This year, event sponsors, Aldous Systems, Anthem AV Solutions, AWE, Genesis, Gira, Habitech, Loxone, Lutron, Meridian, Orluna, Teleste and Wyrestorm showcased their latest products and innovations, whilst a selection also held both product and technical training throughout the day. These well attended sessions provided an insight into LED lighting, a guide to Home Cinema Solutions and other key industry topics.

Following a full day of training, over 80 members attended the AGM, where CEDIA provided a detailed review of its education, marketing, membership growth and finance activities in 2015.  CEDIA revealed that 128 companies have joined the trade body in 2015 so far, bringing the total up to 714, its highest point ever for the region.  International membership continues to grow, and the EMEA office now represents members across 40 countries.

Genesis Technologies used the platform to announce that it is now partnering with a third party service to offer DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) content movies in the home on the day of commercial cinema release. “This is very exclusive,” said Neil Davidson, managing director‬. “It is a great opportunity for installers to offer.”

So why only now? Neil explained that until now it has been very hard to buy a DCI-compliant projector, and that even then, they were not optimised for best performance on small screens.

It seems that Barco has solved this problem, as the actual playback of the DCP (digital cinema package) files plus all the necessary video processing is carried out by a physical module that is inserted into the projector.

Genesis Technologies has spent a long time working with Barco high end residential on this, with prices for the manufacturer’s optimised projectors starting at £50,000.

“Barco projectors are unique in using the Alchemy ICMP (Integrated Cinema Media Processor), which combines all of the video processing and DCI compliant features into one module – and this is easily upgradable.

“With a DCI projector it is now no more difficult than watching Netflix! The most difficult requirement is getting the fast broadband connection as content is pushed to the server.”

“It has also been incredibly had to get this content,” Neil admitted. “Everything needs to be negotiated directly with the film studio. Genesis’ partner, the owner of the Day and Date content service, is currently solving the issue of getting hold of the content.”

That someone has yet to be named due to confidentiality reasons. Genesis Technologies and its partner will provide a complete solution including the required content delivery, playback devices, DCI verification, user interface and control integration.

“Making a blockbuster is a massive gamble for the studio,” he added. “Most films typically have a 10-week release window at the cinema before they are released to other platforms. The film studios can accurately calculate what a film will make based on the takings on the first day of release.

The Details

The two files required to make the solution work is the DCI (containing video, audio and data stream), and the key delivery message, which contains the licence key. DCP files are loaded onto a dedicated media player before playback.

Neil shared that a 4K, 3D, HFR movie could be close to 16GB per minute. “Simply transforming this amount of data is a challenge,” he said. “DCP uses lossless compression of video and audio. Video has 12bit colour in the P3 colour space with no subsampling, where as a Blu-ray has 8-bit colour in rec, 709 colour space with 4:2:0. Audio is 24bits with 48k sampling in all channels (48/24). The enhanced colour performance of a DCP is very easy to notice, especially in the red and yellow tones,” he added.

Will this remain the case with UHD, HDR and Rec. 2020 media?

“This remains an open discussion for me; I’m not trying to hide that. But we always strive to bring in new technology when it works perfectly.

Will customers want the service?

“No one asks if it’s 4K,” says Neil. “It’s just: ‘can I have the movie on the day of release?’ Simple. I’ve noticed that half a dozen dealers have stopped doing control this year; they are just specialising in home cinemas – this is where the profit is. It’s because the clients recognise that this is a speciality and they want a specialist to do it.

“These are the people that want designer light fittings, high res audio systems and golf simulators. These are all examples of things that no one needs, but everybody wants! Profit margins will remain strong in these ‘need to have’ products and services.

“The home cinema is growing in popularity, it is a truly luxury goods selling,” he confirmed. “The problem is, you can buy a ‘home cinema’ in PC world, so how do we teach consumers the difference?”

Neil explained that the home cinema should be a combination of technology and design that delivers a better than commercial cinema experience. “Cinemas at home should use DCI content on the day and date it is released in commercial cinemas – and now this is possible.”

Loxone

Loxone led an interesting discussion on the key to smart home success.

Philipp Schuster, company director started the session by stating that energy and heating saving products have seen a big growth this year, although smart appliances are not predicted to see a large spike in growth due to being high end products at a high cost.

“It’s the consumer products that are well known, like Philips, Sonos and Nest. The problem is, is that lots of smart devices don’t work together as they all control different aspects of the home.”

He outlined that a multitude of hubs are emerging; the problem being that someone with technical knowledge is needed to set it up and work it. Philipp noted that the Loxone Miniserver looks at all areas of the house, offering easy control that is intelligently automated.

Smart home consumers

“Consumers like simple products, they almost don’t care about the brands,” he said. “They want the benefits, not the brand names. Going back to the days of people living in caves, to this day people still want their basic needs met in the home: security and warmth being two of them.”

Philipp said that there are approximately 26 million homes in the UK – a number that is rapidly growing. According to British Gas, a quarter of a million homes have smart meters. “The smart home market is still niche; they are not ready for it yet,” he said.

“Consumers need educating before the sector can grow. We need people to understand why it is applicable to them – why should they want it? If it is easy and simple, then it will get adopted.”

Meridian Audio

Meridian led a session in the afternoon called ‘high resolution audio – what does it mean to you and your clients?’

Matt Holland, Meridian Audio business relationship manager and Barry Sheldrick, director of sales used the session to‬ outline that high res audio concerns the loudness range, low noise, frequency (pitch) range, pitch accuracy and timing accuracy.

Meridian stated that humans can hear up to 120dB before they start to feel pain. The frequency range is between 20Hz and 20kHz, whereas pitch accuracy varies with pitch.

Barry made it clear that Meridian is dedicated to bringing “studio quality sound to the home,” helped along by embracing lossless audio over lossy, which essentially throws away data.

New additions to Meridian’s Sooloos include a plugin that enables third party NAS integration, a range of significant performance and hardware enhancements and extended control options to embrace re-designed iPhone and iPad applications and TouchPC control alongside third party integration via Crestron and Control4.

Meridian Audio also explained how its dealers can benefit from its free design and specification service.

Sooloos is designed to send the optimum signal to each end point via high performance analogue, digital and Speakerlink Cross platform outputs.

Integrated TuneIn Radio alongside streaming from TIDAL and Rhapsody enables clients to curate their own exclusive music collection very quickly and easily so they can build a comprehensive library.

AWE

Managing director Stuart Tickle used the session titled ‘an Installer’s guide to AWE’s Multiroom audio and home cinema solutions’ to give attendees background information on the company, outlining its key brands, including newer additions Loewe, Sanus, Draper, SoundXtra and Syncbox.

James Drummie then talked attendees (later quizzing them) though its many home audio starter kits, ranging in price from £2,100 to £26,000.

Denon’s HEOS is a key product within these packages, and it was announced that HEOS is now Control4 certified, while Crestron is currently in the development stages.

The largest and most expensive package is the ultimate AWE home cinema package, offering a 7.4.4 in-wall speaker system – compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Lutron

Lutron led a session called ‘achieving success with LED lighting, where Sam Woodward warned attendees about when someone tries to sell them “maintenance-free lights,” stressing that Lumen maintenance is very important.

He made it clear that the L value needs to be considered, which is the moment that the LED starts to decrease, noting that L70 is the standard.

“The challenges with dimming LEDs are: flicker, dead travel, pop-on, noise and poor low end,” he said. “As well as high cost, rapid evolution and the fact that there is no certification about how LEDs should be dimmed in Europe.”

Sam pointed out that our eyes are really good at seeing differences in lighting at the low end, but not so good at the top end, later adding that a key point of the session was to know that all LEDs are dimmable, but not all LED systems can be dimmed.

He advised attendees to think about in-rush codes in circuits and recommended they use phase adaptive dimming when they can.

He closed the session by stating that Lutron offers an LED selection tool and report card for lamps that pass via its tech support section, which is open 24/7. Lutron also offers ‘LED deep dive days’.

Aldous Systems and Visualint

Jason Aldous from Aldous Systems led a session where he discussed Visualint, discussing the fact that many of the CCTV cameras currently on the market don’t “possess a brain and simply just record the burglar as they enter the house”. With Visualint, Jason says that a homeowner will be alerted as soon as an incident is on going, allowing them to react quicker than standard CCTV.

Thanks to a technology called ‘video content analysis’ (VCA), Visualint is able to analyse the image that it is looking at but only trigger an alert based on things that may be of interest; most notably cars and people.

While there are some CCTV cameras currently on the market that are capable of such incident triggering, Jason explains how Visualint’s camera won’t react to simple motion such as trees swaying in the wind.

Installers can set up rules so if a person walks up the drive the lights can automatically turn on. If a person is in the back garden and the alarm is set, an installer can programme the system to turn the lights on and challenge that person using hidden speakers.

Virtual trip wires and virtual zones can be placed anywhere a user wants them. If an object crosses that trip wire or into that zone an event is triggered.

While the technology can effectively be used in a residential setting it also has commercial benefits. Object abandonment is one feature that could be vital at places where security is important; such as airports/train stations. When a bag is added to background scene it can trigger an event and notify the security company.

Likewise for object removal, when an object is removed from the background scene an event could be triggered. There are no reoccurring license fees. Just one time for life. Detect license is £100 per camera for life.

Visualint cameras can even be integrated with home automation systems from the likes of Control 4, Leviton, Savant and Crestron.

Installers may also use a Visualint facial recognition door entry phone, which is able to use 3D facial recognition technology to scan a person’s face and give them access to the building without any keys or codes.

This technology costs £7,500 but is also coming to the cameras in the near future.

Visualint is planning on launching a new range of cameras in 2016 that should ‘shake things up a bit’ in terms of pricing, Jason told attendees.

Aldous Systems and Leviton Home & Security

Jason’s session was not all about Visualint however, as he also touched on another major client of Aldous Systems – Leviton Security.

Starting off with an explanation of Leviton’s history, which dates back to when Edison asked the company to create a bayonet to hold the original light bulb, Jason discussed the plethora of things the company now offers.

His focus, however, was on Leviton’s Home and Security business – which consists of a full building control system for everything from multi-room audio, security, lighting, energy management, entertainment, access control and more.

Thanks to Leviton’s diverse product portfolio, installers needn’t stray too far away from Leviton products when it comes to whole home control.

Installers will find that there’s typically a product Leviton makes that will work well with its homegrown control system.

There is still some flexibility however, as the system also works in conjunction with third party control systems – from the likes of Savant, Crestron, AMX, RTI and Control4.

A variety of bundles are available but the most affordable is the Omni LTE bundle which is priced at £265 + VAT.

Installers can also get a maintenance contract where they can throw in G4S monitoring which available to the trade for just £350 per year.

The latest product to join the Omni range is the OmniTouch 7 touchscreen, which is a fully customisable way of controlling the home.

Gira and KNX

Gira used the CEDIA tech forum to talk about one thing in particular; KNX. Unlike some other home automation systems which all link to a central point, KNX distributes its intelligence to all of the devices in one system.

Each device has its own bit of software allowing it to make a decision locally. KNX also only has one programming language – allowing one KNX manufacturer’s products, such as Gira’s, work with products from other KNX manufacturers.

Over 370 companies manufacturing products utilising the KNX standard. Powering KNX is a twisted pair cable, which can be run next to the mains.

That one cable is also capable of covering a small town with up to 255 devices connected per line.

There were some realities shared during Gira’s session; predominantly the fact that KNX is not quite magic.

Bringing the system back down to earth, Gira admitted that KNX can’t make a bad heating system better – that’s the job of the plumber – but that it could make it more intelligent and easier to control.

The KNX system can use multiple temperature sensors and adjust the temperature automatically based on the user’s comfort settings. If the room is too hot, the KNX system can send a call for cooling to the air conditioning. If it’s too cold, the same system can send a call for heat from the radiators. There’s no need for installers to do the logic themselves as it is all-native to the device itself.

The KNX system can work with a plethora of different variables. For instance, if a room is too cold but the window is open – the heating system can make the decision to not turn the heating on.

It can do the same if the sensor detects that no one is in the room.

A home server sitting on top of KNX will allow users to IP link into their system. Much of this functionality is designed to save user’s money on their energy bills but to also make their lives easier.

Combining a KNX weather station with the rest of the system can immediately drop the blinds if the sun is blinding at one side of the building or block the blinds from shutting if the wind is overly heavy.

Gira and Door Communications

The second half of Gira’s session at CEDIA’s Tech Forum was all about door communication and security.

Gira has been in this market for a while but it came to the CEDIA Tech Forum to show how installers go about installing a door communication device, as well as to show off its latest flush-mounted Gira G1.

Both the surface mounted and flush-mounted door stations utilise just two wires, which are the same wire as KNX. The two wires are designed to carry both power to the device and the audio and video signal.

The Gira G1 is a central operating unit that boasts everything from door control to temperature control.

Powered over Ethernet, the G1 is a versatile system that allows users to ditch internal monitors and use just the G1. All the functions can be controlled by touching or gesturing on the multi-touch display.

Keynote

Delivering the CEDIA Tech Forum keynote at the British Library this year was Peter Robinson from Frost & Sullivan, who discussed what the smart home of the future might look like.

There Internet economy is set to be worth £14.7 trillion by 2020; which is not surprising given Frost & Sullivan estimates that there will be 10 connected devices for every household – five connected devices for every user and 5 billion Internet users in the same period. 

But what will the connected home look like?

Well, that’s what Frost & Sullivan wanted to find out; it did so by surveying 2,007 people from Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain to discuss the future of the smart home.

Documenting the rise of the smart home, Frost & Sullivan found that basic control and home automation began taking off in 2005.

2010 saw energy efficiency and energy monitors become prominent. 2015 featured smartphones and tablets becoming remote display, while in 2020 everything will be in the cloud.

There is one factor that has not changed, according to Frost & Sullivan’s research – and that is cost. According to the consumers they spoke to, they want something that isn’t too expensive and represents value.

What ‘value’ means is a different kettle of fish entirely however – as people’s tastes are constantly changing and they want different things at different times.

Certain demographics are also more interested in some things, rather than others. For example, women were seen to be more interested in security, while older people cared more about health.

Spain and the UK were the two countries that came top in terms of connected device penetration – 88% of those surveyed in each country had a smartphone, while digital set-top boxes were most popular in the UK over any other country, with over 50% penetration.

While cost remains a hurdle for many consumers, connectivity was also vital. 32% of those surveyed said that the Internet connection they have at their homes was not what was promised by their ISP. Consumers were also concerned about how secure a smart home would be from hackers and whether their privacy would be compromised.

63% of those surveyed had no smart home installation. Of those that did have a piece of smart home equipment, it was predominantly either an alarm/surveillance system or some type of entertainment equipment.

When it came down to those who were interested in smart home technology; 72% said that the biggest benefit afforded by it was the cost savings involved when acquiring the likes of a Nest thermostat. High initial costs were often the reason for putting people off smart home tech however.

So who did consumers cite as the most innovative companies providing smart home solutions? Rather surprisingly it was the electricity and utility providers, who 39% of people cited as being the most innovative.

These companies have provided smart thermostats and home energy monitors to millions of European homes, with 30m homes set to have a smart thermostat by 2020. Germany and the UK are said to be leading the way in terms of smart thermostat adoption.

The biggest obstacle facing the custom install industry, as identified by Frost & Sullivan, remains educating consumers on the benefits of smart home technology.

Many consumers don’t realise the benefits the technology could afford in making their lives easier and even potential cost and time savings in the long run.

CEDIA has also identified that issue among consumers, which is why the organisation is set to target those consumers with advertising, explaining the benefits of custom installation.

CEDIA also revealed news on reaching its latest education milestone in being recognised by City and Guilds. This new development means that those who successfully complete either a Smart Home Technician or a Smart Home Designer pathway will receive a joint certification from CEDIA and City & Guilds and become accredited within this area.

Another big announcement at the AGM was the news that CEDIA is working with the British Standards Institution to produce a British Standard PAS (Publicly Available Specification) for smart home wiring.

The aim is to turn CEDIA’s Smart Home Recommended Wiring Guidelines into a British Standard that will increase professionalism and awareness in the industry.

The AGM concluded by revealing CEDIA’s new Board of Directors. Four new members have joined CEDIA’s board, including Philip Turner (Philharmonic Audio Visual Ltd, UK), Sawan Nichani (MacBee, India), Rob Sutherland (Inspired Dwellings, UK) and Melanie Malcolm (Bespoke Home Cinemas, UK). 

Re-elected members, Laura Lazzerini (Studio LgL, Italy), Hamish Neale (Barco Residential, UK) and Tom Butler (Artcoustic, UK), once again join Kris Hogg, CEDIA Chair, Giles Sutton (James + Giles, UK) and Christiaan Beukes (Sphere Custom Design & Installation, South Africa) to complete the CEDIA EMEA Board of Directors.