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European Custom Installer

System Integration for the Connected Home

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Savant Brings HA to Mac OS X Leopard

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Systems LLC brings out the first ever home automation and control platform based on MAC OS X Leopard™. The maker of the ROSIE Coffee Table has created a home control package utilizing a controller called ROSIE and a proprietary configuration tool called RacePoint Blueprint™.

 “For the first time, developers have a control and media platform that enables them to sell their Apple-based applications into the CEDIA marketplace via the Savant product suite,” says Savant president Jim Carroll.

RacePoint Blueprint  provides Apple developers with an application channel into the CEDIA industry. When combined with Quartz Composer and Automator, it provides Apple developers with an automation and control system for many vertical markets. Developers can control flat panel displays, DVD players, AV receivers, set-top boxes, Apple TV® projectors, lighting, window treatments, and other equipment commonly deployed in multi-room residential settings as well as business installations and theatrical productions—without writing a single line of code.

ROSIE has interactive multimedia capabilities such as integration and interaction with many Apple-based applications including iTunes and AirTunes.

Carroll also says, “Developers can now have their applications invoked with the simple push of a button from any of our OS X-based interface technologies that include 5, 7, 9, and 12-inch in-wall touchpanels and a 13.3-inch wireless touchpanel along with Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch.  Savant's touchpanel application takes advantage of the unique user interface of Apple’s iPhone and iPod  touch. The developer’s application can be accessed via Savant’s rich GUI. 

All the Savant user interface can be accessed on the iPhone and iPod touch with one hand.

Go Savant Brings HA to Mac OS X Leopard

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Philips Puts Together the Digital Home Puzzle

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Now you may not think “Philips” when you think “Custom Install” but the success of high-end Aurea TVs, Pronto remotes and other products makes a new day for the Dutch brand.

Unheralded in the middle of a trade show… buried beneath the piles of press releases and hundreds of exhibits about the latest boxes, cases and gadgets from Taiwan and China, Philips entered the external NAS market. A media gateway for the home.

The European CE giant Philips, famous for its range of monitors, remotes, and other computer peripherals, announced its first Multimedia Hard Drive. The NAS, of course, provides consumers with a central storage location and instant access to files throughout the home when used with a wireless network.

To understand the significance of this product, you have to imagine you are sitting in front of a very demanding jigsaw puzzle.  You are putting the pieces together without an image of the finished puzzle (in other words, you are acting intelligently but blindly). As you place another piece into the puzzle you notice there is an empty space, a space that requires a piece that would be a keystone to solving the puzzle.  Once the keystone piece is in place, it’s then obvious what the completed picture should be and all the other pieces go in, ever so much more easily.

Now think of the puzzle as digital home. Imagine a giant company with one of the largest ranges of peripherals, a known expertise in monitors and TVs, and a leading inventor in storage (remember it’s the 25th anniversary of the CD, a Philips-patented invention).

And here comes the Philips SPD8020… When coupled with a digital media adapter connected to a TV, it becomes a fully functional media server to stream music or video throughout the home.  Consumers can also access their files from any location in the world, using the NAS drive’s built-in FTP server together with an Internet connection.

And that’s what could make the NAS a keystone piece for the Philips strategy of connected home, a focal point that can bring together an increasing number of Philips peripherals in the home that need to talk to each other.

Delivering 500GB, the SPD8020 lets consumers store more than 500,000 photos, three weeks of uncompressed video or 125,000 songs. Encased in thick aluminium, the Philips drive operates quietly, with an accessible standby mode for low energy consumption.  The SPD8020 has a fast gigabit Ethernet connection, and provides the option to add further capacity via its USB host (with another hard drive or memory stick.)

The NAS finally puts a Philips product in the heart of the home network, finishing off a connected vision of how the TV, computer and all those other peripherals might be connected to the internet and talk to each other as well opening the largest door to media and IP content ever seen, heard or read.
Now you may not think “Philips” when you think “Custom Install” but the success of high-end Aurea TVs, Pronto remotes and other products makes a new day for the Dutch brand. When a customer insists on Aurea, you’ll find Philips NAS or Media Gateway becomes a piece of the puzzle.

Smarthome’s Top 10 Tips for Custom Installers

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Raphael Oberholzer, senior manager at Switzerland’s Smarthome (and CEDIA board member) gave us these top 10 tips for staying on top of complex installations.

  1. Have very deliberate strategies for managing other players in a big project. Not just the client but architects, electricians and other sub-contractors.
  2. The technology has to be planned very early. Some large electrical contractors still think wiring for A/V is just adding a TV and loudspeaker connection per room.
  3. Have tools for managing a project successfully. In other words coming away with the budgeted profit and with glowing referrals. Great referrals mean never having to spend much on advertising or PR.
  4. Feed back your experiences from jobs into the tools so they evolve.
  5. Have tools to deal with accurate time costing, your expectations of other contractors and contract “creep.”
  6. Take a firm professional line on billing. Get a significant payment up front. Make clear that work stops if a payment is missed.
  7. Your perceived professionalism is the key to getting your management approach accepted by clients and other contractors.
  8. CEDIA training is valuable in helping get new staffers up to speed. CEDIA has started offering training courses on the Continent in languages other than English. Raphael is overseeing German language courses.
  9. Male clients love toys for boys, but female clients have little time for hard to use technology. Make sure there are some gizmos for him but everything is effortless to use for her.
  10. Always look for the next technology: for example, mesh networks. These
    wireless networks don’t cross-interfere but make each other stronger.