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In this CEDIA Webinar, learn all the different types of technology available to you for your home and property. Learn when the best time to contact an electronic system professional is, what exactly they can do for you, how easy they can make your home’s future and current automation, and how simple your life can become with a proper system in place.
Read the full transcriptions of this CEDIA webinar here.
Well, hello everybody and welcome to our third season of Boca Tech Talks. I’m Jeff Galea, CEO and founder of Boca Tech and Automation, and I’ll be your host today. I’d like to say thank you for attending, for those of you that are returning from last year thank you for your continued support, and for all the new folks we hope you enjoy today’s seminar. This is our third season after our first two seasons which totaled 30 webinars and 246 CEU credits in conjunction with AIA and ASID, we couldn’t really wait to start this season, however we’re changing the format.
We used to do it every single Wednesday for the first two seasons during covid and now we’re going to be doing it on the final Wednesday of every month, so one Wednesday a month at 11 a.m ET. Today’s webinar is entitled Understanding Today’s Home Technology and Infrastructure Options and the guest instructor is Jason Sayen who has been a guest instructor and CEDIA outreach instructor for both CEDIA and for our season one and season two talks. So, I appreciate you being here Jason and I’d like to turn it over to you.
Oh, one more thing, sorry. the slides up there show our next three sessions, so, June 30th we have Shade and Window Treatments With Vanessa Sayen, July 28th we have Hidden Technology for the Modern Home with Michelle Guss from Crestron, and then August 25th we have Today’s Smart Home with Deb G from Orion. So, with that I’ll turn it over to you, Jason take it away.
All right thanks guys, great to be back with another season and you know it was like a year ago was it a year ago today we started this whole thing or pretty close to that, right?
Pretty close, yeah.
So, I’m glad we could put this together, you know, so as Jeff said my name is Jason Sayen I’m Director of Sales and Business Development for LK and Associates. We’re a local manufacturer’s rep from here in the state of Florida and we work closely with manufacturers in the electronics and technology space along with systems integrators such as Boca Tech and Automation and we also work closely with CEDIA.
As CEDIA members and outreach instructors we can educate all the different trades in the community on what it is we have to offer, and I really like this course today because technology is changing so fast. There’s so much about infrastructure that has to be put into the projects that people really are not aware of and so, this is our opportunity to educate everyone. Because, ultimately our goal is to help architects and designers you know meet and exceed the expectations of their clients. So, today’s course is Understanding Today’s Home Technology and Infrastructure Options and this course is approved by AIA and ASID, it’s presented by CEDIA, CEDIA is our trade organization, that is a worldwide organization for systems integrators that provides training, education, and annual trade shows to showcase the latest in technology. And as part of that we as outreach instructors and outreach providers provide education to the design build community to help educate you on the different trends.
So, as i said this is an approved AIA and ASID course so following today’s course after the presentation we’ll have a little bit of a Q&A so we can dig deeper on the topics we discussed but also at that point if you want to understand more about the team at Boca Tech and Automation or dive deeper into other technology topics you can do so later on today. Later on today or tomorrow you’re going to receive an email with some links to complete and once you complete the evaluation and sign up you’ll get your certificates for your credits for today’s course and while we’re going through the course please feel free to jump in and put something in the chat window, we’ll have open mics at the end again. We want this to be an engaging discussion and to give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about technology.
Today’s course is related to what technology is available today, kind of where the future of technology is going and talk about all the different choices that are out there, because there are so many different choices when it comes to technology for the home. Your clients are coming to build projects and they have iPads and iPhones and Android devices so they’re obviously already engrained in technology but they’re going to want to do things with these devices and so we’re going to talk about what those options are. We’re going to give you that overview of some of the current home technologies available, we’re going to talk about wired versus wireless which is really, really important. We’re also going to talk about integrated systems and what an integrated system is and how it works and how to engage with an electronic system professional, we’re another trade just like a plumber an electrician.
Unfortunately, we usually get brought into the projects very late and it makes it very challenging for us to do our work, so hopefully, during today’s course you get a better understanding of what’s involved behind the scenes so you can be engaged with a systems integrator early on we really urge architects and designers to form a relationship with an integration professional even if you don’t have a project to work on together use us as a resource so we can help educate you we believe in making sure clients get their expectations met. Even if we’re not part of the job, we don’t want that bad experience to happen when it comes to technology.
I’m sure everybody on this call has been on a project where technology has kind of “gone bad” so, the learning objectives we’re going to focus on the various systems that are out there and their unique qualities. We’re going to talk about the benefits of technology related to energy efficiency, comfort, convenience, safety, we’re going to also analyze some of the considerations related to wired and wireless. this is really a hotly debated topic because the advancement in wireless technology is going so fast people tend to forget why wired is important, and also talk about the timeline for engaging systems integration professional for the design build process I’ll cut to the chase on that, as early as possible.
There’s so many things that depend on what the clients looking for we need to be involved very early but we’ll talk more about that later in the presentation so as we start with some of the technologies. I think it’s interesting I joked about a year ago today we were starting this journey but really a year ago today we were all hunkered down in our homes we were really using technology we were taxing our networks because our kids had to use zoom we had to work from home with VoIP phones you know we’re figuring a lot of things out and people I think realized how important technology was. So, you know we can talk all day about the the really cool benefit features that we enjoy right to entertain our friends but you know, Jeff, what are some of the technologies you relied on you know a year ago without getting too in-depth that you know helped your business function… I think you’re muted, Jeff…
Oh yeah, sorry, I was muted there. The networking infrastructure is what’s key, because everything that we have rides on top of that and that’s a combination of wireless and hardwired systems. And if things are not working well there then anything from a video call to email is compromised.
Yeah absolutely, and I know you and I have a few discussions on that over some of these different calls I actually had some issues last year but, yeah for us it was the same thing something else that’s interesting is lighting. You know, I actually have some special lights installed here at my office now so I can do these types of calls better which a year ago, I didn’t think it was too important. So, I think that’s interesting to talk about, we all had a different experience with technology last year but going back to kind of the presentation you know we have audio distribution and audio distribution is a broad topic. But music throughout the house is probably one of the things that drives a lot of clients to put technology in their homes, but within that there are so many choices.
Wireless audio, wired audio, what types of speakers, what types of, you know, what’s my source for music. Sonos has done a great job dominating that market but a lot of people don’t quite understand what it’s for people must think Sonos is music right but there’s more to it than that. So, we’ll dive a little bit further into what audio distribution means same for video distribution the changes in smart tv technology has really changed the landscape on you know why video distribution is important but there still is a big deed there so we’ll talk more about that.
Lighting control is another one so I just mentioned an element of having you know lights in my office to light up for my conference calls, and I just don’t have any lights, I have lights that can be adjusted for color and match the natural lighting outside my home. When we talk about lighting control we’re talking about automating all the different loads in our house and typically in the past this was used on you know 30,000 square foot properties where the clients didn’t want to have to walk around and shut all the lights off but today it’s a modern day convenience. It also has an aesthetic appeal where we can reduce wall clutter so we’ll talk more about that later.
Home theater and media centers are other technologies that exist you know home theater is something that really catapulted our industry and we saw a huge growth and surge in that area then we saw a change into these more media centers or media spaces or multi-use spaces where it could be a theater but also a gaming room. And now we’re seeing a resurgence in theaters you know, with the with the pandemic theaters were shut down you could not go to the movie theater and now as a result even with them opening up studios are doing direct releases I think HBO Max was one of the first ones to have some movies direct released through Apple TV the day it would have been in the theater. So, now we see a big uptick in clients looking to invest in home theaters.
Automated window treatments another great category again you have the convenience of you know lowering shades at different times so you don’t have to get up and do it yourself but there’s other benefits of you know lowering your energy usage because you can take advantage of the natural light outside. Security has come a long way from just having your alarm system protecting your house, the advancement in technology with cameras we can do so many great things facial recognition at your door to unlock it, putting perimeters around the space.
Jeff, when it comes to cameras and some of the perimeter technologies, have you guys done some projects where you’re using the camera to kind of outline the landscape perimeter that can alert the client if somebody’s coming onto the property
Yes, funny story here, true story, about a month ago I tested out a new camera system from Cisco and it has heat mapping and detection and so forth built into it. So, I set up one outside of our building replacing an existing camera that didn’t have that technology and set up a tracking area. For the first week or so it was fine, then one day my phone started blowing up with these alerts because I scheduled it between 1am and 5am and if anyone walks near this area I want to know about it because no one should really be there. So, you know, the first day I look at it looked like it was raining the second day the same thing and then there’s a pattern it turns out that a whole bunch of flying ants decided to swarm right around the camera, the camera picked it up we called the pest guy they came and sprayed five days later no more alerts.
Wow, that’s interesting. The advancements in technology and I think that’s a kind of a side story but that brings us back to why we’re here, which is education. So, many times myself and you and your team get brought into projects with clients and they’re not quite sure what they want. There’s such a need for education because you could do everything from a basic camera to something advanced like you just said that I would think a lot of clients of the folks that are on this call would be looking for. It goes back to education, so that’s a really great story.
Phone systems are another one which I think people probably thought “you know phone technology went away”, I mean I haven’t had a landline phone In don’t know how long, however we had to put a voip phone at our house last year to work from home and that’s obviously, you know I hate the term “new normal” but, it is the new normal, right? The mix of “go to work” and “work from home” so phone system technology is actually coming back.
Gaming is another one you know if you have teenagers in the house being able to use the different gaming systems connecting playing games with you know people across the world is another big area. Then, going back to outdoors which we’ve seen a big resurgence in especially with the pandemic and I don’t think it’s going to go away but you know being able to control the pool and spa controlling things on the landscape like landscape lighting or irrigation, and then in general just other home automation systems you know anything everything’s connected to the internet these days and a lot of that stuff we can integrate into these projects.
So, speaking of which, you know what is systems integration so you know years ago our industry got started you know integration was, well my client has a dvd player a cd player a tv remote a vcr remote, right, they had all these remotes sitting on their coffee table so the only way to just basically take all those remotes and reduce them into one would be to put an integration system. And you know nowadays all these devices have their own apps and so your, cd player has an app, your blu-ray player has an app, most of your source content is now inside the tv in a smart app so you don’t necessarily have all these multiple handheld remotes but you do have multiple apps. I’ve met with clients who have a folder on their phone that says smart home and inside there’s multiple apps that’s not really systems integration so the ability to consolidate control into one centralized area is what systems integration is.
So, we still have all these different things that we can use to control our technology we have smartphones, we have computers tablets, remote controls, but all these things have different apps that systems integration or one type of control system allows you to control all the different subsystems in the house. So, if we go back to the previous slides and you look at all the different technology from cameras, to audio, to video there’s an app for each one of those, so why not take all those apps and put them into one to be able to control your home. Furthermore, aside from the convenience factor of having everything in one app you have the ability to do something called “scenes”. So, at the push of a button that says “Good Morning”, or maybe you don’t even push the button it’s just on a timed schedule Monday through Friday. You know, shades start to go up, lights start to turn on, HVAC goes to a set climate, set point music turns on in different areas. Then there’s the same thing that happens for “Good Night”.
There’s the same thing that happens for entertainment, I have a button at my house, on my control system, that says “entertain”. So, friends are coming over and i’m still cooking and getting prepared, I hit “entertain”, music goes on in the right zones, to the right playlist, at the right volume. Lights go to the right setting, you know, all the things that I want set in place for my friends happens at the push of a button and that’s really where systems integration is key.
When, a client’s looking for technology it’s great to be able to control things and make them turn on and off from your smart app but, having that integration tied together is really the key. So, let’s dive into some of those technologies we talked about. We look at distributed audio, you know basically at its core, distributed audio is being able to have music play throughout the house and so you can do that numerous ways. We prefer to do something that’s a wired system, wired is always better. There’s less failure points, less chance of any problems, and you’re going to get the best quality when you go that route.
You know, looking at a wireless solution is really something we only try to do if there’s no other option. If the house is already built, we can’t pull cabling but, when you look at any type of distributed audio solution these are some of the main factors you have to look at. How does the client want to control it? Do they want to control it from their phone? Do they want to control it from something that’s on the wall? You know, back in the day we used to have volume controls that we would turn up and down on the wall. We still have that done today, although it can be done digitally through the apps and through the network, so when we’re going to do that there’s a pre-wire that has to happen.
Pre-wire has to happen before drywall goes up, that’s something that should always be done and that’s a whole other presentation we do on on pre-wire and infrastructure. But, you know, if you’re doing a project, even if the client’s not sure what they want for technology, a pre-wire should always happen. It’s so much cheaper to get the wire in place before all those walls are pulled up and then in the event the client wants to do something all that infrastructure is built into place.
The other thing to consider about distributed music is it’s easy to use so depending on the control system or the app you’re using it needs to be easy to use and audio source is another one so years ago we used to have you know 300 disc CD changers that we would load up our collection into now we just use an app, but maybe your client does still have a cd collection that needs to be, you know, ripped onto a hard drive and easily accessible. So, understanding what their source of music is, is extremely important. You also have the pre-amp or the amplifier which is going to power the speakers, you have the network to contend with, and then ultimately the speakers of the end points in each one of these, you know, areas we’re talking about.
We could dive deeper on right, and again that’s why it’s important to engage with a systems integration professional, so you know speakers, do they want high quality? Do they want just background music? Do they want invisible? There’s so many choices and selections that we need to review to meet and exceed those client systems but, there are a lot of solutions for distributed audio systems today. So, video distribution again, in the past somebody would have say 10 or 12 TVs which means for them to watch content they would need 10 or 12 cable boxes, 10 or 12 Apple TVs, 10 or 12 DVD players… so, one of our solutions that came about in our industry was video distribution. We could take maybe four or five of those devices and distribute them throughout all the different televisions and all the televisions could share these sources. So, that required less sources, you know less rental fees, it was just a lot easier to use less equipment.
The other benefit too, is you don’t see the boxes. So, in this example you have these three zones of TVs, there’s no equipment, it’s located somewhere else in the property. That’s now changed today because a lot of those sources are built into those tv displays but it is still something to contend with when you have a large property. When you have a lot of displays you know, maybe, you want to have the the basketball game on outside, in your media room, in your kitchen, and in another area, it’s better to do that over one shared source than to have different sources at each location where audio/video is out of sync. So, there’s a lot of reasons why someone would still want video distribution today, ultimately it comes down to, you know, what type of content they’re using and what the goals of the client are… and also, even though some of the products for some of the TVs have sources built into them. Clients are wanting to you know, hide TVs in these environments so, as you see in this example these TVs are flushed into the wall and when we do that they still want some type of box or source to provide that content.
We have to remote locate those things and again video distribution is the technology we can use, so, we can put that stuff in an AV closet, minimize the installation of the TV so it sits flush in the environment, while the client is still able to enjoy the content.
Jeff you know, question for you on video distribution because again it has changed over the years you know when you’re talking to a client about this, what are some of the things or benefits that you highlight as to why they might want video distribution?
Well, there’s a few obvious ones, and a few not so obvious ones. For example, an outside tv or a mirror tv in a bathroom and so forth. It’s really not appropriate to put any equipment in those environments, you know? There’s no place to put them or they wouldn’t withstand the elements, anyway, even control wouldn’t work because outside infrared line of sight controls won’t work, because it’s so bright. Those are the obvious classic things, but in the realm of streaming, what we’ve found is that there’s a different experience on every single TV.
Sony has the Android, Samsung’s got their solution, LG’s got theirs, and so on, and you know… every single TV needs a login, a username, and a password. Now, we’ve got 10 apps to log into anything from Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS Now, HBO Plus, and Disney+. You know all these different things you have to go around and log in to all these platforms and God help you if you have to change your password because somebody hacked you. Now, you’ve got that problem with centralized video distribution, you could use a player like a Roku, an Apple TV, a Modulus, or what have you. Even Xfinity with a Netflix, then that same exact box is distributed to all the TVs, you don’t have to maintain all these different user experiences. All these different ways of logging in and maintaining the password I think that’s a key thing that’s often lost until you sit down and actually do it.
That’s actually a really great point I didn’t think about. If I look at my own situation we have one, two, three, four, five, I think six zones of video, we’re a small family so we’re not watching all those zones at once but, I have one Tivo box and one Apple TV, and you know we’re able to share those things. But you know, god forbid Apple TV does a software update and I gotta relog into my Directv app and re-log into this if I had to do that across all those zones so that’s that convenience factor, and you know that always happens right when you’re about to have people over too, right?
So, that’s a really good point. Let’s move on to theater considerations again. What I like about this presentation is we talk about something we’ve probably all experienced but we don’t realize the work that goes in behind us and as I mentioned before, as systems integrators, were brought in so late on the projects you know it can be frustrating. So, we’ll get plans and it’ll say “here’s your room to build a theater, awesome you thought of our room but there’s other things that weren’t thought about” so, things like sound isolation are often misunderstood. Sound isolation means we’re going to isolate the sound in this space and isolate the rooms outside the space from that sound. You know, there’s nothing more disturbing than somebody who’s watching an awesome movie like Mission Impossible, there’s all these explosions happening and the people in the kitchen can hear it, right? So, sound isolation allows us to keep the sound in the theater.
So, aside from keeping the sound in the theater, it actually gives you a more impressive experience because sound is not escaping out into the environment, and then you have acoustical treatments which is, you know, you see some of the decorative finishes in this picture here but aside from the beauty and the aesthetics it’s actually improving the sound of the room. All these spaces are not ideal, and then you have sight lines in terms of all the people being able to see the movie in this space so, you see the second set of seats are on risers which allows them to see over the heads of the people in front so everybody’s got the same viewing experience. Now, you have seating considerations, sometimes clients don’t want theater seats they just want one big couch and some bean bags, and that’s okay.
If we know that’s what they want we can design the theater around that so that they don’t sacrifice on the experience screen placement and size. So, this is another big one, you know a lot of the time we’re told “here’s this room and the room’s 15 feet wide” and they want a 15 foot screen, well that’s not always ideal, right? There’s limitations, so, if we know what they want and we know what those limitations are, or we can be brought in to help make decisions on the room based on that, we can help meet that client’s expectations.
You know, there’s other things too like doors in other areas in the space so, I can’t quite tell from this picture but, it looks like in the front right area is a door and that’s not ideal for a theater, because if you’re watching a movie and someone needs to use the bathroom they’re going to get up, open the door which is very distracting, they’re going to let light into the room, so ideally when we do theaters we want that door in the back of the space. Just like at the movie theater you go to.
Again if we’re brought in early before these designs are set in stone, moving that door is pretty simple. It’s not so simple once the project’s underway. So, again there’s a lot more on this list I’m sure Jeff is aware of, maybe we talk about it later. That have to go into this but these are some of the main things that you’ll want to consider. You know media servers are another area Jeff had mentioned, you know, logging into all these different apps for streaming services but, what a lot of the clients that we work with that are on these projects are looking to have a dedicated list or a dedicated collection of movies that are there and available at their fingertips, not relying on streaming stuff over the internet but literally having a media server locally that has all the different movies that they want.
With this really easy to use interface and this integration directly into their system, a lot of these media servers these days aren’t all about managing their existing collection because we still have clients that do have hundreds of DVDs and Blu-rays, but also just like I mentioned earlier, studios are doing direct release to HBO Max and Disney+. Some of these media server companies have digital platforms where they have access to movies that have been released recently. And a lot of the media servers this stuff’s released in the purest of form of content so it’s true 4k with all the different types of audio processing, whereas with streaming sometimes you’re sacrificing some of that quality. So, you imagine someone has a theater, like we’ve shown in the previous slide, having the best quality playback content is something that they’re going to be interested in and they can do that with a media server.
We touched on automated window treatments earlier so you know we pretty much have a wide range of products that can automate any type of window treatment out there from draperies, blinds, shades, outdoor shutters, and also outdoor screens. Particularly down here there’s a few products out there that allow you to have automated screens on your patio that are actually hurricane proof. So, imagine having to prepare for a hurricane and you just put all your patio and outdoor items under your patio hit a button boom you’re protected and ready for that next hurricane. Knock on wood we don’t have any this year.
There’s a lot of other benefits to just having, you know, shades that open at the push of a button. These can be put on timers so that they open at different times of the day, there’s also the benefit of energy savings. You can open up all the windows in your space, let in the natural light so you don’t have to use the lights in your house, there’s a variety of benefits when it comes to automated window treatments and we have a lot of different solutions out there but again being involved early allows us to use some of the different solutions.
You know we have wired, we have wireless, and we have shades that can go up inside of pockets, there’s a lot of things that have to be engineered and designed into the project. We touched a little bit on security systems earlier, again lots of big advancements there, aside from just a camera that’s watching our outdoor space we can create some of those zones and create alerts based on motion, or as Jeff said, on temperature. So again, depending on how security conscious a client is and what they’re looking to do there’s a variety of things that we can do with the security systems and lighting control.
Lighting control comes down to a number of things, as I mentioned earlier, it started really early on with the really large home that was thirty thousand square feet and we had to control two to three hundred loads and the client just doesn’t wanna walk around turning on and off all these different lights. It moved on to aesthetics, you know that a 30,000 square foot home, when you walk into the kitchen and you probably see a bank of about 10 different switches on the wall that doesn’t look too well. So, with centralized lighting systems we can reduce that down to a single keypad but, still have the ability to control every single load in that space and so that’s a specific type of lighting control system that we can put in there. But, if that’s the goal we can achieve that you also have the convenience aspect, as I said, you know clients don’t have to walk around the house, they can hit a good night button that lights up a path to their room, that lights up their bedroom, and shuts down everything else.
If you have elderly people in the house, you’ll be able to hit a button or have a motion sensor trigger lights if they get up at night. From a security aspect you have that security alert that triggers something that through the systems integration that can turn lights on inside the house so, the entire house lights up at 100% in the event that an intruder has gotten into the space or furthermore your lights outside can start flashing or changing colors if you have that technology. All based on a security event, all of this leads to energy savings so, again, if you have the ability to control lights and turn them on and off at certain times over time, you are going to save energy and then ultimately the flexibility being able to turn on any light, on any load, at any level, at any point in time is extremely flexible for your property.
Gaming is another area as I mentioned earlier, you know it’s become a family activity it’s interactive nowadays. Kids can play games all over the world, if you’ve ever seen the movie Ready Player One, we are ever increasingly close to that type of environment, believe it or not. It’s actually a really good movie, but gaming is another thing to think about, we’ve been involved in projects where the clients wanted four screens all next to each other on the wall in one space with four different gaming systems so the kids could all play together, kids and adults. Then they want to connect and play with different people all over the world which then ties into networking so there’s a lot of things to consider. Is it a group activity? Are we connecting over the internet? Do we have the space required? My daughter likes to play a game that requires us to move our living room furniture because she dances with her friends so, there’s a lot of really cool things that are happening with gaming and I might’ve joined in on that occasion.
Also outdoors, so, we talked earlier about pool, spa, and outdoor spaces. The picture on the left is a beautiful project that’s part of another presentation we do on outdoor technology but, you know? If you just look at that space aside from the beautiful design, you see a water feature, you see a hot tub you see a fire feature, you see rgb lighting, all those different things that we can do from a single button of a control system those are all standalone technologies. Not to mention, the spa gets the temperature of the pool, you know all those things we can change.
I’m sure that there’s some audio integrated in that landscape, and then on the picture on the right you have this outdoor tv. It’s a little hard to see but that wood panel above the tv actually folds over to hide that tv when it’s not in use so, we have some automation going on outside. We have speakers in the ceiling, so many different things that we can do outdoors, and again we’ve seen a really big resurgence in clients investing in their outdoor spaces. We have a lot of technology that we can supply there but, as Jeff pointed out, talking about the TVs we have the elements to deal with. So, again allowing us to engage with you and your clients to talk about what we can do, what we can’t do, what specific products we need to decide on because of the elements, especially down here in Florida. With the salt in the air it’s really important that we discuss these things early on.
We can’t stop talking about technology without talking about network and so, you know we talked about this a little bit earlier, I asked the question to Jeff but you know, technology infrastructure, better wi-fi, higher bandwidth, it all comes down to wiring. What most people don’t know is that even if you have a gig of service, as soon as you go wireless your speed cuts in half. That’s just limitations of devices, a lot of our wireless devices can’t even do half of a gig, they just don’t have the chipsets right. Wiring is so important. It’s so inexpensive to do assuming, our walls are opened up, and we should always have these wired connections. I’m sure over the last year with all of us working from home and doing school from home we’ve experienced those slow speeds, and it’s not just download it’s upload too.
We have a VoIP phone and our downloads could be cranking but, if our upload speed isn’t good then people can’t hear us talking so, this is super super important. And I think it’s going to be a trend going forward because this, you know, working and schooling from home is not going to go away and I think people are going to want to invest in networking, and you all always have new technologies coming along too, like now the latest in wireless is Wi-Fi 6. So, having infrastructure in place allows you to adapt to that new technology, Jeff, do you have anything you want to add here? I mean this could be a whole nother presentation I know, but you know anything you want to add here on networking?
Yeah you mentioned Wi-Fi 6 and that really came into vogue in September 2020, replacing Wi-Fi 5 that was a 2013 launch. The the big deal is not only just performance but also how it deals with legacy devices. All these A/V things, they’re not putting state-of-the-art “chipsets” in as you mentioned for Wi-Fi, they’re using the least expensive which is typically the legacy band, the what they call “the 2.4gig” but it has to intermix with the high speed stuff and Wi-Fi 6 allows more clients to be connected with varying technologies yet allow the handoffs and the performance to work.
One other thing I’d point out is one wireless access point, you think “oh we don’t have a big family” but, when you start adding in all those devices like TVs and, you know, mobile devices and so forth, it’s not unusual to see twenty or thirty clients on one wireless access point. So, that network backbone on the Wi-Fi side is where your throttle point is.
Yeah and my suggestion to clients when I talk to them is like “Listen, you’re gonna have” as you point out “twenty some Wi-Fi devices as is, let’s not just add more because we think it’s easier”. If we can connect these things to the network hardwired, we should do that. Then that way, the wireless devices can perform as good as they need to, they’re not fighting with these other devices that could have been connected and could have been wired directly. But yeah, it’s a super important area I mean I’ve been to the projects I’ll go ahead…
Now, as you say that, there is one more thing there to point out, a wireless access point is a single point of failure. You have twenty clients connected and that one wireless access point goes offline for whatever reason, nothing works. If you had it hardwired, everything around you would work still and you’d know, to say “I don’t have Wi-Fi on my iPad but my TV is still working, my control system’s still working, my laptop” you know, desktop, that’s hardware. Just think about that in terms of reliability because that is a single point of failure that most people don’t think about.
Yeah, no, that’s a great point. I was going to tell a story, and this was two years ago actually, but I went to a project and it was in framing so, we plenty of time to pull wire. The client was insisting on putting no wiring in, everything wireless. It’s a probably an 8,000 sq. ft. house and I’m like “listen it’s going to cost you maybe, a couple thousand dollars just to pull wire here”. Future proof, you need to have wiring. It’s like the plumbing for your home for water so, I can’t stress enough importance over that.
On that note, to your point we are in a wireless world. So again, if you if you are not putting the wired infrastructure in place, there are devices that will only work on wireless. So, it’s a just point that you’re gonna have twenty or thirty wireless devices competing, so pool systems and spa controls, those controllers get installed outside, some of them do have network connections, some of them don’t, so they have no option but to communicate wirelessly.
Garage doors and gate openers various home automation devices, heck a lot of the toys that kids have these days that have an app, that’s wireless right? They don’t work with a connected wired system, so you’re gonna have wireless systems in the space that you can’t control. That’s why you want to control what you can control. So, when it comes to the main technology you want to have a wired infrastructure connection there.
Proper planning as the name and title implies, and I joked earlier, but we can never get involved early enough on a project, even if it’s you know from the architectural stage. You may be designing a project that might not happen for two-three years and we know technology changes super fast, we can still add value and give suggestions on things. To think about, even in those stages, you know build relationships with technology partners, especially down here in Florida, you may have clients that are coming from out of state, they may already have their own technology professional you know coming from whichever State. Why not partner with someone local that can just answer questions and help? Be that hero right away, if the client wants us to get brought into projects all the time and the client’s like “oh, I have this condo with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a view of the ocean, but I have to watch TV at night. I don’t want a TV sitting in front of my bed.” Okay, we can bring it out of the ceiling or we can bring it up from under the bed.
The only way we can do that and still follow the design plan from the interior designer is if we’re brought in early and put in the right framing, the right electrica,l and specify the right product. If framing’s up and drywall’s up, you’re gonna have something mounted on the ceiling that looks atrocious. So, build those relationships so we can help answer those questions, if you know the client wants to hang a tv from the ceiling and the integrator they’ve hired is not helping you because they’re from out of State, let us be that hero.
We hate to see technology installed improperly so, bring us in as early as possible. I can’t say that enough. So, today we talked about all the different types of residential systems and some of their unique attributes. We talked about things related to energy efficiency, comfort convenience, and safety because that’s what a lot of this technology does for us. We talked about wired versus wireless and we talked about kind of timelining for engaging an electronics system professional, specific to the design build process. And that is going to bring it to Q&A!
I don’t know if there was any questions in the chat while we were talking, or Jeff was there anything that I brought up while we were talking that we want to continue discussing?
Yeah, so, I’ve made some notes here, and please anybody that wants to chat or jump in feel free. this is the free for all portion of this. One thing you didn’t mention is IoT Sensors, the Internet of Things Sensors, it’s a buzzword that has been out there for a year or two now. It’s coming more into vogue but, what we’re finding is IoT Sensors like leak detectors or humidity sensors, something that could alert you when there’s say, an air conditioning condensate line leak in your pan, you know something that happens to all of us Floridians. What we found with the latest technologies is that the Wi-Fi infrastructure, and I’m talking about the wireless access points that you plot around your house, actually create a mesh network.
A low energy bluetooth mesh network that you can then attach IoT Sensors to so, if you plan this out right, you can actually use wireless distribution that you put in for something other than just Wi-Fi. So, I think that’s an important thing because usually trying to hardwire those are very very difficult. Trying to know “where all do you want them?” and then trying to get a wire to that spot, then hiding a sensor is difficult. That is a really good use for wireless, low energy stuff. They’ve got batteries that last five-ten years on them so that’s another thing that nobody really thinks about especially in larger homes.
Another is doorbells, you know I always say when people move in the most important thing is, obviously they want their network up day one, but the doorbell. Everybody’s coming and going, they’re ringing the doorbell, nobody can hear the doorbell anywhere around the house inside/outside and whatnot. Something like a Sonos is great for music distribution does not support doorbell interrupts which is a common thing that’s been around since the dawn of whole house audio.
In the professional world a doorbell interface that would do the “ding dong” through the ceiling speakers, something that would pause your music, play the doorbell in the zones that you wanted at the volume that you pre-programmed, and then resume to whatever was there before. If it was silence or it was playing the music it would go back to it at that volume. That sounds like a very simple thing but if you don’t plan that out, you’re not going to hear your doorbell when you’re in the backyard right?
Yeah, and I think people think like “Oh, well these devices, these big companies, like that’s just a software update, like that’s just gonna happen” and to your point it’s not it’s something that’s super simple that these devices don’t have.
Right. And it’s so complex to do but so easy to say, it’s just “do that right”. Well hang on, now you got to store 16 zones of audio, their current volume level, push that into a save area, do the ding dong, come back and it’s all supposed to do that without making a pop? Or you know waking the baby up so, that’s something that I would say can be planned. The other thing that goes along with whole house audio is control point, do you really want to have to bust out your phone, launch an app, wait for it to initialize, select your zone, then hit mute when you know the doorbell rings? Or the phone rings when you walk into your closet, if you happen to have music in your closets and this and that, it’s a pain to just rely on say a mobile device for that stuff. You want the mobile device to also work, but a keypad on the wall is so much simpler to have available.
Just to hit the off button on your way out without “Hey hang on, let me get my phone and go through all that rigmarole” so, if you think about the ease of use and convenience, that is what makes something truly user friendly. If you’ve got multiple ways to interact with it a simple on/off or a simple volume can mean whether you’re going to use the thing or not so that’s another thing I wanted to bring up.
Circling around to your theater thing, one area that I did not see on there was the electrical planning and lighting. You’re going to have motorized chairs or you might want motorized chairs, you’re not going to run all those off of a single outlet, they need to be placed. You don’t want extension cords under your chairs, they get tangled up. It’s a bad idea that never ends well, when you know, you’re rotating the foot rest up and tangle up the the plug and things get jammed up underneath there? That’s not a good look, so plan for that.
Lighting is also extremely important if there’s one area in the house you want to dim down to one percent it’s gonna be the theater, you know one percent seems like “oh well that’s nothing” well try that with an LED light. One percent is bright in a dark, dark, dark room. I’m talking dedicated theater here so you want that very low ambient lighting that you can have on the step lights. In this net that doesn’t cast a shadow onto the screen you want to zone it properly, the sconces, the ceiling lights, the task lighting, the bar light, the step light, they should all be zoned so you can create a scene that works for gaming, works for theater mode, works for vacuuming, right? They’re all different light levels, all different purposes.
Let’s see, any questions? No? Okay well, I got one more thing I’ll throw out in terms of wireless. We’ve encountered so many cases where the pool guy comes in and you know wants to connect a jandy, or hayward, or whatever to the wireless system but there’s no Wi-Fi access point over on that side where you’ve hidden all this equipment. If you have it, it’s probably under the covered patio where the people are, where the tv is, where the music is or whatever. But, over on the service area where we’re hiding air conditioners, and pool pumps, and noisy things, well it’s wireless and you don’t have any coverage over there. So, it’s great that it’s wireless but, there’s no wireless access point.
Another new thing that is coming way more often now is like a Tesla, or other vehicle where they have over-the-air updates, my recommendation pro tip here is, put a wireless access point in your garage. Then, when they’re wiring those antennas for all those outdoor things like the landscape controller and the pool controller, have them put the antenna in the garage where the wireless access point is. Now, you’ll never have a problem, right? And you gain a wireless access point in your garage that you can actually use, if you, you know, have a workshop out in your garage or just a car out in your garage it’s useful to have strong wi-fi in your garage. It’s not as useful to have an outdoor weather rated, super expensive WAP over by the pool equipment to avoid from pulling a wire. I mean it’s kind of like it’s a $1600 outdoor WAP that has to be ip67 rated in the garage. It can be an indoor WAP, half the price or third of the price and it can service all those things that you never think about.
These are the reasons why you want to plan ahead, and when you ask someone “you want a wireless access point in the garage?” like, no, why would I ever want that? Well let me tell you why right now. So, that’s really a couple of thoughts. You’ll see it’ll come in handy for things that you won’t even imagine, down the road like a wireless sense that new technology that tells you how much energy you’re using called sense. Have you seen that? It’s really cool when you turn on your air conditioners and it tells you how much of your energy you are using, well guess what it’s wireless because everything wants to be wireless. They just assume everyone’s got wireless access points everywhere inside and outside the house, that’s really the flaw of like nest, and some of these lower end cameras and doorbell systems. Yeah, it’s great if you have strong Wi-Fi so, any thoughts on that Jason?
Well, yeah I was actually gonna segway back, I felt like I may have demonized Wi-Fi in my presentation but you brought up a lot of really good points. So, to circle back on that wire, you can wire but because of all these things that can’t be wired you really need a good wireless system. It needs to be engineered and designed, not just throwing access points throughout the house, because having more than you need can be harmful. So, again involving a systems integrator asap who can look at the plans can heat map the property, look at all these different technologies they want to use in all these different areas, and put together the proper wireless system that works with all those devices. Then we have the wired system on a properly wired system so, a properly designed network can can help augment both of those wired versus wireless.
It’s funny, I had a client come in here the other day, he was a judge and he wanted cameras and he said “oh, ADT has this package and what did I think about it” right? He said “they’re wireless cameras” they said “well how are you getting power to them because I haven’t seen a battery operated camera”. I mean the little tiny ones, yea, but an actual you know dome camera that would be good for outside or whatever, how are you going to make that wireless? and then power it? because if you’re running up one single cable it can provide power and network over a single cable called power over ethernet.
But, if you’re trying to do a wireless camera then what he said they do is they drill through and then they run a wire down the the wall on the inside and they just plug in the little power supply, you know, into the nearby outlet. Okay, that sounds like a good idea, I think everybody would love to have that. It’s a wireless camera, to save from running a wire but then you have to run a wire to plug it in. It really makes no sense to me, plus you got to put your cameras where the outlets are or you’re running wire for an outlet which is a lot harder than running a category cable… so, we love wireless but, I think sort of, all the details are glossed over and it sounds like it’s the right way to go when it isn’t.
Changing topics drastically, you mentioned TVs being the app center of the world now, right? Assuming that you’ve got a good TV say a Sony, Android, LG, or Samsung, they’ve got apps in them. But, getting audio out of that TV and then making a surround sound or making dialogue that you can hear so you’re not saying “I just want a sound bar” that’s where the challenge is. Control of the volume you’re now relying on, what that tv can do, and I think that’s lost on everyone they just think you’d attach a sound bar or whatever and there’s so many ways where that does not work because the TVs are not made by the same manufacturers.
As the sound bars and things don’t handshake properly, it’s trying to be everything to everyone but yet it doesn’t know how to deal with these foreign sources. So, one of the biggest problems that we have is the simplicity to say “add a soundbar” and the complexity of actually doing it and having it work right, control volume with little feedback so you know if it’s on twenty, or muted, or whatever all of those things that we take for granted. It’s complex because everybody’s trying to do the same thing and it’s overlapping.
Right, yeah. I mean I think the IoT stuff for the world has done great exposing all the cool technology that’s out there, but they do gloss over a lot of those details. They make it seem simpler and so they’re so much more behind the scenes, you know? When people talk about them and I won’t say the names because they’re in my office they’re going to start talking about these voice assistants that can do all this great stuff, which is true, and they can, but the second you have no internet those things can’t do anything. Where as at least with our control systems even if we lose internet we have a network that allows us to still do things other than what we’re relying on the internet for, and that’s a very common misnomer that people don’t quite understand.
So, again it all circles back to education right? and being able to see these things, I mean you guys have an amazing showroom and pretty much every technology we talked about you can show and demonstrate right there at your space which is what people should be doing.
Well, and that’s the key, no manufacturer is buying everyone else’s products and putting together a test bed. I can’t tell you how many people and I’m talking about vendors and manufacturers that I’ve talked to say “well have you ever tried it with an Xfinity box?” I mean that’s what we use in South Florida, everybody’s got one. No, we don’t have access to it, well then all these problems that we have that are unique to this one box that no one can even fix so, they rely on somebody else to report a problem and they get frustrated with it. So, we’ve taken it on ourselves in that we’ve built out and keep rebuilding.
We’re actually going through a renovation now to bring all of the technology in house that we’re using so that we can live and use it on a daily basis. See how it operates over a period of time because it’s not just about “plug it in, I hear audio or I see video and hear sound” and then walk away, it’s all good. It’s over a period of time where you start seeing the problems so we have Hotwire here which is a new fishing tv in some of the country clubs, we have a DirecTV box, we’re going through the motions to get Xfinity installed, obviously we have Apple TV, Tivo, Roku, all of those things.
We’ve got to have this little bed because the manufacturers aren’t doing it, they’re building their stuff in a vacuum and expect that the integrator is going to solve the problems that they’re unaware of and I just don’t want to be doing that while I’m in a client’s home. I just rather do it in our lab and then come in and be one and done because you know Jeff’s rule of AV #2, “No one could do what we do but they all know how long it should take us to do it” right? Well, the only way you do that is if you’ve done it once before.
We’re about noon here which is the end of our program, is there any other questions from anyone out in the field? We’ve been pretty quiet, we still have fifteen people logged in… no? I guess not. I thank everybody for joining us and for sticking it out for the entire hour and I thank you Jason once again, a wealth of knowledge and I really appreciate working with LK and everybody on the team over there. We rely on you guys and for a lot more than just these seminars so I appreciate it when you’re there for us when we need you.
No problem, it’s our pleasure. We like working on the projects that we work on together and we appreciate you involving us on these opportunities so we can help educate the design build community. I’ll remind everyone that Marcio will be sending me over a list of attendees, I’ll get the links out and we’ll follow up before the end of the week with the certificates, and of course any other questions follow up with the team at Boca Tech.
All right! Thanks a lot everybody, we’re signing off and we’ll see you on the next Wednesday take care everybody.
To summarize, we talked about all the different types of technology that can be placed in a home these days like drapery, outdoor solutions, lighting, and so much more. We explained that if you’re planning on renovating your home or building a new one and wish to put in new technology, bring in an electronic systems professional as early as possible! We talked on powerful network, how important it is to have the correct number of WAPs, and the reasons why, if possible, you should hardwire your ethernet instead of going wireless. We told you about testing your equipment and making sure it’s the right solution for you before purchasing, and how BTA has a full test lab on premises to test every piece of gear going to a client’s home.