My Journey Inside Savant’s Commercial Experience Center

Dazzling commercial design center offers live, authentic automation demos. >

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I stepped into the elevator adjacent to Savant’s lobby after touring its 5,000-square-foot commercial design center in the SoHo district of Manhattan.

Two men and a woman gazed past me, their eyes fixed on a video wall and Savant’s coffee table with surface touchscreen control until the elevator doors shut.

“What was that place?” the woman asked me, awe apparent in her voice.

“It’s a showroom for a company called Savant,” I said.

“What do they do,” one of the guys asked.

“They make automation products.”

Baffled looks. So I elaborated.

Photos: My Journey Inside Savant’s Commercial Experience Center

“Say you have a corporate office or a restaurant, a hotel or pretty much any commercial space. This company makes automation products that allow you to control all the electronics – audio, video, lighting, climate, motorized shades, whatever – from an iPad or an iPhone.”

They seemed really impressed with that.

The whole elevator exchange left an impression on me, because it demonstrates the automation learning curve that commercial integrators face with their clients. Those of us who work in this industry are so used to seeing cutting edge technologies that we can forget how staggering – and foreign – they are to most people.

These three people were well-dressed, on the young side of middle-aged and they looked like they were coming from some sort of important meeting – they looked like decision-makers, commercial integration clients.

Savant Illuminates Education

CIs undoubtedly are leaving money on the table because they’re unable to convey the extent of their system possibilities to prospective clients.

It’s not easy, for instance, to explain to an office manager how they can use an iPad to trigger a five-way telepresence meeting with regional managers on a video wall. In Savant’s NYC Experience Center, however, marketing director Craig Spinner walked me around a fully-integrated conference room demonstrating video conferencing capabilities on a handy video wall.

It’s not easy to tell a bar owner how to spur sales by posting “Drinks Half Price for the Next 30 Minutes” across the TV screens, but Savant is able to demonstrate it in its authentic – fully stocked! – design center bar.

Savant’s by-appointment-only design center is an invaluable tool for commercial integrators. The 5,000-square-foot commercial portion features a smart classroom/training center, dedicated telepresence room, hotel suite and digital signage gallery in addition to the sports bar, conference room and lobby.

It’s adjacent to Savant’s 2,000-square-foot residential showroom and both were designed by Thom Filicia of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame.

Savant, which is based in Osterville, Mass., maintains a steady stream of architects, designers and integrators touring through its SoHo design centers, often with their clients.

Whether or not you’re a Savant dealer, I recommend checking out the space. After all, it’s a lot easier to travel to SoHo than it is to build a video wall in your lobby.