SoundVision

The best home alarms have fingerprints

LEGALLY speaking, not just any company can nor should any company – install security, camera systems or even Nest doorbells.

Installation of security cameras seems relatively innocent? The best home alarms have fingerprints. For starters, you are inviting a stranger inside your home for a security survey. Of course we don’t run background checks and fingerprints on every contractor who enters our home but we aren’t asking them to assess risk at that point either. In addition homeowners are allowing someone access to view their homes, often interior and exterior with camera and security permissions. If not properly set, allowing a potential hacker access as well. Fire alarm and security monitoring are more serious. In the event of an emergency, not having expert installation could be catastrophic.

Licensing and why you should care

Fire and safety are categories of service that lend themselves to heavy liability and licensing requirements. These are LIFE SAFETY categories of service.  For example, if a small AV firm wanted to begin selling security systems and they were exercising a low voltage exemption by the state, they would not only need to be licensed by the North Carolina Alarm Systems Licensing Board but ALSO retain an actual Low Voltage license classification SP-AF-LV. Even an electrician currently licensed by the state to do electrical work is not automatically licensed to security oriented work.

Neither of which are relatively easy to obtain in a short amount of time. Requirements include relevant work experience certification, additional education, exams, verifiable references with notarized affidavits, background checks and meeting with an investigator all subject approval of the actual NC Alarm Systems Licensing Board during a hearing in Raleigh.

Read specifications for obtaining licensing here

In order to renew Michelle’s license, who works exclusively in the office and does not set one foot inside a client’s home, this was what was required:

  1. Completion of a 3 hour state approved CEU course (which included an exam)
  2. New fingerprints (every 2 years) at the Moorseville Police Department, which were more challenging to obtain than usual due to Covid19 restrictions this year. Not all police departments are doing fingerprints and for Mooresville Police, there was a significant delay in the scheduling.
  3. Finally, a background check.

This process occurs upon hire and then every 2 years afterwards for all employees. For this reason, we have to be very selective of potential staff members.

It is frustrating for us to see unlicensed contractors doing this work. In the event of catastrophe, homeowners (and their insurance companies) will wish they had hired a properly licensed and insured professional.  Be careful of who you let into your home. Click here to check if your contractor is licensed for security with the state.

Sony 4K Home Theater with a FullSwing Golf Simulator

This lakeside Denver, North Carolina project was a build to suit new construction home. SoundVision systems designer Zach Simpson brought in Cinema Tech for the theater design and FullSwing Golf Simulators. The theater features two projectors.  A Sony laser projector for the golf simulator and a Sony 4K projector for theater viewing. Martin Logan models used in the theater were ElectroMotion, Edge and Helos and two DYN800XD subs.  The theater was wired or a full 7.2.4 Atmos audio system.  A 130″ Screen Innovations motorized screen provides the viewing experience while the FullSwing Golf Simulator features it’s own dedicated screen. Our team enjoyed breaking in the golf simulator with the homeowner.

This home was designed as fully integrated Control4 panelized lighting system.  David Stevens of David Stevens Construction of Sherrill’s Ford, North Carolina was the builder for this home and was awesome to work with. Our homeowner was kind enough to offer a letter on our behalf to the CEDIA awards community for consideration in the event we wanted to pursue an award category.

In addition to the theater project, the home was also outfitted with an Araknis network, a full Luma surveillance system, 7 zones of audio and multiple Sony 4K TV displays throughout.

Learn more about Sony projectors:

https://www.sony.com/electronics/projector/vpl-vw695es 

Learn more about Martin Logan audio:

https://www.martinlogan.com/en/category/our-speakers

Learn more about Full Swing Golf:

https://www.fullswinggolf.com/

 

 

 

 

Why is this remote so &!;!!?? complicated!!!! – The power of macros

Now that we know what a macro is, let me give you an example of how powerful a macro can be.

Below is a screen shot of a macro I use in our home every day.  The idea behind this macro is when we turn off the TV at night and are headed to bed (from between the hours of 8:30pm and 11pm on the weekdays and midnight on the weekends) the following sequence of events happens.  The reason I have chosen to have specific ending times, is I have recognized that if someone is up extra late, and other folks are sleeping, I don’t want lights or TVs coming on and waking them up.

Spoiler alert!!!  This one is VERY long and detailed.

The macro starts simply enough by turning off some audio / video devices.  This is a very common use of a macro (i.e. to turn off (or on) any number of devices from TVs to audio video receivers (AVRs) to anything you can think of).  After turning these off, things get a bit interesting.  You can see a lighting scene, called Intermission is activated.  What this does is slowly bring up the lights to a level that allows us to see and take up and dishes or glasses or else we might have (as the lights were probably off while we were watching a movie).  Yes, that would be another macro.

Macros also allow for you to select certain times they can be run.  Here, you see that if it’s between 7pm and 12:30am, ANOTHER macro (called a nested macro (which, in English means one macro inside another macro)) is run for the thermostats to go to specific “sleeping” temperatures.  After a few delays, another “nested macro” runs a Bedtime series of steps.

As an aside, you might be asking, why have a macro inside a macro?  Why not just list all the steps under one main macro.  The reason is, this way, you can change things associated with one and use it in different places or instances.  Let’s say I want the temperature to change when I go to bed and be executed EITHER when I press the off button on the TV remote OR when I press a button on a lighting keypad in our bedroom.  I can insert the same Temperature Night macro under both buttons.  Now, let’s say I want to change the temperature from, say 68 degrees to 70 degrees, every time I press either button.  I can change this in ONE place, the Temperature Night macro, and it will change the action when I turn off the TV or when I press the button on the lighting keypad.

This is one the first step in a long series of this one macro that we live with every day.  I will go more in depth, next time, showing you alarm arming, door locking, lighting changes, ceiling fans, TVs turning on and off, delayed lighting scenes and more.  For now, just remember that macros are intended to do anything action you normally do, over and over, and automate that action to happen how and when you want it to.

If you have any questions, give us a shot at 704-696-2792 or email me at [email protected]  We LOVE talking about this stuff!

We are a Google / Nest Authorized Partner

Innovative Design, Revolutionary Results

Which is the right solution for you? At SoundVision, we believe in simplifying life through technology, but that technology solution is different for everyone. Just as no two homeowners are alike, no two technology systems are either and that’s why, as Lake Norman’s premiere technology systems integrator, we offer a variety of solutions from leading manufacturers so that we can custom tailor each solution to meet the needs of each home.

In designing a home automation system, we start with a thorough needs analysis that documents your wants, needs and must haves. We’ll review your life-safety and security needs, network infrastructure, and more to engineer a solution that suits the needs of you and your family. So, whether you need automated door locks and a camera system, or a fully integrated home automation system to control your motorized shades, indoor and outdoor lighting, audio and video, we’ve got you covered.

Staying ahead of the curve

To be the best in design, installation and service for our customers and to meet the rigorous demands of the manufacturers’ lines that we are privileged to represent, our engineers, programmers and installation technicians undergo continuous education and hands-on training. We participate in industry and manufacturer-led sessions and continually seek new and innovative solutions to bring to our overall product offering.

We are proud to be one of the very first partners in the whole country with revolutionary lines such as Google Home and the Google Home Hub and the Nest line of products including the Nest thermostat, hello doorbell and camera system. Nest Protect is a life-safety pioneer. It not only detects smoke and carbon monoxide, but “speaks” when there’s a problem and can even text your phone.

And you may not think of a home technologies integrator when buying a door lock but think about that keyless touchpad being integrated into your home control. Yale keyless door locks are as beautiful as they are functional, safe and convenient. We can integrate them into your home’s system so that they operate with your home’s lighting and shades and be controlled from your home’s keypads and touchscreens or from a convenient mobile app.

Among the choices in voice control, Josh.ai adds a layer of artificial intelligence that makes accessing your systems seamless. Josh can control everything from your Yale door locks to your Sonos audio!

With so many amazing choices in smart home technologies, how do you know which is the best fit for you? It’s not just about the choosing the right stuff, it’s about making the right technologies work together. Give us a call and we’ll help navigate the myriad collection of high-tech gear, define the features and applications you’re looking for, and put together the perfect combination for you. “Josh, call SoundVision!”

 

 

 

Staying Connected While Entertaining for the Holidays

Whenever you think about the holidays, you probably think about friends and family around the table, enjoying a meal and each other’s company. Maybe you think about presents or twinkle lights – or maybe you just can’t wait to watch your favorite holiday movie. The reality, though, is that you’re probably spending a lot more time in the kitchen. Thanks to new tech, that doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on the fun.

 

Make your kitchen a smart one

How much planning and personalization went into your kitchen? It’s arguably one of the most personal, necessary rooms in your entire home. All the more reason to pay some extra special attention to it! By incorporating the right functionality, entertainment features like built-in audio or video screens, and voice-controlled smart home automation like Josh.ai, you can personalize your kitchen to suit your needs for not only everyday living, but for special entertaining, too.

 

There when you need a helping hand

There are countless options currently available for smart appliances like refrigerators, ovens and “hubs” like Josh. And while these might seem a little frivolous – or perhaps even intrusive – it’s worth taking time to consider the added convenience they can bring to your home. Having an app connected to your oven means you don’t have to miss the football game to keep the bird from burning. A smart refrigerator that can text you a picture of your refrigerator’s contents can save you from a second trip to the store.

 

Incorporate devices like a kitchen hub serve as your voice-controlled connection to the rest of your home, a helping hand for your recipes, or a backup phone when your hands are full. Connect these smart appliances with a hub like Josh, and you’ve got an extra set of hands in the kitchen!

 

Smart appliances are safe appliances

With hectic schedules, guests and your mind on a million different things, you wouldn’t be the first to forget to turn off the stove, turn off the lights or feel like you need to be in two places at once. By incorporating the right smart appliances and systems, you can maximize safety AND convenience in your kitchen. Your stove and oven can now warn you that they’ve been left on – instead of hearing the news from your smoke detector (or worse).

 

If a smart kitchen sounds like the solution you’ve been waiting for, we’re here to help you integrate the best tech for your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why you should be building (or living in) a smart MDU

As cities’ populations grow and the need for building upward grows, the trend toward multi-dwelling units (MDUs) has exploded. Not only are these MDUs in demand for the builder and buyer alike, but they’re increasingly more exclusive, high-tech and luxurious. The good news is: with technology from Control4, this level of modern luxury is affordable.

Our advice: Include smart home automation in the blueprints
The best way to incorporate smart home automation into your units is to include it in your plans from the beginning. Structured wiring, strategically-placed outlets and connectivity designed for the best internet connection, power capability and equipment placement increases the value of your units and allows for minimal interior design disruptions – ensuring your vision comes to life without having to worry about unsightly wires or bulky equipment getting in the way of the details. By wiring before the walls go up and considering features like built-in speakers, storage for entertainment features or a whole-home control center at the front door, design and convenience stay the center of attention.

Smart MDUs mean safety, connectivity, convenience and more
Buyers have placed convenience, connectivity and energy efficiency at the top of their must-have lists when it comes to shopping for their homes. By incorporating smart home technologies like climate control, automated shade and lighting control, they can improve their energy efficiencies, whether they’re at home or out-of-town.

Smart home automation also offers endless options that increase safety – from cameras at the lobby door to smart locks to timed settings for your shades and lights – that protect both the occupants and the building itself. Some systems can even alert residents and building staff about fire and water damage before they become a widespread or serious issue. Now, residents can know what’s happening in their homes, while it’s happening.

Make it easily customizable
One thing is for sure – anyone buying a home wants to make it feel like home and there’s no better way to accomplish that than offering a smart home system that’s customizable to their needs. Custom climate control, security features and entertainment systems with personalized moods and functions make your buyers happy. Even better, consider implementing connectivity to the concierge desk and any entry points like doors, automated gates and garages to ensure your residents are only a touch away from communicating with property staff and their visitors. All of these features are even more attractive when residents are able to connect them to their personal cell phones and tablets.

By making your MDU’s smart, you can increase the value of your MDU, while also making it more attractive to buyers. Moreover, you’re more likely to retain your residents if you’re ahead of the trend, as there’s less for you to update later on. Talk to us about how we can help you with the best tech for your next MDU!

 

 

 

 

 

The Best In-Home, and Outdoor, Setup for the World Cup

This summer is the stuff dreams are made of for sports fans, with the FIFA World Cup, the US Open and the College World Series all taking place. Before huddling in your living rooms around your old TV to cheer on your favorite team, make sure you’re hooked up with a prime audio-video setup, which is key for the most immersive, bright and connected viewing experience for you and your guests this season.

 

You have an overwhelming number of options. Should you opt for LCD or OLED technology? Or maybe a big-screen 4K projector is more your speed? And which audio setup will deliver that immersive audio experience? What’s more, it’s important to consider which cable or streaming service to use.

 

Regardless of your setup, a few things are clear: for the ultimate viewing experience, you’ll need a large screen with the most clear, bright picture possible and fluid motion displays, a clean setup with no clunky speakers or wires distract you from the on-screen action, and strong network capability along with the technical support you need to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

 

If you’re ready for the ultimate realistic experience, a home theatre with custom seating, a large screen projector with 4K HD and surround sound will help you feel thrown into the game. If a TV-based setup is more of what you’re looking for, some key features to look for are motion smoothing technology and color accuracy, as well as bright picture, since most of the matches are during the daytime. But if you’d rather be outside by the pool, maybe an outdoor setup equipped with weatherproof speakers and televisions is your solution.

 

Whether you’re a dedicated fan looking for the most high-tech, immersive experience possible or you’re simply hosting your first watch party, you need an experienced team of professionals to help ensure your home is equipped with the best technology and support to make you feel like you and your guests have been transported into the stadium.

 

 

 

How to Choose the Best Display for Your Conference, Part Two

Which Display Solution is best?

When designing a collaborative space, one of the first questions we’re commonly asked is, “what is better for my conference room, an LED display or a projection system?” This is a great question to tackle early in the design as so many factors determine the best choice. While price, lighting, installation options and total cost of ownership (TCO) need to be considered, the answer depends first, on the project’s goals and secondly, on the calculated proper screen size. Technology does not drive the best solution but instead, the use and goals will drive the technology. Think of it this way -Imagine buying a new delivery truck. Would you base the purchase on cost, gas mileage and color alone, or would you also need to factor in the payload weight and size as well? Once the size is determined and the client and AV Designer have a clear understanding of the goals to be achieved, the type of display best suited for the application can be revealed.  Let’s explore each.

Projection Technologies – DLP/LCD/LASER

Technologies in projection systems include three main types: traditional HID (high-intensity discharge lamps) DLP projectors, LCD projectors and laser phosphorous projectors.  Relatively new to the market, laser projectors are quickly gaining momentum in the industry due to their extraordinary picture quality, long lamp life and energy savings.  For example, a laser projector can run 20,000 hours before displaying a noticeable degradation of light output, whereas a DLP unit’s degradation may be detected as early as 1500 hours. A DLP’s HID lamp is usually changed every 2,000 to 3,000 hours so, despite the added initial cost of laser (approximately 30% over that of HID), it yields a lower TCO. LED lighted technology is still available, but its lower lumens are more appropriate for home theater than a bright office environment.

Flat Screens – Plasma, LED, OLED/QLED

The main “Flat Panel” or “Flat Screen” display technologies are Plasma, LED, and OLED (organic light-emitting diode), with the most common and widely accepted technology being the “LED LCD” display. Plasma has shifted to a consumer “niche” market by video purists who believe it provides the truest contrast and color saturation, but it’s no longer used in commercial applications. With the quick adoption of 4K, we suspect plasma to quickly go the way of the 8-track.

OLED, originally created in 1987 by researchers at Eastman Kodak, is the latest technology to sweep market and is destined to become the next standard.  It may not hold the title long however, as manufacturers are already looking at direct view micro-LED technology as the next “big thing.” LED Direct View technology is also on the rise. Originally releagated to massive applications like Times Square and stadium scoreboards, manufacturers are now able to provide smaller pixel pitch panels that allow for finer and more exact picture quality.  Ideal for close up viewing, these can be found in digital signage applications, auditoriums and Emergency Operations Centers/Network Operations Centers (EOC/NOCs). LED Direct view can also be found in larger boardrooms and training spaces affected by excessive, uncontrolled ambient light. As the price continues to settle and the pixel pitch technology becomes smaller (Micro-LED), we will see more direct view in board rooms and smaller spaces.

As shared in Part One, there are for best practices determining the proper viewing screen size in a conference room. Those formulas and guidelines apply to 4K displays/projection screens as well but, with the incredible resolution of a 4K display or projector, keep in mind that 4 times the amount of pixels will be displayed (imagine duplicating that screen into a 2×2 grid on the viewing surface). How does this affect the image being displayed? While the resolution is incredibly true and sharp, font size and detailed content such as spreadsheets, will need to be enlarged for effective viewing.

So, what is better for your conference room, an LED display or a projection system? Just give us a call. We’ll help “measure up” your choices and design the best solution for your needs.

 

 

 

Home Automation and The Wine Cellar, a Smart Combination

The phrase “smart home technology” often conjures images of temperature control, automated lighting and shades, voice-control entertainment and security. What you might not realize is that this technology extends beyond practicality and into your wine cellar.

Gone are the days of having to chill your wine in the fridge at the wrong temperature and worrying about what you have ready for your next dinner party. There are numerous options fit for any level of connoisseur and any budget. New technology from a standard wine cooler to a decked-out cellar, complete with the accessibility and organization at your fingertips thanks to state-of-the-art smart home technology and apps, make this investment an excellent one for your home.

These systems have many benefits, the most important being their ability to connect with your already-existing or planned home automation technology. Motorized shades, lighting and audio aren’t just for your living areas anymore – you can utilize your smart home tech to adjust the lighting, control the temperature, play your favorite music or lock your cellar from unwanted guests.  For those with serious collections, systems can offer round-the-clock monitoring of your inventory so you know what bottle has been accessed, including by whom and when. Check out how this Star Trek fan integrated his home automation into his themed wine cellar.

Want more apps to connect? High-tech options like the Elertus Wine Protection System or the IWG Cellar Cerveau offer your stash protection from humidity, incorrect temperature, open doors and power outages.  Systems like the Cellar Cerveau and Cellar Tracker come equipped with barcode scanners, label recognition software and RFID label technology to help you track your inventory – down to where the bottle is in your cellar and what your collection is worth.  What’s more, some systems come pre-configured with a wide listing of data like wine types, grape varieties and tasting notes, while others also can offer suggestions to add to your collection.

Whether you’re just starting your collection, or have been curating your inventory for decades, consider the value of automating your wine cellar. Need more inspiration? These five luxury homes took wine cellars to the next level with their designs and smart home control.

 

 

How to Choose the Best Display for Your Conference Room

Effective communication and collaboration relies on the participants’ ability to comfortably engage with the shared content. Content needs to be clearly visible and any text being displayed must be legible from any seat in the room. Determining the proper display size, type and placement is key in creating an engaging collaborative environment conducive to successful meetings.

Considering the technologies early in the planning phase will allow for the most flexibility in design options and provide the best possible outcome. An analysis of the requirements and goals will help in determining the ideal display for the space. Working in collaboration with the designer and project stakeholders to factor in the room’s furniture and its placement, calculations of the room’s dimensions, viewing distances and angles can be made. The types of content, the room’s ambient light, the options for mounting in-wall and in-ceiling displays or projectors, the control system and budget will be factored in as well.

Viewing Distance Drives Display Type

The distance of the furthest participant is a key factor in determining display type.  There are various methods to determine proper viewing distance and screen size. The commercial AV industry association, AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, formerly Infocomm), offers the specification “ANSI/INFOCOMM V202.01:2016, Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual System. The standard uses multiple calculations that factor content, viewer positions from multiple locations, image size, font size, ambient light, off-axis viewing, the human eye’s range of sight at various angles, and more. These standards apply not only to presentation spaces, but to more complex applications such as auditoriums, training venues and Security Operations Centers (SOC) as well.

Calculating for Content

For huddle spaces and small-to-medium conference rooms, calculations using a multiplier factor can provide a close estimation of display size that can help guide the design. Screen size and distance calculations are greatly impacted by the content being presented, however, because the type of content dictates the multipliers (or factors) used in the calculation.

For corporate environments where presentations including PowerPoint, Excel, Word or Webpages will be shared, a large image will enhance user engagement by allowing participants to read the content more clearly and comfortably. To calculate for this scenario, use a multiplier of 6 times the display’s image height (based on 1920 x 1080P resolution) to determine the furthest seating position. If data-rich content such as CAD drawings, Word or Excel documents or Web pages are to be shared, a factor of 4 should be used for added clarity. In boardrooms and conference rooms using video conferencing such as WebEx or Skype for Business, a multiplier of 4 is also recommended since it is a mixed-use application with multiple windows within the display image.

If the shared content is primarily videos, calculating screen size and viewing distance is more lenient using a multiplier of 8 times the display’s image height. For example, if using a 55″ Monitor (27″ high screen height), the maximum seating distance would be 18’ (8 X 27 = 216”).  Again, this is for video viewing and not necessarily a comfortable distance for viewing text-based content. In a mixed-content environment, such as a conference room, the text-content calculation should be used as the default. Another alternative offering great flexibility without compromising design is installing both an on-wall LED display as well as an in-ceiling projection screen. This scenario offers sleek aesthetics coupled with the ability to transition to a large format screen based on more detailed content.

The 45° Rule of Thumb

Viewing angles are a critical consideration, especially with wide rooms or where multiple displays may be required to provide easy viewing from various positions. As a general rule-of-thumb, participants should be within 45 degrees from the center of the screen and the top of the screen should be positioned within 30 degrees above the audiences’ eye level. AVIXA’s standards are much more detailed, but this general guideline will help set the expectation of screen size and positioning for initial design purposes.

Aspect Ratio

Widescreen aspect ratios of 16:9 and 16:10 are currently the most common, with 16:9 becoming more prevalent. Laptops have landed on 16:9, but most new displays and projectors can properly scale a 16:10 image to 16:9 and visa-versa. Any incompatibilities in native resolution and screen size/ratio can be addressed by the system designer.

By providing a screen that maximizes your content, your participants will remain engaged and your meetings will become more productive. Do you have a meeting space that could benefit from a more engaging video experience? Call us for a complimentary on-site assessment and let’s get started!

 

 

 

 

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