The View from 35,000 Feet

A sneak peek at our Performance Home Awards!

By Eric Schwartz

We’ve just wrapped up our inaugural Performance Home Awards competition and while our judges have not weighed in on their choices at the time of my penning this article, I wanted to share some thoughts about some of the remarkable products that were entered. While I am not one of the judges and can’t ascertain their thoughts, I was responsible for managing the entries and so I was privileged to see some pretty cool stuff come across my desk. While some of the products submitted are embargoed until the CEDIA Expo trade show in September, there are plenty of current products that merit a shout out. So let me just share a few products that caught my eye and give you a taste of the products we’ll be reporting on in the next few issues of the magazine.

Hunter Douglas Aura

A three-in-one architectural and decorative shade that allows homeowners to merge natural and artificial lighting control, Hunter Douglas Aura Illuminated Shades define a new category of shading products. Aura Illuminated Shades feature a beautiful, textured front shade; a room-darkening liner; and ambient illumination via fully programmable LED strips.

The design provides the option for a secondary light source that delivers a soft, natural light through the window – enabling homeowners to extend their daylight into the early morning and evening hours. The light source is transparent when not in use and provides mood-enhancing illumination when lit, recreating the same soft-light-magic that translucent window coverings have in daylight.

Aura Illuminated Shades enhance the connected home experience by merging natural and artificial light control, allowing homeowners to precisely balance radiance with ambiance no matter the natural light conditions. Aura can:

Mimic Daylight with Artificial Lighting: Tunable white lighting allows for fully controllable color temperature, from very warm to daylight, and advanced controls to align with circadian rhythms more closely. For example, even on dark winter mornings, homeowners can set their Aura shades to a color temperature that matches a glowing warm sunrise to wake easily.

Optimize Natural Light: Pure natural light can cause unwanted blinding light and harsh glare. With window shades, homeowners can control the existing natural light and achieve the right light at the right time. They can choose clear, filtered, or blocked light and automate the shades to ensure they’re always positioned to optimize natural light.

The room-darkening element of Aura’s design blocks out most light and is a perfect solution for media rooms, living rooms that double as entertainment spaces, and bedrooms. However, Aura can be integrated into any room, allowing homeowners to transform the lighting ambiance anywhere it may be needed. Aura is available with some of the most popular Hunter Douglas shade styles – including Vignette® Stacking Roman Shades, Sonnette® Cellular Shades, and Designer Roller Shades – which are customizable by a variety of fabric options to suit the aesthetic needs of any space.

Draper Gabled Bottom-Up FlexShade®

The Gabled Bottom-Up FlexShade is designed specifically to fit angle-topped windows. It can be sill-mounted and accommodates angles up to 45 degrees in either direction. The FlexShade retracts from the top down using Somfy shade motors. Spring boxes mount to the top or bottom of the window and connect via thin aircraft cables to a flexible hem bar to keep the fabric panel under continuous tension. The Flexible hem bar wraps around the fabric roller, allowing complete retraction of the shade.

Because it can be mounted inside the sill, the Gabled Bottom-Up FlexShade presents a much more attractive shading solution for gable-topped windows. Using a standard rectangular shape mounted outside the sill not only covers up the window frame, but it also takes away wall space on either side of the opening. Alternatively, using a custom shaped non-retractable shade in the gabled area means the top of the window is always shaded, even when the rest of the shade is open.

Because the fabric panel ascends from the bottom of the window, natural daylight can still be allowed into the space while comfort and privacy are maintained lower down the window. Multiple motor and control technologies are available, so the user interface experience can be tailored to each homeowner’s desires. The user can interface with the product via wall switch, handheld remote, smart phone app, or via smart home voice systems such as


Lyngdorf Audio Cue-100

The Cue-100 was born out of a desire to revive the Lyngdorf tradition of sleek and modern in-room loudspeakers. Creating a brand-new category for the current Lyngdorf Audio collection was an exceptional opportunity to pay homage to Danish furniture design and Nordic craftsmanship while offering Lyngdorf clients a new way to integrate music into their modern lives. To do this, a new team of designers created a uniquely shaped free-standing speaker and merged the clean formfactor with innovative and groundbreaking Purifi speaker driver technology. The result is a design-centric speaker which brings to life both the music and décor.

The Cue-100 will set new benchmarks in music reproduction at home, while its design doesn’t follow traditional loudspeaker design but modern Danish furniture design. Like many Danish furniture pieces, the base and top of the speaker are oak pairing naturally with three detachable wooden legs.  Instead of the typical hi-fi box shape, the Cue-100 has a three-dimensional presence in the room. The shape and choice of materials are a Nordic design tradition – form follows function. The triangular shape of the speaker cabinet was chosen to allow two of the bass drivers to be hidden from the listener’s view making the front view clean and minimalistic. A partnership with top Danish fabric manufacturer, Gabriel, offers a variety of fabric covers which transform the speaker. Between the cabinet and fabric choices, one can create over 24 different variations of the speaker allowing for the ultimate customization by the client. 


WALL-SMART Universal Access Point Mount

It’s an age-old dilemma faced by homeowners and systems integrators alike –where to put networking Wi-Fi access points so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. In the past, the only solution was hiding the device inside a closet, basement or attic. Here, it may have been out of sight, but performance was questionable as signals may have struggled to penetrate the closet walls.


Why sacrifice the home aesthetic or Wi-Fi connectivity when you don’t have to? WALL-SMART’s unique problem-solving Universal Access Point Mount minimizes the visual impact of Wi-Fi access points dramatically. The entire device disappears from sight, tucked comfortably into the specially engineered, designed, and fabricated mount that recesses flush with the ceiling surface. Once the access point is installed, the opening is covered with a plate that sits flush with the ceiling and can be painted to match

WALL-SMART designed this clever concealment solution to accommodate Wi-Fi access points from many leading manufacturers, giving integrators and homeowners the freedom to use any brand they prefer. Finally, full high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity can be achieved without compromising the aesthetics or architecture of a home environment.

WALL-SMART’s Universal Access Point Mounts are available in three sizes – S, M, L – to accommodate all access points in the market, along with versions designed for retrofit or new construction projects. Every mount incorporates technology to enable exceptional Wi-Fi performance and provides easy access to the access point for service. Additionally, the mount can be installed in any orientation and to ensure proper air ventilation and heat dissipation. 

RoseWater Energy Hub40

The RoseWater Energy Hub design vision was to build the most complete power quality system available. It took four years of research and engineering to develop the original Hub and it still is the only product of its type on the market.

Hub40 delivers an impressive 200 amps of continuous output to accommodate larger residences. Standing as the most comprehensive residential energy management solution on the market, its core function is to safeguard all vital systems against power fluctuations and outages. It also integrates large-scale battery backup and can accept and manage solar power. Think of power quality as akin to water quality – it must be filtered and purified before use. With clean power, products like LED lighting, smart appliances, networks, control systems and other technology last longer and perform better.

What sets the RoseWater Hub40 apart is its double conversion inverter system with zero transfer time, ensuring stable, clean power is available around the clock, independent of the grid’s condition. Beginning at 28.8 kWh, its large-scale battery backup can withstand hours of grid failure. It can accept power from solar panels to prolong battery life or feed the load, and boasts commercial-grade, non-sacrificial lightning protection. The n+1 redundancy of all crucial components – each of which is hot-swappable – further enhances system reliability. The Hub40 interfaces with generators to give homeowners the ability to self-power for extended periods of time. And RoseWater continuously tracks its products to guarantee peak performance, and this data is accessible to homeowners.

Living with the Hub40 is living with peace of mind, knowing that critical and essential components, or the entire home, will always be powered regardless of external factors like brownouts, grid failure and weather events.

What sets the Hub40 apart is its innovation in merging technology, design and user experience. It is more than just an energy management system; it’s a bridge between sustainable living and modern convenience. The Hub40’s unique ability to always provide clean energy showcases RoseWater Energy’s commitment to creating innovative, user-centric solutions.