Category Archives: Contractor

2021 Trends in Technology

Deloitte Global recently released its 2021 TMT Predictions report, which examines trends likely to change the way we work and live. Below are five that may particularly affect the consumer landscape.

5G Myths
Although data shows that consumer health will not be adversely affected by 5G radio waves, Deloitte predicts that up to a third of people around the world will worry about it anyway. To assuage consumer concerns, the telecom industry should communicate with legislators, be proactive on social media, and reach out to vertical sectors to explain how 5G works. For more on 5G, don’t miss the CES® panel “5G’s First Year: From Insight to Innovation.”

VR Comes to Education
Overall spending on augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology (collectively called XR) — headsets, software and services, including purchases by consumers, rose in 2020 to US$12 billion globally, and is expected to grow at 50% annually to 2024. Will we reach a tipping point for education? COVID-19 has forced multiple schools to use XR since in-person training wasn’t possible.

Virtual Doctor Visits
Five percent of all patient visits worldwide will be video calls in 2021, and the market for pure-play telehealth virtual visit solutions (both video and non-video) will reach US$8 billion. More than US$33 billion of medical-grade home health care technology — mainly therapeutic and monitoring solutions and including FDA-approved smartwatches — will be sold in 2021, up almost 20% over 2019. For additional insights, we encourage you to tune into Deloitte’s CES panel, “The Road to DIY Consumer Health.”

The Hyperquantified Athlete
By the end of 2021, multiple professional sports leagues will establish new formal policies around the collection, use and commercialization of player data. This can drive fan engagement and create new revenue streams from licensing the data, especially for gambling. One scenario is an app that would enable betting during games, based on data from player wearables.

8k TVs
In 2021, Deloitte Global predicts that more than one million 8K TVs will be sold, representing approximately $3.3 billion around the world and will almost double 2020 sales. Consumers will buy 8K TVs for four main reasons:
• Futureproofing. There’s little 8K content now, but when there is, buyers will be ready.
• Early adopter or the”cool factor.”
• To consumers, 8K just sounds better than 4K.
• Many cutting-edge TV sets happen to also be 8K.

Source: CEPro

WiFi 6E Certified

If you think that you just heard about Wi-Fi 6 you are correct, but the standard is already undergoing changes. Wi-Fi 6 will evolve into Wi-Fi 6E in the near future. Here is the catch. If your device (phone, laptop, TV, etc.) is NOT a Wi-Fi 6 device you will not be able to take advantage of the performance increases described below without buying new devices.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has launched its Wi-Fi 6E certification program for devices equipped to transmit signals on the newly opened 6GHz band. This will set the stage for a flood of new, next-gen devices capable of tapping into additional bandwidth at the fastest speeds of Wi-Fi.

With enough spectrum to accommodate seven 160 MHz channels at once, that 6GHz band is much wider than the 2.4 and 5GHz bands most Wi-Fi users are already familiar with — and without any older-generation devices slowing things down, it’ll act as sort of an exclusive superhighway for devices equipped to take advantage.

“Wi-Fi 6E will see rapid adoption in 2021 with more than 338 million devices entering the market, and nearly 20 percent of all Wi-Fi 6 device shipments supporting 6GHz by 2022,” said Phil Solis, research director at IDC. “This year, we expect to see new Wi-Fi 6E chipsets from several companies, and a variety of new Wi-Fi 6E smartphones, PCs and laptops in the first quarter of 2021 followed by TVs and VR product announcements midyear.”

With standards for Wi-Fi 6E now incorporated into Wi-Fi Certified 6, the Wi-Fi Alliance hopes to spur that process along by ensuring new 6E devices stay secure and fully interoperable, regardless of region or manufacturer.

“Consumers take it on faith that if you go buy a Wi-Fi device, it’s going to connect to your router,” said Kevin Robinson, a Wi-Fi Alliance spokesperson. “The reason that is in fact the case is because of Wi-Fi Certified. The industry puts a lot of value in getting devices through that testing so that the end experience is that everything works together.”
In addition to interoperability, Wi-Fi Certified focuses on standardizing security protocols. For instance, with Wi-Fi 6E, devices will be required to support the latest protocol, WPA3, which promises better defense against attempts to brute force your network’s password, among other improvements.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/wi-fi-industry-standardizes-next-gen-6ghz-connections-ahead-of-ces/

“Back to School” and its IMPACT on YOUR Teleworking

If you struggled with your Internet back when schools were starting to go online in the Spring and you were also teleworking, it is going to get worse in another month or so, when the requirements to be online and in virtual classrooms increase for the new school year.

This is not a local issue. This is a national issue for all homeowners that are now going to need far more bandwidth than ever before. Don’t even think that living in Northern VA and having data centers in your backyard is going to provide you with plenty of bandwidth.

You can pay your internet provider to send you their maximum amount of bandwidth and still have problems due to it only getting “to” your home, and not necessarily “through” your home. You need to look at your home the way a commercial business looks at its workforce needs. A business’ IT department will make sure that every employee has the right tools to do their job, which includes computers and phones and topmost Internet without disruptions.

If you are going to have children on a computer, then later playing video games or streaming TV shows, while you are on your computer or having a virtual meeting, you are going to need to ensure that your “family” has the tools needed. These tools start with cabling and WiFi that will allow everyone to work and play at the same time.

Rule #1: If it can be hard-wired, get it wired. Hard wiring still provides a more constant connection than WiFi because you are literally tying directly into the internet providers service. WiFi is an RF (Radio Frequency) based transmission. RF transmissions are subject to interference from numerous things. Most interference is generated by things that are not in your control. Hardwiring devices eliminates this problem.

Rule #2: If you must use WiFi, figure out where you need it and assess the signal strength in that area.

Rule #3: Don’t look for a quick, cheap fix to improve your network. There are plenty of “hacks” on the Internet that can tell you how to improve your internet, but they have no idea what YOUR home is experiencing.

Also, keep in mind that your provider is also “busy” so the speed coming into your home is going to drop during busy times of the day.

Do an assessment now. Identify where your kids are going to do their homework and whether their laptop can be hardwired or if they are going to be using WiFi. Then you set up your teleworking station. Have everyone do a virtual call to a friend or family member at the same time, preferably during the day, during the week. Then, assess how it went. Did anyone’s screen lock up or stall? Take notes on what worked well and what didn’t work well. Then contact someone to provide a network design (preferably us) to optimize your home’s infrastructure.

Will Trade War with China impact Electronics?

Most of the components of cellphones, computers, and other electronic products are now manufactured in China. So, tariffs against China will result in increased costs of these components to come to the US, and passed on to American consumers. Even if China doesn’t raise the tariffs on electronics being imported here, they will raise the price of other products that will reduce the ability to buy electronics. “The latest tariffs will add another $500 a year in costs for the average U.S. household,” Katheryn Russ, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis, told NPR.

“Companies won’t immediately increase their prices”, said Jon Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. “Retailers will try to endure as much of the costs as possible but 25%, they can’t absorb all of that,” he said. “Products currently shipping to the U.S. for sale won’t see hiked prices, but some products may become more expensive in the summer, such as back-to-school items”, he added.

Electronics are among the hottest holiday toys and birthday gifts and, as such, analysts say this could impact retailers including Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy.
As far as products that are part of our installations…U.S.-levied tariffs on steel and aluminum have manifested in rising prices of racks and enclosures, which are largely made of these materials.

The steel and aluminum tariffs may also affect coaxial cables (which use copper-cladded steel conductors and aluminum for shielding/braiding/armoring)
Tariffs on plastic molded parts can affect wall plates, connectors, and patch cords.

While some of the larger companies may try to absorb some of the tariff costs into their profits, as a small business near the end of the product chain, these increases will need to be passed on to customers.

Things we thought were COOL at CEDIA

As we closed our doors to attend the 2017 trade show for consumer electronics contractors, we came back newly educated on both products and technical skills.
Here are a few of the products we found interesting walking the show floor. While they may not apply to everyone, we felt it was worth mentioning them because, well…you just never know.

Stealth Acoustics
For those who don’t like the look of speakers in your walls and ceilings, Stealth acoustics makes a full-range of speakers and subwoofers that are fully invisible, hiding behind drywall. While they have a full range of speakers and subwoofers with varying sound quality, prices are a bit steeper than the grill-based speakers usually installed. But, if you are looking for a completely clean look in a room, then these speakers can fill your need.

Motorized Wall Mounts
If you like the idea of an articulating arm mount but don’t want to manually turn it in a direction, then you could get a motorized mounts. These mounts are not new, but they are gaining exposure. The best use of these would be for handicapped or elderly people who would find it difficult to adjust the TV. They are heavier than standard mounts, requiring additional bracing, but do the job.

Samsung’s Frame TV
When you’re not watching TV, Art Mode transforms The Frame into a beautiful work of art indistinguishable from the real thing. The Frame includes a free gallery of professionally curated art with 100 free pieces worth thousands of dollars* from 10 different categories. The consumer can buy individual pieces or subscribe to an ever-increasing library of established and emerging artists’ work. You can even upload and display your own personal pictures.

To be continued…