The Real Magic of Savant’s Experience Center
Who cares that TV personality Thom Filicia designed Savant Systems' fancy NYC showcase home? The cool thing about the place is the art of the home automation demo.
Article by: Julie Jacobson, CEPro
There are a few things I really like about the Savant Experience Center in New York City. Savant Systems certainly wasn’t the first company to create a high-end living environment to showcase home automation.
But the Savant Experience Center may well be the fanciest home-as-a-showroom around. The interior was designed by TV personality Thom Filicia of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The lavish home theater was designed by Theo Kalomirakis. The fixtures – electronic and otherwise – are best-in-class.
But that’s not what I liked so much about the facility, when I toured it recently for the first time. In fact, my tastes tend toward the clean and contemporary.
What I liked so much about the Experience Center was the philosophy behind the place. Everything about it is geared toward the perfect demo – from the content selected for each of the numerous displays, to the flow of traffic, to the interfaces highlighted at any given “station.”
In fact, Savant is so serious about the quality of its demos that the company insists dealers get certified on the protocol before guiding their own guests through the 8,000- square-foot space.
Any Savant dealer who is not certified must tag along with the official tour guide Don Sehulster, general sales and systems manager for the Savant Experience Center.
“We want to make sure they [dealers] emphasize all aspects of the Savant experience,” says general manager Jim Carroll.
They should know, for example, which features to highlight in any given area – like the colored LED lights in one of the media rooms – and when (and how) to hand off an iPad to the prospective client.
And that’s another thing I really liked about the Savant experience: clients are encouraged to take over the home automationcontrols themselves.
Carroll tells of one reluctant woman tagging along with her tech-savvy husband. The woman was pretty clear about her disdain for technology because she had a system at home that she couldn’t use.
Carroll held out an iPad that featured a photo of the room – a feature of Savant’s TrueImage software – and asked the woman to turn on the lights.
She stared blankly at the screen until Carroll prodded, “Wouldn’t you just touch the lights?”
She did, and the lights in the room turned on, with the results reflected on the iPad interface.
“Then she instinctively touched the TV [in the image] and the TV turned on,” Carroll recalls.
New Products, Initiatives from Savant
During my visit to the Savant Experience Center, Carroll enlightened me on some of the new products and initiatives from the Savant camp.
First, Savant will tightly integrate lighting controls from LiteTouch, which the company acquired from Nortek earlier this year.
While Savant already integrates nicely with other third-party lighting controls, the company will be “bringing RacePoint Blueprint magic to lighting control,” says Carroll of Savant’s programming environment.
He intimates that LiteTouch lighting will be programmed directly through Blueprint, as opposed to requiring a dealer to program the lighting system separately and then integrate it with Savant.
Savant plans to introduce its own thermostat as well, again, with seamless integration in mind.
Even with partner vendors, “we can’t really influence what they do,” says Carroll. But if Savant owns the subsystem, “we can control the roadmap.”
I also got a sneak preview of Savant’s new application for interactive white boards – the latest addition to the company’s commercial offerings. Savant just added a huge chunk of space in its Experience Center to showcase commercial applications such as digital signage and telepresence.
Here's a kicker: Back when Savant was approaching manufacturers to participate in the Experience Center, "no one would even give me a discount" on product, Carroll recalls. "Now they're banging down our doors to get their products in here."
Today, about four or five high-wealth clients tour the facility, and special events are held frequently. The company must be careful about scheduling tours because actors and other famous clientele demand privacy.
I was quite happy to be seen, though.
Article by: Julie Jacobson, CEPro
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