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May
20

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Dennis Burger, a respected industry editor and reviewer, currently acting as the Editor-in-Chief for HDLiving.com. If anyone enjoys tinkering with automation systems and accessories, it certainly is Dennis and we were blown away by the innovative ways he used Axxess Industries ZigBee accessories to solve problems in his smart home:

"Let’s look at some cold, hard numbers. Before adding the strategically located Multi Function Repeater to my system, the outbound route error percentage for my front door lock was 40.169%

Which doesn’t mean that it failed 40 percent of the time, mind you. ZigBee devices poll one another frequently, even when they’re not receiving control signals. What that number means is that for every “Hello, Sam”/”Mornin’, Ralph” sent between my front door and my Control4 system, some 40% of them contained errors.

After the upgrade, it’s down to a cool 0.000%. Problem: Solved!"

Be sure to check out the full review and more insight from Dennis via HDLiving.com. And let us know how you are using automation accessories from BlackWire, we are always eager to share your custom installation stories and project case studies!


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May
2
Summer Athletics and Automated Sports Bars, A Perfect Marriage
Posted by Kelly Ahern on 02 May 2014 10:16 AM

With NHL playoffs underway and baseball in full swing (pun semi-intended), I often find myself daydreaming about parking it at local bar with frothy cold brew. I enjoy heading over to my favorite sports bar much more than just watching the latest game at home, there's something about the atmoshphere - fans of my team and the opposing cheering, a multitude of screens to choose from, and of course not having to fight with my friends over who's turn it is to get off the couch and head to the fridge for a round of beers.

Even better, some of my favorite establishments are beginning to see the value in custom integration and what smart technology and automation can bring to their locations. From improving the overall customer experience to adding efficiencies for the staff, custom commercial applications are giving savvy businessowners a step ahead of the competition; and thankfully BlackWire Deisgns is making their technology aspirations all the easier to achieve.

What I consider to be BlackWire's flagship development is their app called Quick Control; it allows control over bars, restaurants and other commercial venues to be virtually seamless. In conjunction with home automation provider, Control4, the Quick Control app consolidates the Control4 interface providing single-page operations and an easy wasy for buisnesses to enjoy complete control of their A/V devices - think bartenders no longer needing to manually change the channel on every individual TV in the room, aka they now hit a single button, stay behind the bar and can get me my refill that much sooner. The full Pro version even takes this one step futher, supporting simple control of lighting, lighting scenes, blonds and thermostats. Additionally, one of the stand out features of the Quick Control user interface is a "Favorites" section that allows users to jump directly to their most-used pages, like a specific room, source or device; the "Favorites" in the BlackWire design can be ever-present on the screen, alongside the main controls. Overall, by combining multiple pager operations into one, users can quickly and easily navigate their devices, which is beyond perfect for the fast-paced business setting.

Don't believe me, check out the integrator feedback:

"This is an amazing Control 4 app with a lot of flexibility that we will use on large distributed video jobs for both residential and commercial jobs," says Michael Dobb, an integrator with Today's Home & Leisure Products in Mechanicsburg, Pa. "It's super easy to finally control multiple TVs on the fly without having to change rooms in the system. Being able to stay within the app itself and not navigate away into other menus while being able to provide DirecTV channel feedback all on one page ... amazing!"

Tyler Copeland of TEC Communications in Reno, Nev., says Quick Control saved the day for a brewpub with seven TVs, four audio zones, eight video sources and 11 audio sources. That particular client wanted to view on the touchpanel what channel was playing on each TV.

"Quick Control Plus was the answer," Copeland says. "It has exactly what my customer was asking for with the ZONE STATUS button."

Want to learn more? Check out BlackWire Designs for further details on Quick Control Plus and Quick Control Pro.


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Apr
23
Future Proofing Your A/V Projects
Posted by Kelly Ahern on 23 April 2014 03:01 PM

As a distributor and developer, BlackWire is often asked for advice and suggestions as to how best integrators and end-users can "future proof" their projects. Of course there is no concrete way to predict what new technologies and applications will impact our future, but we can actively reducate ourselves and our customers on anticipated new developments, trends, and turning tides within the market.

We recently came across one of Commercial Integrator's latest white papers, "5 A/V Technologies That Will Definite the Next 5 Years", which details out the top trends and technologies sure to shape present audio video installations, and those to be designed in the near future. Although the white paper doesn't predict future technologies, it does a great job highlighting and summarizing key market forces that are making a series impact on general A/V integration, check out a few hihglights below:

DisplayPort

DisplayPort is a digital display interface standard developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) designed to facilitate the transfer of vido, audio and data, between a source and sink device. DisplayPort 1.2 is capable of emitting HDMI or DVI-D TMDS signals through the use of a simple passive converter. DisplayPort has been HDCP compliant since the DP1.1 standard. The DisplayPort 1.2a standard was released in January of 2013 and includes support for Multi-Stream Transport (MST), Ultra HD resolutions and many more performance enhancements.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC) analysis, DisplayPort market penetration will experience a compounded annual growth rate of 106% between 2009 and 2014 -- it is quickly becoming a key technology of the A/V market, with no end to its growth insight.

HDMI

HDMI LLC was founded by Philips, Silicon Image, Sony Technicolor S.A, RCA, Toshiba and Panasonic in 2002. Their goal was to create a connector for digital A/V devices that featured a small form factor and was capable of transporting uncompressed digital video, multi-channel digital audio and control signals while maintaining backwards compatibility with the existing SVI-D standard.

On September 4, 2013, HDMI LLC released the much anticipated HDMI 2.0 standard. HDMI 2.0 is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI specification, but addressed several paramaeters that provide increased performance and functionality -- it specifically includes 4K@50/60, (2160p), which provides compatibility with emerging Ultra HD and D4K video performance levels -- as well as a wealth of additional benefits.

MHL

Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) is an HD video and digital audio interface for connecting mobile phones and portable devices to HDTVs and other display devices. MHL is, essentially, a technology that adapts USB connection on a mobie device to an HDMI jack. An HDMI cable is then used to connect the dongle to a display. It is most emphatically not an HDMI signal, however. MHL is a 5-pin or 11-pin topology that requires an MHL-enabled display device to funtion. Since the HDMI connection is ubiquitous, it is only logical that it was chosen as a convenient physical layer connection. Many new flat panel displays and Android smartphones are including MHL technology. Today, MHL capability is included in more than 330 million devices.

HDBaseT

There are a number of factors that will drive HDBaseT adoption, making this one of the key growth technologies in the A/V industry. HDBaseT is positioned to support Ultra HD, a high performance system that delivers more than 4x the resolution of current HD display technology. HDBaseT's Ultra HD (D4K) compatibility, relaible connectivity at distance well beyond the typical 21-meter limitation of HDMI's mative connectivity and its use of a single category cable (Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a) are all factors contributing to its intense growth rate

 To discover more trends and growth areas in A/V integration visit Commercial Integrator.


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Apr
21
How Do You Leverage IP-Based Surveillance Solutions?
Posted by Kelly Ahern on 21 April 2014 02:46 PM

IP-based security applications are not realitively new to our industry; however many end-users remain unaware of the array of benefits these products can provide.

IP-based surveillance solutions deliver a variety of enhanced features for the end-user; as well as major benefits including reduced costs and improved efficiency. As many businesses are transitioning from physical security departments to digital solutions, IP networking technologies can provide a more robust, quick-to-access solution -- there's a lot of flexibility when working with your integrator to build out a custom system. IP-based systems allow for faster incident response, invesitgation and access to live and recorded video anywhere, at any time; a huge bonus for many commericial clients. Furthermore, IP solutions offer greater image clarity and sharpness via High Definition 1080P resolutions and have the capability to capture jsut about any signal that comes through; a serious advantage over older analog models.

When broken down, the benefits of IP-based surveillance solutions include:

  • Superior image quality
  • Future-proof integration
  • Flexibility and scalability
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Remote accessibility
  • Easy and reliable installation

Overall, integrators can also help business owners capitalize on IP surveillance solutions by tailoring their systems to evolve accordingly with buisness growth as well as to serve new needs and security requirements.

At BlackWire, we want to know, 'how are you uisng IP-surveillance in your installations?' -- send us your thoughts and case studies!


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Mar
11
Video Surveillance Trends to Watch in 2014
Posted by Kelly Ahern on 11 March 2014 01:11 PM

Surveillance solutions have been getting a lot of buzz this year already, from predictions surrounding big data and crowd sourcing to cloud-based initiatives, it's excitingto see where the security industry is headed. Just ahead of the new year, IHS released its annual whitepaper outlining the top trends it expects to see in the video surveillance market throughout the coming year. As Q1 quickly draws to a close, we chose a few of our favorite trends and predictions to share with you:

Panoramic Cameras Provide the Full Picture

IHS believes the big surveillance winner this year will the 180/360-degree panoramic network cameras. Specifically IHS predicts that these cameras alone will gain impressive market share in verticals such as retail, airports and casinos, where monitoring wide indoor areas is critical to the safety and security of the public and patrons. The panoramic view is incredibly useful in detecting activities in large-scalre areas as well as tracking the flow of people, while improving overall area management.

Changing View Points on Live Video and Mobile Access

IHS also points out that there has also been a renewed focus on the idea of facility security managers securely sharing live video footage with law enforcement in the event of an incident; unfortunately much of this is a result from the string of horrific incidencts our country has faced this past year. According to the whitepaper, "the technology needed to provide this already exists, yet issues over ongoing costs - and more importantly who pays for the system - have meant that market penetration has been limited." With the unfortunate increase of public incidents that threaten the safety and security of innocent bystanders, specifically children, 2014 could be the year where live streaming of video surveillance to law enforcement becomes the norm...that's certainly something we would support and get behind.

Security Cameras to Make Serious Noise in 2014

According to new analysis from IHS, more than 70% of network cameras shipped globally in 2013 had either uni-directional or multi-directional audio capability.However, the resulting feedback from security systems integrators was that these capabilities were rarely being utilized. However, IHS predicts that with increasing awareness of embedded audio analytics and even sound source localizations, adoption could be on the rise.

Video Surveillance Grows at a New Rate

Probably the most exciting trend for us at BlackWire is IHS' prediction on the overall growth expectancy for the video surviellance market. Over the last 10 yearsthe surveillance market has grown leaps and bounds, some years at a double digit rate - and 2014 will be no exception. IHS forecasts that the global video surveillance market will grow by more than 12% in 2014 alone..truly exciting for our dealers and partners!

Where do you expect to see the most growth and evolution in the security industry? Have you begun to work with any of these new trends? what woudl you consuder to be a big win in the video surveillance realm? We want to kow! Share your thoughts with us via Twitter or on Facebook. And in the meantime, feel free to browse the variety of custom security solutions BlackWire has to offer.


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