posted on Tuesday, 19th May 2015 by Steve May
For once it wasn’t the classic roadsters or Formula One racers attracting all the attention at Mercedes-Benz World. Instead it was the latest in smart home technology and whole house entertainment that drew the crowds, for the third annual Home Technology Showcase, organised by distributor Invision UK.
“This is our biggest yet,” Invision MD Steve Beahan told Inside CI. “We have over 25 exhibitors, and we’re at the optimum size now. The visitor has the time to investigate and explore new products. It’s a relaxed environment. If you go to a normal exhibition, you’re queuing to see someone, or you’re trying to balance time with one supplier against another. Here, the quality of conversations is better.”
New this year were rolling seminars. “Thanks to a dedicated seminar room, we’ve had keynote speakers everyday, including Nest, Origin Acoustics, Luxul and Autonomic. These are not sales pitches. They've been about trends and insights into products - and they’ve played to a full house,” enthused Beahan.
Inevitably, the big story at this year’s show was the UK launch of Origin Acoustics. “The timing couldn’t have been better,” admitted Beahan. He says the event synchronised perfectly with the brand’s launch. “CEO Jeremy Burkhardt just got on a plane and launched his product at this showcase. There’s been standing room only to hear him speak. He’s very inspirational.” Invision says it has high hopes for the brand in the UK. “We have a good track record when we start a home technology brand from scratch. There’s a good fit with start-ups.”
The changing face of custom install was evidenced by the appearance of Nest and Lilin at the event, all attracting a constant stream of enquiries. Janus technology used the event to boost the power of biometric control, and explain its move into the Smart hospitality space. Wyrestorm previewed a new generation of 4K TX/RX distribution modules and Aquavision made a splash with the world's first 4K bathroom Tv range.
But there was also evidence of a resurgence for home theatre. Pro Audio Technology is a new signing for Invision, offering professional cinema grade speaker technology for dedicated high-end installs. Dolby Atmos and 4K, both LED from Samsung and OLED from LG, were also key talking points.
“We’ve been selling home cinema products for many years,” Steve Beahan told Inside CI, “We’ve had products in the category, but not a total solution. No we’ve added Pro Audio Technology speakers, and Stewart Filmscreen as our main screen brand. These are strong brands. We’ve also improved our support. What’s often required is not only the expertise to design a home cinema and install it, but also the calibration expertise to make sure it’s right in terms of performance. We can now help our customers though that process. Our recruitment of Tom Garrett was key to that.”
Another new addition on the AV front is Pioneer. The company exhibited its AV receiver range at the show for the first time, with help from Dolby’s Venkat Venkataraman. Invision became a distributor for Pioneer earlier this year. “It’s a brand that probably hasn’t achieved it’s full potential in the CI market,” notes Beahan. “It’s current integration with Onkyo is going to create some real opportunities in the custom market. There’s a lot of history there.”
JVC used the show to introduce a free lamp promotion for its long-standing e-Shift 3 projector line. “A lot of installers offer service contracts to their clients,” explained JVC Business Development manager Larry Sadoo. “To be able to include the lamp in that maintenance contract, enables them to better build relationships with the client.”
Sadoo confided to Inside CI that there were, finally, new JVC projectors incoming. The brand hasn’t refreshed its line for two years. “It’s been a while,” he admits. “There will be new products later this year, around IFA time.”
The delay is attributed both to the commercial integration with Kenwood, which effectively put R&D on hold, but also the HDCP 2.2 issue: “We’ve had to wait for the new silicon chips, which started production last December.” Coincidentally, JVC unveiled a laser model last year at CEDIA Expo. “It was developed originally for the simulator market,” explained Sadoo. “We’re looking to get a sample here, to gauge interest. If installers build a projection booth for their cinemas, they might want to use that.” It’s currently a little noisy he concedes.
Simon Spears, Director of International Sales for Core Brands (pictured above), used the Invision Showcase to promote power specialist Furman. “Power is usually the first thing to be cut from a kit list,” he told us, “but it can make the biggest difference.” His key message at the show was Furman’s Blue Bolt connectivity. “This gives installers the ability to remotely access their power products,” he explained. “In racks there’s usually a router, satellite/cable box and they usually crash at some point. The client isn’t interested in going around the back of the rack to try and fix this, he’ll just contact the installer. But with Blue Bolt, the installer can log onto the IP address in the office and reset the components. You can also use our Sequencer so that at, say, 4am every morning you can power cycle every day. There’s also a battery backup with notifications.”
With healthy attendance and positive vibe, this year’s Home Technology Showcase was a must attend event, strengthening it's position as a leading event in every Smart Home and AV Professional's tech calendar. But if you missed out, or just want to relive the fun, fire up our Photo gallery below. With strong product launches in all sectors, it’s clear that the custom install industry is still setting the technology agenda.
Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics
industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.