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The Problem with Alexa…

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It seems as though everyone has gone crazy for voice command devices and applications, but we are exercising caution.  Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant Allo all have flaws. That’s what we are hearing from you.  “Alexa won’t turn on the lights in my kitchen.” “Allo can’t open the garage door for my plumber while I’m at work.” “Siri can’t find anything!”

As home electronics, integration and automation experts, we feel your pain. We know you want to speak your mind and have your wishes granted: open the shades, change the music, pre-heat the oven, and on and on. This is life in the 21st Century. The good news is that eventually all of these devices will understand you clearly. In the not too distant future, they will communicate with you and one another!

These apps and devices are basic and limited in what they can do. So if you’re OK with that, go ahead and plunk down $129 for the Google Home device or $179 for the Amazon Echo, and then download the apps that make them work. Want to know the weather? The score of the Red Sox game? Change the temperature on your Nest? These will do that for you.

Name that skill

One of the issues is how the devices in your home are programmed. Let’s say you have multiple lighting sources and need to be very specific, for example, kitchen recessed lights. Your voice command will have to be equally specific, according to AVD Project Manager Glenn Middleton. You may know this but your guests may not. Another issue is that Alexa and counterparts “aren’t at full voice recognition capacity yet, which means they make a lot of mistakes understanding human speech. Eventually they will understand us 100 percent. At that time these will be great devices for interacting on some level with our systems,” says Kyle Tripp, AVD Systems Designer.

Currently Alexa and Allo do not communicate easily with any smart home systems. And they won’t necessarily be able to work the rest of the cool, high-tech stuff in your house. The latest versions from Control4Crestron and Savant have the capability to be “introduced” to Alexa and learn one another’s language. Alexa’s language is “name the skill” or “call the skill.” Once Alexa becomes more fluent, the skills it knows will be more easily understood by the home integration systems we install. For now you’ll still have to push buttons on your smart phone, tablet or wall touch panel, which in many cases is actually more convenient than voice control. The best smart home systems are now developing their own voice recognition technology.

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Networking 101

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Have you ever been frustrated at the poor reception your cell phone gets at home? Looking for the crispest resolution on your television while watching Netflix? Do you ever feel you have the slowest Wi-Fi in the world? Do you even understand how Wi-Fi works? When we talk about networking, we’re talking about:

  • Wi-Fi – accessing the local wireless network for your computer, telecommunication, gaming, printing, consoles and more
  • Connecting your devices within your home so they communicate with one another
  • Accessing the Internet for email and entertainment
  • Compatibility with the latest standards and upgrades

 

“People are upgrading mostly because the coverage of their wi-fi is not reaching areas of the home they use most, because their service is regularly interrupted, and because of slow speeds. They want their email to work when they want it, they want Netflix to work when in the mood for a movie, and they want to surf the web and do homework. Finally, they want their cell phones to work anywhere in their homes,” says Mike Dillon, AVD Computer & Networking Specialist. “We make that all happen via wi-fi calling.”

The difference between working with a firm like Audio Video Design and walking into Best Buy is quality. We have networking engineers and superior products that are comparable to what corporations use. We provide enterprise-grade networking. Why is this important? Three main factors: speed, reliability and security. You want the fastest connections that don’t buffer, and give you peace of mind for your information. And in this day of Equifax breaches and stolen identities, this is of paramount importance.

Our networking expertise provides the equipment you need, the configurations you want and the ability to grow your system as products evolve. Keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology is another advantage of working with us versus DIY. We work with all network providers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Cox, MCI, RCN, Century Link and more to enhance coverage and usefulness. You have questions. We have answers.

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Named 2018 Tech Home Integrator of the Year

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Audio Video Design won the 2018 Integrator of the Year Tech Home Mark of Excellence Award from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) last night at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)  in Las Vegas. AVD Vice President, Bob Riddle, accepted the award on behalf of Audio Video Design.

The Integrator of the Year Award is presented to a company for their overall contribution to industry. AVD has been serving New England for the past 45 years, providing design, installation and maintenance of smart home systems.

“We gratefully accept this award on behalf of all of the employees and clients of Audio Video Design,” said AVD President, Brad Smith. “We are honored to have been selected for this recognition. We strive for excellence and this award is an acknowledgement of those efforts.”

One of AVD’s recent projects, Cape Cod Cinematheque, was also recognized as a finalist in the home theater category.

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You Light Up My Life: Automated Lighting from AVD

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Back in 1977 when Debby Boone sang “You Light Up My Life” few realized that automated lighting would revolutionize the home technology industry. The benefits of automated lighting include convenience, security and aesthetics that enhance the way we live in our homes today. And don’t forget the bonus of energy savings!

The Convenience of Automated Lighting

Press a button and house lights dim or set a welcome home scene where the lights come on as you open the door. Today’s lights offer control from anywhere, and the ability to program them to turn on or off at specific times, depending on the time of day, time of year or occupancy. You can program fixtures in one room or the entire house with platforms from Lutron or Vantage. AVD works with both companies to complement your decor and lifestyle. Control your lighting at home with an app on your smart phone or tablet, or from a keypad on the wall.

We know that lighting has a profound impact on the feel of a space and our overall health and well-being. The right illumination can be custom tailored to your needs – lighting for tasks, relaxation or to spotlight artwork and collections. Owners of multiple residences love the convenience of lighting control systems.

With modern lighting innovations it can be challenging to know how to get what you want. The Audio Video Design team members are experts in lighting design. For homeowners, we can collaborate with your architect, builder and interior designer. For design professionals, we will collaborate with you and your client to ensure you have the products you need to attain the goals of the project.

The bottom line is that today’s automated lighting is easy to use once professionals design and install the system that works best for your home or your client’s home.

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Get Ready for Autumn with Home Technology

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Enjoying the last lazy, hazy days of summer? Before you know it, Autumn will be here with football, school and falling leaves. We want you to be ready for what’s ahead with these suggestions for home technology in lighting, window treatments, WiFi and speakers, and finally home networks for computers.

As the weather turns cooler and the days begin to shorten, you can use your automated window treatments to keep the heat in – opposite of summer months when you use shading to keep the heat out and prevent furniture from fading. If you have one of our automated lighting systems with the atomic clock feature, your lights will automatically turn on earlier and adjust when Day Light Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 4th.

Did you know that switching to LED lighting will lower your electric bills? They last much longer and run cooler than other types of bulbs.  LEDs offer great illumination for tasks like cooking and homework. Most programmable lighting platforms have many options for dimming and a variety of colors, too.  So LEDs are cool in more ways than one! Visit the AVD Experience Center and play with our array of lighting solutions.

 

Turn up the volume: Speakers and WiFi

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AVD Receives the 2018 Prism Award Gold Winner

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We are proud to announce that Audio Video Design received the 2018 Prism Award Gold Winner for Smart Home Technology.

“The PRISM Awards recognize the finest projects and outstanding achievements of builders, developers, project owners, architects, land planners, marketing/advertising firms, interior designers, remodelers, and other professionals in the home building industry. Winning a PRISM Award is a sign of excellence and recognition of superior achievement.”

– The Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston (BRAGB)

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A Smart Home Company Works Smarter

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As your Boston leader in home automation and smart home solutions, AVD is redefining what it means to work smart right here at our Westwood headquarters! In the past year, we’ve taken bold steps to change the way we work. By focusing on better, not bigger, we’ve saved space, reduced waste, empowered our employees to work more efficiently, and enriched our customer experience here in Westwood. Curious how we’ve done it? Read on!

A Digital Leader Ditches Paper

An industry-leading home electronics company going digital? It makes sense to us! Over the past year, AVD has become a paperless workplace. By converting all of our documents and records to digital, we’ve realized twofold benefits. First, we’ve eliminated the need for dozens of file cabinets and bankers’ boxes, reclaiming that square footage for a more valuable purpose. Second, by going digital, we’ve greatly reduced our company’s paper waste. Whenever we’re in a position to help the environment, that’s something everyone here can get behind.

Thinking (and Working) Outside the Box

AVD employees increasingly take advantage of flex work and telecommuting options on the job. In addition to facilitating a healthy work-life balance for our team members, this sort of flexibility in scheduling has allowed us to combine and reduce employee workspaces here at headquarters. Gone are the accounting bunkers and cavernous warehouses of old. Through remote work and Just-in-Time ordering, we’ve reduced our accounting and warehousing footprint by half. So, who’s benefitting from all this streamlining? We’re glad you asked!

Winning Big by Thinking Small.

By going paperless and streamlining our accounting and warehousing operations, AVD is now operating more efficiently than ever. With all the resources and space we’re now saving, we’ve been able to give back. Not only are we producing less waste, which is better for our planet, but we’ve been able to donate 30 filing cabinets to a local police station and contribute office desks and chairs to a customer’s start-up. Perhaps the biggest winner, though, is the AVD customer. Thanks to our reduced footprint, we’ve expanded and enhanced our Westwood Experience Center. Here, customers and those who advise them—architects, designers, and builders—can immerse themselves in the technologies and systems we offer. At the Experience Center, customers can see, hear, and touch our full range of products. Hidden TV’s, automated lighting and shading, incomparable speakers, home theater fixtures, and more: everything is on display. In reducing and reimagining our workspaces, we’ve EXPANDED our customer experience. As far as we’re concerned, there’s NOTHING smarter than that!

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2022-07-07
     
Roy, the technician assigned to the work at my home, was simply amazing - so kind, smart, considerate and the utmost customer-oriented person.
2022-05-19
     
SimpleHome did a fantastic job for us. Helped us design, spec and install two relatively complex TV and A/V installations.
2022-01-10
     

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