Reviewed: CEDIA Tech Forum 2016, Spring edition

posted on Tuesday, 24th May 2016 by Geny Caloisi

CEDIA  AWE Europe  Wyrestorm  Habitech  Savant 


CEDIA's Tech Forum London, gathered over 160 CI industry especialists to Hammersmith, providing an opportunity for distributors to talk about the brands they support and the services they offer. Manufacturers also had a chance to talk about updates to their products and new releases. Unlike the preivous CEDIA Tech forum, this time there was no exhibition area.

The day was divided into six sessions with three talks running simultaneously on five slots. The final session was by Dolby Europe, to which all attendees were invited- after the 5pm 'vino' break and networking.

It was difficult to choose which presentation one would attend, because they all sounded very interesting. Amazingly all talks had a good number of attendees.

Habitech’s Timmi Thorsen (pictured bellow) urged installers to position themselves as ‘consultants’ rather than simple electricians. “In this industry we don’t aim at push boxes, we provide solutions. This is where our value add as well as our margin will come from” emphasized Thorsen.

Thorsen talked about Designed Audio. “Design Audio is composed by three key elements: aesthetics, room acoustics and performance,” he said and unveiled that very soon the company will be providing with a kind of ‘heat map’ of audio to see what the coverage of speakers could be on any given room.


Habitech launched a new brochure, which installers can share with their clients. In it they will find concepts rather than just products.

Jim Brown from Savant Europe wanted to gather attendees’ opinions and used during his presentation, but give the poor WiFi it did not work very well. He began by asking what was the best home control. The answers pointed towards simplicity, good User Interface (UI) and intuitive interface. “These answers re all good, but that was a trick question,” he said, “There isn’t such a thing as the best controller. In some cases an ordinary switch or a remote control might be the most adequate solution.”

Savant has a new app, the Savant Pro 8. Building on what Savant Pro 7 already offers, it provides a sleek UI as well as user personalisation and new micro interactions and sub-menus. Room scenes can be created and captured. These scenes also transfer to Savant’s remote control.


Brown (pictured above) said, “Bob Madonna, the founder of Savant, created the company after he had a negative user interface experience with a controller. So the core value of the company is to create products that will be easy to use and intuitive. This also applies to the back end of Savant’s products. Installers don’t need to know complicated programming. As long as you know how to connect cables from sources to the equipment, with the Savant software it’s all drag and connect.”

To close his presentation, Brown introduced an interesting view, “Does UX these days stand for user experience, or rather for user expectation? The new generations doesn’t care about how things used to be, they want, they expect ubiquitous interaction with the AV equipment.”

James Drummie (demoing bellow) from AWE did his usual entertaining and instructive presentation, peppered with questions to check the crowd is learning and rewarding the right answers with chocolates!


AWE celebrated its 80th anniversary last year. The company, which started in 1935 as an audio installer, now focuses on distribution and industry training. But its taste for good audio continues, as it was evident with the demo of HEOS, the small wireless speaker that easily filled the room with an amazing sound.

From the line of products that AWE incorporated of late, the Draper projector screen range was very interesting. Although the screen manufacturer has lots of different flavours on its screens AWE has simplified the offering to make it more straightforward for installers and clients.

James Meredith from Wyrestorm shared his views on how 4K has finally gotten real with Ultra HD and Sky Q and said that the company is focusing on HDBaseT.


The connectivity standard HDBaseT allows distribution of uncompressed ultra-high-definition multimedia content. “The cornerstone of HDBaseT technology is 5Play,” said Meredith, “a feature set that converges uncompressed ultra-HD digital video and audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, USB 2.0, up to 100W of power over cable, and various control signals through a single LAN cable for up to 100 meters/328 feet. The latest specification of HDBaseT also enables the transmission of audio & video, Ethernet, USB and controls over fibre optic, for even longer distances.”

He also talked about the company’s Enado Control Solution. With features such as page specific QR codes, to create accesses that are specificly for a room or a person; 100 different pre set commands; and an ‘Alexia’ trigger, for voice commands; we should watch this space with Enado.

“Phone app interfaces are on the decline,” claimed Meredith, “voice is taking over.”

Dolby Europe’s Stephen Auld talk was entitled ‘Defining The Next Generation Viewing Experience.’


Dolby vision is said to compete directly with HDR10 standard, which is supported by most HDR-capable TVs. In the UK, if you want to watch Dolby Vision on a TV you will need an LG OLED 4K HDR TV. So far there aren’t any Dolby Vision capable Blu-ray players on sale.

Auld explained how Dolby Vision could bring not only extreme contrast and depth but also exented colours without oversaturation. “We want to have the colour volume captured on the highest possible resolution, keeping the integrity of the image as it was first filmed.”

According to Auld, seven Hollywood studios are working on the format and 100 titles are expected to be released by the end of the year. 

The next Tech Forums are scheduled to take place in Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin later this year. 

Geny Caloisi

Geny Caloisi is an accomplished technology journalist who has worked in a variety of AV industry publications. 

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