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EI going straight to builders with Lifeware
This thread has 350 replies. Displaying posts 211 through 225.
|Post 211 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 06:32|
At the risk of side tracking this thread, how is your SW based system different from LW ?
BTW, for those hoping to get a free jacket, I understand that that is also a tiered program: sell X number of systems you get a vest, X more you get a sleeve, etc.
|Post 212 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 11:24|
I thought about starting this thread myself when I heard about the builder program.
Forgive me while I ramble.
It doesn't seem that every device that presently works with LifeWare is 2-way (more on 2-way in a minute)
It seems the only really cool implementation within LifeWare is WSD. No one's control system is truly open as i've stated in a recent thread. It seems WSD is what is required to really make LifeWare standout. How many companies are currently employing WSD? How many will in the near future?
The problem any software based company is going to have within the AV industry is the AV industry is used to pushing boxes and that is where the profit lies as well as in labor. In the computer industry the hardware has become a commodity and it seems it may do the same in the AV marketplace. LifeWare and a few other companies are betting their futures on this.
The last thread I posted in talked about using the right tool for the job. It makes sense that many IT type companies would be interested in this product because it fits a business model they are familiar with. Most CI's are not ready for that level or type of commitment!
To sidetrack the thread a bit look at Stardraw Control. It looks like a great front end can do most if not all of what AMX/Crestron can do. The only catch is you must assemble your own hardware ala CQC - no big deal but how many CI firms are ready or willing to offer that level of commitment to their customers? What happens to the customer if said CI firm goes under? That is worse than some AMX/Crestron progammer holding the source code hostage! Some in the IT world are used to this model of custom pc's for a specific job, many are not. I mention Stardraw Control because it is based on Microsoft .net and will likely in the near future include WSD and is fully customizable.
To play devil's advocate for a minute I do believe that many of us CI's need to get our heads out of the sand.
1) We've needed recurring revenue for a while. LifeSupport is a good thing as is whatever Control4 is calling theirs.
2) There is a good possibility that hardware will become a commodity - most of it already has. Software is where many will head.
There is nothing particularly special about AMX or Crestrons hardware and it's not very expensive. What is expensive about those companies is the touchpanels, accessories, and programming.
(Still playing devil's advocate) I'm not sure Lifeware's business model is inherently flawed they just haven't found the sweetspot yet and CI's are still rebuffing software.
Either LifeWare and other companies haven't figured out that CI's want hi margin hardware they can sell reliably & consistently with fantastic dealer support, or CI's haven't figured out that the market is changing and we're on the wrong bus!
Sidenote: I heard there is an large MDU project in Philly where the integrator is using placing mulit-room audio, lighting control, and LifeWare in every unit. That takes a lot of balls for an unproven product!
The argument of whether or not windows can be used succesfully in home automation needs to be given a rest. How much industrial automation is done on the windows platform on a globa scale - TONS! See Rockwell, GE Funoc, Schneider and the list goes on. A lot more heavy hitters in industrial automation than our industry. It may also be a glimpse of where we are headed.
LifeWare is a bit too vague in their descriptions of what they do and how they do it.
It seems that often in our industry we sell too much sizzle and not enough steak and yes AMX/Crestron have plenty of meat but they are only as good as the Chef (programmer). There are too many instances where Mr & Mrs customer want to keep up with the Jones's who have this fancy flashy control system and we gladly give it to them without properly determining their needs and wants and how we can mesh those two together. I've seen more fancy unusable touchpanel designs than ones that are simple and inuitive (not just from the big 2). Just because you or I think it's usable doesn't mean our clients think so. Most clients who are asking for full blown customization are sold on the wow not the how and eventually it comes back to how. How many of the AMX/Crestron crew out there have had to go back (for free) and change something their client didn't like even though initially they said that was what they wanted?
If you remember my post a few days ago I stated the last thing many customers want to do is come home and see an interface that looks just like the one they just left at work. I asked one of my best clients yesterday if he had a problem with that. His answer was he works in XP 10 hours a day, is good/comfortable with it and has NO problem coming home to see that same interface on his TV. He could absolutley care less about ANY customization - he just wants it to work right the first time and easily find what he is looking for.
2-Way control is overrated. In many cases useless other than eye candy. Let's take lighting control for example and see how/where this can also lead to additional system complexity & client confusion. Do you show feedback for EVERY load on a panel (a complete waste). Do you show what scenes are currently active on a panel (not very useful) - you already know what those scenes are when you select them). If you use a floorplan on your touchpanels it is either not possible or just plain stupid to show all lighting loads. Your 2-way feedback is did the light come on or not. Most lighting control systems on the market are very robust and if the light doesn't come on then you know you have a problem. When lighting companies start putting cat5 on their cans so you know when a bulb burns out then maybe it would be useful (not really).
Volume control is another bit of eye candy. The remote controls that people have been using for decades don't offer feedback, the knobs/displays on most receivers is unreadable from a distance so it's more of a sales tool than anything. Your ears will tell you where you want the volume. How many homeowners NEED to adjst the volume remotely. The amount of people in this forum that complain about tactile feedback and the fact that you have to look at a touchscreen speaks volumes (no pun intended).
It's great for metadata, security system status and that's about it. If you press mute and nothing happens, feedback wouldn't help you. I think more of us need to differentiate between feedback and monitoring. Anything that can be monitored it makes perfect sense. Everything else is just flash - not bad but not necessarily useful.
Questions about the builder program:
Who sets system pricing for the builder?
When DA and plasmas, and speakers are included in the package, who's are they?
If they are not my goto brand then why should I help sell LifeWare and not my other vendors products.
Do I lose margin on those included items because you've presold the builder on system cost?
What incentive for me is there to come in and upsell a customer that was undersold by BB in the first place and most likely did poor system design and planning?
(that will significantly increase the likelyhood after the sale that either the customer will be unhappy with LifeWare and unhappy with BB. It also means if there is a significant problem the referred integrator will not get the job.)
The lifecontroller is only part of the top 2 packages which brings us right back to putting your control and everything eles on the same platform. XP can be compromised if the computer (controller) is on a shared network with other computers even if your not using that computer (controller) for surfing the net/email.
Why would you tell builders that they don't need to run structured wiring! Everyone on here should know the only way to have relibale wireless is to have a proper wired infrastrucure! Even if you are using powerline what about future devices? A dedicated wiring topology would always be better. To tell builders they don't need structured wiring and then to put your system on top of it. What if the powerlines aren't where we need them. What happens when it's time to start stream HD and the bandwidth available on powerline is saturated? You have got to be joking!
OT: Ernie once said he wouldn't want to pay extra money for structured wiring (in extra locations & 2x2) if he wasn't sure he was going to use it. I don't agree with that philosophy anymore. You do that already with electric. Most of us don't use all of the outlets in our house but we sure pay for them and we pay to put them in places where we need them when they aren't. No significant difference as far as utility goes.
|Post 213 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 12:56|
On 1172075092, Small Axe said...
To play devil's advocate for a minute I do believe that
many of us CI's need to get our heads out of the sand.
2) There is a good possibility that hardware will become
a commodity - most of it already has. Software is where
many will head.
If it happens, then I'll get a real job. But the fact is that ego and human psychology still have a dramatic impact on the future of our industry: nobody wants to work with somebody else's standard. Once all displays, speakers, amps, and other devices all have Ethernet ports and the plug n play software always works, then I'll accept the fact that the HW has acheived full commoditization and work at a winery, golf course, or become a sous chef. It's happened somewhat on displays and speakers, but there are forces that counteract that. It seems that there's a consumer/commoditized version of hardware, and the pro-only set that's not commodotized. Maybe it will stay that way for awhile in a psuedo stalemate, or the creep will continue. But, that's getting off of the thread, to which I don't want to derail.
What my key point is that LW seems to be offering a SW solution, but I think the best solutions are the ones that offer SW and HW together from the same source. The marketing material will sell it as 'equipment agnostic' but our experience with these things has been 'equipment anarchist.' That's why many of us aren't about to jump in with both feet.
Having said that, I'm interested and will keep looking. I've no ill will against LW or CQS and think they bring another angle to our repotoire.
|OP | Post 214 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 13:36|
Small Axe, very well put. Maybe you should have started ths thread.
|Post 215 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 13:52|
At the risk of side tracking this thread, how is your SW
based system different from LW ?
Some obvious differences would be:
1. As demonstrated earlier, we hold GUI customization to be a core part of the system. Not only is our GUI cusotimizable visually, but it's a highly programmable system, very object oriented and WYSIWYG in design.
2. It's considerably less expensive and doesn't scale up in price to support more lighting loads.
3. The correct configuration of a locked away back end is fundamental to the system, not something that only kicks in in the higher level versions of the product.
4. Other than our not providing any hardware of our own would be just as powerful as Lifeware for lower cost.
5. Our media architecture isn't dependent on MCE but is our own repository, and being part of our own code base it's fully integrated.
6. Instead of using as many Window's services as possible, we use as few as possible, so we control our quality to a very high degree. We've written a huge amount of code (over 700K lines currently), which meant that we took longer to get the features in, but our foundation is now broad and powerful. Except for a couple of small scenarios, such as currently our metadata retrieval system which goes through the WMP engine, we don't use anything more than the most fundamental of system services. That will also go away before too much longer.
Most folks don't realize how unusual our situation is to have such a huge proprietary code base of our own to build our product on, all written by a single person over a almost two decades now, so that it has a level of coherency and quality that is almost non-existent in such large products. It's very rare and a huge advantage for us.
7. We are not spending enormous amounts of money on advertising, and instead are concentrating on delivering a high quality product that meets people's needs and is very robust. So we are not doing the 'sell or die' burn rate scenario, and are not in any danger of going under if we don't start selling like hot cakes very soon. We saw that CIs are the conduit to the customer in this industry and you cannot advertise or BS your way into the CI channel (as demonstrated in this thread.) You can only get there by demonstrating that you can deliver a powerful and stable product, and the truth will always become known in such a relatively small community. So we saw little value in going down that path. The CI community with either accept a product on its merits or not.
8. I don't live in a mansion and take skiing trips. I live in a one bedroom apartment and dedicate my life to this product and its quality and our service reflects directly on me, so I take it very seriously. I may be socially retarded and unable to get a date with diamonds tied around my neck, but I am a demon software developer and I love what I do and take tremendous proffesional pride in what we deliver.
Last edited by Dean Roddey
on February 21, 2007 14:20.
Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systemswww.charmedquark.com
|Post 216 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 14:16|
On February 21, 2007 at 13:52, Dean Roddey said...
I may be
socially retarded and unable to get a date with diamonds
tied around my neck, but I am a demon software developer
and I love what I do and take tremendous proffesional
pride in what we deliver.
But he did date a porn star once (really, ask him) and as soon as CQC goes big he plans to date 3 or 4. Maybe more.
p.s. It was either a porn star or maybe she was just a cheating slut, who also slept with his sister, but one way or the other it earned Dean some of my respect.
|OP | Post 217 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 14:22|
Dean, good luck. It's tough not having the capital to compete with the big boys, but if you get a good following you might have chance.
|Post 218 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 15:05|
On February 21, 2007 at 11:24, Small Axe said...
It makes sense that many IT type companies
would be interested in this product because it fits a
business model they are familiar with. Most CI's are not
ready for that level or type of commitment!
"Commitment" is not the word I would use. I don't think CI's necessarily want to see our industry emulate the "pass the buck" mentality that is far more rampant in the software industry than in the home automation and A/V industry. i.e. "we have no idea why that is happening, it must be a software conflict, now please give us your credit card # for this support call" or even better "yes, we've discovered that our product does not run properly when it's installed on a machine that also runs Yahoo Widgets, sorry about that, now please give us your credit card #". (after two hours on hold).
2) There is a good possibility that hardware will become
a commodity - most of it already has. Software is where
many will head.
Yes, the software industry has been telling us that for about 10 years now. And after 10 years they have about what? .01% of the market? I'm NOT saying it won't happen, it may. But so far it is not. Many many businesses have failed because it was assumed that what works for one industry would work for another.
Sidenote: I heard there is an large MDU project in Philly
where the integrator is using placing mulit-room audio,
lighting control, and LifeWare in every unit. That takes
a lot of balls for an unproven product!
Or a lot of stupidity. The more likely scenario for these types of situations is that the dealer lacked experience and high-end lines. In such a situation the dealer is often all too happy to seek out a company such as LW who will embrace them with open arms. It's a marriage of convenience.
The argument of whether or not windows can be used succesfully
in home automation needs to be given a rest. How much
industrial automation is done on the windows platform
on a globa scale - TONS! See Rockwell, GE Funoc, Schneider
and the list goes on. A lot more heavy hitters in industrial
automation than our industry.
The arguments need to be given a rest on both sides...because your argument above is as specious as many of the arguments that Windows is one big giant virus. The systems you mention are usually being run on highly maintained RAID servers or specialized machines running nothing else.
I've seen more fancy unusable touchpanel
designs than ones that are simple and inuitive (not just
from the big 2).
Couldn't agree more.
Just because you or I think it's usable
doesn't mean our clients think so.
Couldn't agree more.
2-Way control is overrated. In many cases useless
other than eye candy...........
I'm not going to quote all you posted on this subject nor write a long refute (I'll leave that to Alan). But your statements on it makes me seriously question how much if any higher end automation you have been involved in. That you even dis 2-way volume feedback is ridiculous. 2-way feedback is of IMMENSE value in automation. I should not need to explain why.
|Post 219 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 15:20|
2-way feedback is of IMMENSE value in automation. I should
not need to explain why.
Very true. It makes more difference than can be measured. Not just for visual display, but for the creation of smart automation logic. Any system which cannot sense the state of the state is limited in many ways.
Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systemswww.charmedquark.com
|Post 220 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 15:33|
2-way feedback for little things is what sets a good system apart. Take for instance the "random" button on the CD page. If it shows that the CD player is in random mode, then the client will never(most likely) call and ask why it isn't playing in order. On the Tuner page, having the current station shown is a must. How else do you know what station you are on? Do you wait for the top of the hour for them to identify themselves? Volume is critical. If you push play on the CD, and then crank the volume, it can be several seconds before the CD starts playing only to find that the volume is now at MAX. Question: What volume setting do you listen to in your car? I bet you know the min/max numbers off the top of your head. You probably also know a certain number that you consider "max" even though it isn't the highest number. 2-way feedback is essential to any decent control system, and one of the things that truly differentiates the best systems.
I have noticed a pattern of manufacturers who don't support 2-way communications trying to down-play the importance of it.
Once again, the challenge stands, can EI do the system as I proposed it? This is a system that we sold half a dozen times last year on small/mid-size jobs with variations. I know AMX can. I know Crestron can. I have the feeling CQC can(feel free to chime in Dean). Can EI do it?
|OP | Post 221 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 16:00|
Lifeware does do 2-way volume feedback. I just want to know how the setup is for home theater. Can you set delays or hold signals high for an amount of time. This is the important stuff. How does Lifeware handle triggers?
|Post 222 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 16:08|
I'd like LF to comment on this part of an earlier post.
On February 20, 2007 at 23:40, QQQ said...
Final thought in this post is that I'm not about to get
on a plane to visit them nor attend their training. If
they want to attract successful high-end dealers who can
sell a product like this, then put up an area on your
website where potential dealers can get technical information
about the product and (gasp) download the software and
I'd like to point out that Jim Gist has stated several times that anyone can call him and talk to him if they'd like him to send some demo components out for evaluation. Since LW is primarily software based it should be even easier for them. In fact, since they are using the software industry as their paradigm, I'll point out that just about every software company on the planet will send out software for evaluation or allow it to be downloaded right from their website.
I'd sure love to look at it and if it is as great as they say, might well become a convert. Even though I do not currently sell Dean's product the fact that I was able to download and evaluate it is what lead me to believe it is a very strong/good product. If LW is the same I'll be the first to say so.
Last edited by QQQ
on February 21, 2007 16:17.
|Post 223 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 16:23|
I'd like to point out that Jim Gist has stated several
times that anyone can call him and talk to him if they'd
like him to send some demo components out for evaluation.
Since LW is primarily software based it should be even
easier for them. In fact, since they are using the software
industry as their paradigm, I'll point out that just about
every software company on the planet will send out software
for evaluation or allow it to be downloaded right from
As I have mentioned before, and referenced earlier in this thread, evaluation copies of the software are available for interested dealers, free of charge. All you have to do is contact your regional sales manager. They will be happy to help you.
Life|ware by Exceptional Innovation
|Post 224 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 16:34|
The more likely scenario for these
types of situations is that the dealer lacked experience
and high-end lines. In such a situation the dealer is
often all too happy to seek out a company such as LW who
will embrace them with open arms. It's a marriage of
Q, I would agree with your statements 100% for I fall into this dealer category. I found myself in this business because I couldn't find anyone that was willing to do retrofit lighting controls for the 5-30 loads clients nor where they interested in spending the time to achieve precise scene settings. With that being said I have called Vantage and Crestron every year for the last three years, but I have never even gotten a return phone call with any questions. Yes, I know the entry level Crestron would be a homerun on MDUs, but that's only a option for a very select few. So take a look and around and cross out: Homeworks, Vantage, & Crestron and tell me what products you would use??
Last edited by Edenlights
on February 21, 2007 16:40.
|Post 225 made on Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 16:52|
On February 21, 2007 at 16:23, joshod said...
As I have mentioned before, and referenced earlier in
this thread, evaluation copies of the software are available
for interested dealers, free of charge. All you have to
do is contact your regional sales manager. They will be
happy to help you.
Eden, I will E-mail you when I have an opportunity so we don't take this off topic.
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