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Your new client or potential all-star candidate enters your lobby. What do they see? Imagine presenting them with stunning video that conveys your brand, captures their interest or even compels them to interact! Make a lasting impression by greeting them with a digital signage display, interactive video wall or wayfinding display. You’ll be setting your retail store, corporate office, educational institution or healthcare facility apart from the competition! And that’s just the beginning.

 The Dynamic Digital Marketplace

With its dynamic, ever-changing content that can hold the interest of viewers, digital signage plays a very important part in digital marketing. Static signage is a “one and done” experience for the viewer, whereas constantly changing content on a display keeps viewers engaged longer and decreases perceived wait times

Digital Signage 101

There are two basic elements of a successful digital signage application. One is the hardware component which may be a projection system or, more commonly, a display such as an OLED or Direct View LED, along with a Media Player. The other component is the software that provides the platform for the content. On more sophisticated deployments there may be sensors that provide metrics on content engagement, while others may even include Bluetooth for a more interactive experience. 

The display is a critical component of a digital signage application. They need to be large enough for viewers to comfortably view the content and bright enough to overcome the light levels in the space. Since the typical digital signage display is in use an average of 12 hours a day (with more commercial applications it may be 24x7), consumer TV’s should not be used since they are not rated or warranted for this type of application. An effective display may be a single display in a breakroom or an extensive videowall in a lobby. Other options include unique stretched column units and stand alone kiosks.

Signage players provide a way to show dynamic video content. A player can show multiple video “windows” on the screen that translates into multiple messaging, or advertising, opportunities. Additionally, they can receive real-time streams from weather channels, stock markets, traffic reports and more. As a signage system designer, we will work with you to understand the type of content you need and the software you use to provide the best signage player for your application.

It’s All About the Software

Captivating content is key to attracting viewers. It is recommended that new signage deployments not rely on applications such as “power point” or a built-in picture player that may be included with the display. Content delivered in this manner is stagnant and viewers do not stay engaged. Instead, content software allows you to take full advantage of the media player, while providing real time tools for announcements and other “ad-hoc” content applications.

The pros at Automation Design + Entertainment can help navigate the various applications and display choices and determine what you need to effectively communicate your message to your customers, parishioners, patients and employees. Contact us today and let’s get started!

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Today’s gamers realize their physical surroundings help them become more immersed in the game environment and look beyond just a fast PC to gain a competitive edge. Multiple screens, curved screens or large screens with stunning imagery and super-fast refresh rates, draw them into the action. Backlit displays add drama and subtle room lighting. Quality sound systems coupled with acoustical treatments delve the gamer into the realm while specialized seating reduces fatigue, adding to the experience. 

Of course, the essentials begin with a powerful PC or Gaming Console couple with a robust network, but it’s the entire environment that puts them in the middle of the action.

The Visual Experience

Gaming consoles like the PS4 (PRO) or XBOX generally only support 1 single monitor with the newer versions supporting 4K gaming. A single large display with a high refresh rate and 4K capabilities, such as Sony’s 85” 900 Series, will provide a great gaming experience. If 3D gaming is in use, be sure the display supports the 3D technology. Our AV Systems Specialists can help you navigate the specifications to determine the options.

Unlike gaming consoles, PC-based consoles can be outfitted with multiple video cards supporting multiple monitors. This generally requires video software such as “Eyefinity” or “Surround” that works with specific video cards to give the player the full screen across all displays. Not all gaming PC’s support multiple screens but can be outfitted the same way as the gaming consoles using a larger single display.

The Immersive Audio Experience

Audio is essential to the overall gaming experience. To avoid distraction, many gamers use high quality headphones while others prefer a more traditional audio system like those found in home theaters and media rooms. Most games today provide full multichannel surround sound which add even more to the immersive experience. Of course, robust subwoofers enhance the experience providing realism and feel, something that can not be duplicated with headphones or tv speakers.

The Fourth Dimension

Seating is also important. A gaming chair provides a comfortable place to sit for hours at a time, without feeling tired. These chairs also provide lumbar support and, in some cases, can be integrated with seat vibrators that add a 4D feel to the game. 

Another critical factor is lighting. Many gamers prefer to use backlight behind the displays to reduce eyestrain and softer indirect lighting around the room to eliminate any glare on the screens. Completely dark rooms or overly lighted spaces are generally not preferred as they increase eye fatigue. 

As with a Home Theater or Media Room, overly reverberant acoustics are distracting and reduce intelligibility. For this reason, as well as for the isolation of the room’s noise into surrounding areas, acoustical treatments and sound proofing are essential to the space. The “quieter” a room is, the more the game audio can be heard, further enhancing the experience. As a home theater design professional, we provide this level of acoustic design and sound management expertise to our custom theaters and can guide today’s serious gamer through the process. Investing in this space offers added benefits however as the room, with its exceptional audio, video, lighting and acoustic features, can easily transition into an exceptional and immersive Home Theater/Media experience.

So, is it game on? From simple to sophisticated, we can help create the perfect gaming room for you! 

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Wow. You’ve stepped out of the movie theater having watched the blockbuster action film of the year. Your heart is pounding, your head is reeling. For the past 2 hours you were completely immersed, enveloped in the film. Every sight, every sound, perfectly orchestrated to put you at the center of the action. So, how did they do it and how can you replicate this immersive experience in your home theater

While you might have been drawn into the action through its stunning image quality, seeing details previously unseen, the same holds true for the audio. Whether DTS:X technology, Auro 3D or Dolby Atmos, 3D sound systems are bringing a new dimension to movies, gaming, television and music by adding a multi-dimensional level of realism.

You can hear a pin drop

Think about all the sounds around you; an object hitting the floor, a slamming door, a barking dog or even a whisper. You’re able to determine exactly where that sound is coming from. For a movie or game to simulate a real-life experience, it must recreate that same 3D experience.  Surround sound systems, having made a comeback in 1976 with the introduction of Dolby Stereo, ushered in a new era for audio. Popularity exploded in 1977 with the release of Star Wars and its engaging rear-channel effects. By the early ‘90’s we were enjoying 5.1 surround systems (remember 1999’s famous Matrix Lobby shootout in 5.1 HDR?) and eventually the 7.1 which brought audio to the rear of the room.  By 2004 we were enthralled with the breathtaking precision of the blind dancer in House of Flying Daggers as she meticulously replicates the strike of each surrounding drum with her scarves. And do you remember watching in awe as the Star Ship Enterprise navigated to the space dock in 2009 or being charmed as Wall-E catapulted himself through space using a fire extinguisher? Audio places a dimension to the event.

So how is it done? 

There are distinct differences between DTS and Dolby Atmos technologies, but each accomplishes an immersive audio experience by pinpointing sounds from the exact spots from which they originate.  DTS:X adds a height element to a surround sound system which improves sound accuracy. Without the need for additional speakers, and irrespective of the channel assignment or speaker placement, a compatible receiver can interpret and isolate an object’s location on-the-fly and direct its movement and volume. 

With Atmos, this is done using 64 speakers in a commercial movie theater. To replicate that experience in your home theater, however, requires only 14. Essentially, Dolby Atmos avoids the constraints of sounds being routed to specific channels. Instead, they are routed to particular speakers.  This demo video explains it well: Dolby Atmos Demo Sound Test

A Theater Worthy of a Legend

The blockbuster sensation “Bohemian Rhapsody” took full advantage of the Atmos technology and, in addition to a 4K image, provides a number of scenes showcasing Atmos on its UltraHD Blu-ray. The clearly defined sounds take you in and out of a sound studio and have you feeling like you’re a part of Live Aid 1985 singing “We are the Champions.”

According to Dolby, manufacturers can embed Atmos in both hardware and software, so that your game console, laptop, soundbar and even your smartphone, can support the technology. Are you ready to make immersive audio part of your home theater? Call for a demo or in-home consultation and we’ll make your theater legendary!

Additional Resources:

Surround Sound - The Audio Side of Home Theater

What is Dolby Atmos? All you need to know

Top 10 Most Cliché Home Theater Demos

The History of Surround Sound

Dolby Atmos Explained: What It Is, How It Works and Where to Get It

The Immersive Audio You've Never Heard that could Revolutionize Virtual Reality

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Does your family enjoy settling in for movie night? Do you like to host watch parties of your favorite teams with your friends gathered around the big screen? With warmer weather on its way, why not take the fun outside? Imagine catching the game from the comfort of your patio or offering rafts for your kids and guests to enjoy a movie while afloat! The best seat in the house may not be in the house after all!

You may already be streaming your music through outdoor speakers or watching your weatherproof LED while cooking burgers, but imagine upping the entertainment by creating an outdoor theater with a larger-than-life jaw-dropping projection? 

A Star-filled Night

An outdoor theater adds enormous entertainment value to your outdoor living space. It can boast an exceptional image as well as uncompromised sound. And the sound system can be multi-use, filling the space with music by day and heart-pounding theater audio at night.  You can share content from your home theater or media room system or stream from your favorite movie service. But unlike your indoor space, you won’t need to paint a constellation on the ceiling!

Not Just Any Gear Will Do

Like other specialized outdoor AV gear, weather-resistant options are available for projectors and projection screens. Projectors can be housed in a climate-controlled mounting box or cleverly mounted for quick set-up on movie night. Screens can roll down from beneath your home’s eaves, pop-up from custom enclosures or temporarily affix to an outdoor wall or window. With no “ceilings” to mount from however, determining where the projector can be installed can require some creativity. And added throw distance and lumens may be required to achieve exceptional picture quality. Fortunately, we excel at this!

Always in Control

For uninterrupted enjoyment you’ll want a robust network and remote control to access your home’s Blu-ray player or movie server. Several waterproof remotes are available giving you the ability to control everything even when you’re in the pool! Control of elegantly designed landscape and patio lighting rounds out the outdoor living space. Lighting can accent feature areas and walkways for drama and safety while allowing separate control of zones surrounding the screen area.

Interested in exploring your choices in an outdoor theater? Warm weather is on its way! Call us today and let’s get started!

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Today’s office spaces detect when you enter the room and adjust to your meeting’s settings. It seems everything is wireless, Bluetooth-connected, or voice-controlled but is that the way to go with your network? Is a wireless network the best choice for your meeting space? Wired and wireless both offer distinct advantages, so how do you decide? That depends. First we need to understand who will be using the space, what collaborative tools will be used, and your network’s security level.

Wireless Networks

Whether a small huddle space or expansive board room, enabling your team with the right collaboration tools, connectivity and capabilities is essential for creating a productive space. With your team and network in mind, let’s consider the three types of wireless solutions: 

  1. The Business Wi-Fi network is a dedicated Wi-Fi network providing exceptional, reliable coverage to anyone on the business’s network. It allows seamless access to all server files to everyone on the network however, it restricts access to guests. This restricted access impacts collaboration. One benefit though is that the system can be located anywhere on premise, eliminating the need to locate it the equipment in the room. 
  2. The Local Network is a device-specific wireless network. It creates its own WiFi network with direct connectivity. This method offers heightened security since the company’s network doesn’t need to be accessed in order to connect to a device. The local network is the popular choice among IT Administrators due to the secure nature of standalone devices not needing to access the network. The downside however, is that files outside of that network cannot be accessed and that the devices need to be located in the room.
  3. The Plug-n-Play Network uses wireless USB dongles to connect directly to a dedicated network. Once connected, the dongles automatically download a widget that allows the users to connect to the system. At the press of a button, many of these dongles include “show me” functionality which allows the user’s desktop to be shown on the display. The USB dongles can be a supplement to either of the two other types of wireless systems as described earlier, providing connectivity for users who either can’t connect to the WiFi network or who are unable to download or access the necessary software. One possible disadvantage is that dongles can inadvertently be packed up with guests’ laptops or otherwise misplaced.

On many of the wireless presentation platforms, content can also be streamed. This is great for employees who work remotely or are traveling, as well as for sharing content across a corporate network to a satellite location. Additionally, many systems can also provide the ability to present multiple desktops simultaneously, providing an enhanced collaborative experience.

Wired plus wireless, but not wire-free

Providing at least one “hardwired” connection is recommended for every meeting space as wireless access is not always available for all users. Some systems require an app or software suite which can be problematic for guest presenters who don’t have the ability or system rights to install software on their laptop, and others have severely locked down laptops where even the USB ports are not able to upload or download data which would include the widgets that the wireless USB dongles provide. Unforeseen network issues or outages can also render a wireless system inoperable if the system relies on the Client Wi-Fi, so the hardwired connection provides a reliable backup. 

So, which is the right solution for you? Give us a call and let’s explore the options. We’ll discover your wants, guide you through your choices and work with your IT pro to ensure safe connectivity. And bear in mind, wireless doesn’t mean wire free. There’s still equipment that needs to live either in the room or in an equipment rack elsewhere and there’s still a need to provide power to the tabletop connectivity. It all starts with the infrastructure. Let’s get started, shall we?

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We all know how busy the gym gets early in the year after everyone has set their New Year’s Resolution to get more fit, lose weight, and the like. But why pay money for a gym membership when you could have the ultimate gym in the comfort of your own home?

You’re in control

Gyms are great, but they’re one-size-fits-all. Whether you have a dedicated room for working out, or just a designated space you like to roll out your yoga mat, we have endless solutions to help you create the ultimate experience you’re after. Consider incorporating audio, lighting and climate control into your home to create an immersive experience. Whether you want bright light and your zen playlist for your afternoon yoga, or need lights-out and your favorite high-powered beats to get through your streamed spinning class, you have the world at your fingertips.

Working out made convenient

If you’re a working adult, gym schedules (not to mention class schedules) almost never seem to fit. And if you’re a parent, you know how hard it is to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise each day. By having your own dedicated space at home, you needn’t worry about it. Give yourself the flexibility of a home gym so you can work out when you find the time - without worrying about childcare, schedules, or missing a delivery.

What’s more, by enabling voice-controlled devices like a smart door lock, climate control or a smart home “hub,” you’ll be able to answer the doorbell, change the temp, switch your playlist and the lights, even preheat the oven for dinner - all without missing a beat or interrupting your workout. 

We can help

If you’ve been thinking of a smart home gym, we’re here to help. Whether you want a dedicated space with the works, or just need a few pieces to get you started, we have the pros and the resources to help you create an immersive workout experience in your own home. 

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Unlike the popcorn ceilings and endless granite days of old, it seems like smart homes are the latest home trend - but they’re here to stay.

A smart home is one they can grow with

You can provide a home truly designed with your buyers in mind by incorporating the blueprint for convenient, functional and accessible technology early on in the build process. Include the necessary infrastructure to add on to as technology and needs change, so that your buyers can feel comfortable settling into and growing in their new home. Whether it’s a high-end, all-encompassing system or just a few pieces accompanied by a central hub, they’ll be able to live comfortably, with the ability to control their climate, lighting, security, entertainment and more - whether they want their tech to stand out or blend in seamlessly.

Safety and security aren’t trends - they’re the standard

Every homeowner wants to be sure their home, family and belongings are safe. You’ll keep installers and your buyers happy if you’re able to plan ahead in the design for this highly-desired and necessary feature. With endless technology available to keep your home safe, including cameras, smart door locks, window sensors and other features, you’ll want the infrastructure in place for whatever comes your way. These features aren’t “add-ons” anymore - they’re part of the standard package. 

Deck out your model with the best

Having an impressive smart home as your “base model” means you’ll be setting yourself apart from the competition - and that’s sure to get any buyer’s attention. Your model should feature an all-encompassing security system, a whole-home audio system, as well as lighting and shade control that can be customized based on the time of day, a mood or event, and so on. 

There’s so much more to consider when building a dream home than where to place your Echo. Your model home(s) should be outfitted with more than your standard smart home package so that you can show your buyers every design possibility. In using your model as a smart tech showroom, you’ll be able to offer more customization and personal touches that they might not have known were possible.

We have the know-how

Whether you’re a builder or in the market to buy a home yourself, we have the resources and pros to help with everything from design, training your staff and your buyers, or connecting you with tech-savvy West Michigan home builders we’ve worked with in the past. Give us a call today to get started!

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Whether you’re a fan of the Rat Pack, old school R&B, appreciate a classic symphony or only like to keep up with today’s hits, listening to your favorite music - old or new - should be always be an experience. It’s time to start considering your favorite tunes when planning your home’s entertainment systems.

Entertainment beyond the home theater

Home theater systems have become a norm in most homes because of the entertainment value you can get out of your television or a big screen projector. There’s no reason why your music library can’t provide that same value - when done correctly. Just like speaker placement and configuration are crucial for creating an immersive surround sound experience for maximum entertainment value in your home theater, speaker type, placement and system configuration are crucial to ensuring you can lose yourself in your favorite songs.

Old school versus new school

Another important factor to consider when implementing any sort of home audio system into your space is the media. Have you gone completely digital and entered the streaming age or do you like to keep it old school with physical media like classic vinyl and your favorite record player? Both media require different systems to ensure you’re listening to the music as it was intended, while also allowing you complete access to your favorite albums and artists. For instance, do you need a high-tech touch panel display that gives you access to an unlimited library to stream throughout your entire home? Or do you need a dedicated listening room with storage for CDs, vinyl or tapes?

Consider your options

The key is to optimize all of your spaces for the best listening possible, which means carrying that sound system throughout your home, even outside. Integrating a whole-home audio system is as great for entertaining just as much as it is for casual listening. With the right integration and system, there’s no reason why you can’t feel like you’re in the recording studio.

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Think about a smart home. What comes to mind? A sleek TV that blends in to your living room decor, seamlessly hidden control panels, outlets and speakers throughout your living spaces - maybe a security monitoring system or two by exterior doors. But you probably didn’t think about a smart bathroom. 

As smart as your other living spaces

It’s easy to want the best tech and most beautiful design for your living room, dining room and outdoor spaces, but what about the rooms you actually live in. Most homeowners place such an emphasis on their living spaces - only considering those in which they entertain guests. 

Think about just how much time you spend living in your bathroom. It’s probably the first place you go when you wake up, and the last place you go before crawling into bed. You pamper yourself here, you get ready for the day here - not to mention the necessary nature of it in the first place. So why haven’t you made your bathroom just as smart, if not smarter, than the rest of your home? All signs point to futuristic bathrooms making their way into everyday homes - so for resale value (and comfort’s sake), bring the future to 2018. 

When technology meets the tub

Technology exists for every purpose and place in your home - including your bathroom. Whether it’s a television mounted by the bathtub, piped-in audio in the shower or a smart mirror to keep entertainment, organization and convenience at your fingertips, consider turning your bathroom into the place you love to live in the most. By implementing the right features into your space, you can create an oasis out of something that used to be just a utility. 

Adding convenience and maximizing comfort

Don’t forget to go beyond entertainment value. Consider the added comfort of adapting the smart home control you already have in the rest of your home into your bathroom. Adjust the temperature, create mood lighting and still have access to your security system so that getting ready in the morning is just as fun as it is necessary.

Regardless of how grand or minimalistic you’d like your bathroom to be, entrust the pros to make sure it’s just as smart as the rest of your home. Need more inspiration before you start? Check out this handy guide to some of 2018’s trends for bathroom tech and design

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From glorious sun-drenched summers around the lake to the warmth of a crackling fire at the holidays, West Michigan creates the perfect backdrop for entertaining friends and family. While you may have strung some charming lights across the patio and stocked your kitchen with family favorites, have you considered refreshing some of the technologies that would add to your guests’ comfort and enjoyment? Now may be a great opportunity to consider those upgrades you’ve been dreaming about.

Home Automation Adds Enjoyment

From the practical to the over-the-top and everything in between, your home automation system can add to your home’s comfort and elegance by integrating its lighting, shades and climate control. It can also add a memorable entertaining experience through a whole-house audio system that provides a sophisticated setting for dining or heart-thumping music for your holiday bash. And what about that sleek 4K LED display you’ve been wanting? Imagine gathering family & friends in your upgraded media room after the Thanksgiving turkey to watch some Detroit Lions football!

Home Automation Shines in the Outdoors

You’ll also want to consider enhancing your home’s network to make sure your system is robust enough to handle your guests’ added devices and the demands of music and video streaming throughout your home and patio. And speaking of the patio, there’s no better place for entertaining than in your own backyard. Picture your family and friends streaming their music poolside or enjoying their favorite shows on the deck. Simple features like a weatherproof LED, landscape audio system and elegant, automated lighting can transform your outdoor living area throughout the year.

Maybe you already have all the right technology in place, but do you have the right service plan to match? Having a ProCare Service Plan with Automation Design + Entertainment provides proactive maintenance of your systems to keep the party going smoothly!

Regardless if you’re entertaining two or dozens, whether for a night or a week, make sure you have the right smart home technology and a reliable plan in place to ensure both you and your guests are always entertained and comfortable. 

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