kramer] hits the drum, there’s almost a full second before I hear it, so it’s impossible for me to play to that. I actually had to use one of those ear monitors. But I’m just old school, you know? I love hearing the sound of the band and the amps, you know, the real thing and not hearing it in my ears, wedged with those ear plugs. But the main thing is that I can hear the audience. I can hear people shouting, and you know, I can watch people’s reactions to things. So, I think that’s the biggest thing I miss, having to use those ear monitors. It’s a little bit technical, but if you’re a singer, it’s probably about the best thing that’s ever come along because you can really find your pitch and all that. But for me, I want to hear the band. I want to hear the audience. RT Today: When you’re looking for your personal audio tech, whether it’s for performing or listening, what’s your number one priority? JP: I want to hear things as natural as they can be. Take a guitar for instance. I think that a big part of the sound of electric guitar as we know it and what it’s evolved to, the amplifier and speakers are a big part of it. I know there’s a trend going towards the digital model, like when you can adjust the controls digitally so that it can sound just like you’re playing in a concert hall or it can sound just like you’re playing in a small club; or you can get just like a Marshall, just like a Fender. We already have Fenders. We already have Marshalls. And they sound great. So I can see the need for something like that for the versatility, you know? And I use everything in the studio. There’s no wrong way to do it. But I tend to lean towards the most organic and natural way things sound. So when I’m in the studio, I very rarely use anything that plugs directly into the board unless it’s going for a certain effect. But for straight up guitar sounds, I use amplifiers and wires and that’s it. And spreading out from there, Buck Johnson, he plays keyboard with Aerosmith and Hollywood Vampires, he has a big Hammond organ, one of the new ones; it’s basically a digital sampler kind of thing, and I’ve said, “Man, you gotta get the real thing.”


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

In forming the supergroup Hollywood Vampires with rock legend Alice Cooper and actor Johnny Depp, Perry is able to not only compose unique new songs, but perform classics such as The Who’s “My Generation” and David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Photo Aaron Perry

2019 has already been a busy year for the hardworking Perry, between Las Vegas residency dates with Aerosmith and a short tour with the Hollywood Vampires in support of their new album Rise. Photo Aaron Perry

So I went out and I found a 1968 Hammond B3, like one of the old workhorses that we all used to hate because we had to lug them around. But boy, nothing else sounds like them. So I brought one in and told him that every chance he gets, he should use this instead of the new one. I don’t know if you can really hear a difference, but I know that he plays it with more energy because of the way it feels, the way the keys feel. When he gets the thing walking, there’s a vibe to it. And I think it’s not just the sound, I think it’s the way it feels when he’s playing. So I vote for that every time. RT Today: Do you have a home studio as well? JP: I have a studio in the basement. I mean, most everybody I know has some kind of studio because pretty much a standard way of recording now is with a computer, so it depends on what your standards are or what your taste is. Some of the best music that people love has been recorded on kind of low-tech equipment. That Alanis Morissette record [Jagged Little Pill] came out and sold 25 million in about four months. It was recorded on a couple of A-GATS, which is like an eight track digital recorder. And, you know, it was one of those pieces of equipment that kind of had its day, but people moved on to other ways to do that kind of thing more efficiently. You have to think about how people are

listening to your music. If you’re really spending too much time worrying about your technology and not spending enough time on writing a song, I think that’s kind of a danger. There’s so many different ways to go now with the technology and the way you record, and not enough spending time actually crafting a really good song. So I have a studio in the basement, and I have an old Neve board, it’s a broadcast quality from 1970 and then, of course, we use a computer. I have a tape machine, but, you know, with the computer you can take the drive out and bring it to another studio, plug it in, and work on the same session. The convenience of it just outweighs the benefit of the sound. But I think I can tell if it’s between something that’s been recorded on a tape and something that’s been recorded on digital. There’s definitely a feel to music that’s been recorded on tape. But it’s just not as convenient. You can move so much faster and your creativity can explode in a way with computers that it just takes so long to get to with tape and analog. I think the whole industry has really shifted over, you know. I’m glad to see that there’s been a trend with vinyl. I definitely think you can hear the difference with vinyl. RT Today: Hollywood Vampires has a new album dropping this summer. How does the new record differ from your 2015 debut? JP: Well, the first record was inspired by the

Hollywood Vampires Drinking Club, and the fact that Alice Cooper is probably the only member of that small group who is still alive. We wanted to do a record that was kind of an homage to all the people that died and the music that they left behind. So that was really the main thing about that record was to cover those songs, show that those people are still living with us through that music. It was great to be part of that, but I think that when we actually started playing, we realized that there was more to the band than the personalities that were in it, there was more to it than just covering songs. So we felt that the next chance that we get to go in and start writing some songs, that became a whole album. And sure enough, the ball got rolling last year and over the course of a couple of months, we fleshed out an album that’s, except for two songs, all original. RT Today: Technology-wise, what do you think has been the biggest change over the years in terms of sound equipment and audio equipment? JP: I think that we’ve lost a little bit in going to digital recording. Like I said, I definitely notice the difference when I listen to a vinyl recording. It’s an amazing chunk of plastic that can produce a sound, especially for rock and roll, in a way that digital just can’t. I’m sure there are people now who would sit in a room and argue with me about that. And you know what? If I had to sit June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



Cover Story // Joe Perry Rocks the House

down and really do a blindfold test, I might get fooled. But I think that there definitely is a feeling that you get from stuff that’s recorded analog. Let’s say this Hollywood Vampires record. I don’t think we could have it done as fast if we were recording in analog, because we would have to have been shipping tape back and forth. It would have taken a lot longer, let’s just put it that way. Probably a third of all the recording I’ve done in the last few years has been that kind of recording. Someone sending me a hard drive, or going into a studio and having the hard drive there, and I’ll lay guitar down. But the convenience of it, it really outweighs the sound that you get. So I think that’s the biggest change. For better or for worse.

“I definitely notice the difference when I listen to a vinyl recording. It’s an amazing chunk of plastic that can produce a sound, especially for rock and roll, in a way that digital just can’t.”

RT Today: It’s definitely interesting to see how it’s developed over time. Joe Perry: You got time for a good story? Johnny [Depp] asked me to play some guitar on a movie that he was working on six or eight months ago. And I was over here working in this studio with him and the director, you know, just putting a couple of guitar tracks on some of the music. Off and on for a couple of weeks, I just put a few guitar tracks on it, and I said “Bye,” and everybody went their ways. I had been out here in California for a while and wanted to get back to see my wife in Florida, where we live. And so I flew back, I got off the plane and landed in Tampa, and I’m driving to my house. Ten minutes before I get near the house, my phone rings. It’s the director of the movie, and he’s in London. And he said, “Joe, can you record a guitar track for me? It didn’t transfer and so we lost it.” I said, “Yeah, I think so. I mean, I don’t know where there’s a studio here because I live in kind of a small town in Florida,” and I didn’t know of a studio I could go in. I said, “I’ll look around and see if I can find a studio.” He said, “No, I mean right now.” And I said, “Hey man, I just got off the plane, I haven’t even gone home yet.” And he said, “Just give me five minutes.” So five minutes later he called me back and said, “I found you a studio, and the guys will be there in 20 minutes.” And I said, “You gotta be kidding me.” So I went home, I kissed my wife, dropped off my luggage, turned around, and went to the studio. He sent the tracks over to the computer here in Florida and I recorded the guitar tracks. He was on the phone, listening to it. He could have been in the other room for all intents and purposes. And so I redid the tracks. It took about an hour or two once we got the technical end of it, and then I went home. x


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

Photo Aaron Perry


The CargoGlide WallSlide system has several options designed to improve safety, efficiency and productivity on your jobsite. A powder coated steel framework supports the sliding walls made from a solid sheet of 1/8 inch aluminum that your customized shelving will attach to. The supporting rail structure is made from high strength 6061-T6 hardened aircraft grade aluminum alloy and slides on industrial cam follower needle bearings. Electric motor options drive to open and close the walls. The optional Ceiling and Wall Canopy will keep your cargo safe from inclement weathe weather.

Key Features

WEIGHT: 500 lbs per Wall

Wall Canopy

WallSlide comes with bare aluminum walls

Walls are compatible with most brands of shelving

WallSlide system is available for most vans

USA Steel Frame

Lighting Options

Custom Shelves Available

Motorized or Manual Left and Right Walls



Anchors Aweigh NXT AV Plots a Course for Reliability Aboard Shambhala Charter Yacht with Luxul Networking Solutions For $15,000 per day – plus expenses – you can charter the Shambhala, a 100-foot Azimut Jumbo yacht. For those who can afford it, the vessel is fully equipped for the ultimate in luxury on the high seas, starting with a reliable network and including the very latest in AV and smart automation technology to keep everyone entertained and comfortable. Eight zones of distributed video? Check. Sixteen zones of distributed audio? Check. Lighting, window treatments, and HVAC systems? Check, check, and check. And, of course, there’s Savant Pro control and automation system to provide guests with simple control over it all. Rough Waters Any installation on a yacht is going to pose unique challenges compared to projects on land. Even running wire is made much more difficult when there’s no drywall to tear up and quickly repair. But there are two issues in particular that stand out. The first? Service calls. On land, rolling out a truck to reboot a locked-up component is a time- and moneywasting nuisance for everyone involved. That’s bad enough. But these problems don’t arise on charter boats when they’re in dock; they happen on the water, perhaps hundreds of miles out at sea. A service call in this situation is a nightmare scenario. The second issue is bandwidth constraints. Boats rely on cellular and satellite data, which is slow and expensive. Believe it or not, streaming a Netflix movie from a yacht can cost as much as $650, while leaving little or no bandwidth for other activities onboard, such as listening to Pandora or Spotify.

(Top) The Shambhala is a 100-foot Azimut Jumbo yacht with AV and network gear installed by Orange County, CA-based integrator NXT AV, owned by Eli Weinkle. (Bottom) Separate virtual local area networks are needed for the crew and guests. To meet this perfect storm of requirements, NXT AV relied on networking solutions from Luxul.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


For the installation on the Shambhala, Orange County, CA-based integrator NXT AV knew that both these challenges could be addressed at the network level. However, the network would also need to deliver outstanding Wi-Fi coverage – despite an abundance of RF interference and the presence of radar, GPS, and satellite systems – as well as needing to provide seamless roaming for mobile devices throughout the boat. Finally, separate virtual local area networks would be needed for the crew and guests. To meet this perfect storm of requirements, NXT AV relied on networking solutions from Luxul. A Luxul Life Preserver The Shambhala is equipped with Luxul’s Epic 5 Gigabit wired dual-WAN router, which offers integrated Domotz remote management and Router Limits content management technologies. The router’s remote monitoring and management technology allows NXT AV to easily manage and support the boat’s system and all connected devices from the convenience of dry land. The company receives (Top) The yacht’s network needs to deliver outstanding Wi-Fi coverage, despite an abundance of RF interference and the presence of radar, GPS, and satellite systems. (Bottom) The yacht features eight zones of distributed video.

June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



alerts when connected devices or network issues arise – allowing them to take immediate action, such as rebooting a locked-up component, without the need for a service call. And with Domotz technology integrated into the Epic 5, NXT AV lowered costs and saved rack space by eliminating the need to purchase a separate remote management unit. “When it comes to system management and maintenance, I have yet to find a product that is as seamless as the Epic 5 with integrated Domotz,” said Eli Weinkle, CEO of NXT AV. “You tell it to reboot a port, and it just does it – every time. It’s an amazing capability to have on an installation such as this, where all systems are expected to perform flawlessly, and any issues need to be addressed immediately. And with the Luxul team helping us with configuration, we were able to utilize Domotz across all the yacht’s VLANs.” Router Limits offers cloud-based controls for internet management. The technology was key in helping NXT AV address bandwidth issues by managing network traffic and assigning devices to the local network for control and feedback. (Top) With Domotz technology integrated into the Luxul Epic 5, NXT AV lowered costs and saved rack space by eliminating the need to purchase a separate remote management unit. (Bottom) Savant Pro control and automation system provides guests with simple control.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


“One of the problem components in this installation, as far as bandwidth goes, was the Kaleidescape home theater system, which would constantly communicate with the server for deep analytics, metadata checks, and updates,” Weinkle added. “That one component eats up several gigabytes of data every day. When you’re on a cellular plan, that means you will have data throttled almost immediately, or you’ll receive a shockingly high bill. If you’re downloading movies, you don’t need all that communication going on in the background. With Router Limits, we were able to block traffic from the Kaleidescape with just a couple mouse clicks. Problem solved.” Network switches on the Shambhala include the stackable 26-port /24 PoE+ AMS-4424P and 12-port/8 PoE+ AMS-1208P. Three Luxul XAP-1510 wireless access points (APs) provide Wi-Fi connectivity with data rates up to 1900 Mbps. With more than one access point on the boat, Luxul’s XWC-1000 wireless controller was incorporated to provide easy setup and centralized deployment. The controller also features Luxul’s Roam Assist technology, which ensures seamless and active roaming of mobile devices on the yacht. Smooth Sailing “With the price tag for chartering the Shambhala, customers understandably have very high expectations for the technology on the yacht, both in terms of the wow factor it delivers and its reliability,” Weinkle said. “Everyone who’s been onboard has been thrilled – whether it’s for an industry party at CEDIA in San Diego or a celebrity musician who wants to DJ his own chartered trip. We couldn’t have delivered this experience without a solid Luxul network foundation. Their solutions were key in solving almost every challenge we had in this installation. We’re blown away by the result, and so is our client.” x The yacht offers 16 zones of distributed audio.

June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



Here Come the Chorebots! These Home Robots Aren’t Taking Our Jobs. They’re Taking Our Chores By Darryl Wilkinson Anyone paying attention to the rapid advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) knows that we are all doomed. If AI-driven robot overlords don’t outright destroy mankind, robot underlings are certainly going to take all of our jobs. In fact, at this point, if you’re not worried about being made robotically redundant, you’re either retired or already unemployed. On the other hand, there are jobs most of us would willingly let robots do, such as searching for melted uranium fuel inside the now-defunct Fukushima nuclear power plant. Likewise, no human would have hiked solo on Mars for the last 15 years, snapping scientific selfies and collecting dusty rocks, all the while knowing retirement was not an option. There are lots of less-glamorous jobs that robots should be doing, too. People with a particular disdain for housekeeping (we know who we are) will be heartened to learn that many of those never-ending household chores like cleaning, vacuuming, and mowing the lawn can be done by a slew of housecleaning machines already on the market. In addition to these basic chorebots, there are a variety of robot household assistants that can help take care of pets, replace live pets, function as virtual companions, provide home security, or serve as caregivers for seniors. I, Chorebot The first commercially available autonomous vacuum cleaner, the Electrolux Trilobite, was released in 2001 to limited sales – and cleaning – success. iRobot followed with the first of its iconic Roomba-series robot vacuums in 2001 and has since gone on to sell well over 20-million home robots (a figure that includes robot vacs, mops, gutter sweepers, and pool cleaners). Yet, iRobot is far from the only company in the floor-cleaning home chorebot business. Amazon, for example, lists more than 50 “top brands” of robotic vacuums and accessory suppliers, including brands such as


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

(Above) Coral Robots’ Coral One two-in-one robot vacuum contains an independent suction motor core in the robot’s chassis that can be removed to function as a handheld cordless vac. (Left) The Botvac D7 Connected from Neato Robotics includes laserguided navigation for multiple zones of cleaning.

iRobot, Ecovacs Robotics, Samsung, Neato Robotics, Bissell, Shark, LG, eufy, Miele, and ILIFE. It’s indicative of how popular these floor suckers and scrubbers have become that at least one company, MightySkins, makes protective, decorative vinyl wrap decals for select models of iRobot and Shark robot vacs.

super-smart AI. These make Roomba’s i7+ more than worth the higher sticker price if you can afford it. The Botvac D7 Connected ($829) from Neato Robotics includes laser-guided navigation, multiple zones of cleaning, “no-go” lines that can be added to the robot vac’s floor plan via its app, and a two-hour battery life with a quick boost recharge feature.

Not surprisingly, prices have dropped considerably over the past 18 years, and today’s entry-level machines start at under $100 for a basic floor-cleaning robot. Higher-end models with more features and better performance cost more, of course. iRobot’s best robot vac, the Roomba i7+ Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum, retails for $1,099. Multiple cutting-edge functions, however, not the least of which is the ability to automatically empty its onboard dust bin, along with impressive cleaning power and a

Before rushing out to buy a robot vac, be aware that, for a variety of reasons, even the highest rated robot vacuum isn’t a full-on replacement for a traditional, human-propelled model. Due to their smaller size, robot vacs lack the suction power of a regular design. Few robots can tackle thick carpets, and none can vacuum stairs. A robot vac’s height may also prevent it from cleaning hard-to-reach areas such as toe kick spaces underneath cabinets. That being said, robot vacuums are perfect for

INNOVATIVE TECH daily cleaning, whether it’s sucking up breakfast crumbs from under the table or making pet hair vanish – and, for the most part, they can do the job even when you’re not at home. Ultimately, a robot vac makes vacuuming by hand a much smoother, shorter human chore.

(Left) iRobot’s best robot vac, the Roomba i7+ Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum, retails for $1,099. (Below) Litter-Robot’s automatic, selfcleaning litter box.

Twoferbots There’s a growing trend among manufacturers to design floor-cleaning robots that are capable of more than one type of cleaning task. The most common combo adds floor mopping capabilities to a robot’s vacuuming functions. These double-duty configurations can be very affordable – under $100 at the low end – and have the welcome advantage of minimizing the number of machines that you have to maintain and store. Ecovacs Robotics’ vacuuming/ mopping combo-bot, the DEEBOT OZMO 930 ($699), includes Adaptive Floor Sensing that enables it to uniquely alter its cleaning pattern instantly based on the cleaning mode that it is in. At least two manufacturers make cleaning robots that combine a robot vac with a hand-held cordless vacuum. The Shark ION S87 robot cleaning system ($499) includes a charging dock with separate locations for the base robot (the Shark ION R85) and its cordless handheld vacuum counterpart, the Shark ION W1.. Coral Robots, on the other hand, takes a different approach. The company’s Coral One ($699) two-in-one robot vacuum contains an independent suction motor core in the robot’s chassis that can be removed to function as a handheld cordless vac when needed. Hobot is noteworthy for two designs of twoin-one cleaning robots. The company’s new LEGEE-668 vacuum-mop robot ($599) uses a four-step cleaning method that vacuums, dry mops, sprays water, and finally, wet mops. Oscillating at 10 times per second, Hobot claims the reciprocating motion of the cleaning pads “simulates the movements of the hands to remove dried stains and debris from the floor.” The multi-function Hobot-188 ($349) isn’t a vacuum cleaner. It does, however, use a vacuum motor with enough suction power that the robot can, gecko-like, cling to and clean “virtually any vertical or horizontal surface (without the use of magnets).” According to Hobot, this includes tile and parquet floors, windows, walls, mirrors, mosaic windows, glass partitions, and tables. Because window-cleaning robots suck lots of

energy, they’re one of the few types of home robots that require continuous connection to an AC outlet – a fact that can make the extensioncord logistics of cleaning large windows, especially those on the second floor of a house, challenging and often dangerous to manage. Ecovacs Robotics solves this problem with the recently introduced “industry-first cordless window cleaning robot,” the Winbot X ($449). On a full charge, the Winbot X can clean for up to 50 minutes. When the power level gets low, the robot will return to its starting point on the window, use backup power to remain attached to the surface, and activate an alarm for 30 minutes. Kitty Litter Unboxed It may not be as potentially dangerous as cleaning a second-story window, but any cat owner will tell you that cleaning out the kitty litter box (and sweeping up the litter that gets scattered everywhere) is one of the most unpleasant chores a pet owner has to do regularly. Litter-Robot’s automatic, self-cleaning litter box, the Litter-Robot 3 Connect ($499), incorporates a spherical litter “box” that rotates 360 degrees after the cat has done its business, scoops the clumped litter, and dumps it in a

removable, biodegradable waste bag in the bin below. It’s Wi-Fi enabled; and, in conjunction with the Litter-Robot app, it can help owners monitor their cats’ health (up to five) by tracking their individual “bathroom behaviors.” The Litter-Robot can also send push notifications regarding the robot’s status, including while it’s cycling, when the drawer is full, or if the unit is paused. The company says it plans to make the device’s API available to the public – meaning it could potentially be integrated into smart home services (such as IFTTT) and other smart home platforms. Robot-Mowed Grass is Always Greener The Apollo 11 moon landing wasn’t the only “giant leap for mankind” to occur in 1969. It’s the year MowBot introduced the first robot lawnmower, a “quiet, virtually maintenance-free, battery-powered unit” that randomly cut “up to 7,000 square feet on one charge” and sold for today’s equivalent of $5,700. Half-a-century later, entry-level robot mowers, such as the Robomow RX12, sell for under $600. With a 7-inch cutting width, however, the Robomow RX12 is intended for use in smaller yards under 1/20 acre (2,200 sq. ft.) Robomow’s top-end June 2019 | Residential Tech Today


INNOVATIVE TECH model, the RS630, lists for $2,600. It is designed for lawns up to 3/4 of an acre, has a cutting width of 22 inches, and includes wireless connectivity for remote control using a mobile app, a web app, or voice activation (via Alexa). Robomow isn’t the only robot grass cutter in town, though. Starting around $1,300, you can find robot lawnmowers from companies such as Husqvarna, Honda, Worx, Gardena, and McCulloch. Less sweat and fewer sunburns aren’t the only advantages of owning a robot lawnmower. Battery-powered mowers are quiet – in most cases producing less than 60 dB of sound, which is lower in volume than the average air conditioner. They’re better for your lawn’s health, too, because the smaller grass clippings they produce are easily recycled into the soil. Unfortunately, robot mowers work best on flat terrain and are typically rated for maximum slopes ranging from the Robomow RX12’s 8.5 degrees to as high as 40 degrees with the Husqvarna Automower 310 ($1,299). Although not available in the U.S. yet, Husqvarna’s Automower 435X AWD promises to be the monster truck of robot mowers. In addition to an ingenious all-wheel-drive system that can tackle slopes of up to 70 percent, the 435X AWD will offer “conversational AI for Amazon Alexa and Google Home integration” along with an ultrasonic sensor for remote object detection and an open API for potential integration with smart home systems and services, such as IFTTT. Official pricing hasn’t been announced, but will likely be in the neighborhood of $5,500 when it makes it to the U.S. next year. Paws for a Cause Having a living animal for a pet may be impractical or impossible for some folks, so, naturally, there are robot pets waiting to be adopted by robot-loving pet-less people. Since 1999, the top dog of robo-pets has been Sony’s Aibo series. The 2018 model, the Aibo ERS1000 ($2,899), is an incredibly sophisticated 4.1-pound, 11.5-inch tall, 12-inch long “autonomous entertainment robot” dog with built-in Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity. Aibo incorporates cameras, microphones, and touch sensors, learns from its interactions, and its behavior will evolve over time. Earlier this year, Sony launched Aibo Patrol, a service that the company says is “built on the concept of


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

Starting around $1,300, you can find robot lawnmowers from companies such as Husqvarna (top), Gardena (center),Honda (bottom), Worx, and McCulloch.

“securitainment” (security and entertainment), which provides peace of mind in addition to the everyday fun of living with Aibo.” Initially, Aibo will be able to patrol around a room and transmit reports. According to the Canadian toy maker, Spin Master, the company’s Zoomer Interactive Puppy ($239) is “made for children who can’t wait to adopt a real puppy.” (At less than 1/10th the price, it’s also made for parents who can’t afford a Sony Aibo.) Zoomer understands commands in English, Spanish, and French, and it can learn tricks such as lying down, rolling over, shaking its paw, and chasing his tail. Spin Master’s Zoomer pet robot menagerie includes more than 100 additional models with varying levels of interactivity and cost, such as cats, dinosaurs, hedgehogs, ponies, unicorns, and chimps. Interactive robotic animals have been shown to have significant therapeutic value, especially for those suffering from dementia. PARO, now in its eighth generation, is a robot seal with five kinds of sensors and movement capabilities that allow it to interact with patients. PARO mimics a living seal by moving its legs and head, and it makes sounds including the actual voice of a

baby harp seal. Although PARO is limited to institutional use, Ageless Innovation’s Joy For All Companion Pet Cat ($99) and Companion Pet Golden Pup ($119) are designed to provide similar calming benefits for dementia sufferers being cared for at home. The Companion Pet Cat moves and responds like a real feline with realistic fur and cat-like moments, along with meowing and purring. The Companion Pet Dog makes puppy-like sounds and movements, will react to a user’s voice, and has a heartbeat that can be felt when held. According to Somnox, one out of five people around the world suffers from some sort of sleeping problems. Instead of making a “pet” companion robot, the company developed the Sleep Robot ($599) to be the “ultimate sleep companion” that uses “breathing regulation, sounds, and affection…” When a sleep-troubled human spoons with this small, snuggly body pillow, the Sleep Robot lulls them into a deeper, more refreshing sleep by subconsciously influencing the snugglers to synchronize their breathing to match the Sleep Robot’s slower and steadier calming rhythm. Somnox’s robot sheepcounting app allows users to set their own sound and breathing exercise preferences.


He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brobot For those whose robot requirements go beyond a playful pup or a companion cat, several humanoid-style companion robots stand out (and stand up) as options for seniors and children. The AvatarMind’s Abilix iPal ($2,499), for instance, is a 3.5-foot tall, 28-pound, bipedal companion robot that’s equipped with multijointed hands and arms, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microphones, touch sensors, ultrasound sensors, and infrared sensors, along with a 6-inch LCD panel built into its chest. Although its hips and legs can bend, iPal’s feet are integrated into a base with motorized wheels that give it mobility. AvatarMind says that iPal can function as a teacher for children using spoken language and tablet-based education programs. It can play games, dance, tell stories, “encourage physical activity,” and even allow parents (“under strict controls”) to “remotely control iPal and monitor their child’s progress, safety, and activities on their smartphone or desktop from anywhere and at any time.” For aging-in-place seniors, iPal can function as “a constant companion that supplements personal care services and provides security with alerts for many medical emergencies such as falling down.”

Sony’s Aibo ERS-1000 is a sophisticated 4.1-pound, 11.5-inch tall, 12-inch long “autonomous entertainment robot” dog with built-in Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity. (Below) Instead of making a “pet” companion robot, Somnox developed the Sleep Robot to be the “ultimate sleep companion.”

UBTECH’s Alpha 1 Pro humanoid robot ($599) is 15.7 inches tall with 16 moveable joints and programming capabilities that give it the ability to “move, dance, and fight, among countless other skills,” including performing as a “workout buddy” that can do yoga moves, pushups, and headstands. The company’s 17-inch tall Lynx Humanoid Robot ($799) integrates Amazon Alexa voice control, a feature that’s said to result in a more “lifelike human-to-robot interface.” When in surveillance mode, changes in light or motion will trigger Lynx to record 30 seconds of video that’s then transferred to your phone for viewing in the Lynx Robot app.

($299) uses flavor capsules containing the ingredients for specific cocktails and combines the contents with the appropriate base liquor from one of four interchangeable reservoirs. After the Bartesian pours the drink into your glass, it automatically rinses itself clean. It’s tempting to call the Bartesian a “Keurig for cocktails,” but don’t, because that’s what the Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig (introductory pricing of $299) is. The result of a joint venture between Keurig, Dr Pepper, and Anheuser Busch, the Drinkworks drinkmaker can automatically prepare “cocktails, brews, ciders, and more” using proprietary Drinkworks Pods containing each specific drink’s ingredients and flavorings. The drinkmaker also calculates the precise amount of water and carbonation needed for each libation.

Beer Me After a long, hard day of making sure your household robots are doing their jobs (vacuuming, mopping, mowing, etc.), you’ll want to relax with a cocktail or two. But making great cocktails at home isn’t easy. Fortunately, there’s a home robot – a few of them, actually – that can take care of mixing perfect adult liquid refreshments. The sleekly designed Bartesian

Robowlbot No home robot roundup would be complete without mention of Altan Robotech’s Giddel Toilet Cleaning Robot ($349). The alienlooking Giddel is portable, battery-powered, and comes with mounting brackets for up to three individual toilets. Its telescopic arm and brush “scrubs the rim, under the rim, the bowl, down to the exit… in circular and wavy motion

to cover every level in the toilet.” Once it’s completed the job that no human ever wants to do – flushed with pride at a job well done – the Giddel sits in its charging base waiting for duty to call again. And there are still other chore-busting home robots with other unique cleaning capabilities that haven’t been covered here: pool cleaning robots, pool skimming robots, outdoor cooking grill scrubbing robots, aquarium glass cleaning robots, robot toys for dogs and cats, roving air purifying robots, plus motorized robot luggage and golf carts that automatically follow you through airports or on the golf course. There’s even a “smart travel robot,” CleanseBot, that uses AI, 18 built-in sensors, and four internal UV-C lamps to autonomously clean and sanitize your hotel bed sheet and blankets – while they’re still on the bed – in under 60 minutes. We’re not at the point, yet, when we’ll have one humanoid robot that can perform multiple cleaning tasks and assistive functions. That day will undoubtedly come. When it does, let’s hope it comes in the form of Optimus Prime (well, maybe a slightly smaller version for doing chores) rather than Megatron. x June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



IntelliVision Technologies has added anti-spoofing to its face recognition technology to ensure that photos, screen-based images, or even videos of a known face will not be recognized. A “liveness” test can be used with regular 2D cameras embedded or serverbased. By offering different levels of liveness testing, the anti-spoofing feature implements security without sacrificing convenience. The system can be configured for fast secure recognition, or highly secure recognition at a slightly slower speed. IntelliVision face recognition can be implemented on premise servers, over the cloud, or embedded in cameras.

Atlantic Technology is now shipping its new flagship SBT Series subwoofers, expanding their range of in-room subwoofers to suit higherperformance large room two-channel or home theater systems. Two models are available – the 500-watt powered dual 10-inch SBT-500 and 1,000-watt dual 12-inch powered SBT-1000. With MSRP at $1,799 and $2,499, respectively, they are available in black satin or high-gloss finishes. Each sub includes dual long-throw composite cone drivers, each with a vented motor structure and high-temperature, 2-inch, 4-layer voice coil, and driven by patented Audera Class LH high-efficiency linear hybrid amplifiers.

Luxul’s new Easy Setup App is now available as a free download for Apple and Android devices. For professional integrators, the app greatly speeds up the installation process and ensures that key installation points are covered. Luxul’s Easy Setup App allows integrators to install a Luxul wireless router and up to two wireless access points (APs) – at the same time – from the convenience of an iOS or Android phone. By installing additional APs with the app, the router’s wireless controller takes care of the configuration.

Meridian has introduced two new in-wall loudspeakers to its architectural loudspeaker line-up, enabling integrators to deliver the authentic, superior audio performance that customers want for their home cinema or media room installations. Characterized by their high SPL’s and strong bass performance capabilities, the new DSP640.2 and DSP520.2 in-wall loudspeakers are the first to be powered by the new Meridian CLASS-M DSP engine and to integrate Meridian’s DYNAMIC Hi-Res amplifiers. The double precision Aux filter improves resolution on low frequencies, and the built-in Dynamic bass protection technology maximizes bass extension.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


Metra Home Theater Group (MHTG) has introduced a new retail product line from Helios for speaker stands and mounts in various sizes and options, adding to the brand’s existing line of TV mounts. The new category includes eight different models of floor stands, wall or ceiling mounts, and a bookshelf mount for speakers. These new products are sold as a pair and are now shipping.

New compatibility between Savant’s control platform and Resideo’s Honeywell Home T Series Smart Thermostats enables cloud-to-cloud integration between the two brands. Homeowners with a Honeywell Home T5, T6, T9, or T10 PRO Smart Thermostat from Resideo can simply say “I’m hot” or “I’m cold” into the Savant Pro Remote to trigger a two-degree adjustment of the temperature setting. Users can also integrate climate adjustment as part of the Savant Scene engine, giving them one-touch or voice command access to instant comfort.

Screen Innovations (SI) has created an all-new, completely re-designed version of its Solo motorized screen that is 17 percent smaller than the original, but with a much wider array of options such as sizes up to 160 inches diagonal and nearly any power option imaginable. The Solo 2 family includes a rechargeable wireless or wired low-voltage power versionf, but also adds a new wired AC option and multiple control connectivity possibilities, including RTS and RS485. Additionally, Solo 2 is capable of reverse orientation, a highly requested feature that enables users to drop their screen in front of an existing flat-panel or wall-art without obstruction concerns.

Based in San Diego, Eleanor Rigby Home is a complete upholstery resource and a go-to for custom solutions for home theater seating. The company’s motion frames combine the convenience of power foot and seat and reflect the tailored design and unique styling of a signature Eleanor Rigby Home piece. Each model is offered as a modular concept so that you can build the sofa or sectional to fit your exact space. They use Leggett & Platt mechanisms that are tried and tested for reliability and durability by the world’s largest furniture components company. In addition, the company offers three different seat widths. June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



The Evolution of the iPad Mount iPort Created the First iPod Dock and Continues to Innovate with iPad Mounting Solutions By Jeremy J. Glowacki When Apple shifted to its lightning connector in 2012, iPort (sister brand to Sonance and TRUFIG) faced a moment of reckoning. With iPod docks going away, iPort would need to evolve to remain relevant. The pioneer of the iPod docking station would move away from its focus on in-wall and tabletop music docks to the key value of, “Hold, Charge, and Protect iPads.” The company’s first solution was Control Mount, a stationary mount that attached an iPad near-flush on the wall. As it gained support from iPort dealers, the company looked for to its dealers for more ways to serve the channel. “Their feedback was consistent:” ‘This is cool… I just wish I could take it off the wall,’” said iPort’s Mike Cleary. To respond to the request, iPort could have simply allowed the control mount bezel to open to release the iPad, but that would leave a big hole in the wall, and that was unacceptable, recalled iPort’s Derick Dahl. “We knew the only way to achieve our aesthetic and user experience goals was to combine a few exotic technologies together to build something that had never been done before – magnets and inductive charging,” he explained. There was no wireless charging standard at the time that allowed for more than five watts of transmission, and the iPad needed twice that amount. Additionally, strong magnets and computers don’t mix very well. After many all-night design sessions, however, iPort found their solution in the 2011 release of the world’s first wireless charger for iPad, the LaunchPort, which was available with WallStation and BaseStation charging options.


Residential Tech Today | June 2019

(Top) Control Mount was an earlier design from iPort, offering a stationary iPad mount that attached near-flush on the wall. (Left) iPort was a pioneer in the iPod docking station market.

ART & TECH A few years went by, and the company started to have ambitions of refining and re-inventing their offerings. There was opportunity to significantly improve the aesthetics of the products, as well as make them simpler to specify and install. iPort started first with the original Control Mount. “The idea was simple,” Dahl said. “Instead of requiring a large hole in the wall to install an iPad, we wanted to make the entire mount surface-mountable.” The power system needed to be compatible with PoE switches, so a standard Cat-5 and single-gang wall box could be specified wherever a dealer wanted to install an iPad. iPort also wanted to design the entire bezel to become the mounting component itself, utilizing machined aluminum to create a rigid mounting structure that could also present the iPad in an elegant, minimalist way.”

iPort found their solution to Apple’s lightning connector change with the 2011 release of the world’s first wireless charger for iPad, the LaunchPort.

The result was Surface Mount, which is the first of a series of products that embodied a new design aesthetic. “The idea is that with minimalism, the design gets out of the way, so it blends in with the design of your space,” Dahl said.

By the time the company started working on the next version of LaunchPort, it had become a very popular product. Therefore, the company wanted to retain all of the usability features that customers loved, while significantly improving aesthetics and ease of installation. “We carried a lot of the sensibilities from Surface Mount into the project: aluminum, minimalist symmetrical bezel, PoE power and a general slimming, and tightening of the product overall from its predecessor,” Dahl said. Out of this project came LuxePort, the company’s flagship solution. Today, iPort is focused on enhancing the utility of a dedicated-use tablet at work and at home. “We believe that technology should be hidden and look like it belongs in the space where it lives,” Cleary said. “The opportunity to embrace change drives our creative design. Our dealers’ feedback and experience guide our direction and focus.”

(Left and above) With its flagship LuxePort mount, iPort features aluminum, minimalist symmetrical bezel, PoE power and a general slimming, and tightening of the product overall from its predecessor.

Dahl further explained the brand’s design philosophy: “When we first saw iPad, we saw this agnostic piece of glass that could be transformed into really anything,” he explained. “For residential custom integration, that ‘thing’ was a dedicated controller for the home. The initial products that we developed focused on the core of the user experience of this particular transformation. But in addition to this, our products needed to aid in blending iPad into the design of the space, a philosophy that is part of our DNA at Dana Innovations, whether in Sonance, TRUFIG, or iPort.” x June 2019 | Residential Tech Today




CEDIA’s new headquarters in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, IN, hosts several training classes this summer. Susan Fleck Photography









InfoComm Orlando, FL

CEDIA Local Learning Miami, FL

CEDIA Tech Summit Wetherby, UK

CES Asia 2019 Shanghai, China

Advanced Networking Boot Camp Indianapolis, IN

CEDIA Local Learning Indianapolis, IN

AUGUST 24-25 5-7

CEDIA Basic Residential Boot Camp Indianapolis, IN


Residential Tech Today | June 2019


CEDIA Home Theater Boot Camp Indianapolis, IN

CEDIA Awards Celebration & Leadership Conference Chicago, IL


Residential Tech Today


How Remote is Remote? The evolution of home control technology has involved not only voice integration and cloud-based infrastructure, but the incorporation of new security technologies and inhome health monitoring to allow an aging population to remain in their residences longer, and more safely.


The Voice-First Revolution. Smart speakers driven by voice control have been one of the most successful consumer electronics trends in history. Yet, most of these devices are used for only a fraction of their full capability. What will it take for smart speakers to become the hub of the smart home or will they always be just one input into a more sophisticated system? How will consumer behavior, expectations, and the user experience play out in a voice-first world?


Clean Living and the Healthy Home. The smart home is great and the intelligent home is even better, but what about the healthy home? New technologies and better science are finding ways to help homeowners from all economic strata live in environments with cleaner air and water, as well as more natural lighting. Find out what opportunities exist for single-family and multi-family homes, and how technology integrators and forward-looking architects are leading the way.


June 2019 | Residential Tech Today



The Lighter Side

The App Store Clearance Aisle By Anthony Elio

App stores are an essential gateway to the world of smartphone applications, allowing us to socialize, increase productivity, and reduce the chances of speaking to a stranger. However, not all apps are created equal. Deep within the bowels of the various app stores lurk some strange, ill-conceived applications, many that laugh at the idea of copyright infringement and practical uses. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the discount bin of the app stores. Sausage Shooter Shooting games have allowed gamers to traverse insanely imaginative landscapes, such as the deepest realms of space in the Halo series and the Call of Duty games often reflecting real-world conflicts of the past. In Sausage Shooter, you shoot anthropomorphic hot dogs on a picnic table, complete with poor controls and a staggering amount of popup ads. I’ll just stick to shooting hot dogs in real life, thank you very much. Best Review: ✪ “It was the most boring thing in the world” – seagull daddy Virtual Mother New Baby Twins Would you like all the hassle of being a parent without actually contributing to the survival of the human race? Then this is the game for you! In addition to having the most descriptive yet vague title of any game I’ve played, Virtual Mother New Baby Twins finally gave me the opportunity to give motherhood a try. You start by customizing your character, whose different outfits you can unlock for a bargain price of $10. From there, you’re onto your first mission: walking inside, picking up your child, and putting him in his crib. And then on to your second mission: walking to the kitchen and getting milk. And to think I’ve heard people actually complain about parenting.

m Phone graphics by

Best Review: ✪✪✪✪✪ “I love it because it has babys and i love real life babys and evan kids” – A Google user Trucker Dating There is no shortage of specialized dating websites these days. From Farmers Only (a site for, you guessed it, farmers) to Veggly (a site for vegans who won’t shut up about it), it seems like every lifestyle has its own specialized dating site. And, apparently, that now includes truck drivers. Trucker Dating is exactly what is sounds like: a dating hub for truckers far and wide. Now, not being a trucker, I did have to use a Google image of a muscular man in a truck, along with the short bio: “I love two things: trucks and flirting online. And I don’t see no trucks.” So far, I’ve gotten zero matches. Best Review: ✪✪✪✪ “It’s good but most people are not truckers but trucker fans” – Jeremy Kay

Escape Sponge Prison Spongebob Squarepants is a true pop culture icon, entertaining children around the world with his good-natured, quirky humor. This makes it all the more surprising that he would end up in prison. Well, that’s the premise of Escape Sponge Prison, an app game that I’m assuming the creators of Spongebob were less than involved in. The game features such difficult obstacles and frustrating controls that I couldn’t even get past the second stage. Looks like Spongebob will just have to pay for his crimes against humanity. I never thought I’d type that sentence. Best Review: ✪✪✪✪✪ “I’m happy because of sponge” – A Google user


Residential Tech Today | June 2019



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Profile for Innovation & Tech Today

Residential Tech Today — June 2019  

In the June 2019 issue of Residential Tech Today, find out about Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry’s rockin’ relationship with home recording te...

Residential Tech Today — June 2019  

In the June 2019 issue of Residential Tech Today, find out about Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry’s rockin’ relationship with home recording te...