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Use It or Lose It. Smart Ways to Invest 2017 Funds Remaining in Your Budget

The year is drawing to a close and so is the availability of funds allocated for 2017 spending. The New Year however, brings opportunities to upgrade existing infrastructure, increase productivity through updated collaborative technologies and promote your brand through dynamic lobby displays and enhancements to client-facing areas.

By purchasing equipment that will be implemented into your 2018 projects now, you’ll be able to take advantage of that additional “found money” while stretching the capabilities of next year’s budget. We can help you and your team strategize and align your technology systems with your goals and overall budget. Here are some suggestions for improvements or additions:

A Digital Upgrade

Does your current system provide connectivity for today’s digital devices? Users have come to expect simple plug-and-play technologies in meeting spaces. Transitioning from outdated analog to digital capabilities that provide wireless, HDMI and mini display port connectivity is paramount to ensure this functionality.

Meeting Spaces

Easy-to-use, more collaborative meeting spaces increase user adoption resulting in faster decision-making and greater productivity. In the trending open-office environment, huddle spaces offer a focused, collaborative meeting space for small group presentations or ad hoc meetings. Interactive collaborative displays, robust cameras that are soft codec-enabled (Zoom Rooms, Cisco WebEx, Skype for Business, etc.), and wireless presentation connectivity promote efficient, productive meetings in these spaces.

Traditional conference rooms with audio and video-conferencing capabilities would benefit from these enhancements along with an automated control system.  Lighting scenes and motorized shades can also be integrated into the room’s control for an improved user experience. And, if your room features an older projection system, upgrading to a laser projector would not only offer a more engaging presentation, but a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as well.

Client-facing Areas

Your lobby/reception area is your first opportunity to engage your prospective customers or employees and introduce your brand. Dynamic digital signage can enforce branding, promote products and services and inform viewers of targeted information and upcoming events. Innovative meeting spaces in these client areas make a lasting impression.

Hands-on Experience Centers are also a great way to engage clients through various interactive displays and immersive technologies.  Architectural features in these environments are accentuated by captivating mosaic displays and exceptionally designed lighting for the ultimate customer experience.

Speech Privacy & Sound Management 

Proven to increase worker productivity in open office environments, sound masking eliminates noise distractions. It also enables privacy of enclosed meeting spaces and office from common areas, rendering speech unintelligible.

Acoustics are another noise control solution providing sound absorption and barriers that lessen overall noise levels and reduce reverberation from hard surfaces. This increases intelligibility in desired areas while providing a more comfortable working environment. There are numerous ways to address acoustic control. SoundVision can provide consultation and recommend the appropriate solutions for each of your spaces.

If you’ve done an excellent job at controlling your budget throughout the year and find yourself with a surplus, consider an investment in technology that will help grow your business, increase efficiency and foster an innovative and collaborative environment for your employees. Give us a call to strategize ways to put your remaining budget to work for you in 2018 and for years to come.

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Put Your Smart Home to Work

Tips to keep Your Home Safe for the Holidays

Throughout the year we strive to keep you apprised of the latest in technologies and trends. 2017 has witnessed the adoption of integrated voice control, amazing advances in LEDs, incredible strides in virtual reality and much, much more! Our smart homes are getting smarter, but how can we use their features to make our homes safer? Well, here are some simple ways to put your home automation system to work, ensuring you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

1) Light it Up! A well-lit home is your first defense against would-be burglars. Every deterrent counts when your home’s vulnerability is assessed. Use landscape lighting, flood lights and motion-activated lighting around your entire home.

2) Fake them out! Inside & outdoors, create lighting scenes that realistically mimic your patterns while you’re away. Control4 calls this Mockupancy™. Lights, shades, televisions and even the Christmas tree are set up on alternating sequences to simulate that lived-in look.

3) Gate it off! Be cyber safe by updating your home network. We’re savvy to the latest potential threats and can help protect your home’s critical infrastructure.

4) Lock it down! If you’ve got a home security system, use it. If you don’t have one, call us. If you’ve got one and haven’t used it for a while, call us to schedule to check. Aside from deterring potential thieves, a monitored security system alerts first responders to fire and medical emergencies. And this is a great time to check that your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

5) Lock it Up! Automated door locks (smartlocks integrated into your home’s system) with integrated alarms and anti-pick shields add an extra layer of security and convenience.

6) Keep an eye on it! Enhance your security system with cameras and motion sensors. Their presence alone is a great deterrent.  You’ll be able to keep an eye on things while away and access recordings should any misdeeds occur.

7) Download the App! Embrace the technology and use the various features available. They offer incredible convenience and peace of mind.

8) Pull the plug! Eliminate the possibility of having your garage door breached. Disconnect it when you’re planning to be away.

9) Resist the urge! We’re our own worst enemies. Don’t flaunt those exquisitely wrapped gifts in the windows for all to see, hold off on that social post from your holiday locale until you’re back home and break down the boxes that your new electronic toys came in to avoid curbside advertising of what’s new on the inside.

Be smart and stay safe and healthy this holiday season. If you have any questions about home automation and its role in your safety and security, please contact us. We’re here to help. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Additional Resources:

Protecting Your Home from Burglars during the Holidays

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes against Smart Technologies

Smart Home Basics: Locks 101

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Holiday Gift Guide 2017

SoundVision’s gifts for every tech enthusiast on your list!

And so the 2017 holiday season begins! And it looks like another banner year for technology – everything from the latest tech gadgets to the luxurious. We’ve got some great ideas for all the tech-lovers on your list, from budget-friendly to the extravagant. We’ll help you think outside the giftwrapped “box!”

The Sports Fanatic: Your armchair Panther quarterback would love a new all-in-one remote or single-room control package. (Are you ready to bundle? We’ve got the perfect Control4 starter package!) And how about some his-and-her custom cinema seating with automated footrests from #UnitedLeather and a convenient armrest/cubby to stash the remote? Or, go all out and add a 4K @Sony screen or multi-screen set-up! Even add game day excitement to the patio with a weatherproof outdoor TV with audio and control package.

The Gamer: Today’s gaming graphics are stunningly real-to-life. But all that data and detail, not to mention virtual reality (VR), require superior resolution. Along with the 2-way headset, add a 4K display and high performance audio system for a fully immersive experience. Is your Gamer a bit old-school? Why not check out our sister company  Throwback Arcades consoles (did someone say PacMan?)! And yes, this is definitely a good time to evaluate the capabilities of your home network!  #Araknis has everything you need to improve or solidify the WiFi network in your home.

The Traveler: Today’s traveler is connected to their mobile phone and apps, and securing their home while away is a great comfort. Imagine bundling automated door locks, a “certificate for a Home Automation Starter Package” and an app-filled smart watch. Top it off with noise-cancelling headphones and a bow!

The Gadget Lover: For the #techgeek in your life, give the gift of integrated control of his/her smart watch, Amazon Alexa, or C4iWatch and a single-room starter package (great offer available!) that allows for expansion over time. An upgraded home network may be in order so that all those new devices can be added to their Internet of things (IoT).

The Outdoor enthusiast: For those who love the great outdoors, a beautifully designed outdoor audio system from @OriginAcoustics would bring a lifetime of enjoyment. A portable, poolside music solution (Sonos One) could be just right and an outdoor TV offers game day fun and family movie nights. #Vantage Outdoor lighting is also an elegant touch, offering lighting scenes that highlight exterior walkways and garden features.

The Music Lover: Music lovers will appreciate high quality sound in many forms. Having the ability to play their favorite playlists anywhere in their home is a must, so portable solutions with Bluetooth or a custom speaker package are great. Serious listeners will enjoy a set of high-fidelity headphones, sleek AV furniture and an over-the-top chair for the “sweet spot.” As for the gear, let’s create a custom package that allows him/her to audition the system that “speaks” to them. We’re great at designing the perfect listening room AND at keeping Santa’s secrets!

The Movie Buff: Simple! Let’s create the perfect media room or custom home theater. Consider custom, United Leather theater chairs, candy cases, a popcorn machine, marque signs and, of course, a @Sony projection system or new display (4K, OLED, QLED), surround sound package and a motorized drapery and lighting control package to signal “show time”!

For Santa: Well, the sky’s the limit. If you’ve got grand ideas for your home or business, let’s formulate a plan for your current needs and future goals. Then, let’s get a Service Plan in place for peace of mind in the Auld Lang Syne. Call or come by today–we’ll help you “wrap up” that gift list and let you enjoy the season!

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The Emergence of the “Technologist”

An  interesting shift is occurring in our industry. In this fast-paced race to digitalization, the role of the technology integrator has transformed yet again. As more devices, features, services, systems, apps and appliances exist on the network, our foundational Internet of Things (IoT), and integrate or “talk” to one another, the technology integrator is transpiring as the sole-source service provider for all things “technology.” Hence, 2017 has witnessed the technology integrator, a low-voltage provider specializing in everything from network infrastructure, communications, security, HVAC and energy management to elegant lighting and shade control, home entertainment and fully integrated control systems, emerge as the “Technologist.”

As a Technologist, we design, build, program and service our clients’ connected “smart” homes, ensuring seamless compatibility of systems across the platforms for a simple, sleek and intuitive user experience. We make your home comfortable, safe, productive, convenient, entertaining and beautiful. We partner with you, exploring your wants and needs, developing a technology strategy that will grow with you and your family. We stay current on em

erging technologies and inform you of your choices. We stand by you through the years, offering valuable service coverage to keep your systems running efficiently, effectively, and worry-free. “We simplify life through technology.”

SoundVision’s years of experience and extensive training and in this evolving high-tech world have allowed us to foster valuable partnerships with some amazing design professionals and adjacent trades. From inception to implementation, we work with an exceptional team of architects, interior designers, builders, landscape architects, plumbers and electricians, managing all aspects of your home project. We communicate the aesthetic and technical requirements of your connected home and make sure provisions are made for future needs. From the simple to the sophisticated, we strive to be your go-to resource for all things technology, your trusted technology partner, the Technologist

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Preparing Your Home for the Holidays

 

 

Company is Coming to Town!

The holidays are right around the corner! Soon our homes will be filled with

festive decorations, mouthwatering smells wafting from the kitchen and guests to entertain! Whether you’ve been thinking about sprucing things up before your guests descend or simply want to make some comfortable home improvements that will add to your holiday merriment, here are some things you may wish to consider.

No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Nothing says “Welcome” quite like lighting design. From the moment your guests turn the corner, they’ll see your beautifully lit landscape and inviting walkway.  Highlighted artwork and the soft glow of a chandelier in your foyer make a stunning first impression. Lighting scenes can transform the mood at the touch of a button (or an “ask” of your integrated voice control). An “Entertain” setting may turn your kitchen into a bustling center of activity full of food prep and lively conversation while lowering the downlights, sconces and chandelier in the dining room, setting the stage for the evening’s elegant meal. Following dinner the lights come back up to your “Clean-up” setting and your favorite holiday playlist cues up, drawing everyone to gather around the fireplace (also integrated into your home’s Control4 technology system).

On milder evenings you may wish to entertain on the patio. Lighting scenes showcase architectural features, planters and fountains for added drama while highlighting uneven walking surfaces and stairs for comfort and safety.  You and your guests can enjoy cozying up around the fire pit to watch your favorite holiday classics on a weatherproof outdoor TV or projection screen.

If the weather outside is “frightful”, bring the party indoors into an updated media room or dedicated home theater. We’ll help you plan the perfect space with plenty of plush custom theater seating.

The Envy of Your Neighbors

If you’re one who wants to share your joy and seek to become a “destination” (or viral video) by putting on an outdoor display that could land a 747, you’ll need a sound system that’s worthy of the task. Those synchronized music and lighting displays are sophisticated but, if you have an integrated home automation system, we can get you in control and in “sync”!

While the neighbors are out gawking at the lights and enjoying the orchestration, unless you have the famous Leg Lamp prominently displayed in your front window, you may want to add some beautiful motorized window shades or draperies.  Automated window coverings can be integrated with your lighting scenes and come in an elegant array of weaves, styles and colors. They are the perfect solution for hard to reach floor-to-ceiling windows in voluminous rooms and can be on separate settings. They’re also great for blacking out light in areas for TV viewing and are available for custom installations over skylights, stairway/foyer accent windows, etc.

Like a Warm Cup of Cocoa

While preparing your guest rooms, imagine offering them the luxury of automation. Easy-to-read and use touch panels, keypads and hand-held remotes that control lighting, fans, fireplaces and more in their room add elegance and enjoyment to their stay.

All snug in their beds

While we’re off dreaming of sugar plums, others are up to Grinch-like behavior scheming to steal the joy from our celebration. Yes, unfortunately, according to the FBI, nearly 400,000 homes are burglarized during November and December each year. Burglars are opportunists and will move to an easier score when a few simple deterrents are in place. Strong door locks, compatible with your Control4 system, will keep them out while allowing you the ability to “buzz” your family and friends in using your smartphone app if you’re caught in holiday traffic. And nothing says “we’re home” like programmed indoor and exterior lighting. And your lighting control can be integrated with your home security system for even greater peace of mind.

So give us a call and let us help you prepare for the holidays! We’ve even got a terrific Control4 one-room solution bundle to get you started! All you need to do is create your holiday playlist, address your invitations and start shopping! Shopping? Oh yeah, we’ve got you covered there too! Stay tuned for our gift giving guide. We’ll help you find something for every tech-enthusiast on your list!

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URGENT: Network security issue impacting all Wi-Fi enabled devices

Security researchers have recently published a wireless exploit titled “Key Reinstallation Attacks” (abbreviated as KRACK), indicating users of any wireless device currently face a severe security risk.

This vulnerability affects any device that uses the Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security mechanism. WPA2 is currently the industry’s most popular and recommended security standard for 802.11 wireless networks.

In some cases, this vulnerability may allow an attacker to manipulate data on a Wi-Fi network, or inject new data. This means hackers could steal user passwords and financial data, or even manipulate commands to wire money to themselves.

Please note: an attacker needs to be physically in range of a target Wi-Fi network to carry out the attacks.

To prevent possible attacks, you must update affected devices as soon as security updates become available.

To reiterate, every Wi-Fi device is affected by this vulnerability. This includes end-user devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops; as well as IoT products like smart thermostats, fridges, locks, etc.

If you are concerned about the KRACK wireless exploit, please note that it affects your mobile devices and IoT devices on any network you connect to. You should use wireless networks with caution until each device manufacturer issues an update and it has been applied.

Therefore, you should take these defensive steps:

  1. Update your personal devices to latest firmware as soon as it becomes available.
  2. Make sure your frequently visited sites (e.g. Facebook) and financial services websites (e.g. banks) show a lock on the browser tab to indicate a secure connection.
  3. Be aware of who is using your Wi-Fi network since any potential attack must be issued within physical range of the network.