The Automation Advantages Of AVA

Ted Haeger, Chief Customer Officer, AVA, describes the brand’s journey to this point and his recent experiences in the UK and Ireland promoting the range and explaining the concepts to installers.   

Tell us about how AVA came into being, what was the aim on launching the brand?

When we launched AVA, we had a simple idea in mind: Pro installers need beautiful, premium products. We felt like some of the best-designed new electronics—stuff like Nest and Ring—were coming out as direct-to-consumer devices. And a lot of pro products looked…well, they looked like they belong in a Soviet-era submarine. We wanted to make products for pro install. They had to be products that felt special.

AVA was only possible because SnapAV (now Snap One) had separately dismissed each of our three founders, Patrick Domenig, Raphael Oberholzer, and me. I didn’t know them very well from our short overlap at Control4 and the swirl that was the acquisition into SnapAV, so, it was a surprise to me when, about five months after departing SnapAV as I was looking for my next role, Raphael contacted me. He had an opportunity to work with Revox to create a line of speakers for the pro market in the U.S. Raph’s previous company was NEEO, the start-up that created the beautiful remote control by the same name. Collaborating with a Swiss entrepreneur seemed like a rare opportunity. We started noodling ideas for a pro-focused product company, found a lot of common vision for what we wanted to make, and soon we were working to build a new company. Today, AVA Cinema Remote and AVA OS are the bold expression of that work. 


Tell us about the journey since launch, what are the main things installers should be aware of?

Well, we’ve actually had two launches. Our first launch in March of 2022 debuted the company, with our speakers and touch screen remote control (now known as ‘AVA Home Remote’). That established our brand and the Home Remote quickly kind of took off on its own. But we also got feedback in the form of a question, ‘Why doesn’t AVA make a remote control for TV?’

That question framed our second launch. TV and home cinema requires a remote control with physical buttons. It also requires an operating system for coordinating screens, AV receivers, streaming and cable boxes, and so on. So, at CEDIA Expo 2023 in Denver, we debuted a line of products for exactly that. Since then, things have gotten exciting. It’s crazy, but we have found that pros absolutely love what we have created.

So, I think the main thing that pros should be aware of now is that AVA has become a control company. Cinema Remote is gorgeous, but it runs a full automation system right on the remote. It takes pros completely by surprise that a single, standalone, handheld device can run a smart home OS.


Take us through the range, what are the main talking points and functionalities?

The main product to know about is AVA Cinema Remote, because when a client sees it, gets their hands on it, they immediately want it. It feels a decade or two ahead of any other remote control out there. So, it sells itself.

Here’s the quick descriptor: AVA Cinema Remote has a vibrant, edge-to-edge touchscreen and a ground-breaking button interface called Dynamic Keypad. The Dynamic Keypad’s surface has a three-dimensional glass ring that guides the user’s thumb to sense exactly where it is on the keypad, enabling TV navigation without looking down. The Dynamic Keypad eliminates the need for the vast array of buttons found on most remote controls. Instead, the Dynamic Keypad gives the user a simple DPAD-like interface that changes its button labels, colours and capabilities according to the media source currently in use. The user always has the buttons they need, without the confusion of irrelevant buttons, such as an eject or DVR button when watching Netflix.

AVA Cinema Remote runs AVA OS with no need for any additional automation processor hardware. AVA OS makes it easy to use modern AV systems by coordinating their various components into a single whole that feels natural to use. Unlike the major smart home platforms in the custom install industry, AVA OS runs on the AVA Cinema Remote with no additional hardware, so a single device can orchestrate control of a whole theatre system.

We also introduced AVA Nano Brain for an always-on processor to complement the Cinema Remote. There’s a lot of innovation there, too, but if you start by taking a look at AVA Cinema Remote, the other pieces fall into place soon enough.


You were recently in the UK promoting the brand, how did that go? Any highlights?

I love the UK. My father was a scholar focused on English romantic poets—Coleridge and Wordsworth—and I am kind of a geek about scientific history. So, I have this weird ‘home/not-at-home’ feeling whenever visiting. It was really fun leading tech classes in Manchester and London. I got to meet and get to know UK industry pros and learn the similarities and differences of the market. It’s fantastic getting to work together, even if just for a day.

But I wasn’t the only AVA team member in the country last month. Our head of development Michael Lopez and our lead for device driver creation Fabrice Zaugg both spent a week working with the Invision and Pulse Cinemas teams to create device drivers for the UK market. For AVA, it’s not enough to simply bring our product to the market. Our industry has seen plenty of manufacturers take their products and ‘throw them over the wall’. That doesn’t work. AVA believes that our products must fit in naturally in the UK or any other region we make it available. That means support for the devices, streaming services, TV channels and so on that people actually use.

I also want to remind readers that AVA is available in Ireland. We’re doing the same work to support drivers and TV channels for Ireland, and I’ll be spending a week working with installers in Dublin this August.


How can installers in the UK access AVA training?

AVA makes this fast and easy. You don’t have to wait for an event with me. Invision is running in-person sessions.

There are also fast online materials. Go to the AVA OS YouTube channel and start with the First Setup video. It’s a 4-minute rocket ride toward technical proficiency with AVA.

Our approach to training—fast, smart—is only possible because AVA invests in making a great setup experience. Yes, end customers love the product, but installers find it easy—even fun—to set up. When you look at so many systems in our industry, you get the idea that the dealer tools are almost an afterthought. I’ve even heard manufacturers make the flimsy claim that complex setup tools protect the channel business. That’s just a convenient way to explain taking shortcuts at the dealers’ expense: smart home tech—AV, lighting, and so on—is complex enough without complicated dealer tools.

The fast success of AVA OS is probably driven by the setup side being so quick to learn. For small training sessions, we hand each attendee a Cinema Remote and they have a full system up and running in less than five minutes. Check with Invision / Pulse Cinemas if you want to attend a hands-on session.


What is next from AVA? More brand initiatives, more products?

We just released AVA Cinema Remote and its cast of supporting products. Its complete design—from the physical device to the software it runs—requires way too many superlatives. You have to hold it and experience it. There’s nothing like it. And the great thing about releasing an amazing hardware product like Cinema Remote is that it sets up for continued software releases. AVA makes Cinema Remote and AVA OS even better with each update. So rather than point you to a ‘next thing’, take a look at what we just released. There’s so much you can do with it right now. And we’re just getting started.

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